Bienvenidos to Smyrna, Porch Light Latin Kitchen!
I don’t write much about Smyrna or Vinings, or Sminings as some call it. I love the area but it seems that for some time it’s not had the best food scene. But things are shaking up in Sminings. New restaurants are opening including Porch Light Latin Kitchen which opened several months ago in the Village Green shopping center of Atlanta Road.
Chef Andre Gomez, formerly chef de cuisine at Kevin Rathbun Steak, apparently built a following for himself as the restaurant hasn’t don’t much (if any) publicity, yet it was packed on a Thursday evening. Granted, the restaurant isn’t huge, seating just over 40. Porch Light Latin Kitchen offers counter service only at lunch with full service at dinner.
Porch Light is bright and welcoming with light wood floors, chairs and tables and a beautiful mural depicting a typical street in Latin America. The layout is shotgun style, with an open kitchen that has counter seating, and against the wall are tables of two tops. Reservations at Porch Light Latin Kitchen mean nothing – we waited 30 minutes past our reservation time for a table. The biggest issue (other than the wait itself) is that there is nowhere to sit or even stand while waiting for a table. There’s no bar and it’s all one big room and you are constantly in the way.
When we finally got to sit down, I was ready for a cocktail. And the house sangria, a good deal at just $7 with coconut rum, was tasty and light on the booze. Had I not been driving, I may have decided to go for the Porch Pounder, similar to the sangria but with the addition of triple-sec and amaretto.
To begin we chose the Plantain Empanadas ($8) and the Smashed Yucca Mofongo ($9). Both dishes offer a unique twist on latin favorites. The shells on these empanadas are made from plantains rather than dough. Porch Light Latin Kitchen had theirs fried and they were extra crispy, giving way to tender brisket inside. Another twist was the mofongo. Typically made with plantains, theirs are made with yucca and served with a duck confit. It’s a generous portion that could easily work as a meal.
Though our starters were small in size, they were really quite filling. Our server was friendly, but never told us we could have had the option of the whole fish entree. We only found out when the chef brought out his catch of the day to show to another customer. Guess you have to be a regular at Porch Light Latin Kitchen to be privy to the specials.
Instead we each got our own entrees: Mahi Tacos ($10) and Beer Can Chicken Burrito ($8). I was stuffed by the time I got halfway through my burrito, but it was so good, I couldn’t stop eating it. I rarely ever order chicken when I dine out. It just seems so bland. Mixed with cilantro and rice, this chicken is so much more than shredded chicken from most burritos. And the sauces were a verdant addition to the meal.
Porch Light Kitchen has got it going on. It’s definitely not for those who place quantity over quality. Prices are fair, but those used to huge portions would be disappointed. If you go, try to go before or after the dinner rush, unless you enjoy waiting for your table.
Porch Light Latin Kitchen website
300 Village Green Drive
Smyrna, GA 30080