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WINSTON-SALEM FLOCKS TO THE PORCH

by Kristi Maier

Kristi@triadfoodies.com | @triadfoodies

What a whirlwind the last 15 months have been. At least that’s how Claire Calvin, owner of The Porch Kitchen and Cantina puts it. The Tex-Mex joint, located in the heart of West End and the Mill Works district, has been bustling with customers since they opened their doors in January 2014. Since then, The Porch has expanded its hours to include dinner and even Sunday brunch, with plans to expand even more (stay tuned). They’ve expanded their menu too, offering a selection of salads and sandwiches and reaching beyond borders of Tex-Mex fare to Curry and Vietnamese, all the while using as many local ingredients as they can get their hands on. And from the looks of the packed restaurant, customers love it.

Two visits over the course of about a six-month period resulted in the last being even better than the first. It’s always tempting to dive into a shrimp taco or fajita, a queso bowl or burrito, but why not Tostadas Teddy packed with smoked chipotle chicken, avocado, fresh veggies, black beans, edamame and “¦feta? The tangy zip of the feta counter balances the subtleness of the avocado and the crispiness of the veggies. You really feel like you’re getting your (I forget how many) servings of vegetables. Plus it’s big enough for two if you are willing. If not, the dish makes a great salad the next day.

The winner of the table during our last visit was the Vietnamese Beef Tacos. This too came with avocado, cilantro, pico de gallo and was topped with sesame seeds. It had an awesome kick and was a beauty to behold. The menu was recently updated for the season and specials vary at lunch and dinner and change each month. Some popular items like the tacos and the ever-popular Porch Pockets aren’t going anywhere. They keep their cocktails ever changing as well and keep in stock a full selection of craft beer by the bottle and on draft.

A surprising treat for families that visit the Porch will be the “toy box.” Feel free to bring the kids, no matter what the ages. There’s a corner of respite for them to find a great selection of toys or books, which will keep the kids happy while the food is being prepared. “I just thought about my kids and what they’d want to play with,” says Calvin. ” So I just brought over some toys that they’d outgrown.” Dinosaurs? Puzzles? Your little foodie will find something to pass the time. As for the kids’ menu, you’ll even find PB & J and grilled cheese on the off chance that they aren’t in the mood for a kid version of a chicken taco, quesadilla or satay.

Another thing that stands out at The Porch is how very communal it all is. Tables are close together, there are a few community tables, a casual bar, and in May, the Porch will unveil an actual porch. “It will be covered and we’ll have some picnic tables and it will be just very casual and inviting because people like to come here and just hang out.”

Other plans in the near future: a Cinco de Mayo party which just happens to coincide with the local area’s Hope du Jour, where a portion of the proceeds of the evening will be donated to children who are hungry. And the green space that runs between The Porch and the old roller mill will soon be made over into more of a “playscape,” with gardens and benches and a grassy space.

Calvin, who hails from Texas, started her venture as a catering and meals-on-the-go business. If you don’t feel like a sit-down meal at the restaurant, The Porch has a full selection of prepared meals and soups to grab and, well”¦ go. !

WANNA go?

Wanna go? The Porch Kitchen and Cantina is located in the West End off Northwest Boulevard at 840 Millworks Street. For more information, visit them at www.dinnersontheporch.com; (336) 893-8361.

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