the porch feature

Keep looking. To find The Porch Kitchen and Cantina in West End Mill Works, a renovated mill turned mixed-use space, you have to go inside to get outside. Here in Winston-Salem’s funky West End neighborhood, this seeming paradox makes perfect sense.

Chef and owner Claire Calvin is a native Texan, and she’s brought that sensibility to her Tex-Mex menu and Tex-eclectic decor. The “chandeliers” are actually clusters of upended Mason jars, and the “pendant lights” are pierced-tin coffee cans. The Texas state flag hangs on a wall, and Texas tchotchkes — a miniature donkey piñata, a ceramic steer — claim space on shelves. A deep aluminum cooler is filled with ice and bottled beer, available for fishing out. The place is famous for its margaritas served in jelly jar glasses.

The Porch, which opened in January of 2014, isn’t Calvin’s first rodeo. The restaurant is a catering-to-cantina product of evolution, as her original business, Dinners on the Porch, was, and is, meal delivery. From September through May — following the school-year calendar — Calvin and her team still prepare fresh dinners for Tuesday deliveries, and leave them on the porches of locals who order via email. As such, specialties like mac and cheese with smoked chicken, or sausage and goat cheese lasagna, are available in The Porch’s take-out fridge, as well.

Lunch and dinner specials change monthly. The Porch Taco Plate, with a choice of avocado, shrimp, chicken, or grilled veggie filling — along with a stack of sliced jalapeños between scoops of guacamole and Sriracha sour cream — arrives on crockery in Southwestern hues of greens and oranges. At dinner, don’t miss the avocado fries: breaded and fried slices of — you guessed it.

Maybe it’s time for a new category. Tex-Mex-Carolina, anyone?

The Porch Kitchen and Cantina
840 Mill Works Street
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
(336) 893-8361
dinnersontheporch.com

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Kelly is a contributing editor at Our State. She is the author of By Accident and the novels Now You Know, The Last of Something, Even Now, and How Close We Come, winner of the Carolina Novel Award and an alternate selection of Book-of-the-Month Club. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and lives in Greensboro.