Mariangela Jimenez acknowledges a prefab log cabin on a busy part of U.S. Route 23, next to a motorcycle dealership, is an unusual location for a restaurant.

Then there is her choice of cuisine: homemade Venezuelan street food in a part of southern Delaware County not known for its ethnic dining scene.

Nevertheless, Jimenez opened the Porch in early December in the former Pizza Cabin, 5808 Columbus Pike in Lewis Center.

"When I found the place, I said, 'I love it,' " she said.

The menu is based on three staples of Venezuelan cuisine: empanadas, patacones and arepas. Although all have native uniqueness, they use fillings most Americans find familiar and comforting: chicken, shrimp, ham, shredded pork, ground beef and barbacoa.

The Porch marks Jimenez's debut as a restaurateur.

"It's the first time, and people are so curious about the food," said Jimenez, who runs the restaurant with her husband, Lenin Lopez.

The Porch has only 16 seats inside, so the menu for dine-in customers is limited. However, an expanded menu is available for those who carry out or use the drive-thru or a food-delivery service.

The arepas are made with baked corneal cakes stuffed with everything from black beans to spicy shrimp.

Similarly, patacones are sandwiches using twice-fried plantains to hold the ingredients in place.

Fillings often contain cheese, eggs and a rich salsa of mayonnaise, parsley and cilantro, Jimenez said.

"It's something different," she said.

The empanadas, made with a flour shell, likewise are stuffed with a variety of ingredients. The menu is rounded out with tequenos (cheese-stuffed pastry), mandocas (deep-fried cornmeal rings served with sour cream and cheese for dipping), pepitos (rolled, stuffed white bread) and a couple dessert offerings.

Few items cost more than $10.

The restaurant's name connotes the kind of friendly atmosphere created when people gather on the front porch, Jimenez said.

"To me, the porch is an important place in the house," she said.

Jimenez immigrated to the U.S. six years ago, settling in Miami. She traveled to Columbus several times over the years to visit relatives. They all moved away, but she decided to stay.

"I know Columbus," she said. "I like Columbus. The people are polite. I wanted to find a traditional place."

Restaurant hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and noon to 7 p.m. Sundays. For more information, call 740-201-8761.


Central Ohio's third Smoked on High BBQ has opened in the Kroger at 1745 Morse Road in north Columbus.

Mitchell Taylor, manager of the original Smoked on High on High Street in Columbus' Brewery District, said the Kroger locations -- there's another one at 1045 Hill Road N. in Pickerington -- are relative duplicates of the sit-down restaurant. They provide counter-order service and offer the same menu, with all meats smoked on site.

Bulk orders also are accepted.


The Beeline, named after an old railway that connected Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus, has opened at 3989 Merchants Row in the Phase II portion of Easton Town Center in northeast Columbus.

Part of the Four Entertainment Group in Cincinnati, Beeline is a contemporary bar with ornate chandeliers in the towering atrium at the entrance, velvet booth seating and honeycomb tiles.

It has no food service.

The Beeline takes up 3,000 square feet, with a significant portion dedicated to outdoor seating, which is tented and heated in the colder months, said Cameron O'Toole, marketing director for Four Entertainment Group.

"We took some of the best aspects of our best bars in Cincinnati and merged them in this Beeline concept," said O'Toole, who noted the group also operates bars in Chicago.