Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Front Porch Mexican Bluegrass

If you have never been to The Front Porch in Cosby, Tennessee--seated on scenic Highway 321 in the heart of the Smokies and just a stones throw from Knoxville--then you must go. It is a Wigshop order. It's a Mexican Bluegrass restaurant, and it's one of the greatest places on earth.

When you come upon The Front Porch from either direction on 321, you're greeted by a colorful sign and an even more colorful restaurant. The place is an oasis along the long country road, which is dotted with small markets, shops and gas stations, but nothing quite as grand as The Front Porch itself. It's about a 50 mile trip on Interstate 40 from Knoxville (exit at Wilton Springs) and then another 4 or 5 miles from there. I can't give you exact directs, but that's the kind of place the Front Porch is. (Plus, Google Maps can give you proper directions).

The Front Porch is a favorite among Cocke County residents, the rafting community that flocks every summer to the Pigeon River rafting companies located just up the road in Hartford, Tennessee, and Knoxville and Asheville area residents looking for a day trip or a fun night out. If you're heading into the Smokies for a day hike, you might as well make The Front Porch your pit stop for a great, fun dinner on the way home.

It's fun any night of the week, but I recommend going on a Friday or Saturday when there are live Bluegrass shows at 7:00 and 9:00pm. Get there early and stay for both shows. The bands are local groups with an amazing amount of talent. I'm always impressed to watch (and hear) a good old fiddle player, and most of the bands tend to play traditional Bluegrass tunes, those tried and true old favorites.

It's definitely an all ages place; you'll see toddlers dancing to the music right alongside their grandmothers.

The restaurant is owned and operated by a Cocke County family, a group of women who know how to cook. The Mexican food is definitely the way to go, but they do have decidedly American features on the menu, like a hamburger or ribs. I recommend the Tacos al Pastor. It's delicious pork served with fresh corn tortillas, black beans and jasmine rice. Drizzle a little of The Front Porch's fresh (and spicy!) salsa over the pork, order a side of guacamole to plop on before you wrap your tortilla, and you're in heaven. I'm a big fan of the Veggie Fajitas, too: among the more traditional fajita veggies like onions and peppers, you get big chunks of squash and zucchini. The Burrito Dan is also very popular, and both the guacamole and cheese dip appetizers are yummy dishes to share before you order. And I definitely would recommend an appetizer, because I will forewarn that the service is laid back. I'm not going to say it's slow, because you don't go to The Front Porch to eat in a hurry and leave; but it's definitely a longer dining experience. And why wouldn't it be? You are there to see the live show, after all.

The Front Porch is BYOB, though due to a county ordinance, you can only bring in beer. No wine or liquor. I think you may be able to get away with wine coolers, but don't quote me on that.

Back when I lived down on the Pigeon River, we used to spend many a night at the Front Porch, eating and drinking and dancing among friends. Due to time and travel I hadn't been in a few years, but we've added it back into our rotation this year; and I always look forward to taking friends who are visiting the area. It truly is a gem for East Tennessee and just a really, really fun time.

The Front Porch Restaurant
2912 Cosby Hwy, Cosby, Tennessee
(423) 487-2875‎

Now, if you want to make your trip to Cocke County a true day trip, I recommend you take a whitewater rafting trip down the Pigeon River with Smoky Mountain Outdoors. The little river town of Hartford is home to 11 or so rafting companies that can take you on a 5 or 6 mile trip down the Pigeon River, and I recommend SMO. We've had a lot of rain lately (hallelujah!), so you're looking at a good, thrilling 2 hour trip down the river. It's a laid back community. You're not going to get a crazy Class 5 rapid ride from the Pigeon, but it's definitely still worth a trip. Get yourself a nice, sunny day and a cooler of beers waiting for you in the car after your trip, head on down Hartford Road (toward HWY 73) to the Front Porch; and that's what I call a nice little Saturday.


Kat said...

I read this early but followed a link to see where the restaurant was located and neglected to comment. It sounds like a really neat place. You used to be able to catch live bluegrass in pigeon forge all the time. At least that's how I remember it from childhood. I haven't heard it live in years. I will have to check this place out. Thanks. :)

The Modern Gal said...

I have been dying to go to that place for months. And any Mexican food that you approve of is Mexican food worth eating :)

Anyone up for a road trip?

cmmoxley said...

I'm so glad you posted that. It's been years since we've been to the Front Porch. Gotta figure out how to sneak wine in, tho!

Anonymous said...

Well, I have a secret on good authority (because I have done it) that if you keep the bottle of wine under the table and drink from a mug or a plastic cup, no one will say anything about it.

B said...

i'm not sure how you couldn't get away with something like that at a place called front porch mexican restaurant.

Anonymous said...

it's true; and in Cosby, TN, of all places, it's pretty much a shoe-in.

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