This new Latin-Vegan restaurant will surprise you.
This week, I finally tried a Latin-vegan restaurant that is getting so much buzz.
Called La Semilla, they serve plant-based food inspired by the Cuban dishes that co-owner Sophia Marchese grew up with, sourced with fresh local ingredients. The restaurant is a short ways off the Atlanta BeltLine, on Memorial Drive, and if you haven't been there lately, the explosion of development will blow your mind.
I went there with two friends, and we had a reservation (which I recommend). The interior was gorgeous. Featuring pink walls and palm leaf decor, it transports you to a tropical paradise. There's even a table tucked beneath a grass hut, an especially unique and creative touch that adds to the ambiance. And the place was hopping.
UPDATE: La Semilla Named 1 of 12 Best New Restaurants in America by Eater.
We started with the mock queso dip and a pumpkin dip called Sikil Pak. I have to admit that I am not a fan of pumpkin. Every fall, I dread the pumpkin craze - pumpkin pie, pumpkin latte, pumpkin whatever. So when my friend asked to share the Sikil Pak, I declined. She then questioned if it was the pumpkin spice I dislike, rather than the actual fruit. She decided to order the dip, and I tried it, and she was right. It was very good, and tasted nothing like a pumpkin latte. Thank goodness.
The queso tasted pretty close to the Mexican cheese dip I know and love, and had a nice kick. It was a welcome alternative to heavy dairy.
For my main dish, I ordered the carne asada tacos, made from seitan, a wheat-based meat substitute, with guacamole, chimichurri and an almond cotija. The presentation of the food was as beautiful as it was delicious.
My pumpkin-loving friend ordered the cochinita pabil tacos, made with jackfruit.
My other friend got the Crunch Wrap, also made with seitan beef, nacho cheese, tostada, sour cream, lettuce and tomato. I kept eyeing her wrap, and wished I had also ordered it.
The restaurant was busy, but the food came out lightning fast. Our server used a handheld to put in our order, and while we were still pinning down our entrees, the appetizer was delivered to our table. That might be a new record.
And my total bill, for the tacos, a portion of the queso and pumpkin dips and a glass of Albarino: $28 and change. Not bad for dinner in Atlanta. I've spent double that on lunch at some restaurants.
As much as I loved the vibe of this restaurant, the plant-based food doesn't draw me as much as traditional dishes. I wish they also served meat, but then it wouldn't be the same restaurant, would it? It would be just another Mexican-style restaurant in Atlanta.
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An Atlanta native, Nicole Gustin is the Founder and CEO of BiteLines, which offers walking Food and Art Tours on the Atlanta BeltLine. She considers the BeltLine her backyard, and is excited to see how Atlanta is reinventing itself. To sample some of Atlanta's best restaurants and street art, come join us on a Food and Art Tour of the Atlanta BeltLine. Follow on TikTok and Instagram @bitelinesatl.