Afro-Latin eatery Influence Restaurant & Lounge opens in Norcross

Brik Danouni empanadas from the menu of Influence Restaurant. / Courtesy of Influence Restaurant

Credit: Thomas Q Pham

Credit: Thomas Q Pham

Brik Danouni empanadas from the menu of Influence Restaurant. / Courtesy of Influence Restaurant

A restaurant serving a menu of Afro-Latino cuisine has opened in Norcross.

Influence Restaurant & Lounge opened earlier this month at 5955 Jimmy Carter Blvd. The concept comes from Alexis Anin, a native of Burkina Faso who also co-owns the Afro-Caribbean-inspired Continent Restaurant & Cigar Lounge on Buford Highway.

Inspired by the historical impact of African flavors on classic Latin American food, Influence’s menu features dishes including moqueca, an Afro-Brazilian sautéed red snapper prepared with coconut milk and vegetables; rabo encendido, an Afro-Cuban plate of braised oxtail over yucca, mashed sweet plantains and asparagus; and cordeiro, a dish with lamb shank, tomato, black-eyed peas and kale.

The menu was developed by executive chef Oscar Mendivil, a native of Sonora, Mexico, who also owns the Marietta-based food truck El Campeon.

Oscar Mendivil serves as the executive chef at Influence Restaurant. / Courtesy of Influence Restaurant

Credit: Thomas Q Pham

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Credit: Thomas Q Pham

“Latin America is often thought to be just one group of people when in fact, we are a combination of many different cultures and ethnicities,” Mendivil said in a prepared statement. “Our food is like a melting pot of spices and ingredients, many of which were brought to the Americas by Africans and Europeans during colonization and the slave trade.”

Influence’s cocktail list, designed by manager Julia Ferrera, also utilizes Afro-Latin flavors. Options include the Havana Mojito with prickly pear or grapefruit, and Influence Sangria.

The restaurant’s 3,500-square-foot indoor dining room seats 260 guests, with royal blue round velvet booths for larger parties. The covered patio is 1500 square feet and seats 100 guests.

Influence is open 5 p.m.-midnight Tuesday-Sunday for dinner and until 3 a.m. for light bites and cocktails.

5955 Jimmy Carter Blvd., Norcross. 678-691-0087, influenceloungeatl.com

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