Photos by Anna Goodson
Fresh. Authentic. Unusual. This isn’t your run-of-the- mill Mexican restaurant. Sombra Mexican Kitchen is decidedly different. Located in the Township on
Highland Colony Parkway in Ridgeland, the restaurant has anchored the center for four years. The restaurant, which seats 220, is expansive, with a main dining area, large bar, two patios and a private dining room. Soaring ceilings, mini lights, a tree in the middle of the dining room and plenty of Mexican tile set the tone for the restaurant without being garish or over-the-top.
John Michael Smith has been leading the kitchen team as executive chef since the restaurant opened in October 2011. He came to Sombra after a stint as a sous chef at Biaggi’s and before that he worked at Char. “It was fun and exciting to be part of a new restaurant opening,” recalled John Michael. “But it was also crazy. We had our challenges. There was a good bit of tweaking to the menu before we found where we were supposed to be.”
All of the dishes at Sombra are made using the freshest ingredients. “We make everything from scratch daily,” said John Michael. The various dishes call for eight different types of chili peppers, each with a different flavor profile. That brings a richer, more distinctive flavor to the dishes, differentiating Sombra from typical Mexican restaurants in the area. For the most part, Sombra uses corn tortillas, which is good news to those diners who want gluten-free. They will gladly work around special dietary needs.
One of the signature dishes at Sombra is the Flagship Tamales, which includes three large chicken tamales covered with red chili, green chili and white cheese sauce, topped with queso fresco and pico de gallo. Another signature dish is the Surf and Turf, featuring grilled steak and chicken, shrimp, griddled cheese and vegetables served with roasted tomato salsa, big enough for two.
John Michael says the most popular dish at lunch is the Taco Salad, while fajitas are the favorite at night. Fajitas can be made with chicken, shrimp or USDA choice skirt steak served over slow-cooked Mexican peppers, charros beans, Mexican rice, lettuce, sour cream and pico de gallo with either fresh corn or flour tortillas.
Margarita aficionados flock to Sombra’s bar for the incredible selection of tequilas. There are 117 bottles of 100% agave tequila on hand, and all margaritas and specialty cocktails are made with fresh-squeezed lime juice and agave nectar. “We don’t use any mixers in our cocktails,” said John Michael.
If you like what you see on the menu, but want to try something more, consider attending one of the once-monthly special events. The restaurant is host to a variety of events from cocktail dinners to tastings and more. For more information, visit the Sombra website at www.sombramexicankitchen.com and click on the events tab.
While the current menu has been very successful, John Michael said there are seasonal changes to keep things fresh. “We’ll be rolling out a new menu in the early spring that will include bison for a fajita selection. People are becoming more concerned with their health and bison is a very flavorful, yet very lean meat. I think our guests are going to enjoy it.”
Sombra is open Sunday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fiesta hour is 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays, featuring $5 margaritas and half price beer.