3870 Lawrenceville Hwy. c114
Open since: 2010
Owners: Osman Medina and Katherine Guillen
Hours: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Sunday
Location: 3870 Lawrenceville Hwy. c114, Lawrenceville
Atmosphere: Co-owner Osman Medina said he wants people who visit Mango Latino Grill to feel like they’re home.
“I want people that come here to feel like we take care of them when they come to try our Venezuelan food,” he said. “Right now, this type of food is really popular in Georgia. Before, there weren’t too many places you could get it, but now more people are trying it and liking it. It’s different.”
Medina owns the restaurant with his wife, Katherine Guillen. The couple purchased it in January, but the restaurant is a staple in the community for Venezuelan food, as it’s been located in Lawrenceville for over 10 years.
In fact, Mango Latino Grill was one of the first Venezuelan restaurants in the state.
The couple said they make a great team. While Guillen manages the kitchen, Medina manages the marketing and administrative side of the restaurant. The two are first-time restaurant owners.
Already, Medina has worked hard to “refresh” the restaurant’s look, starting with a new logo. The logo features a multi-colored mango.
Medina said he doesn’t know why the original owner named the restaurant Mango Latino Grill, but he thinks perhaps it was to give recognition to the country’s abundant supply of mangoes.
For now, Mango Latino Grill’s bright yellow and green walls with Latin music playing over typical Venezuelan dishes creates an authentic feeling of sitting along the country’s Caribbean coast.
But Medina said he and his wife would like to create a more relaxed feel in the future, whether that means painting the walls a new color, changing the decorations or playing music that appeals to a variety of people.
Menu: As Medina described it, “Venezuelan food is really tasty,” and especially at Mango Latino Grill, which offers a variety of typical Venezuelan dishes, including some not normally served in other places.
“For example, we use a lot of plantains for everything,” Medina said. “We have a plantain sandwich. People really love this. Our hamburgers are totally different, with potato sticks, a lot of salsa and Venezuelan cheese, which is really famous so we use it with a lot of plates.”
Medina said the cachapa con queso is their best dish. On the menu, it’s described as a sweet corn pancake filled with Venezuelan cheese, and customers’ choice of ham, shredded chicken or beef, grilled chicken or steak.
“It’s sweet,” Medina said, “but the cheese is salty so the combination is really good.”
Mango Latino Grill also offers something new five days a week — Monday through Friday.
Its lunch special is just one of the many things Medina and Guillen are trying out. For $7.99, customers get a soup, drink and meat of the day, along with rice, plantains and a salad.
What also makes the drinks special is that, once again, they stay true to Venezuela’s Caribbean background. Flavors include guava, soursop, passion fruit, strawberry and pineapple.
But what makes Mango Latino Grill “the best Venezuelan” restaurant around, as customers’ reviews on Yelp state, is its homemade flavor.
“The food is really like you were eating at home,” Medina said. “It’s not like fast food. People like that. They say that when they go out to eat they always eat something pre-cooked. We make the food at the moment, so it’s really fresh.”
Guillen said it’s high-quality food for affordable prices.
“We know there are many people who work day-to-day and don’t have time to go home to eat, but they look for a place with food that tastes like home,” she said. “For people who want to eat something a little more healthy, they can come here.”
Some of Mango Latino Grill’s most popular items are their empanadas, pabellón and arepas.
For first-time customers, Medina said he recommends the pabellón. It is one of Venezuela’s typical dishes with rice, black beans, shredded beef and sweet plantains, as well as a fried egg upon request.
However, those looking for more of a challenge, Mango Latino Grill offers its Hamburguesa Maracucha and Salchiqueso. Both items are “huge,” Medina said.
“(The Salchiqueso) is a hot dog with queso de mano, which is a typical Venezuelan cheese, on top, but it’s a really big hot dog with potato sticks and a lot of salsa,” Medina said. “We also add cabbage, which is not really common here in the United States, but in our country it’s really popular. People love it.”
The Salchiqueso is nearly a foot long, while the Hamburguesa Maracucha is a big enough hamburger to fit cheddar cheese, ham, bacon, cabbage, potato sticks, queso de mano, tártara sauce and ketchup. It’s served with fries.
“The hamburger can be too different for some people, so I wouldn’t take the risk,” Medina said. “But this hamburger is really good — better than an American burger.”
Something You May Not Know: Mango Latino Grill is available on food delivery services like Door Dash, Grubhub, Uber Eats and Postmates.
Medina and Guillen hope to soon offer catering services as well, although they are still in the process of creating a catering menu and setting the prices.
However, they said people can go ahead and call in to request items for parties and events.
In the future, Medina and Guillen said they hope to extend the restaurant’s hours and to offer live music. Currently, they are working to get a liquor license to start offering Latin and other beers, as well as wine.
Mango Latino Grill can be found on Facebook and Instagram at Mango Latino Grill. For more information, call 770-381-7811.