Atlanta Casual Foodies: What's Hot At The End Of 2010?
December 21, 2010 9:39 AM   Subscribe

Atlanta foodies: What new hidden gems should the prodigal son not miss on a visit?

A few years ago I moved from Atlanta to a backwater nowhere with no food culture. I'm back for a long holiday visit and want to sample some foodie favorites that may not have been around when I was here, but which I also may have just missed. So, priority on the new but no points deducted for established.

I'm looking mainly for interesting casual places for a fun lunch or a casual dinner. I'm not really looking for nice sit-down places or good-but-traditional places. I want to find places that are doing interesting things. Or maybe some new foreign cuisine that has not had much of a presence here in the past. I like a place that has a counter and maybe a family works there. But it can go a bit nicer than that.

For example the last time I was here I was excited to hear about Hankook Korean bbq tacos on Collier Rd. The reviews were underwhelming enough that I didn't wind up going, but that's the right spirit.

What are the foodie underground buzz places lately? Extra points for the kind that a lot of people haven't really clued into widely yet.

Have a favorite food truck?

I know I want to try Flip Burger Boutique while I'm here. Already aware of Ann's Snack Bar. Want to track down some food trucks. I'll eat anything. Hit me.
posted by Askr to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Shorty's Pizza -- corner of NDruid & LaVista.
posted by tmharris65 at 9:48 AM on December 21, 2010

It's not a restaurant, but no foodie visit to Atlanta is complete without visiting Your DeKalb Farmer's Market on Ponce in Decatur. This was my regular (well, ain't nothing regular about it) grocery store when I moved away from Atlanta and still make pilgrimages there when I visit.
posted by workerant at 10:09 AM on December 21, 2010

Would Leon's fit the bill? They work with local providers and they make their own currywirst & a chicken sausgae that isn't even on the online menu yet. Also great drinks.
I went to Ann's Snack Bar yesterday (first time!). Go early & have plenty of time to wait!
posted by pointystick at 10:57 AM on December 21, 2010

Wurst not wirst, obv. Also there is Super Pan owned by Top Chef Contestant & Pura Vida chef Hector Santiago. It's lunch only I think; have not been yet.
Sadly Flip chef Blaise's hot dog place won't be open til 2011.
posted by pointystick at 11:01 AM on December 21, 2010

Response by poster: I had forgotten about Leon's. Went there last year and loved it. They used to do a Miller's gin cucumber cooler that was out of this world. Don't see it on the menu now. It was Millers gin, lime, fresh pressed cucumber, martinique cane syrup, and soda.
posted by Askr at 11:21 AM on December 21, 2010

Farm Burger in Decatur, and, next door, The Marlay House (crappy web site, delicious food).
posted by runningwithscissors at 11:34 AM on December 21, 2010

Super Pan is great - I really dug that, the one time I went before I left. Go hungry. I also really like Shoya Izakaya (near BuHi and 285) for ramen and other non-sushi Japanese food. And Hankook has a taco truck that goes around now; they're called Yumbii.

If you want burgers, skip Flip unless you're really excited about the milkshakes (Richard Blais is long-gone, if that's the source of your interest) and go for the 10PM burger at Holeman & Finch (which I recommend wholeheartedly for their regular food as well, but doesn't quite fit your casual counter-service criteria), the fantastic burgers at Grindhouse in the Sweet Auburn Curb Market (shakes are good here too). Of course, I've actually never been to Ann's, so you might hit that landmark while you still can.

In Midtown, consider going to Noon for brunch on Saturday and ordering "the Stack," a loaded chicken biscuit that is so good, and so, so wrong. Noon's also great in general (one of my favorite spots and a great value in the Midtown area), although most of their food doesn't fit that gut-busting mold whatsoever.

I'd go on, but work beckons, so instead I'll link you to some of the best of the local food-loving interweb for more fun browsing on your question: 285 Foodies Forum, Blissful Glutton, Foodie Buddha and Eat Buford Highway.
posted by deludingmyself at 11:38 AM on December 21, 2010

Oh, and Sublime Donuts if you haven't tried them. They're over by Georgia Tech, and also carried at various places throughout the city, including Noon Midtown, Octane Coffee on the west side (love 'em), and various delis n' things these days.
posted by deludingmyself at 11:40 AM on December 21, 2010

Response by poster: Aaaand we have our first winner. I will be eating at Super Pan for sure. Hi-5, piontystick! I will be the guy smearing a Pork Belly Bun all over his face and making noises inappropriate for a public space. Look out for me. This is exactly the sort of original thing I'm looking for. Like I say, it can still be more upscale than a sandwich shop like this, but if this were the only kind of thing I explored while here, that would be perfect too.

Hey speaking of specialty ethnic sandwiches, how's the Banh Mi scene in town? I've only read about this Vietnamese sandwich and want want want. Googling seems to give the title to Quoc Huong. Agree/disagree? Like another one better?
posted by Askr at 11:42 AM on December 21, 2010

Response by poster: Good heavens, deludingmyself, the Stack will be illegal soon, I guarantee it. I'm sleepy just looking at it.

I've heard of Holeman & FInch and will put that burger on the list. Grindhouse too.

Thanks for the links. I knew one of them but not the others.
posted by Askr at 11:45 AM on December 21, 2010

You might try King of Pops for a delicious handmade popsicle.

I like the special banh mi at Lee's Bakery; it has roast pork, ham, pate, cilantro and julienned cucumber, carrots and radish.
posted by runningwithscissors at 11:47 AM on December 21, 2010

Go to Watershed in Decatur, by all means! It's fantastic. Really.

And I second the comment to go to the DeKalb Farmer's Market. Their cafeteria isn't fantastic, but for a grocery store/market, they are out of this world.

Also, do you like ribs? If so, Fat Matt's Rib Shack is a necessary stop for you.
posted by Betty's Table at 12:08 PM on December 21, 2010

Response by poster: King of Pops! "chocolate sea salt, gingerbread, eggnog, peppermint, pumpkin pie, grapefruit hibiscus..." Those sound fantastic. Perfect! Sold! Totally going

I grew up on the Dekalb Farmer's Market. My mom used to tell us how lucky we were whenever we'd sit down to dinner. But being kids, we focused our appreciation more on Optimus Prime and didn't really appreciate quality food for what it was. Did later, though. Wonderful place.

I like Watershed too.

tmharris, I'm not feeling pizza lately for some reason, which is rare for me, but I'm putting that one on the list along with a couple of others I've been reading about today. I never understood what all the fuss was about thin crust until recently. That's what you get for growing up unknowingly on mediocre pizza.
posted by Askr at 12:28 PM on December 21, 2010

Watershed is in transition; Scott Peacock has left to pursue other interests, and the new chef (Joe Truex, formerly of Repast [now closed]) is moving toward a more flexible menu than Scott's. If you've not been to Watershed since about May, it may be less familiar than you remember.

Bone Garden off Chattahoochee is good Mexico City street food from the founders of Vortex, and your Top Chef affiliate options include Flip, Pura Vida/Super Pan, Woodfire Grill, and Table 1280, but Leon's is still my absolute favorite restaurant in metro Atlanta. I remember that cucumber cooler fondly - the current specialty cocktail list is just as yummy :)
posted by catlet at 4:58 PM on December 21, 2010

Response by poster: Whoops, I had glossed right over your Farmburger recommendation, runningwithscissors. That sounds great. It goes on the list.
posted by Askr at 6:34 PM on December 21, 2010

I've never been to Atlanta, but I can't resist piping up. Peter Chang was profiled in both The Atlantic by Calvin Trillin and Oxford American where Todd Kliman talks about driving crazy distances to chase Chang as he moves from restaurant to restaurant.

Here's a more recent interview that makes me want to get in my car, too.
posted by stuart_s at 11:49 PM on December 21, 2010

I hate this thread. Y'all can each and every one of you go eat in hell! I was perfectly happy in my -30F cocoon of quiet desperation until I read all of your chipper foodie banter...
Askr, could you just maybe memail me some pictures or something?
posted by madred at 12:23 AM on December 22, 2010

Here's a link for Shorty's --

They have more than just pizza (unusual fish-n-chips are great; guac is delicious; beet salad is scrumptious; for dessert, try the key lime pie or the wood-fire baked chocolate chip cookies), but the pizzas are incredible (I like the Janis Joplin, the Tina Turner, and the Wu-Tang Clan).
posted by tmharris65 at 5:37 AM on December 22, 2010

I know I'm recommending pretty much only Decatur places, but it's my favorite part of the city. What about Farmstead 303? I went months ago right when they opened, and they were ironing out a few things in terms of their waitstaff, but the food was delicious. Their focus is on local, in-season food.
posted by runningwithscissors at 6:03 AM on December 22, 2010

Quoc Huong is awesome and cheap. Cash-only. My only problem with it is that there are so many other places I want to eat on Buford Highway, too, that it's often hard to go just for sammiches.
posted by deludingmyself at 10:57 AM on December 22, 2010

Regarding catlet's post (and I know it wasn't a recommendation so much as a Top Chef listing), don't got to Table 1280. There's nothing redeemable about it, even if you are going to the High Museum. Boring, overpriced, and actually a pretty sad use of the space. It's unfortunate.

Do you like pho? I'm not a connoisseur, but I can recommend Pho Dai Loi. I can also say good things about Farm Burger and Shorty's Pizza as well, and if you're going to consider King of Pops, you might think about going to Morelli's Ice Cream (serious yum - and they've got a collaboration going on with Top Chef alum Kevin Gillespie. Oh, and Hugh Acheson of Athens' Five and Ten fame opened up a new place at 10th and Peach called Empire State South just before I left town; I had some reasonably good dinner. excellent dessert, but really enjoyed the drinks and boiled peanuts. Mmm, boiled peanuts. Like Leon's in Decatur, they have a bocce pit if you're into that (ok, maybe not in December).

On the West Side, I'm also a big fan of Bocado lately, and if you're into offal there's Abbatoir from the folks at Baccanalia/Star Provisions/etc. But honestly, I'd go to Holeman & Finch first. Get the chicken liver pate for me. (And if it's a choice between their burger and the other things on the menu... well, it's an awesome burger, but it's gained competition in the city. It's okay to order other things and not feel like you've totally missed out at this point.)

Lastly, it wouldn't be an Atlanta food thread if I didn't suggest barbeque at Fox Bros. So, there's that.
posted by deludingmyself at 11:12 AM on December 22, 2010

Response by poster: Hell yeah I like pho. I'd never heard of it and didn't have it until just before I moved away. Man is that good. I'll put Pho Dai Loi on the list.

Loves me some Fox Bros. Even enough to tolerate those horrible jam band bootlegs that never stop there. It may all be the same song for all I know. But damn that's good cue.

I just tried Community Q on Clairmont near N. Decatur over Thanksgiving and was disappointed. Flavor team: converge on that place immediately.
posted by Askr at 3:58 PM on December 22, 2010

Yeah, that was not a recommendation for Table 1280. :)

As for Farm Burger, it's my understanding (via John Kessler) that they won't cook burgers below medium. If the entire point of the restaurant is known-source beef, I don't get why the restriction.

And I totally forgot about Acheson's new place. Five and 10 is close to my heart even though I don't live in Athens any more. I'm glad he's in town, and I need to get over there soon.
posted by catlet at 7:21 PM on December 22, 2010

« Older help me find my favorite shirt   |   And please, keep us the hell away from Hill... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.