Look for Latin dishes like these when Babalu Restaurant opens on Peachtree Street in Midtown. Photo: Babalu Photography
Look for Latin dishes like these at Babalu Restaurant, which just opened on Peachtree Street in Midtown. Photo: Babalu Photography




DINING NEWS continues to bubble up in all areas of Midtown, in several languages. And Smyrna goes international with the tastes of South American culture. Read on for more.

Well done

Bacon cheddar tots? Yes, at Public School 404. Photo: David Danzing
Bacon cheddar tots? Yes, at Public School 404. Photo: David Danzing

No more pencils? No more books? Not so in West Midtown at Public School 404. At the scholastically themed gastropub on Howell Mill Road, school is definitely in. But before you flashback to your school days and that nightmare about failing to study for finals, try some comfort food 101.

The Public School menu ranges from burgers and hand-tossed pizzas to ahi tuna poke, roasted poblano with quinoa, and fiery calamari. There’s also a happy-hour program aptly called “recess,” which runs 3-6 p.m. Monday-Friday. It includes discounted small plates (parmesan truffle fries and meatballs al forno) at $10 or less. The bar pours a range of craft beers, a few signature cocktails and offers prosecco, pinot grigio and chardonnay on draft.

The good times are rolling at Bon Ton in Midtown, where Crescent City cooking comes with a dash of Vietnamese zing.  Chow down on raw and chargrilled oysters, perfect renditions of “New Awlins” po’boys and even cherry wood-smoked snow crab legs in the retro-hipster dining room on Myrtle Street.

Porch Light Latin Kitchen will happily make you its Puerto Rican friend pork chop. Photo: David Danzig
Porch Light Latin Kitchen will happily make you its Puerto Rican friend pork chop. Photo: David Danzig

The Vietnamese influences show up in the blackened catfish bahn-mi sandwiches, sweet and spicy cold noodles, and lo lat rolls made with aromatic ground beef and betel leaves. True to the Big Easy spirit, the booze is a-flowin’ with house-made Sazeracs (on tap), Hurricanes and the slushy-style Frozen Ward Six Cup. This place is fun, original and brings a little French Quarter to the neighborhood.

Smyrna’s Porch Light Latin Kitchen has been generating buzz with Puerto Rican chef Andre Gomez’s tributes to Spanish and South American culture. A large mural of Old San Juan welcomes you to a world of Gomez’ Latin street food, sandwiches and smoked dishes. Cumin-spiced St. Louis ribs, beer-can chicken burritos and Malbec-glazed beef short ribs are among the mouth-watering creations that the Kevin Rathbun-trained Gomez serves. Toss in some yucca fries, rum-glazed sweet plantains and bizcocho tres leches cake for dessert, and it’s a Latin gastronomic fiesta.


Babalu Tapas & Tacos has just planted a flag at Midtown’s 33 Peachtree Place, a mixed-use development. The Jackson, Miss.-founded restaurant company, will offer a wide selection of Latin favorites including a signature guacamole made tableside, duck confit tacos, and creole shrimp and grits. The 5,200-sq. ft. space will feature chef’s table seating, a large outdoor dining patio and an indoor/outdoor bar.

Momonoki, a casual Japanese restaurant, sets its compass for Modera, a sexy Midtown mixed-use development. The 2,268-sq. ft. space and patio will be at street level, beneath a 29-story residential high-rise at 8th and Williams streets. The owners of Brush Sushi Izakaya are behind the effort, which plans to serve “chef-driven sushi” (isn’t all sushi chef-driven?) ramen, rice bowls and small plates. “Momonoki,” by the way, means “Peachtree” in Japanese. Look for a late 2017 opening.

Concentrics Restaurants has announced an Italian concept called ALLORA for the TWELVE Hotel Midtown in Atlantic Station. “Allora,” while difficult to translate, essentially equates to a filler word that’s useful when you’re trying to think of what to say in Italian. The restaurant promises to blend Italian classics with “modern techniques and seasonal ingredients” and include house-made pastas, pizzas made to order, creative insalatas, small plates and more. Executive chef Chris Maher will be in charge.


West Midtown’s Bellwoods Social House abruptly closed its doors in the spring. In a 2014 piece, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution predicted it would struggle against stiff neighborhood competition. The operators will now focus on their Bite Bistro & Bar restaurant in Alpharetta.

Cameli’s Pizza: One location is closed, another continues. Photo: Cameli’s

Not everyone is thrilled with the BeltLine and Ponce City Market, apparently. After 20-plus years of making pizza next to the “Murder Kroger,” Cameli’s Pizza has cooled its ovens. Redevelopment at the Kroger site made parking so difficult that Cameli’s decided not to renew its lease. The Little Five Points eatery, also in an area ripe for gentrification, remains open. …

Time to say tam biet to Buford Highway’s Chateau Saigon, a decade-old, highly regarded staple of Vietnamese cuisine. The restaurant abruptly announced its closing in a Facebook post, leaving many questions unanswered. …

The Havana Sandwich Shop, a Cuban food icon, has closed its Chamblee location in the Crossroads Village shopping center. Fear not, though, Debbie Benedit’s original — at 2905 Buford Highway NE — is still churning out Cuban sandwiches in all its neon-yellow glory.


Food for Thought, Encore Atlanta’s bimonthly dining column, keeps youup to date on openings, closings and what chefs are up to in one of three categories — well done (reasons for praise), simmering (what’s in the works) and toast (what’s closed, etc.). Email kathy@encoreatlanta.com.



About David Danzig

Marietta-native David Danzig has been chowing his way through Atlanta restaurants for years. A freelance writer and photographer, David’s website is www.bitesnsites.net and he contributes to Atlanta Social Season Magazine, Atlanta Eats.com and Zagat Atlanta. His weekly radio segment, “Breaking Chews,” can be heard Saturday’s from 1-3pm on News 95.5/AM 750 WSB radio during Belinda Skelton’s Show, Atlanta Living. David lives in Midtown with his wife, Amy, and son, Zachary.

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