TOP:  Avocado toast at the new Coalition Food and Beverage in downtown Alpharetta. Its focus is modernized 1950s diner food. (All food photos by David Danzig.)


New year brings new eats, from a Japanese invasion

and OTP migration to a pancake proliferation,

falafel infiltration and seafood termination. Whew!


NEW TASTES are promised near and far, from downtown, Midtown and all along Ponce, to Alpharetta, Fayetteville and Winder. It’s all Food for Thought.

Well done

Shrimp sando and lotus chips from Monomoki, near Georgia Tech.

At the base of a new steel-and-glass tower overlooking the Downtown Connector near Georgia Tech comes MOMONOKI, a new concept from chef JASON LIANG, one of the creative forces behind Decatur’s popular Brush Sushi Izakaya. Order at the counter and get some of the slurpiest ramen soups in town along with tsukemen (dipping ramen), Donburi (raw or cooked rice bowls), Katsu Sando (Japanese cutlet sandwiches served on perfect milk toast), salads and other small plates.

A full bar is stocked with cocktails, sake, wine, and local and Japanese beers but be sure to save room for desserts from pastry chef CHING YAO WANG, Liang’s wife. Many are made with matcha, a Japanese green tea that refreshes the palate in a soothing, semi-sweet way. …


The housemade pretzels at Alpharetta’s Coalition.

Brothers DAN PERNICE and RYAN PERNICE turned heads a few years back when they opened both Table and Main and Osteria Mattone. They’re back with a third effort, COALITION FOOD AND BEVERAGE, a handsome spot off the square in downtown Alpharetta. Chef WOLLERY BACK (formerly of Craft, Restaurant Eugene, and Holeman and Finch) hand-cranks a food fire contraption and churns out modern versions of 1950s diner fare: house-made pretzels, St. Louis-style barbecue ribs, crispy crabcakes, classic club sandwiches and blackened tuna burgers on Alon’s Bakery bread. These are cheffed-up, approachable and skillfully prepared. …


Krog Street Market welcomes Watchman’s.

The team behind Decatur’s James Beard-nominated KIMBALL HOUSE has christened WATCHMAN’S SEAFOOD AND SPIRITS in Krog Street Market, just off the Atlanta BeltLine in what was once The Luminary. No fishing nets or stuffed marlins on the walls here, no Jimmy Buffet on the sound system. This is a hip spot in a hip neighborhood. Sustainably farmed oysters from Alabama to North Carolina go with dishes like a shrimp roll sandwich, steamed clams, ceviche verde and a fisherman’s stew made with grouper, shrimp, crabs and oysters. The bar program comes from legendary mixologist MILES MACQUARRIE, a compact list of masterful ocean-inspired libations with roots that run from Havana to Key West and anywhere along the Southeast coast of the United States. …


Farm-fresh produce at Winder’s Bistro Off Broad.

In historic downtown Winder, chef ALEX FRIEDMAN (formerly of Inman Park’s Pcheen) has set up shop in a brick building that dates to the 1890s. BISTRO OFF BROAD brings a sophisticated approach to comfort food. Everything that grows in soil or dwells on land comes from a nearby farm: baked brie with honeycomb and figs, Ossabaw Island barbecue (Friedman does all his own butchering), crispy duck with pumpkin and sage risotto, venison with roasted okra, and pork chops with sweet corn pudding. If you need a nautical nosh, try the cold-water oysters, sea scallops, Carolina trout or a tempura-fried shrimp po’boy with tomato jam. It’s a gem that would be at home in the hippest intown neighborhood.


Kevin Rathbun

In a matter of weeks, Super Bowl LIII (53 for non-Romans) will kick its way into Mercedes-Benz Stadium and Atlanta celebrity chef KEVIN RATHBUN will headline the TASTE OF THE NFL: PARTY WITH A PURPOSE at Cobb Galleria Centre. The game is Feb. 3; Taste is Feb. 2. Each NFL team city will fly in its own celebrity chef to cook a signature dish at one of 35-plus food stations. This is your chance to eat, drink and mingle with NFL greats and other celebrities.  Tickets are $700 each, but that’s cheaper than a seat to the game. …


Anne Quatrano

Big brunch news comes from James Beard Award-winning chef ANNE QUATRANO (Bacchanalia, Star Provisions, Floataway Café, W.H. Stiles Fish Camp) plans two locations of her latest concept, PANCAKE SOCIAL. Expect eight kinds of pancakes, from savory to sweet, along with other all-day breakfast noshes. A Ponce City Market location will open in the first part of the year. Look for the second late next fall in Fayetteville’s forthcoming Pinewood Forest development. …


Ponce de Leon Avenue continues its gentrification with two new offerings — SOUTHERN BELLE and GEORGIA BOY — from former Gunshow executive chef JOEY WARD. The two will co-exist at the same address. Belle will offer small plates; Boy will be a 16-seat communal counter with a multicourse tasting menu. Expect a spring bloom. …


MAMOUN’S FALAFEL dates to 1970s Greenwich Village and calls itself the “oldest falafel restaurant in New York City.” It plans six Atlanta locations, with the first opening in the West Midtown Center development on Northside Drive. Expect house-baked pitas, shawarma, hummus and, of course, falafel.


The restaurant graveyard has been busy the past few months. Virginia-Highland’s GOIN’ COASTAL closed after eight years, and downtown’s LEGAL SEAFOOD pulled up anchor after more than a decade, citing expiration of its Hilton Garden Inn lease. … THUMBS UP DINER, the breakfast-all-day icon, has closed its Decatur location, citing untenable rent increases. Thumbs Up’s popular “Skillet Heap” and multigrain biscuits are still available at locations in Douglasville, East Point, Edgewood Avenue in the Old Fourth Ward, Marietta Street in West Midtown and Roswell. … After 30 years of meat-and-three, OUR WAY CAFÉ closed its Avondale Estates location. Owner EVA-MARIE ROSWALL decided to retire. …


Hugh Acheson

The most notable closing is ACHIE’S, The Battery Atlanta spot from decorated chef HUGH ACHESON, which lasted less than 10 months. Acheson, who reached celebrity status on the TV reality show “Top Chef Masters,” still runs EMPIRE STATE SOUTH and two SPILLER PARK COFFEE locations, plus a pair of eateries in Athens.


Food for Thought, Encore Atlanta’s bimonthly dining column, keeps you up 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.). Suggestions: Email

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 and he contributes to Atlanta Social Season Magazine, Atlanta 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.

View all posts by David Danzig