Feature photo: Pork and ricotta meatballs at Adalina. Photo by David Danzig.
In this issue, we stamp our gastronomic passports with the cuisine of Mexico, Italy, and South Korea; welcome new ideas into old spaces; and say goodbye to a slew of restaurants that did not survive the winter.
It’s all Food for Thought.
By David Danzig
Atlanta’s affection for tacos will find nurturing at the new Tuza Taco on the westside in the Berkley Park neighborhood. Owner Jason Sherman cooks up Mexican street-food-style tacos, all little $4 explosive flavor grenades with hyper-fresh ingredients. Carnitas (slow cooked pork), tempura-Modelo beer fried fish, skirt steak with chimichurri sauce, wild-caught American shrimp and chicken with cotija cheese, are a few of the varieties that you can wrap in a soft tortilla (corn or flour) or a hard, crunchy corn shell. Housemade salsa, guacamole, and queso with roasted jalapeño are great starters and are emblematic of the attention to detail put into preparation. Cervezas and margaritas are a-flowing and with a little spring sunshine, the kiddies and pets should join to enjoy the outdoor patio and small yard.
Italophiles willing to venture off the beaten path will find amore at the new Adalina off Northside Parkway by the Chattahoochee River and the new North Atlanta High School campus. Drive up the hill to the Post Riverside apartment complex and arrive at an immaculately landscaped town square. There, former Empire State South chef Josh Hopkins is creating exciting renditions of Italian food classics. Octopus arancini, pork and ricotta meatballs, lobster risotto and blue crab pappardelle are a few of the modern spins he has applied to time-tested Italian staple dishes. And, if you are craving pizza, try their artisan Neapolitan-inspired pies with a wonderful, chewy crust and toppings like bacon, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, and soppressata salami.
The expansion of Buford Highway eateries continues with Dish Korean Cuisine, a handsome new space from Hahn and Barbara Lee that sits next to the hugely popular Food Terminal. The restaurant is bright and clean, and the menu is in English and Korean with photos of each dish (something not ubiquitous on BuHi). Dish proudly takes a modern spin on classic dishes including a crispy potato pancake made with seafood and chives, beef ox-bone soup, and a raised pompano with spicy house sauce. Dish also offers some Korean fusion with burgers and tacos that will please both a Korean food devotee or a beginner.
After buzz-worthy success as a pop-up concept, Atlanta favorite Ronald Hsu has locked in the space on Dekalb Avenue formerly occupied by Radial Cafe for a formal brick-and-mortar location called Lazy Betty. Hsu, the star of Netflix’s “The Final Table,” earned his cooking stripes at Michelin-starred Le Bernardin and Le Colonial in New York City. Lazy Betty will feature both a tasting menu option and à la carte options. Expect variations on globally-inspired cuisine that are, according to the Lazy Betty website, “guided by exquisite ingredients and a thoughtful approach where every part contributes to the whole.” Editor’s note: Chef Hsu and the team at Lazy Betty celebrated their grand opening on February 26th!
Could it be the wave of the future? Not one, but three “virtual” delivery-only restaurants are coming to Sandy Springs. Out of one shared kitchen will come a meat-and-three concept, Fatbacks; a gourmet burger concept, Top Bun; and healthy eating concept, Salad Hippie. It’s unclear which delivery services (i.e. Door Dash, Uber Eats, et al.) will handle the transportation or just how far-reaching their availability will be, but at this moment when many just want to “Netflix and chill,” maybe a virtual restaurant is just what the Instagram generation needs.
After much speculation on what would fill the void left by the defunct Decatur legend Cakes & Ale, Chef Terry Koval has announced that he will open The Deer & The Dove restaurant and Side Bar wine and coffee bar in the vacant space. The Deer & The Dove will serve “new” American cuisine and Side Bar will focus on grab-and-go breakfast and lunch sandwiches, bagels, and coffee. At night, Side Bar will transition to a simple bar with natural wines, cocktails, and small plates.
Speaking of big shoes to fill, the hallowed ground formerly inhabited by Anne Quatrano’s Bacchanalia off Howell Mill will soon welcome Redbird, a new effort from Zeb Stevenson and Ross Jones, formerly of Watershed. Redbird will cook up “free-spirited cuisine” that will be focused and balanced with fresh flavors and a reinvigorated commitment to time-honored cooking techniques” according to What Now Atlanta.
The restaurant requiem has been playing steadily over the past few months with a dizzying number of casualties checking into the culinary morgue. Among the deceased are Perimeter Mall’s burger/sushi hybrid, The Cowfish Burger Bar; longtime French mainstay in Roswell, Pastis; Phipps Plaza’s Public Kitchen; The Battery Atlanta’s Feed Fried Chicken + Such; First & Third by Hugh Acheson; 5 Seasons Brewing in the Prado, Avalon’s King Barbecue; Little Five Points’ Tijuana Garage; several locations of quick-serve Pollo Tropical; quick-serve sushi eatery Maki Fresh; and Nashville import Blue Coast Burrito. Many of the operators’ parting shots to their customers included laments about rising rents and other costs, while some gave no reason for throwing in the apron. We wish them well in restaurant heaven.
Food for Thought, Encore Atlanta’s bimonthly dining column, keeps you up to date on culinary happenings around the city. Contributor David Danzig tells readers what’s well done, what’s simmering, and what’s toast. For more, follow David at @bitesnsites.