Cover photo: The Creasmiscle at Lazy Betty with citrus compote and white chocolate.
Beltline Asian fare, Sandy Springs savoir-faire, Midtown Persian flair, and local restaurants closing in despair. It’s all Food for Thought.
By David Danzig
Inside the new Marietta Square Market, an all-new food hall with no less than 17 eating outlets, Street Taco pedals Mexican street food featuring, as you you’d expect, tacos. Eight varieties are yours on either a corn or flour tortilla—fresh smoked brisket, blackened shrimp, pork pozole, chicken tinga, crispy mahi-mahi, and even tofu are all super fresh and wickedly flavorful. There are also salads, burritos, and some great sides. Enjoy with the occasional train rumbling down the line.
Speaking of the street food craze, take a culinary flight to a street in Bankok or Bejing or Seoul with Hawkers Asian Street Fare. Located just off the Atlanta Beltline, the space conveys a bristle of street energy—bright neon lights, modern art, and graffiti all mashed together. The menu is divided into small plates, noodle plates and soups, rice dishes, salads, and sweets, and features drinks from Vietnamese coffee to herbal teas as well as some clever cocktails like the “Bull in a China Shop,” and “Tiki, Do You Love Me.”
Ford Fry, restauranteur extraordinaire, welcomes a newcomer to his family: Little Rey. Just opened on Memorial Day, Fry’s new Tex Mex fast-casual effort starts the day with authentic Mexican egg-centric breakfast tacos and then keeps the smokers going for lunch and dinner with chicken al carbon, a slow-cooked half chicken with the skin grilled over smoky charcoal served with corn or flour tortillas, smoked onions & jalapeños, ranch beans, and cilantro rice. Also, try their tacos — one bite will take you to a street in Mexico…or maybe Austin, Texas.
James Beard Award-winner Anne Quatrano rings the breakfast bell at new Pancake Social at Ponce City Market just steps from the Beltline. From the batter bowl come eight kinds of doughy goodness ranging from savory to sweet and everything in between. Try one of their coffees, fresh-made smoothies and juices, or — if breakfast plans include catching a buzz — a few basic cocktails (Bloody Mary’s, Mint Juleps), mimosas, wine, and beer are there to complement the gastronomic bliss.
Bringing some savoir-faire to Sandy Springs, The Select is a dashing yet breezy Parisian brasserie with Chef Matthew Rainey offering up some beautiful plates inspired by the olive oil belt of Spain, France, and the Mediterranean. Located in the new City Springs development, this is a great place to grab a craft local beer or one of the 30 options of wine-by-the-glass if you are there to catch or a show or concert.
Finally, some true fine dining has popped up in Candler Park with the delightful Lazy Betty. Many will know Chef Ron Hsu, an Atlanta native whose family has run seven local Chinese restaurants, Sweet Auburn BBQ, and even a recent run on the Netflix show, Final Table. Hsu’s creations are arguably the prettiest and most creative plates in the city, each a small work of art. And while the skill that goes into the dishes is next-level stuff, you do not need to be a foodie Ph.D. to enjoy them. They are hearty, approachable, and a lot of fun to eat and discuss.
Dos Bocas, Spanish for “two mouths,” will open this summer down by the Georgia Aquarium (in the former Legal Seafoods spot) offering flavors found across Louisiana and Texas (i.e. Cajun and Mexican cuisine). Influenced by the roadside stands and mom-and-pop shacks found along the 300-mile stretch between San Antonio and New Orleans, the menu will feature enchiladas, tacos, po’boys, and crawfish and shrimp etouffee.
With Atlanta’s appetite for food halls seemingly unending, the forthcoming 16,000-square-foot Chattahoochee Food Works just enlisted the help of an ace with the host of TV’s Bizarre Foods Andrew Zimmern signing on as “culinary advisor.” The new food hall promises “international fare,” “artisanal” shops, chef events, a test kitchen, an indoor-outdoor bar, and an all-weather patio with a firewall overlooking a quarter-mile park.
A new Midtown restaurant featuring southern European cuisine will be opening this fall from chef Craig Richards and restaurateur Billy Streck. Lyla Lila (Richards’ daughter’s name is Lyla and Streck’s daughter’s middle name is Lila) will serve up wood-fired meat and seafood as well as seasonally driven vegetables and salads.
Ramen lovers get ready for Okiboru, a Los Angeles ramen shop that recently garnered a coveted 2019 Michelin Guide California Bib Gourmand award. The Atlanta outpost will arrive in to Sandy Springs later this year, and will feature tsukemen (dipping ramen) and will make their own noodles for the dish.
In the last issue, we announced that Iselle Kitchen and Bar was coming to the newly “reimagined” Colony Square. No longer. With star chef Chris Gentile’s departure from the project, the developers have now tapped Persian restaurant, Rumi’s Kitchen, as the project’s flagship. Rumi’s, an extremely popular spot with existing locations in Alpharetta (Avalon) and Sandy Springs should fill the space nicely.
And finally, after a fire burned beloved B’s Cracklin BBQ to the ground earlier this year, pitmaster Bryan Furman has announced a temporary fix for those craving his ‘cue. Look for B’s to reemerge at Emory Point, in the former Marcello’s Pizzeria spot. The space will seat about 150 people, an increase from the tiny digs of the former B’s.
That loving feeling is gone, gone, gone for Amore Cucina in Town Brookhaven, having flipped its last pie after only 14 months in business. The pizza restaurant was an off-shoot of the Stamford, Connecticut-based restaurant founded by “Six-time World Pizza Champion” Bruno DiFabio.
Speaking of pizza, Gino’s East Pizza got the stuffing knocked out of it, closing, perhaps fittingly, on Memorial Day. The closure was “abrupt and unexpected,” which goes without saying after less than five months.
Brine Seafood Shack set sail for restaurant Valhalla after only a couple of years at Avalon in Alpharetta. Chef Marc Taft will reportedly proceed with plans for another Feed Fried Chicken (he just closed his other one) and Best Burger at Halcyon Forsyth. He also operates the popular Chicken and the Egg in Marietta.
Unfortunately, The Mercury, which opened on the second floor of Ponce City Market, is now officially in retrograde having closed on May 31st. About a year after opening, Tabi Sushi served its last California Roll in Suburban Plaza in Decatur. Hai’s Authentic Chinese will attempt to fill the void with General Tso’s chicken. And finally, midtown’s Eclectic Bistro and Bar was just not eclectic enough to survive.
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.). Email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on social media at @bitesnsites.