Food Tour: Avalon in Alpharetta


Since opening in Alpharetta two-and-a-half years ago, Avalon has claimed its spot as one of the OTP hotspots to eat, shop, play and work. Many intown concepts — like Antico Pizza Napoletana, Bantam + Biddy, Bocado Burger Bar and Farm to Ladle — have made their OTP debut here, seizing a market that was ripe for the taking: affluent and cultured residents living in the north Fulton burbs who are craving on-trend, intown dining experiences minus the drive.

With Boulevard East of Phase II debuting earlier this month, this lifestyle destination now has nearly half a million square feet of retail space and 23 restaurants to choose from (not to mention a movie theater, Whole Foods, residences, office space, and, coming in early 2018, a hotel and conference center).

With a philosophy that avoids “doubling up” on restaurant concepts, Avalon has ensured that its dining scene is attractive to both restaurateurs’ (no “direct” competition) and visitors’ palates, offering plenty of variety. Meat lovers can grab a bison burger at Ted’s Montana Grill, while sushi fans might check out Kona Grill. Persian food is now being served here at a new Rumi’s Kitchen, and casual bites are on offer at Goldbergs and Marlow’s Tavern, with sweet eats being scooped up at Pinkberry, Café Intermezzo and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. Wash it all down with a glass of rosé at CRU Food & Wine Bar while you people-watch from its patio. Better yet, Avalon allows open containers — so grab a libation and stroll the sidewalks and shops while you wait for a table.

Here are some of our favorite places to eat and drink at Avalon.

Barleygarden Kitchen & Craft Bar

The team behind Hop City Craft Beer & Wine at Krog Street Market intown has debuted Barleygarden Kitchen & Craft Bar, which rocks garage doors on one wall of the space that can be opened up to a dog-friendly patio. Add to that a convenient to-go window, interior bar seating with 64 rotating beers on tap, an open-air rooftop highlighting Belgian, German, English and other European finds, and a full chef-driven menu, and Barleygarden is poised to attract OTP crowds. With pairings and portability in mind, executive chef Kevin Ouzts designed the menu using locally sourced ingredients, with many dishes like the Charcuterie Grilled Cheese, Butchers Bun, Big Braut Burger and Chicken Cheddarwurst featuring meats from his butcher shop, the Spotted Trotter.

900 Avalon Blvd., Alpharetta. 678-266-6218, barleygardenkitchen.com.

Branch & Barrel

Craft cocktails and craveable dishes are the name of the game at Branch & Barrel. With chef Todd Hogan at the helm, the restaurant churns out delectable sandwiches, including a BLT made with a fried green tomato and the corn fried lobster sandwich filled with succulent lobster and served on a soft bun with a smoked tomato tartar sauce for some tang. A side of skinny hand-cut fries served with house-made ketchup (a mixture of five different spices that will convert Heinz devotees) accompanies all sandwiches. Hefty salads and generously portioned entrees are also available, but that shouldn’t keep you from trying appetizers like the jalapeno candied bacon and sweet potato fries with maple aioli or crispy salt and vinegar Brussels sprouts. Be sure to sample one of the creatively assembled cocktails. For a fresh sip, order the Cucumber + Lime.

4100 Avalon Blvd., Alpharetta. 678-436-5655, Facebook: Branch and Barrel.

Brine Seafood Shack

With an enviable rooftop bar (under a retractable roof), Brine Seafood Shack features a menu of classic and contemporary seafood, served up in a coastal/industrial chic space that’s brimming with SoCal vibes. The menu, largely inspired by owner and executive chef Marc Taft’s travels across the country, has an emphasis on sustainably sourced fish (much of which is geo-tagged, so Brine chefs know exactly where the fish was caught, down to the captain’s name and boat). Dishes range from shareable starters to salads, sandwiches, fry baskets and medium- to large-sized plates. Try the clam roll on toasted-just-right brioche with lemon-caper tartar or some uber-fresh tuna poke with avocado, yuzu and sesame seeds. Upstairs, the bar mixes Tiki-style cocktails (we recommend “Rupert’s Revenge” — a twist on a pina colada that’s not for the faint of heart), as well as classic boat drinks downstairs, plus beer and wine. A walk-up window inspired by New England clam shacks makes it easy to grab takeout, soft-serve ice cream, milkshakes or a drink to go.

700 Avalon Blvd., Alpharetta. 470-226-2190, brineseafood.com.

Colletta

Modern Italian restaurant Colletta cooks up cuisine influenced by Northern Italy using locally sourced ingredients. The sleek interior features exposed ductwork, butcher-block tables and white brick, with an open kitchen for an inviting ambience whether for date night or lunch with co-workers. Diners can choose from a communal, family-style experience or order a la carte from a full menu. A simple but delicious margherita pizza cooked in the wood-burning oven will quickly disappear, while the burrata and meatballs are crowd-pleasing selections of antipasti. Small and full pasta dishes are also good choices — the farfalle with house-made fresh pasta and lump crab and shrimp is always a satisfying choice. An extensive list of Italian wines is sure to impress oenophiles.

900 Third St., Alpharetta. 678-722-8335, collettarestaurant.com.

District III and MF Bar

MF Sushi’s Alex Kinjo has launched spinoff MF Bar as well as District III at Avalon. Inspired by his parents’ hometown in Vietnam — an area called District III, once under French-colonial rule — the restaurant by the same name features modern, yet authentic, Vietnamese fare in a casual and stylish space. Pork spring rolls and a clay pot dish are bright yet homey, while a mango cabbage salad with grilled shrimp is a spicy and flavorful tribute to Vietnamese cuisine. Meanwhile, MF Bar centers on hot and cold plates, including sushi rolls and nigiri, and a wide selection of sake. Chilean sea bass sprinkled with Japanese chili powder is a must-try, as well as the melt-in-your-mouth snapper nigiri and the kampachi with lime zest.

MF Bar, 7135 Avalon Blvd., Alpharetta. 404-977-1207. 

District III, 7140 Avalon Blvd., Alpharetta. 404-977-1779. 

The El Felix

Southwestern eats with a twist are cooked up at the El Felix, a casual and festive restaurant serving Mex-Tex influenced by chef Ford Fry and chef Kevin Maxey’s east Texas roots. Their version includes using a wood-burning grill for fajitas, and making their own tortillas, in addition to classic dishes such as hot tamales, pollo con mole, chiles rellenos, sopa de tortilla and puffy tacos — made from deep-fried masa de maiz (finely ground hominy) for crisp and light little clouds. To start, order some flautas or nachos, then drink a margarita (keep it old-school with the Perfect Margarita or order the Texas Star, which gets sass from St. Germain), before moving on to the entrees. The shrimp tacos, enchiladas and puffy taco dinner are solid go-tos.

1130 Avalon Blvd., Alpharetta. 678-248-5239, theelfelix.com.

Oak Steakhouse

From the same owners as Colletta, Oak Steakhouse offers an updated take on the traditional steakhouse experience with a seasonal menu that showcases ingredients from local farmers. Traditional Prime Certified Angus Beef steak cuts are featured along with small plates, salads and entrees. Start things off with the pan-seared scallops or jumbo lump crabcake before digging into signature steaks and chops. Their sides, designed for sharing, are worth a try — we can never say no to the truffle frites, baked three-cheese mac or jalapeno cheddar cornbread. A robust wine list shows off California cabs and old-world reds, as well as a selection of Italian, Spanish and artisan domestic wines.

950 Third St., Alpharetta. 678-722-8333, oaksteakhouseatlanta.com.



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