Food tour: 24 hours of Gwinnett restaurants


From quaint coffeehouses, bakeries and cafes to farm-to-table eateries, gastropubs and after-hours bars, the burgeoning dining scene in Gwinnett County is heating up and entering foodie territory.

Comprised of 16 municipalities, sprawling Gwinnett is peppered with plenty of restaurants to try, whether you’re up near Buford or down by Grayson. If you have 24 hours to indulge in an eating binge around Gwinnett, this is your guide to must-visit spots that call the county home.

<< Read the AJC Gwinnett Dining Guide

6 a.m.

Georgia Diner

1655 Pleasant Hill Road, Duluth. 770-806-9880, mygeorgiadiner.com.

Kick off your day and your food tour at this 24/7 diner, where breakfast customers can order classics like two eggs any style, which comes complete with home fries or Southern-style grits and toast or a biscuit. Extra-hungry tummies should go for the Lumberjack, which includes a stack of pillowy golden buttermilk pancakes, two eggs cooked to order, ham, two strips of bacon and two sausage links. The menu also offers about a dozen specialty omelets, from a spicy chicken fajita variety to a Greek option. If you prefer sweeter morning offerings, consider the fruity French toast topped with preserves (blueberry, cherry or strawberry) and whipped cream, or challah bread with cinnamon and powdered sugar.

8 a.m.

Espresso Theory

3107C Main St., Duluth. 678-731-7143, espressotheory.com.

At this coffeehouse with a charming (and dog-friendly) patio on the green facing the Duluth town square, you can get your caffeine jolt from the house dark roast, the daily special or the 100 percent Kona or Jamaican Blue, brewed to your liking and served in a coffee press. Comfortable seating, plenty of tables and a large farmhouse table create a welcoming ambiance, while eclectic decor adds a cool touch of character.

10 a.m.

Sara Donuts

45 Satellite Blvd. N.W., Suwanee. 770-271-1129, facebook.com/SaraDonuts.

Roll on over to Sara Donuts’ Suwanee location, a family-run business whose Korean owners have been rising bright and early to make the doughnuts for more than 20 years. The shop is only open 5:30 a.m.-2 p.m., so early birds most definitely will get their hands on the best treats here. You will drool when you get a look at the impressive display case of doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, eclairs and other pastries. Keep things simple and grab a classic glazed doughnut or mix things up with a decadent red velvet doughnut or the popular apple fritter.

Noon

The Market

62 College St., Norcross. 678-527-6278, marketnorcross.com/themarket.

For lunch, make your way to Norcross, where the Market will satisfy your cravings for comfort food. Hefty portions of Southern food and barbecue with a twist are served up at this homey place 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Mondays-Fridays. Entrees like the bacon-wrapped meatloaf and the honey-brined smoky turkey are standouts, while a side of mac-and-cheese is packed with creaminess. Extra hungry? Try the Flatliner sandwich, which oozes with goodness thanks to a fried egg and house-made barbecue sauce atop tender pulled pork, juicy brisket and smoked turkey, along with bacon and provolone. If you manage to save room for a little something sweet by way of a super-human stomach, dabble in some of the macarons, cakes and other goodies from the display case of Gingerspice (gsbakery.com), a bakery and catering service that specializes in French and Southern sweets, located inside the Market.

2 p.m.

Rustic Couch

4500 Satellite Blvd., Duluth. 678-889-5399, rusticcouch.com.

Time for an afternoon treat. Brick walls lend a warehouse vibe to the rustic decor, while couches and window seats add comfy nooks for kicking back. The cafe serves coffee brewed from locally grown beans courtesy of Cool Beans Coffee Roasters in Marietta, but, since it’s summer in Atlanta, cool down with a frappe (in flavors like vanilla, caramel, mocha, coffee, white chocolate or hazelnut); a frozen blend (a slushie-like concoction offered in taro, matcha and honeydew flavors); a smoothie; or a bubble tea in flavors like kiwi, lychee, strawberry or mango. If you’re hungry, bite into pho-chili dogs, tempura chicken tenders, Korean tacos or other East-meets-West offerings.

4 p.m.

Grayson Coffee House

502 Grayson Parkway, Grayson. 770-837-3448, graysoncoffeehouse.com.

If you’re losing steam on your food tour, you can restart your engine here. Located in an old converted home in downtown Grayson, this cute coffee shop provides a quaint respite for relaxing while your java does its magic. Their coffee is sourced from micro-roaster Jittery Joe’s in Athens, and they also blend a mean frozen concoction (hello, mocha freeze!) to enjoy on extra hot days. Noncoffee drinkers can try one of their teas, smoothies or Italian sodas.

5:30 p.m.

Graft

516 Grayson Parkway, Grayson. 770-338-9001, graftrestaurant.net.

Kick off happy hour by popping into Graft (next door to Grayson Coffee House), located in one of the town’s oldest renovated homes. The restaurant centers around chef-owner Ashley Clemence’s desire to “graft,” or unite, the community with seasonally changing foods, great wines and house-made cocktails. If you find yourself there on a Wednesday, take advantage of half-priced whiskey cocktails, including creations like the Baptist (an orangey, zesty twist on an Old Fashioned) and the Underwood (with heady undertones of tobacco and smoked sugar, plus a little sweetness thanks to some peach). Oenophiles should come by on Thursdays, when select wines are $5 a glass all day long. A frequently changing farm-to-table menu offers plenty of choices if your drinks need something solid to land on (the Graft burger small plate topped with pimento cheese and pickled jalapenos makes for satisfying grub).

7 p.m. (for seafood lovers)

Noble Fin

5260 Peachtree Parkway, Peachtree Corners. 770-599-7979, noblefinrestaurant.com.

Many Atlantans have enjoyed a meal at 4th & Swift, a farm-to-table restaurant with a sophisticated warehouse vibe in the Old Fourth Ward. But you might not know that chef-owner Jay Swift recently has opened a seafood place (with his son, Jeb Aldrich, the chef de cuisine) in Peachtree Corners. This casual restaurant offers a menu that feels both familiar and inventive, focusing on premium quality seafood, steaks, house-made pastas, signature cocktails, bottled and draft beer, wine and local vegetables. Noble Fin’s raw bar features fresh favorites like raw oysters, Maine lobster cocktail and a yellow fin tuna crudo with charred scallions that gets a spicy and citrusy lift from yuzu kosho. Seafood lovers should look to the fresh market fish for a true coastal meal. Items like the sauteed Gulf black grouper, with corn butter and supple, sweet, roasted cipollini onions; and grilled swordfish, with Calabrian peppers and olives, already are becoming favorites among diners, Swift said. For small plates, the broiled Maryland crab cake, loaded with succulent crabmeat and no filler, is a classic that won’t disappoint.

7 p.m. (for burger fans)

Local Republic

225 W. Crogan St., Lawrenceville. 678-205-4782, thelocalrepublic.com.

Calling downtown Lawrenceville home, Local Republic is a popular gastropub dishing up creative burgers (with names like the Truck Stop and Patrick Swayze — fair warning, this one is very spicy!) and craft beer. Adventurous diners can order up the Sink burger, which starts with a sunny-side-up egg, plus whatever else the kitchen wants to add on. The caprese sandwich, veggie panini and a deliciously Southern fried green tomato sandwich all serve as excellent alternatives to the meaty offerings. The impressive beer menu is divided into regions, including Georgia, East Coast, West Coast, United Kingdom, Belgium and Germany. Whether you’re sipping on a brew from Three Taverns in Decatur or knocking back a rich chocolate stout from the U.K., there should be a beer to suit your palate.

11 p.m.

Speakeasy Underground Club (downstairs at Adams Restaurant & Piano Bar)

15 E. Main St., Buford. 678-745-0379, adamsrestaurantandpianobar.com/speakeasy.

Late-night diversion takes center stage at Adams Restaurant & Piano Bar. While you can swing by for regular dinner service, the after-hours fun in the speakeasy downstairs is a good option to cap off the night. Open 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, the Speakeasy Underground Club often features live music of its own (although you’re welcome to enjoy the piano man upstairs if you need a change of pace). You can order your favorite adult beverage to grease up your dance moves and then nosh on some small plates once you work up an appetite. Speakeasy menu items include wings, shrimp cocktail and an antipasto platter, in addition to oysters Rockefeller and a deep-fried Maine lobster.

3 a.m.

Seo Ra Beol

3040 Steve Reynolds Blvd., Duluth. 770-497-1155, seorabeolusa.com.

After rocking out all night, consider checking out this 24/7 joint. Authentic Korean fare — from gal bi tang (short rib soup) to a bulgogi box of thinly sliced marinated beef to various stir fry dishes — is served up in a casual, relaxed atmosphere. The plentiful soups provide a lighter option, although they’re not as good for soaking up excess booze, which you might need if you’re out at 3 a.m. So, try the traditional naeng myun (cold noodles made from buckwheat) for a refreshing dish during the season when it’s still 80-something degrees out in the middle of the night, or fill up on Korean barbecue — beef brisket, rib eye, short ribs and other meat cooked tableside on charcoal grills.

MORE:

6 great places to get a taste of Gwinnett's variety of restaurants

Food tour: 24 hours of Gwinnett restaurants

The 5 best places to drink in Gwinnett

Chefs: Why I opened my restaurant in Gwinnett

Ethnic dishes on the cheap in Gwinnett

Photos: 19 Gwinnett restaurants to try

Map: New Gwinnett restaurants

3 things I learned from eating Korean food in Duluth

5 Indian restaurants in Gwinnett you need to try



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