Dining reviews


Review: Janet’s Kitchen brings taste of the Philippines to Decatur

Despite my Filipino name, only a quarter of the blood that flows through my veins is Pinoy. It’s when I’m with my dad’s family, though, that I sometimes feel full-blooded. When I walk into my relatives’ homes in Chicago, there is a distinct smell, and it emanates from the kitchen. I think it’s primarily the rice pot, which claims counter space, much like a coffeepot does...
Review: A double order of eccentric Americana at Golden Eagle

Review: A double order of eccentric Americana at Golden Eagle

Maybe you have heard about the roadside diner’s club on Memorial Drive. It is the one hidden in the back half of the building, behind the sunny California-styled coffee joint called Muchacho. The one with the moose head hanging over the padded horseshoe bar, where bartenders are just as happy to stir up a rye cocktail as they are to pour a Czech Pilsner into a gold rimmed glass. The place...
Review: Anh’s Kitchen brings Vietnamese classics to Midtown

Review: Anh’s Kitchen brings Vietnamese classics to Midtown

In the early 2000s, I spent a few years living in a high-rise condominium near 10th and Peachtree. The view from the 18th floor was magnificent, but the dining options down below were still evolving. Had I been able to stop by a place like Anh’s Kitchen for crispy fried spring rolls and a dependable bowl of noodle soup, the world would have seemed a little brighter somehow. The latest venture...
Review: Bulla Gastrobar puts the boo-yah in tapas

Review: Bulla Gastrobar puts the boo-yah in tapas

The first thing to know about Bulla Gastrobar is that it is not pronounced “bull-ah.” The correct pronunciation is “boo-yah.” As owner Carlos Centurion told an interviewer at the original location of this Spanish-styled tapas restaurant in the Coral Gables neighborhood of Miami, bulla “literally means ‘noise’ but basically has connotations of fun, excitement...
Review: Osteria di Mare plays it safe with Italian seafood and steaks

Review: Osteria di Mare plays it safe with Italian seafood and steaks

What compels you to choose a restaurant? Are you more likely to go for that shining temple of gastronomy on a hill, or that neighborhood gem down the street? If you fall in the latter category, you may want to know about Osteria di Mare in Peachtree Corners. A little less than a mile north of Jay Swift’s posh Noble Fin (“Seafood Steaks Cocktails”) sits Andrew...
Review: New Italian eatery Donetto does pasta well but has some misses

Review: New Italian eatery Donetto does pasta well but has some misses

Much press has been given to Donetto, a fine-dining Italian spot, open since late September, in one of the historic buildings that form the Stockyards redevelopment project in West Midtown. The press is justifiable. Donetto is a new concept by 32-year-old chef Michael Perez, who partnered in this venture with Steve Palmer, managing partner of Charleston, S.C.-based Indigo Road hospitality group...
Review: Head to Duluth’s Thank U Chicken for real KFC (as in Korean)

Review: Head to Duluth’s Thank U Chicken for real KFC (as in Korean)

Chicken and waffles. Nashville hot chicken. Buffalo wings. Asha Gomez’s Kerala Fried Chicken. Popeyes. However you like your fried bird, and I dig all of the above, you won’t go lacking in Atlanta, where cooks from north, south, east and west are well schooled in matters of frying the comforting dish their way. Korean fried chicken, which some people winkingly call the original KFC, is...
Review: Busy Bee Cafe is where Atlanta never changes

Review: Busy Bee Cafe is where Atlanta never changes

Nothing stays the same in Atlanta for very long. That house you thought was in a quiet, affordable neighborhood last year? It’s probably a towering, traffic-packed mixed-use development today. Your favorite fine dining chef from a few years back? He owns a cheeseburger chain now. That scrappy company your friends started? It’s become a 700-person corporation. That quiet dude you knew from...
Review: Tea House Formosa, where millennials go for tea and snacks

Review: Tea House Formosa, where millennials go for tea and snacks

The first time I stopped by Tea House Formosa on Buford Highway, my friend and I found a quiet nook and ordered a pot of Rose of the Orient: green tea delicately scented with rose, marigold and cornflower. She poured from a lantern-shaped porcelain pot. We sipped from dainty white matching cups and filled our table with an assortment of snacks: tea eggs, tempura-fried green beans, hand-cut taro fries...
Review: The Farmhouse at Serenbe is still bucolic 10 years later

Review: The Farmhouse at Serenbe is still bucolic 10 years later

To get to the Farmhouse at Serenbe from the city of Atlanta, you’ll need to drive south on I-85, long past the airport. You’ll be more than halfway to the city of Newnan by the time you take the exit, after which you’ll need to navigate a number of lonely two-lane roads, rolling and curving by pastures and stands of trees. When you arrive at night, the lights of the Inn and the Farmhouse...
Review: C. Ellet’s goes in two directions at The Battery

Review: C. Ellet’s goes in two directions at The Battery

Behold the steak list. You will rarely see one as detailed as that on offer at C. Ellet’s. Depending on the night, the menu may offer a choice between an 18-ounce, 35-day dry-aged bone-in Kansas City strip cut from Angus cattle raised in Texas and distributed by Allen Brothers, a 7-ounce Coulotte from Tajima cattle raised in Washington state and distributed by Mishima, an 8-ounce Angus hanger...
Review: Simon’s Restaurant, in spot Luda made famous, has bumpy start

Review: Simon’s Restaurant, in spot Luda made famous, has bumpy start

Some years ago, this much-renovated structure on a stretch of Juniper known for its stately homes was a place called Spice. Just recently, it was Time Restaurant & Lounge. In between and perhaps most notably, it was Straits Atlanta, a Singaporean-influenced restaurant where Grammy-winning rapper Ludacris and his team served kung pao lollipops and a $50 margarita. (Ludacris flew the coop to open ...
Review: Kula Revolving Sushi brings bells, whistles to Japanese food

Review: Kula Revolving Sushi brings bells, whistles to Japanese food

A visit to Kula Revolving Sushi Bar in Doraville is a little bit like stepping inside a sushi-themed pinball machine. Domed dishes of edamame, nigiri and sushi rolls whir by on a conveyor belt, beckoning you to grab what you want. As you deposit empty plates in a tableside disposal chute, your “score” appears on a personalized video monitor. At five-plate intervals, the screen lights up...
Review: Sushi Hayakawa shines after renovation

Review: Sushi Hayakawa shines after renovation

When you eat at Sushi Hayakawa, you may notice how few people are there. It is not a lack of customers, but a lack of seats. Even on a fully booked Saturday night with every seat occupied or reserved, your eyes may scan the well-lit room and see only a handful of tables, the thick-hewn, wooden slab of sushi bar, and scarcely more than a couple of dozen diners. Behind the bar’s simple glass coolers...
Review: Greens & Gravy excels at fried chicken and simple comforts

Review: Greens & Gravy excels at fried chicken and simple comforts

At Greens & Gravy, chef Darius Williams’ souped-up soul food joint in Westview, you can get fried catfish on a puddle of roasted sweet-potato grits, Garlicky Turnip Green Alfredo, and short ribs braised for six hours in a hearty pour of Malbec. Williams even riffs on the food-on-a-stick trend, skewering fried chicken and biscuits and sending them out with country gravy for dunkin’. How...
Review: Stick with the tacos at Babalu in Midtown

Review: Stick with the tacos at Babalu in Midtown

The Cuban singer and composer Margarita Lecuona wrote the song “Babalú” in 1939. It is a dramatic Afro-Cuban number backed by a hip-shaking beat. The moody Spanish Creole lyrics are a plea to one of the deities of Santeria, a story full of ritualistic candlelight, cigar smoke and brandy. They speak to a culture melded from African, Caribbean and European traditions. The best-known...
Review: Double Dragon serves authentically inauthentic Chinese

Review: Double Dragon serves authentically inauthentic Chinese

What’s not to love about General Tso’s chicken? It is the sticky, saucy, crunchy, salty and sweet epitome of Chinese restaurants in America. You might call it a second-generation dish, the sort that doesn’t resemble the food served in Hunan Province, the historical home of the namesake Tso Tsung-t’ang, as much as it appeals to the American taste for sweet, fried things. It...
Review: On Beltline’s Westside Trail, a nice spot for beer and bites

Review: On Beltline’s Westside Trail, a nice spot for beer and bites

The Fitbit is irrelevant. The most essential information for every serious Atlanta Beltline pedestrian is knowing where to stop for a beer. When the Beltline’s Eastside Trail opened a few years ago, Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall was the place for a refill: a Creature Comforts Tropicalia for you, a bowl of water for your pooch. It will come as no surprise, then, that before the ribbon could...
Review: The Canteen re-envisions the food hall

Review: The Canteen re-envisions the food hall

What is a food hall? On cynical days, I wonder if it is just a marketing revision of “mall food court,” an advertiser’s way of saying “like Panda Express and Sbarro but artisanal.” When I’m being more optimistic, I think food hall could describe a place more uniquely new, a collision of food truck-style culinary bootstrapping and cheffy fast-casual entrepreneurial...
Review: Dish Korean Cuisine offers homey flavors in modern digs

Review: Dish Korean Cuisine offers homey flavors in modern digs

Sometimes when I go out to eat, I want to feel like I’m out: I want the fancy room and the full service. Other times, I want the comfort of home without the trouble, the big bowl of something satisfying plopped in front of me without much show. In general, restaurants make it easy to know which way you’re going. You see a maitre d’ in a suit or a white tablecloth on the table and...
Review: Barleygarden Kitchen gives the people what they want

Review: Barleygarden Kitchen gives the people what they want

As far as collaborations go, the idea of one between local butcher and craft beer proprietors just goes together as well as sausage and ale, doesn’t it? The affair behind Barleygarden Kitchen and Craft Bar in Alpharetta’s Avalon development has just such a natural balance to it. Kraig Torres, owner of Hop City Beer, has built a reputation for sourcing excellent and impressively large...
Review: East Point taco joint is a tiny space with big Mexican flavor

Review: East Point taco joint is a tiny space with big Mexican flavor

I wish I could explain why so many Americans dig hard-shell tacos. Don’t be a snob. You know what I’m talking about. Crispy tortillas folded into a U and traditionally filled with spicy ground beef, lettuce, tomato, yellow cheese and salsa, they are not authentic Mexican at all. They became popular at a time when most of us knew little or nothing about Oaxacan mole or “chiles en...
Review: A Mano wants to be the Old Fourth Ward’s neighbor

Review: A Mano wants to be the Old Fourth Ward’s neighbor

On a recent Saturday night at the Old Fourth Ward’s newest Italian restaurant, A Mano, you could see paper lanterns in the distance. Somewhere past where we could see, there were thousands of glowing lights floating through the dark, colorful and whimsical creations carried by participants in the Atlanta Beltline Lantern Parade. But here on the corner of Ralph McGill and Glen...
Review: At Upbeet, tempo is fresh; future looks bright and healthy

Review: At Upbeet, tempo is fresh; future looks bright and healthy

I’ve been stuffing myself with fast food, and for once in my life, I feel good about it. Perhaps that’s because this orgy of eating has not included a single french fry, hamburger or milkshake. No, ma’am. Look for me among the worshipful throngs at Upbeet, Atlanta’s new high altar of fast, clean eating. It’s the latest concept from Young + Hungry Hospitality, the company...
Review: Yummy Spicy brings prickly Sichuan flavors to Buford Highway

Review: Yummy Spicy brings prickly Sichuan flavors to Buford Highway

On my first visit to Yummy Spicy on Buford Highway, I made it through the hot and numbing chicken, no problem. I devoured the beef tendon and tripe in chili sauce as easily as a can of sardines — easy-peasy. Even the stir-fry of spicy lamb did not blister my Caucasian taste buds, though it was spiked with no less than three kinds of capsicum: Sichuan peppercorns, red-pepper flakes and pods of...
Review: Bollywood Zing in Smyrna serves vegetarian Indian on a budget

Review: Bollywood Zing in Smyrna serves vegetarian Indian on a budget

The shopping center on Cumberland Boulevard where Bollywood Zing is located in Smyrna is not a particularly inspiring place. There are a vacant department store building, an Army recruiting office, and, like every other shopping center in metro Atlanta, a joint to get some hot wings. Depending on your perspective, this may be the last place you expect to find a kitchen run by two young guys putting...
Review: Steaks and glitz at Kaiser’s Chophouse in Sandy Springs

Review: Steaks and glitz at Kaiser’s Chophouse in Sandy Springs

It is Tuesday night in Sandy Springs and the valet line for Kaiser’s Chophouse is stacked. The cars arriving for dinner seem to have all been driven here directly from the car wash. In the night glow of streetlights, the paint shimmers and the chrome gleams, though none quite as much as the three cars parked right in front: a black Maserati, a blue Bentley and a white Porsche. The valet guys...
Review: Food Terminal excels with diversity of Malaysian cuisine

Review: Food Terminal excels with diversity of Malaysian cuisine

The first night I ate at Food Terminal, the new Malaysian restaurant on Buford Highway, I brought a friend whom I consider to be about as food-obsessed as I am. He’s spent much of his adult life working in kitchens and making food pilgrimages, whether eating his way through Southeast Asia or wandering the boroughs of New York in search of the perfect slice of pizza. In other words, he&rsquo...
Review: Sweetheart of a place, Petit Chou feels at home in Cabbagetown

Review: Sweetheart of a place, Petit Chou feels at home in Cabbagetown

My handcrafted cherry-and-rosemary soda comes garnished with a dainty purple carnation that’s just a few shades darker than the outside of this restaurant. The Chicken Liver Mousse arrives in a little red tea cup, surrounded by sliced green apples, yellow carrots and watermelon radishes so thin you can almost see through them. Ooh la la. This is what Saturday brunch looks like at Petit Chou...
Review: Bacchanalia still the place for fine wining and dining

Review: Bacchanalia still the place for fine wining and dining

Thanks to “Baby Driver,” moviegoers everywhere are now privy to what Atlantans have known for years: Bacchanalia is “the finest wining and dining of all the wines and dines in town.” It is the default special occasions destination in this city. A reservation at Bacchanalia begs for dressing up, for thinking twice about attire, all in anticipation of being transported to the...
Review: Doug’s Place serves down-home, country-style cooking in Emerson

Review: Doug’s Place serves down-home, country-style cooking in Emerson

When you live in Atlanta and get assigned to review a country-cooking spot up Lake Allatoona way, and invite a friend and her 15-year-old son to come along, you don’t expect them to text back: “We love that place!” As it turns out, Doug’s Place Restaurant, a Southern meat-and-three diner just off I-75 in Emerson, is a favorite spot of my friends, Jodi and Sam, who reside in...
Review: Thai pop-up mixes classic technique with modern panache

Review: Thai pop-up mixes classic technique with modern panache

It’s about 7:30 on a Saturday night, and a stocky, bespectacled guy wearing a green T-shirt is hunched over a cutting board slicing scallions. The chef sprinkles the green onions on a dish of red catfish curry tossed with eggplant, green beans, lime basil and Thai lime leaves. Cupping the bowl in his hands, he moves from behind the counter to our table. He places the “pla duk pat prik...
Review: Whiskey Bird puts twist on traditional Japanese skewers

Review: Whiskey Bird puts twist on traditional Japanese skewers

If I had to guess which way of cooking meat is the oldest, which technique was favored by our loincloth-wearing, cave-dwelling ancestors, I would probably say “shoving hunks of meat on a stick and holding it over a fire.” It is a culinary invention that was spontaneously invented in dozens of places across the entire world. Skewered, charred meat might be called one thing in Nigeria or...
Review: Cafe Songhai offers West African eats in Peachtree Corners

Review: Cafe Songhai offers West African eats in Peachtree Corners

At a weekend lunch in June, I walked into Cafe Songhai from the summer heat, slipped down into one of the cool, long booths, and decided to try something new. Like many places that serve African food, or food of the African diaspora, the kitchen here will be happy to whip you up a plate of ripe plantains, sliced and fried to a light caramelized touch. But the menu also offers krakro, a fried lumpy...
Review: Old Lady Gang brings ‘RHOA’ star, family to Castleberry Hill

Review: Old Lady Gang brings ‘RHOA’ star, family to Castleberry Hill

On a recent weekday night, a Kandi Burruss superfan walked into Old Lady Gang and took a look around. She surveyed a happy-looking throng at the bar full of people drinking bright, colorful cocktails and leaned her head into an adjoining dining room filled with the smell of fried chicken. After a moment’s consideration, she said, “This is it? I thought it would be bigger.” Her sister...
Review: Kabab Express brings authentic Indian to Decatur

Review: Kabab Express brings authentic Indian to Decatur

Last year, I had the good fortune of eating my way around Delhi, India, for a couple of days. Thankfully, my guide, Manjeet, was a fellow food lover — not at all shy about navigating the crowded, labyrinthine nooks and crannies of the old city in pursuit of vegetarian parathas, chicken tikka and samosas fried in hot oil while we watched. Back home, I never imagined I’d find anything to...
Review: Muss & Turner’s East Cobb sparks love affair with sandwich

Review: Muss & Turner’s East Cobb sparks love affair with sandwich

Never thought it would come to this. Never thought I’d utter these words: I’m embroiled in a long-distance relationship with a sandwich. Neither a conventional looker nor a singular slab of beef, the one I lust for does boast a rather coquettish name and a pedigree akin to royalty in the Atlanta delicatessen world. My princess calls herself Pastrami on Wry, and she’s just that: a...
Review: New burger spot in Forest Park deserves spot on ‘best of’ list

Review: New burger spot in Forest Park deserves spot on ‘best of’ list

When it comes to food, listicles abound. Who’s got the best barbecue? The best brunch? The best fried chicken? Such rankings can turn into quite the food fight for those impassioned by all things culinary. Like me with baguettes. (You should see the ridiculous spreadsheet I kept that time I wrote a piece on top baguettes. Did some bat-shaped bread really require that many columns...
Review: Eat your vegetables at Mediterranea

Review: Eat your vegetables at Mediterranea

Like most people I know, I often aspire to eat a little better than I do. More vegetables, smaller portions, local ingredients, that sort of thing. But, of course, life tends to get in the way. It ends up being easier to grab a cheeseburger from a neighborhood joint than finding and preparing a meal from, say, locally grown eggplants. This apparent gap between my aspirations and actual life leaves...
Review: Good times with a global touch at Bon Ton

Review: Good times with a global touch at Bon Ton

Growing up in Louisiana, we ate our po’boys on “French bread” that wasn’t like any bread in France. At the football games, we cheered “Geaux Tigers!” though “geaux” was definitely not the French word for “go.” Sure, any and all of us knew a little French — certainly enough to let “Laissez les bons temps rouler” roll off...
Review: Sasser brings her wit to Hampton + Hudson

Review: Sasser brings her wit to Hampton + Hudson

It was a thrill to write about Twain’s back in 2015. Not only was it one of the first restaurants I reviewed for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, it also felt like a discovery. The Decatur pub had been around for ages but had hired the witty and winning young chef Savannah Haseler (now Sasser). Sasser crafted a menu that respected the billiard hall’s pubbiness, but she also got a...
Review: Double Zero’s shared plates can delight; pizza, pasta miss mark

Review: Double Zero’s shared plates can delight; pizza, pasta miss mark

In its new home in Emory Village, Double Zero is a packed house during peak dine times. Varied seating — high tops, low tops, a community table, a gorgeous bar and lounge area with banquette seating, the requisite patio — are filled with an assortment of parties — dates and double dates of young and old, clusters of college kids, families, too. The high energy at Double Zero fills...
Review: Beers and Japanese bites at Hopstix Brewery

Review: Beers and Japanese bites at Hopstix Brewery

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a drinker who imbibes a quantity of beer will be in want of some food. The college student who has supped Coors Light from red Solo cups may soon be speed-dialing the nearest pizza delivery joint. But the drinker of finer brews, the craft beer aficionado who can taste the relative freshness of Citra hops in a pint of India pale ale, might also be interested...
Review: Magnolia Room offers charm of old-school Southern cafeteria

Review: Magnolia Room offers charm of old-school Southern cafeteria

I’ve got a soft spot for cafeterias. My last semester of college, I got a job as a cashier at a cafeteria called Garavelli’s. It meant waking at 5:30 a.m. to clock in at 6. It also meant working with some people with a lot of drama in their lives who let me write about them for my English comp class. It meant a manager, Mary, who let me do homework during downtime. It meant a free meal...
Modern meets old school at Kaiser’s Chophouse in Sandy Springs

Modern meets old school at Kaiser’s Chophouse in Sandy Springs

Though it’s only been open for a few weeks, Kaiser’s Chop House on Roswell Road in Sandy Springs already has the look and feel of a classic dining destination. The modern steakhouse from Atlanta chef Peter Kaiser is billed as offering “an elevated dining experience with quality cuts of meats, superior ingredients and a boutique wine and cocktail program.” Beloved Atlanta chef...
Review: Texas-style brisket and sausage at DAS BBQ

Review: Texas-style brisket and sausage at DAS BBQ

As the barbecue purist picked up a thick slice of glistening, fatty brisket from the platter with his fingers, he said, “And this is what we call the ‘accordion test.’” From the bottom of the dangling slice, he tugged gently and the moist meat stretched just a little bit before giving up a bite that drenched his fingers in fat. The accordion test, he explained to me, was a...
Review: Royal Myanmar Cuisine brings Burma to Clarkston

Review: Royal Myanmar Cuisine brings Burma to Clarkston

Over the past several years, a friend who moved to Atlanta from San Francisco has often repeated a lament to me. “I just can’t find any Burmese food here,” she would say. I found it to be a surprising problem. One of Atlanta’s great assets, I tend to tell people thinking about moving here, is the deep, rich diversity of food available in our restaurants. Just drive down Buford...
Review: Try street food indoors at Atlanta’s Halal Guys, Yumbii

Review: Try street food indoors at Atlanta’s Halal Guys, Yumbii

Selling food on a street corner has long been one of the quickest ways to start a business, though it is hard work. The overhead is low, but that means one must brave the elements and stake claim to turf. Few last long in the business. Every once in a while, though, a street food vendor becomes so successful that they leave the street to sell food indoors, just like everybody else. In Atlanta, two...
More Dining Reviews Stories