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Dining reviews


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...
Review: Kicky fun (if not spicy kick) at CT Cocina & Taqueria

Review: Kicky fun (if not spicy kick) at CT Cocina & Taqueria

When I’m going to a cube-shaped cafe (or to be precise, cocina/taqueria) in a suburban shopping center, I don’t expect to be swept off my feet. I brace myself for a functional, fluorescent-lit box, for dropped ceiling tiles and a single wall of windows. I know I’ll easily overlook this unavoidable tableau if the food is fabulous and the staffers are lovely. So I was truly shocked...
Review: Neighborhood pleasures at Poor Hendrix in East Lake

Review: Neighborhood pleasures at Poor Hendrix in East Lake

It is a truth universally acknowledged, to paraphrase Jane Austen, that a community in possession of good fortune must be in want of a neighborhood bar and restaurant. Over the last number of years, the East Lake neighborhood has become exactly that. New residents have flocked there for good reasons. It is a charming neighborhood full of trees and old homes and young families happy to be close to...
Not 2 bothered that one season rules at Kitchen Six

Not 2 bothered that one season rules at Kitchen Six

Kitchen Six has got a numerical shtick that I entirely approve of. On the menu there is a rotating roster of six comforting “bites,” six starters and six entrees. The desserts? Well, those are six, split: there are three. I love a tight, focused menu like this. Not only does it make the job of ordering easy, but also a chef with a small menu has the time to make every dish stand out. So...
Review: Richards’ Southern Fried fries flashes of brilliance

Review: Richards’ Southern Fried fries flashes of brilliance

Richards’ Southern Fried is a hot chicken stand in every sense of the word. Chef Todd Richards’ crispy chicken parts are both super-spicy and super-chic served from a retro-swank counter in Krog Street Market. Richards’ birds are also very delicious. Beautifully brined, crispy-skinned, obsession-worthy, who-cares-if-hot-chicken-is-overplayed delicious. I could admiringly ruminate...
Review: The Federal takes classic style to the bank

Review: The Federal takes classic style to the bank

Among the fickle winds of fashion and trends, some things never go out of style. A little black dress or a well-tailored suit will always fit in at a cocktail party. A pair of aviator Ray Bans never looks bad in the sun. Even when trends change for a few years, timeless style always returns. Much is the same with food. Though the restaurant industry can obsess over fleeting curiosities (nitro beverages!...
Review: A spin on Szechuan at Jia at Ponce City Market

Review: A spin on Szechuan at Jia at Ponce City Market

We were a party of six, so we were seated at the largest table in Jia — a round one made of warm, golden wood. In the table’s center was a circular insert. A Lazy Susan! Looking forward to spinning hot pots and rice bowls and pepper-laden platters this way and that, I put my fingertips on the disc and gave it a gleeful push. (Has anybody in the history of Chinese restaurants ever failed...
Review: Smoky whole-hog ‘cue at B’s Cracklin’ BBQ

Review: Smoky whole-hog ‘cue at B’s Cracklin’ BBQ

My favorite moment in a barbecue joint tends to be the first one. The doors open and you take your first breath of that bewitching aroma of meat and smoke. It is pure and simple, the unadulterated magic from which barbecue is made. That smell whets the appetite just as well as an amuse-bouche at a four-star restaurant. Everything to love about barbecue is in the smoke. It is such a mysterious substance...
Review: Amara fuses Indian flavors with modern, chef-y creations

Review: Amara fuses Indian flavors with modern, chef-y creations

When I think of Indian cuisine, a particular dish is not what comes to mind. Rather, it is the spice rack. It is cumin, coriander, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, black pepper, fenugreek, mustard seeds, tamarind, turmeric, saffron. It is whole, dry spices, pan-toasted or wet-fried to draw out their complexity, with the added bonus that they fill the kitchen with a heady fragrance. The first thing I noticed...
Review: Smoke and mirrors at Smoke and Duck Sauce

Review: Smoke and mirrors at Smoke and Duck Sauce

The name of this chic new Asian-inflected barbecue joint makes a particular promise. You’re going to get smoke — in the form of barbecued pork, brisket and chicken — and you’ll get duck sauce, the fruity glaze that can turn Chinese takeout into dessert-as-dinner. Does the promise deliver? Copiously — at least when it comes to the sweet stuff. Sides such as pickled carrots...
Review: 3 metro Atlanta spots to find poke and sushi burritos abound in Atlanta

Review: 3 metro Atlanta spots to find poke and sushi burritos abound in Atlanta

Have you had a spicy tuna sushi burrito with a salmon poke bowl on the side yet? If not, you won’t have to go far. Drawing on the Hawaiian tradition of poke (pronounced po-kay), the Japanese tradition of rolled sushi, and the American tradition of assembly-line capitalism, a new class of restaurants has exploded in the past year across the country, Atlanta included. What should we call this?...
One Midtown Kitchen has culinary creativity, but space outdoes plates

One Midtown Kitchen has culinary creativity, but space outdoes plates

First impressions matter. Food, drinks, service? All of that matters, too — a lot, actually — but what we see when we first step inside a restaurant sets expectations for what’s to come. Is the place polished and well appointed? Industrial cool? Quaint and homey? Worn and dirty? Those initial feelings can have us questioning whether it’s better to do a 180 and walk out the...
Review: Angry Chef has mellowed at Southern Bistro in Sandy Springs

Review: Angry Chef has mellowed at Southern Bistro in Sandy Springs

On occasion, I have heard some critics claim that chefs do not cook enough Southern food in Atlanta. I’m not sure this is true. Take, for example, the menu at Southern Bistro, which is full of dishes that any Southerner would recognize as familiar, comforting food. The drop biscuits that arrived first was seasoned with a mince of mild herbs. The boat of mac and cheese was rich...
7 of the best banh mi around metro Atlanta

7 of the best banh mi around metro Atlanta

When the Vietnamese adopted the bread of their colonizers, they made it their own by tossing rice flour with the wheat. The result is a loaf that’s cloudlike on the inside and more crackly when it comes to the crust. It is one of the most weightless breads around, yet it has the fortitude to sandwich a whole lot of delicious stuff. In the case of the banh mi, that stuff almost always consists...
Review: Ramen (with the drinks to match) at Nexto

Review: Ramen (with the drinks to match) at Nexto

Behind the former factory that once made telephones, look for an outbuilding where a welder once lit torches and cut metal. You will know you are in the right place when you see a pixelated space invader glowing mysteriously on an exterior white wall. Step inside. Look up. The industrial ceiling will rise so high that it seems to disappear over the room’s centerpiece: a bonsai-like arrangement...
Review: Stick with the chowder at C&S Chowder House in Roswell

Review: Stick with the chowder at C&S Chowder House in Roswell

I love the sand and sea, but I don’t like to eat beach. Yet, there I was at C&S Chowder House trying to stomach gritty-beyond-edible steamed clams that were part of a $50 lobster dinner called the Down East Feast. The debacle of the Down East Feast was the breaking point after a slew of misshapen fish and seafood dishes at the restaurant, which opened this fall a few doors down from the Peach...
Review: Dining is an international adventure at the Consulate

Review: Dining is an international adventure at the Consulate

The owners of the Consulate, Doug Hines and Mei Lin, have a real thing for James Bond. But, of course, they do. They’re kind of secret agents themselves. Their cover story? Honey Bubble on Ponce de Leon Avenue, their first foray into running a restaurant. Honey Bubble traffics in tapioca pearl tea. It’s stylish, very hip and the drinks are tasty. But it gives no inkling that Hines and...
Review: Old-school Italian is alive and well at Nino’s in Atlanta

Review: Old-school Italian is alive and well at Nino’s in Atlanta

There is a neighborhood in my hometown of St. Louis called the Hill. Great things have come out of that Italian immigrant pocket. Like baseball legends Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola. Like five of the no-name guys on the slapdash 1950 U.S. men’s national team who defeated England in a 1-0 World Cup upset known as the “Miracle on Grass.” The Hill also is home to loads of mom-and-pop...
Linton’s in the Garden relaunching as Longleaf as Jason Paolini takes the culinary lead

Linton’s in the Garden relaunching as Longleaf as Jason Paolini takes the culinary lead

Chef Jason Paolini at Linton’s in the Garden. (Beckysteinphotography.com) Linton’s in the Garden, the full-service restaurant and quick cafe at the Atlanta Botanical Garden from James Beard Award-winning Atlanta chef/restaurateur Linton Hopkins, is being relaunched as Longleaf, according to a news release.
Review: An Atlanta pizza joint and a speakeasy make an unlikely match

Review: An Atlanta pizza joint and a speakeasy make an unlikely match

Sometimes, a cigar bar is just a cigar bar — because there’s very little you want to do in that bar except smoke cigars. For me, that was the case at Red Phone Booth. (Except, to be truthful, I didn’t actually smoke a cigar.) My friends and I made a Friday night stop in this “Prohibition Experience” for cocktails before heading upstairs to its sister restaurant, Amalfi...
Review: Korean meats and party vibes at Char in Inman Park

Review: Korean meats and party vibes at Char in Inman Park

Barbecue aficionados love nothing more than to argue about barbecue. Case in point: the buddy of mine I invited to Char Korean Bar and Grill for a meal of Korean barbecue. He’s a barbecue guy, steeped in the Southern tradition of smoking large cuts of meat for hours and hours. I’d neglected to mention that the culinary tradition known in English as Korean barbecue is opposite in almost...
Review: Sleek space stands out more than steaks at American Cut

Review: Sleek space stands out more than steaks at American Cut

The best seat in the house at American Cut at the Shops Buckhead Atlanta is not in the house at all. It is outside, on one of the comfy lounge chairs on the third-floor open-air balcony, under the warmth of heat lamps, with a terrific view of Midtown to the south and away from all the loud noise inside. The American Cut dinner menu is not available up here at this indoor-outdoor rooftop bar billed...
Review: 8arm delivers unexpected pleasures on Ponce

Review: 8arm delivers unexpected pleasures on Ponce

On a recent evening at 8arm, the latest Beltline-adjacent destination to open along Ponce de Leon Avenue, I ordered the mussels. I expected, perhaps reasonably, something along the lines of that classic combination of rich bivalves and crusty bread. In the candlelit dining room, the dish that arrived seemed to more or less confirm expectations: a long, thick slice of sourdough topped with a bevy of...
Review: Celebrated ramen chain Jinya satisfies in Sandy Springs

Review: Celebrated ramen chain Jinya satisfies in Sandy Springs

Is there room for another ramen restaurant in Atlanta? The resounding answer seems to be yes. A couple of years ago, when the crowds waiting for a seat at Allen Suh’s Gato Arigato would spill nightly onto the otherwise quiet sidewalks of Candler Park, I thought surely we were at the peak of ramen fever in Atlanta. How wrong I was. Ramen has gone from the territory of old-school Japanese spots...
Review: Comfort food abounds at the Shed at Glenwood

Review: Comfort food abounds at the Shed at Glenwood

The little white plant served as the garnish for a butternut squash tart. The tart was a welcome alternative from the typical pumpkin pie of autumn. There was, on the side, a dab of cranberry compote and a dollop of Dark and Stormy — rum ice cream and ginger ice cream swirled into a zinger of a frozen treat. Scattered around the chilly quenelle were crumbled sugar cookies that, a few years ago...
Comet Pub & Lanes strikes taste buds with chef-driven menu

Comet Pub & Lanes strikes taste buds with chef-driven menu

If the Comet Pub & Lanes was really going for authentic, they would issue desiccated, red-white-and-blue bowling shoes, their innards as muggy as a jungle. There would be carpeting that smells of powdered cheese. The staff would be surly and the snacks would taste like well-oiled cardboard. I’m happy to say that Comet — once the good ol’ Suburban Lanes in Decatur — is a mod...
Food tour: 5 Atlanta restaurants that offer great service

Food tour: 5 Atlanta restaurants that offer great service

My family never belonged to a country club. If the stories I’ve read about the exclusive ones here in Atlanta are true, they wouldn’t have had me or my folks if we had tried. I have, on rare occasion, dined at such an establishment, though. They are places of enormous privilege, designed to please the most entitled members of our society. But, of all the things I recall from those few...
Avellino’s is a pizza joint for the neighborhood

Avellino’s is a pizza joint for the neighborhood

Avellino’s Pizzeria is a neighborhood joint, through and through. Both of them, in fact. One location overlooks the railroad tracks in Decatur. The other, in the Brookhaven area, is plunked between a dry cleaner and a scrubby empty field. Both are tiny holes in the wall, usually with a crowd at the door and plenty of inviting outdoor seating. But, in ways subtle and not, these two Avellino&rsquo...
Spring in Marietta: Subtle delights by the tracks

Spring in Marietta: Subtle delights by the tracks

If you speak on occasion with young chefs (or cooks who aspire to be a chef one day), you undoubtedly will hear about a certain kind of restaurant they covet. It is a small place, maybe no more than 40 seats. The menu is short, only a few dishes made from the best-sourced and prime in-season ingredients. The drinks all complement the food. There’s no kitsch or gimmick or trendy element designed...
The show and wine outshine the food at City Winery

The show and wine outshine the food at City Winery

My neck hurts. For the past two hours it has craned to the left to watch an acoustic show by guitarist-songwriter Richard Thompson at City Winery. I’m also feeling a bit dazed. Not because of that glass of wine — a City Winery label 2015 pinot noir served on tap that was tight, but tasty overall. It’s because dining in the dark, and during a concert, is odd. I could not see my food...
Guy Wong’s Ton Ton brings bowl-to-face ramen to Ponce City Market

Guy Wong’s Ton Ton brings bowl-to-face ramen to Ponce City Market

For a long time, Ton Ton was the biggest tease of Ponce City Market. We were promised Guy Wong’s ramen and yakitori joint back in August of 2015. Then, it was going to come around March, but that date, too, came and went with no noodles. Well, Ton Ton is here at last, though it’s but a teenage version of its future self. With no liquor license yet, there’s only fancy fizz to drink...
Prime meat, minus the finesse, at 101 Steak in Vinings

Prime meat, minus the finesse, at 101 Steak in Vinings

Years ago, a wise steakhouse restaurateur explained his business to me in a way that I’ve never forgotten. His steakhouses, he said, were not successful because it was hard to cook a steak. Almost everybody knows how to cook a steak, he said. They were successful because, when people have a craving, the kind of desire that moves a person to step out of the house and plunk down hard-earned cash...
Dining review: Storico Fresco in Buckhead is an Italian diner’s dream

Dining review: Storico Fresco in Buckhead is an Italian diner’s dream

Storico Fresco Alimentari e Ristorante feels a little like a dream. Oh, sure, we’ve all heard about that little market hidden away on a side street where everything is made from scratch, it feels casual enough for any weeknight but somehow has flawless service, it sources all the best ingredients, it has just the right glass of wine, and you’ll be sent home with a little box of something...
Bombay Brasserie in Roswell offers lots of options

Bombay Brasserie in Roswell offers lots of options

Here’s the trick to crafting a happy outing to Roswell’s Bombay Brasserie: Decide at the outset which Bombay Brasserie you want to go to. Do you want the all-you-can-eat weekend buffet groaning with all manner of Indian standards? It’s there for you. Perhaps you want just the opposite. You want date night, not family night; small plates, spice-spiked cocktails and an exotic view...
Review: Ba Bellies, a restaurant that should make a mother proud

Review: Ba Bellies, a restaurant that should make a mother proud

I was sitting alone at the Ba Bellies bar in Peachtree Corners when the shaking beef arrived. I knew it was too much. I’d already ordered a papaya salad laden with shrimp and a bowl of wontons dripping in an addictive, blackened sweet chili sauce. Both had paired nicely with a little goblet of Wild Heaven Peach Gose, a lightly sour, refreshing summer beer. The bartender had raised her eyebrows...
Review: A star Thai restaurant in Norcross

Review: A star Thai restaurant in Norcross

I was clued into Thai Star by a chef friend who told me it’s the only Thai place in the city she and her husband truly love. “We can’t find anything else as authentic,” she said. So, I brought the couple along to my meal there and, I’ve got to say, there is something very authentically Atlantan about a Thai restaurant on a busy Norcross highway in a building that was...
Review: Pauley’s Crepe Bar wins only on nostalgia

Review: Pauley’s Crepe Bar wins only on nostalgia

College towns are the best at taking something random and making it an institution, especially when that randomness is edible. Take a place called Pauley’s, which took Athens by storm in 2008. It stayed open until 2 a.m. and had a 10-yard-long local beer list. The food at the heart of this joint’s menu? Crepes. And not some crispy, handheld, might-as-well-be-a-pizza-slice crepe either...

Noble Fin aspires to bring culinary finesse to Peachtree Corners

Ah, the Great Perimeter Debate. With restaurant reviews, I’ve tried to avoid skirmishes that pit intown Atlantans against those who live outside I-285 by pointing out elements that make an establishment appealing to diners, no matter their zip code or that of the restaurant. I’m having a hard time doing so with Noble Fin. Noble Fin opened in Peachtree Corners this past May. It is of interest...
Review: Garden setting at Linton’s more illuminating than the food

Review: Garden setting at Linton’s more illuminating than the food

Have you ever been high in expectation of a special event only to be let down? Maybe you didn’t get the birthday present you hoped for — or, worse, your big day went forgotten. Maybe the concert you paid a pretty penny to attend was lousy — or, worse, the rock star canceled at the last minute. Perhaps you ate lunch at Linton’s at the botanical garden — or, worse, you...
Review: Homespun charm at Rising Son in Avondale Estates

Review: Homespun charm at Rising Son in Avondale Estates

Before I could take a bite of the open-faced tomato sandwich at Rising Son in Avondale Estates, Kathryn Rouse looked over from the cash register and mentioned, “You know, those tomatoes came from our yard.” The deep, dark red slices were from an heirloom breed called Cherokee Purple, she said, and the bright orange slices were, hold on, she couldn’t quite remember. Kathryn looked...
Review: Atwoods Pizza Cafe more worthy of penthouse than basement

Review: Atwoods Pizza Cafe more worthy of penthouse than basement

Most big office complexes have a cafe in the bowels of the building. Often, this place is a convenient dispensary of sad desk lunches. It’s a place where blah turkey sandwiches are slapped together and served beneath buzzing fluorescent lights. There’s nothing like a basket of bruised apples and bananas next to the cash register to impel a hasty retreat back to work. In contrast, Atwoods...
Atlanta restaurant review: Big Laotian flavors at Hot Cafe in Forest Park

Atlanta restaurant review: Big Laotian flavors at Hot Cafe in Forest Park

A funny thing happened to me at Hot Cafe the other day. I sat down with a friend in a padded booth by the window, as I’ve done a number of times lately, and ordered the same five or six dishes I’ve come to love. Then, the waiter, who recognized me, wondered if the papaya salad had been too spicy for me on my last visit. He was right. At the previous lunch, I’d made the mistake of...
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