A sampling of great eats in and around Buckhead!
Chamblee’s popularity as a residential and dining destination seems to be on the rise, and Chef Jared Hucks is here to make sure diners eat like royalty. Winning starters include a homemade bread plate with prosciutto butter and cheddar pimento cheese, silky sweet potato bisque and sashimi quality seared scallops. For mains, go with the cold smoked salmon, Moroccan-spiced shrimp and grits or the hickory smoked Brasstown coulotte steak. Desserts are deliciously unique. If you’ve got belly room to spare, be sure to witness the chef’s gastro-theatrics with the banana bread pudding service. Our favorite was the lunar chocolate, which the chef calls his “dessert moonscape.”
Smaller dishes: $11-$21
Larger dishes: $23-$45
Chef’s tasting menu: seven courses/$95
When Iraqi native Saad Marwad and his wife, Kelly Rafia, opened Babylon Café in 2014, the city’s foodie community started to buzz about the couple’s fresh, flavorful repertoire of Middle Eastern classics, from falafel and hummus to kebabs and baklava. While the starters are quite good—try the fattoush salad, the lentil soup and the eggplant badenjan— the earthy, long-simmered stews are unlike anything else in town. We like the herb-based qurma sabzi with super-tender lamb shank and the bamia (okra and tomatoes) with oxtail. Don’t leave without a sip of the anise-flavored aperitif called arak and a bite of kanafeh, a sweet made of shredded phyllo, housemade sweet cheese, rose- and orange-water syrup and pistachios.
Appetizers and sides: $2-$7
BONE GARDEN CANTINA
Beyond the colorful Día de Muertos dining room decor, the well-curated mezcal and tequila selections and the uber-friendly service, Bone Garden Cantina offers some of the most authentic Mexican cooking in Atlanta. Tastier guacamole and hot dipping queso you will not find, and we’ve tried! The tender-tothe- bone Mexican pork ribs are meaty, miraculous bites of earthy richness, and the tomatillo-rich pozole verde soup is pure south-of-the-border goodness. Garlic-sautéed shrimp enchiladas and adobo steak quesadilla seasoned with guajillo chile are among many fine familiar classics. Smaller plates include exemplary tamales and tacos.
Soups and salads: $4.50-$9.00
Tamales, tacos and empanadas: $3.50-$5.00
In 2016, Stephen Franklin had a dream to make Georgia the most “inclusive, creative barbecue experience in the country,” and that’s just what he did at DAS BBQ. Whether it’s the rosy, smoke-ringed brisket, equally pink and juicy St. Louis-style ribs or the spicy, smoked chicken wings, every bony bite is a testament to Franklin’s focus on the art and science of smoked meats. Bring the whole family and don’t pass up house-made sides of decadent cream corn, mac ’n’ cheese and stick to your-ribs Brunswick stew. Dig into white chocolate banana pudding after if you’re willing and able.
Meats (whole, half and sandwich): $7-$28, sausages $5/link
Wings: $9/$18 for half dozen/dozen
Side dishes (in regular, pint or quart): $3-$23
The fact that the odds of success are notoriously bleak for new restaurants doesn’t seem to have fazed Westside newcomer Forza Storico. The baby sister of Buckhead’s popular Storico Fresco, Forza Storico focuses on Roman cuisine, proffering dishes such as fried carciofo and saltimbocca with exemplary flavor and flourish. Extra-regional fare such as a breathtaking plate of San Daniele prosciutto and milky mozzarella, charry grilled octopus with Calabrian chili pesto and herb-stuffed, pan-fried branzino are well worth the trip, but one taste of Forza’s house-made chitarra arrabbiata or tonnarelli cacio e pepe, plus one of Jose Pereiro’s specialty cocktails, and you’ll instantly be transported to your favorite Roman piazza.
Antipasti: $10 – $23
Pastas: $16 – $26
Salads and veggies: $7 – $10
Specials and mains: $19 – $26
Desserts: $3 – $9
HAVEN RESTAURANT AND BAR
Haven is exactly that—a safe, inclusive place where your every gastronomic need is met. If weather permits, enjoy the serenity of patio dining while indulging your taste buds with crisp Gulf oysters, the Southern cheese board or Timmy’s wild Georgia shrimp. Or go inside and soak up the classy atmosphere while digging into seared Georges Bank scallops or spice-roasted Green Circle Farms chicken, and wrap things up with a warm chocolate brownie with artisan espresso sauce.
Small plates and salads: $6-$15
Steaks: starting at $51
Sides and desserts: $7
After nearly three decades, Jalisco remains a giddy, guilty pleasure trip through a tunnel of cheese. This Tex-Mex institution at Peachtree Battle is better than an El Paso taco kit, but not exactly a showcase of the sophisticated techniques and ingredients of the Mexican larder. Without apology, Jalisco is what it is, a place with consistently good, standard-issue burritos, enchiladas, fajitas and even a Hamburguesa Mexicana. (It’s topped with nacho cheese.) This is not a place where the kitchen thrives on change and creativity. For the most part, the menu is the same as it has been since Jalisco opened in 1978.
Lunch specials: $5-$9
This four-decades-old institution is as popular today as it ever was. And that has as much to do with the generations of devotees—many of them old school Atlanta royalty—as it does with its reliable, often superlative food. Whether you begin with earthy bresaola Valtellinese, milky burrata di mozzarella fresca or verdant insalata di carciofi freschi, it’s imperative you save room for the mains, for this is where the kitchen truly shines. Silky creamsauced pastas such as penne con verdure and pappardelle con astice will become your new gastro obsession, and delectable meat dishes such as scaloppine di vitello Antonio and filetto di manzo al Barolo are best enjoyed with a bottle of fine Italian red.
Appetizers and salads: $9.95-$15.95
Pastas and risottos: $10.95-$35.95
Co-owner Jim Graddy tells us he learned the art of the pit on his granddaddy’s pig farm in Manchester, Georgia. Graddy remembers cooking whole hogs all night long over hot coals, and when we tear into his pulled-pork sandwich—a delicious pile of pink, smoke-tinged meat between two thick slabs of white bread—we believe him. Graddy has proudly transported his family’s traditions to his casual Southern ’cue counter. Man, is the food good. The fresh-tasting coleslaw (with just a little mayo) and excellent new potato salad are just the things to cut the richness of the succulent pork. Some other tasty go-withs are fried okra, long cooked collards, mac and cheese and Brunswick stew. We’re sated. We’re sauce-splashed. We need a moist towelette and a nap.
Starfish—which can look just a little lost on the block that houses Restaurant Eugene and Holeman and Finch—is exactly the kind of sushi joint we have been trolling for. In a city where Japanese cuisine can be hit-or-miss and sometimes not the freshest, chef-owner Seung K. “Sam” Park’s reticent little pearl is a superior catch—cute and compact as a bento box but with just a hint of luxury. At dinner, we were delighted to see how the kitchen plays around with untraditional ingredients such as truffle oil and balsamic vinegar, slicing fish as thin as carpaccio and arranging it in dazzling presentations. When our flounder sashimi arrived, the server told us to place a dab of the ponzu jelly spiked with cilantro, jalapeño and lime on a strip of the fish and roll it up. Exquisite. Starfish isn’t the kind of place that announces itself with screaming klieg lights or red carpets. But in this culture of excess, sometimes being a little bit under-theradar can be very seductive.
Lunch Entrees: $7-$16
Dinner Entrees: $12-$30
TRUE FOOD KITCHEN
Don’t be put off by the mobs of hipsters waiting for a table or the funky menu items with unfamiliar ingredients such as hemp, flax and chia. Though it could easily be mistaken for an ephemeral, crunchy beardo hangout, True Food Kitchen is here to stay—not just because of its good intentions and exemplary karma, but because of its tasty eats. Favorites include the shiitake lettuce cups, spring asparagus toast and the T.L.T. (tempeh, lettuce and tomato) sandwich. Good for the uninitiated are the margherita pizza, steak tacos and Mediterranean chicken pita. Recommended drinks include the non-alcoholic Cucumber Cooler and Medicine Man tea or the buzz-inducing lemongrass margarita, citrus skinny margarita and Strawberry Smash.
Starters and vegetable plates: $7-$13
Salads and bowls: $10-$14 (added protein $3-$9)
Pizzas and sandwiches: $12-$16
Note: Prices and menu items may have changed since original publication.
BY: Wendell Brock, Rebecca Cha and Angela Hansberger
PHOTOS: Sara Hanna, Joann Vitelli
Food, beauty and interiors writer at Simply Buckhead. Linguist, teacher, chef, parent.