A sampling of great eats in and around Buckhead
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, longsimmered 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
BLUE RIDGE GRILL
For more than 20 years, Blue Ridge Grill (BRG) has been a mecca for Buckhead power lunchers and chill evening diners alike. Whether for business or romance, BRG is a paragon of hospitality, and each guest is embraced like a VIP. Standard crowd-pleasers on the Euro-American menu include grilled Georgia trout, French-boned chicken with wild mushrooms and filet mignon with Vidalia onions. Small plates and sides of iron skillet mussels, Caesar salad with crisp Beeler bacon, custardlike corn soufflé and (off-menu item) fried pickles with buttermilk dipping sauce are absolute must-tries. If cost is an issue, call ahead, as menu prices are not advertised online.
This Sandy Springs institution is never without crowds of satisfied diners, and it’s easy to see why. Join lunching locals over sandwiches and fresh salads such as the petite Caesar with peppery cayenne croutons or the mission fig and crumbled blue cheese with greens. The in-house smoked salmon salad is near perfection, as is the Brooklyn-famous Reuben consisting of juicy corned beef piled atop buttery toasted rye. Dinner highlights include the blackened mahi tacos and crab cake salad. Wrap things up with mile-high double chocolate cake or the homemade Key lime pie, each one sliced to feed two or more. And as if the phenomenal grub weren’t enough, it’s all served up by a friendly, whizbang staff, making for a delightful meal you won’t soon forget.
Appetizers and salads: $7-$12
Sandwiches and mains: $11-$31
Chama Gaucha is the latest addition to what is turning into a Brazilian steakhouse strip along Piedmont Road. It has an appealing price point, a wonderfully fresh salad bar and, for meat lovers, an endless parade of gauchos bearing skewers of flame-kissed prime rib, pork loin, sausage, lamb, chicken, shrimp, and on and on—all you care to eat for a set price. Start with a classic lime caipirinha. Try the meats that look good to you, and remember to pace yourself. The filet and the picanha (thin, delicate strips of prime sirloin) won’t let you down, but the most memorable cut is the rich, succulent, super-fatty meat that’s carved from the beef rib. Heaven.
Lunch: $26.50 (salad bar only $19.50)
Dinner: $44.50 (salad bar only $24.50)
COPPER COVE INDIAN BISTRO
Anjali and Subrata Roy have won our hearts with this pan-Indian bistro, their third restaurant in the Atlanta area. Whether you visit for the bountiful lunch buffet or a more relaxed evening meal, you will leave sated and inspired by the Roys’ formidable talent with the Indian spice palette. Proprietary blends transform standards such as Chicken 65, tikka masala and tandoori into something sublime. Just as commendable are the lamb rogan gosht, chicken shahi korma and shrimp bahadur. For afters, go for something sweet and creamy, such as kulfi (Indian ice cream), kheer (rice pudding) or ras malai (similar to cheesecake without the crust). Your dining adventure wouldn’t be complete without trying the masala chai, consisting of milk, tea, ginger, black pepper and bay leaf.
Accompaniments, appetizers and soups: $2-$10
Chef’s specials, tandoori and traditional dishes: $12-$22
Get your groove on at this 21st century health food haven where bright colors, happy smiles and good vibes abound. Whet your whistle with some refreshingly fruity on-tap kombucha (a fermented tea drink) and treat yourself to starters of tart, juicy tomato toast or creamy avocado hummus. You’ll be bowled over by the tantalizing flavors of the Mother Earth bowl, the Glow bowl and other health-friendly bowls, wraps and plates. Menu standouts include the “Forbidden Rice” bowl with grass-fed steak, the Mediterranean quinoa salad and for dessert, the vegan dark chocolate pudding. A limited wine and beer selection is available for those who prefer a cocktail with their quinoa or a tipple with their tofu.
Soups, salads and appetizers: $6.25 – $12.50
Bowls, entrées and wraps: $9.95 – $15.50
FLYING BISCUIT CAFÉ
Flying Biscuit Café is a touchstone of diner life here in Atlanta, and with good reason. “Creamy dreamy” grits and flaky Southern biscuits round out most every meal, and there are loads of tummy-warming substantial dishes to choose from. Turkey hash, the Not Your Mama’s Pimiento Cheese Sandwich and chicken pot pie (made with hot, buttery biscuits, of course) are reminiscent of grandma’s kitchen, and the congenial staff will keep you coming back for more. Gordo Stevens’ artwork across the walls and ceiling adds a funky, kitsch-cool vibe to the Brookhaven outpost of this breakfast and brunch favorite.
The name means “wave,” and making waves is exactly what executive chef Pano I. Karatassos has been doing at his family’s stellar Greek seafood restaurant since 2002. From marides (tiny, “French fry”-size white fish) to Greek specimens grilled whole (try the barbounia or bronzino), Kyma excels at delivering the kind of simple, unadorned flavors you’ll encounter on a patio by the Aegean. Order a glass of Greek wine (there are many options) and a few classic meze for sharing (we like the dolmades, spanakopita, cuttlefish stuffed with lamb stew and the feta-zucchini fritters), and your meal will go just swimmingly.
Mains: $26-$46 (whole fish $30 or $36 per pound)
You can surely find trendier pizza parlors or posher places to eat Italian in Atlanta. But if you’re looking for old-fashioned linguini with clam sauce or chicken Florentine in a relaxed and inviting atmosphere with a loyal following, this Buckhead favorite has got you covered. The restaurant is beloved by many for its home-style cooking, casual ambience, reasonable prices and a staff of servers who have acquired faithful customers of their own. Owner Nancy Powell treasures her crew, most of whom have been on the job for more than a decade. Given the refined state of Italian dining in America today, Pasta Vino is not likely to win any awards for innovation or inspiration, but it remains a perfectly fine, frequently delicious trattoria.
Starters and salads: $2-$10
THE SOUTHERN GENTLEMAN
Both Southern food newbies and aficionados will take to this sexy gastropub, as smooth and easy as the finish of one of its primo bourbons. (If you’re old school, go for the gloriously icy Resurgens mint julep; if not, there’s no shortage of cocktail possibilities.) When your whistle’s wet, dig in to favorite starters of spicy charred okra and PEI mussels in a whiskey cream sauce. Both will leave you smitten. Classics such as the shrimp boil, Springer Mountain half fried chicken and shrimp and grits with New Orleans barbecue sauce are all mouthwatering. And it wouldn’t be Southern if there weren’t sweets to make your toes curl in delight. Leave room for a nibble or two of brown butter cake or the favorite at our table—almond nougat semifreddo.
Small plates: $6-$12
Salads and sandwiches: $6-$13
Large plates (including brunch entrées): $13-$28
TED’S MONTANA GRILL
We love everything about the housemade dill pickles; the fat onion rings with horseradish dipping sauce; the Arnold Palmers; and the all-American, stick-a-flag-in-it, “where the buffalo roam” burgers. Yep, we’re talking bison, baby. It’s leaner than beef, yet richer and moister, somehow. The Ted’s burger that really rocks our world is the Blue Creek: Inspired by owner Ted Turner’s Blue Creek Ranch in Nebraska, it comes with bacon crumbles and blue cheese. And that’s all it needs. Just ask for a side of rings and a little ramekin of that horsey sauce.
Occasionally, sitting at Treehouse feels more like a cookout. Neighbors and regulars have been coming here for the familiar comfort food and laid-back atmosphere for more than 20 years. Brunch is a big deal, with a large menu and generous portions of favorites such as the Georgia pecan waffle and Southern-style eggs Benedict covered with sausage gravy. It’s all about the patio here, and dogs are welcome guests. The chef works to enliven old favorites with as much attention to the all-American fried chicken sandwich as the New York strip au poivre. He also curates a mighty fine list of craft beers.
Burgers and sandwiches: $7-$10
Large plates: $17-$22
BY: Wendell Brock, Rebecca Cha and Angela Hansberger
PHOTOS: Sara Hanna
Note: Prices and menu items may have changed since original publication.
Food, beauty and interiors writer at Simply Buckhead. Linguist, teacher, chef, parent.