There’s plenty to love on restaurant menus, but savvy foodies know that sometimes what’s not on the menu is just as special.
For example, at the upscale Kyma (kymaatlanta.com), sharable small plates called meze are a favorite way to experience elegantly presented Greek fare. The kitchen is pleased to honor requests for items that have cycled off of the menu, such as cheese and wild mushroom kataifi pie made with filo dough and black truffles, pan-fried barbounia or red mullet from Greece, and Himalayan salt block-seared ahi “a la poncha” over wild mushrooms a la Grecque.
One of the perennial favorites at Cooks & Soldiers (cooksandsoldiers.com) on the Westside is the “bikini,” a grilled cheese with jamón ibérico and black truffle. Vegetarians, don’t fret: The kitchen is happy to make it sans ham. While you won’t find it on the menu, like all Basque kitchens, the chefs always have piperade—that’s traditional pepper stew—ready. Request it, and it’ll come served with grilled sourdough and topped with a fried egg. Vegans may steer clear of sushi restaurants, fearing that they’ll be relegated to edamame and steamed rice.
Buckhead’s Umi (umiatlanta.com), known for its flawless sushi, offers off-the-menu vegan options. With dishes such as yuzu marinated baby heirloom tomatoes with ice plant; fluffy potato dumpling in kelp broth with hakusai cabbage and yuba; and sushi rice risotto with spicy tofu, black bean sauce and wild mushrooms, you won’t feel left out among your carnivorous dining companions. Chef Todd Dae Baker is even happy to craft a vegan omakase menu on the fly.
NFA Burger (nfaburger.com) inside a Chevron gas station in Dunwoody has been named to Thrillist’s “Best Burgers in America List” and has developed a cult following of diehard fans. Next time you’re there, order the Heisenburger, inspired by the TV show “Breaking Bad.” The double-stacked, smashed cheeseburger is topped with hatch green chiles and mustard on an inverted toasted potato bun.
The Westside’s Marcel (marcelatl.com) is known for its aged steaks, cigars and stiff cocktails that harken back to a golden age of steakhouses. Order the secret “Oscar fries” that come laden with Alabama jumbo lump crab meat, asparagus and decadent bearnaise sauce. Trust us: It feels good to be in the know.
Giannina S. Bedford is multi-faceted writer and editor. Her work covers design, travel, food and business. She’s penned Simply Buckhead’s home feature since inception and held a variety of editorial roles at the magazine. Her freelance work has appeared in Condé Nast Traveler, USA Today, Virtuoso Life, Hemispheres and TravelandLeisure.com. She also contributes regularly Atlanta Business Chronicle. Fluent in Spanish, Giannina was born in Miami and grew up in Brazil, Chile, Hawaii and Australia. She currently lives in Dunwoody with her two kids and husband.