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Good Eats June 17 2000

Our critics' guide to Atlanta restaurants

Barbecue



Dreamland Bar-B-Que, 10730 Alpharetta Highway at Mansell Road, Roswell, 678-352-7999. Hit the road to Tuscaloosa, Georgians. The imported cultural icon features Alabama-style pork barbecue with its characteristic charred edges, subdued seasoning and slathered sauce. It's accompanied by tangy slaw, crisp fries, rich pecan pie and logo T-shirts. Salads, sandwiches and such round out the menu. Good for takeout. - EM

Dusty's Barbecue, 1815 Briarcliff Road NE, 404-320-6264. There's nothing quite like starting out the day with barbecue for breakfast. The Chattahoochee Wake-Up features a three-egg omelet stuffed with tangy barbecue - pork, beef or chicken - and is served with home fries or grits and your choice of toast or a biscuit. There's plenty of lighter omelets, too, plus great yellow grits, light and fluffy pancakes and homemade pork sausage that's lightly spiced with chili flakes and sage. This is the place for the breakfast of champions. - SL

The Swallow at the Hollow, 1072 Green St., Roswell, 678-352-1975. The joint venture of Bill Greenwood and Paul and Doreen Doster is long on hefty portions and intelligent updates of country classics. From pit-cooked portobello mushrooms to traditionally flavored baby back ribs and mac-and-cheese, the cuisine has wide, if definitely Southern-style, appeal. - EM

Cajun

Gumbo A Go-Go, 1405 Oxford Road, 404-687-0031; 736 Ponce de Leon Ave., 404-874-8620; 3256 Cobb Parkway, Marietta, 770-303-9970; and 11770 Haynes Bridge Road, Alpharetta, 770-777-1441. Head to the Emory Village location for a rough jewel where students wolf down dirt-cheap portions of the best jambalaya around. The second location on Ponce (by Tortilla's) offers the same Cajun-Creole dishes, like Big Chief Crazy Gumbo and, when it's in season, crawfish etouffée. - CBB

__Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, 2830 Windy Hill Road, Marietta, 770-984-8899 and other metro locations. Who'd have thought a chain serving enormous volumes of food could be this good? Spectacular etouffée, lovingly prepared gumbos, delicately broiled seafood and mountains of fried stuff are turning out crowds that cause 90-minute waits. Go early. Real early. - CBB

Somber Reptile's Cajun Kitchen, 842 Marietta St., 404-881-9701. Snackery in a quirky music hall (walls black, smoking encouraged, no coffee) is westside headquarters for shrimp, oyster and andouille sausage po' boy sandwiches, fried okra and cold suds. Sonny bubbas in uniform and men in suits hit it hard at lunchtime on weekdays. - EM

__Ya Ya's Cajun Cuisine, 426 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., 404-373-9292. David and Leslie Lester have hit the big time in Decatur. Lunch offers the best po' boys in town and dinner means very good (roux-less) etouffées and gumbos. Try the grilled boudin and "snapper courtbouillion." - CBB

Chinese

Chicken World, 5150 Buford Highway, 770-458-5164. Give your honey a choice of menudo, Buffalo chicken wings or moo goo gai pan here. Chino-Mexicano. It's not the best food in town, but it is most definitely a happening. - CBB

__Chopstix, 4279 Roswell Road, 404-255-4868. One of the most popular Asian-style restaurants in Atlanta, where elegant Chinese fare is served by candlelight to a rather upscale audience. Gourmet classics from shrimp to lobster to sweetbreads are prepared Hong Kong style - everything's top-notch. - SSS

Chung Ha Chinese-Korean Buffet, 5979 Buford Highway, Doraville, 770-455-7370. Foodies with a taste for experimentation will appreciate the extensive display of Asian foods as well as a helpful, informative staff. Highlights include Korean barbecued meats and hors d'oeuvres, nuggets of marinated chicken, unusual soups and noodles. Very affordable. Sunday brunch draws after-church mobs. - EM

__Doc Chey's Noodle House, 1424 N. Highland Ave., 404-888-0777; 1556 N. Decatur Road, 404-378-8188. A pan-Asian noodle house for yuppies. Great sense of humor, great style, great appetizers. - CBB

Grand Buffet II (Chinese), Buckhead Crossing, 2625 Piedmont Road at Sidney Marcus Boulevard, 404-760-9967. Grand Buffet II offers Buckhead location at Southside prices. The bountiful Chinese-American spread has notable "wow-golly" appeal. Much of the food tastes fresh. Grill cooks prepare many items in small batches just behind the serving line. Platters and trays are replenished often. - EM

__Harmony Vegetarian Chinese Restaurant, 4897 Buford Highway, Chamblee, 770-457-7288. Curry flavors (noodles, dumplings) and moo shu vegetable wraps are tops at this minimally decorated newcomer. Stick with greenery and skip the imitation beef and fish. - EM

Kong Lang, Orient Center, 4897 Buford Highway, Suite 125, Chamblee, 770-986-9168. Classy Cantonese barbecue and roast pork specialist, with seafood an added attraction, spins off (and up) from affably grungy, always reliable Ming's BarB.Q. Restaurant nearby. Service, amenities and décor nearly match the delectable cuisine. - EM

__Little Szechuan, Northwood Plaza, 5091-C Buford Highway, Doraville, 770-451-0192. There's no trick to dining well at the state's best Chinese restaurant. Order almost anything unusual. Balance unfamiliar dishes with a like number of the family's favorite dishes. Figure on one platter per guest. Relax and sip your tea. Of particular interest: stir-fried mo shu vegetables, sizzling beef brisket, eggplant with garlic sauce, Szechuan cold noodles. - EM

New Paradise Chinese Restaurant, 4795 Buford Highway, Chamblee, 770-936-0306. Located near the south end of the Chambodia business strip, this small, neat storefront offers affordable, authentic cuisine in simple surroundings. Foodies and similarly adventurous diners should order from the white Asian menu. A red tourist menu is available for those who prefer safer shopping-center fare. - EM

__P.F. Chang's China Bistro, 500 Ashwood Parkway, off Ashford Dunwoody Road, 770-352-0500. An only partially successful attempt to mate Chinese cookery with the American casual-chain concept, this is essentially a Bennigan's with egg rolls. Service and cuisine are thoroughly Americanized. Evocations of China consist almost entirely of Asian-style decorations. Orange peel shrimp is a safe choice. - EM

Pyng Ho, 1357 Clairmont Road, 404-634-4477. This is a popular and authentic Chinese restaurant outside the main Buford Highway corridor. Thus, many who find the ethnic experience intimidating will be more comfortable here. By all means, stick to the menu of evening specials. A whole fried red snapper drizzled in black bean sauce is amazing. - CBB

__Royal China, 3295 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Chamblee, 770-216-9933. New owners have overhauled the former Honto to mostly good effect. Although the Cantonese cuisine is highly erratic, the elegant décor and new restrooms make a visit almost mandatory for old hands. On balance, try dinner rather than lunch, vegetables and seafood over meat. - EM

Cuban

Havana Sandwich Shop, 2905 Buford Highway NE (at the corner of North Druid Hills and Buford Highway), 404-636-4094. This modest restaurant's delicious yellow rice is studded with green peas and covered with savory-sweet stewed tomatoes and onions (white rice is available as well), and its black bean "soup" with prominent onions and garlic, can easily make a meal. The mojo-marinated Cuban, served with pork, ham, Swiss cheese and pickles, is delicious. There also are plenty of savory vegetarian dishes and Jumex juices (try the mango), plus a variety of unusual sodas (try the Coco Rico). Also don't miss out on the fabulous flan. - SL

Kool Korners grocery, 349 14th St. NW, 404-892-4424. Known for its Cuban Classic sandwich, this grocery/sandwich shop has been a source of food-induced euphoria for 13 years. Sandwich choices include ham, turkey, roast beef and pastrami with all the fixings, including jalapeño peppers. Press-grilled sandwiches have a crispy exterior where inside, the flavors emerge, mingle and melt together. - SL

Las Palmeras, 368 Fifth St. NE, 404-872-0846. Cuban neighborhood cafe is noted for black beans and rice, fried plantains, authentic entrées, friendly welcomes and faster service than might be expected. A smokers' deck is pleasant in nice weather. Purchase beer and wine at the grocery next door or BYOB. - EM

Mambo Restaurante Cubano, 1402 N. Highland Ave., 404-876-2626. Lunch service is notable for Cuban Sloppy Joe sandwiches (grilled Cuban loaves stuffed with picadillo and ropa vieja). The regular menu offers traditional entrées, salads and other island delights. Outdoor tables available. - EM

French

Brasserie Le Coze, 3393 Peachtree Road (in Lenox Square), 404-266-1440. The next best thing to Paris, this upscale bistro is consistent and top-notch. Fresh seafood and desserts always are safe bets and the wine list is affordable. Tiled walls, mirrors and suave service make you forget you're in a mall. - SSS

__Cafe Boheme, 453 Moreland Ave. NE, 404-522-4373. Sit-down bistro fare, with wines and beers to match. Low prices, hearty portions and French ambience make it worth the jaunt to L5P. - EM

Le Saint Amour, 1620 Piedmont Ave., 404-881-0300. New chef, traditional country French cooking. Blanquette de veau, rabbit pâté, soufflés, that kind of thing. - EM

__Café de Nice, 580 Pharr Road, 404-264-1678. A small, independent, good-natured, cottage-bound, wine-less bistro that operates on Mediterranean time, offering decent meals at budget prices, mostly to women and families. Soups, salads and flans are agreeable and authentic. Not a good bet for wheelchairs or anyone in a hurry. BYOB. -EM.

Fusion

Fusebox, 3085 Piedmont Road NE, 404-233-3383. A slick Buckhead destination for the city's young, black-clad, New Yorker wannabe crowd, with a dazzling communal table right up front, sophisticated music, Y2K lighting, Asian antiques, attitude that's surprisingly soft and an East-West menu that's Fusion Lite rather than up-to-the-minute. - EM

__SoHo, 4200 Paces Ferry Road, 770-801-0069. Cleverly conceived, albeit ding-dong loud, shopping center bistro with pricey fusion menu. - EM

German

Basket Bakery and Cafe at The Village Corner, 6655 James B. Rivers Drive, 770-498-0329. The best German food in our area, served in a delightful setting adjacent to Stone Mountain Village. Sauerbraten and rouladen are especially good. Enormous portions. - CBB

Indian

Planet Bombay, 451 Moreland Ave., 404-688-0005. L5P newcomer with thick, hearty soups (Mulligatawny, fresh mushroom), notable rice pilafs and Indian breads, good curried vegetable combinations and low prices. - E.M.

__Udipi Cafe, 1850 Lawrenceville Highway, Decatur, 404-325-1933. Savory rice pilafs, spicy vegetable curries and spectacular stuffed crepes and pancakes are but four reasons to seek out the city's newest South Indian vegetarian outlet. Sophisticated carrot desserts, traditional beverages and crisp breads double the pleasure. Table service is a plus. - EM

Italian

Antica Posta, 519 E. Paces Ferry Road, 404-262-7112. At the former Riviera, French cuisine has been replaced by Tuscan specialties such as superb risottos and superior but simply prepared seafood and seasonal vegetables. Prices are down, and so is the glitz factor. Service and comforts are still first rate, making this a special-occasion destination as well as a place to enjoy the kind of Italian food served in Italy, not New York. - EM

Aromi, 1025 Virginia Ave. NE, 404-607-0220. With a brightly lit neon store front just a few doors east of the Virginia-Highland intersection, Aromi has sweets, coffee, gelato crepes and panini. Gelato flavors include peach, raspberry, lemon, banana, chocolate, vanilla, hazelnut, chocolate chip and more. Lightly press-grilled panini are served on foccacia and come with chips. And as if all this weren't enough lure - the coffee's great, too. - SL

Ciao Bella, 309 Pharr Road, 404-261-6013. Simplicity is the approach here. Order big, white bowls of perfect pastas - with wild mushrooms or mussels and anchovies. Prices are low, the crowd is convivial and the staff is thoroughly Italian. - CBB

Cipollini, 1529 Piedmont Ave., 404-875-5001. John Carver, formerly of Pricci, has taken over saucy Ciboulette and its talented chef de cuisine, Ofer Ayal. The haute bistro dining room sports a clean, spare, faux marbre makeover that's in tune with modern Italian design. Cooking is updated Italian-American, with salads, pastas (especially strazzopreti - "priest stranglers," thin tubes with veal sauce) and meat entrées making the biggest impression. - EM

Eno, 800 Peachtree St. at Fifth, 404-685-3191. Conceived as an extremely comfortable laboratory where food and drink pairings may be explored, Doug Strickland's and Jamie Adams' Mediterranean bistro could raise the standards of corporate Atlanta's drinking classes. Food is fashionably Cal-Italian - lots of olives, olive oil, fruit, fresh fish and seasonal ingredients. The cooking is first rate, the crowd Midtown hot. Sidewalk tables, wine room, tastings featured. - EM

Fratelli di Napoli, 2101 Bennett St., 404-351-1533; 928 Canton St., Roswell, 770-642-9917. Big-deal, super-size takes on Little Italy specializing in homestyle platters serving two to four. Chicken with eggplant, spinach salad with gorgonzola dressing and tiramisu are standouts. Dinner nightly. Reservations for six or more. - EM

Grappa, 3097 Maple Drive, 404-262-9749. Soups and salads are best bets at this Tuscanized Buckhead bungalow inhabited by co-chefs Lynne Gigliotti (Gigliotti Culinary Concepts, Grapevine Café, Azio) and Christophe Vessaire (Resto des Amis, French Embassy, Washington, D.C.). Dinner only. - EM

La Grotta, 2637 Peachtree Road, 404-231-1368. This is one of Atlanta's longest-running fine dining experiences, evidenced by the '70s décor and Italian cuisine. Try the tuna carpaccio and the roasted quail stuffed with sausage. - SSS

Luna Si, 1931 Peachtree Road, 404-355-5993. Who'd think that "old faithful" and "cutting-edge" honestly could belong together? That's exactly so in this remarkably affordable restaurant with a strong contemporary Italian influence. Convivial and quirky themselves, the Luna brothers have created one of the city's most reliable choices. - CBB

Pastificio Cameli, 1263 Glenwood Ave. SE, 404-622-9926. Retro pasta parlor in East Atlanta gentrification zone offers delectable fresh pastas, salads and soups in stripped-back, contemporary surroundings. Deck and sidewalk tables offered in nice weather. Dinner only. - EM

The Patio, 1029 Edgewood Ave. (across from the Inman Park MARTA station), 404-584-8945. A killer redo of the old Deacon Burton spot, with an especially wonderful patio. Pastas and pizzas are the main fare. Inexpensive. - CBB

Savage Pizza, 484 Moreland Ave., 404-523-0500. Among the best local sources of real, hand-thrown, honest-to-Palermo pizza, this slightly bent independent in L5P is notable for fresh ingredients, homemade sauces and clever, knowing service. Wide selection of pizza toppings and calzone fillings. Good for takeout. Smokers' porch. - EM

Sotto Sotto, 313 N. Highland Ave., 404-523-6678. As a place to dine extremely well, see friends and plug into what people are talking about, Riccardo Ullio's Italian outpost in Inman Park hardly can be beat. Pastas, risotti and desserts are winners, as is the high-energy factor. - EM

Japanese

Nickiemoto's Midtown, Piedmont at 10th Street, 404- 253-2010. A clone of George Rohrig's Buckhead sushi bar, this fast-track watering hole is more remarkable for burnished metal décor and intown haircuts than for its Asian-American food. To dine well, keep two words in mind: fried (squid, soft-shell crab hotpot, catfish) and desserts (ginger creme brulee, Vietnamese coffee float). - EM

__Stoney River, 10524 Alpharetta Highway at Holcomb Bridge Road, Roswell, 678-461-7900. The mainstream runs through this steaks-and-sushi dinner house from the creators of Brookwood Grill. The wilderness lodge décor, upbeat service and decent sushi bar are much superior to the salty, overseasoned American food. No reservations. Expect long waits at prime hours. - EM

Yokohama, 2221 Peachtree Road NE, 404-603-5282. Reconstituted neighborhood sushi parlor with all-purpose Japanese-American menu (noodles, tonkatsu, teriyaki steak, ice cream) fills an independent niche on a busy intown strip. Tender tempura squid is a tasty treasure. - EM

Malaysian

Malaya, 857 Collier Road, 404-609-9991. A tiny room in a modest storefront belies the wondrous repertoire of traditional Malaysian dishes available. For an introduction to this spicy crossroads cuisine, don't miss coconut soup laced with shrimp and chicken, acar (pickled salad with peanuts), rendang (an aromatic beef stew), curried salmon with okra, and spinach sautéed with okra. Chinese menu also available. Good for takeout. Now serving beer and wine. - EM

__Penang Malaysian Cuisine, Orient Center, 4897 Buford Highway, Chamblee, 770-220-0308. Clever, classy take on the crossroads cuisine of Malaysia, one of Asia's sleeping tigers. Whole fish with Thai sauce, pancakes with chicken curry, satays, noodles and crisp vegetables - all with a moderately spicy kick - are authentic, approachable and well prepared. The setting, a bamboo summer house with all the latest conveniences, matches the upbeat, sunny ambience. - EM

Moroccan

Casbah, 465 N. Highland Ave. NE, 404-524-5777.A fun place to take yourself, and not just for a special occasion, this comfy, affordable North Highland harem features belly dancing, notable sweet-spicy salads, first-rate couscous and more-or-less traditional versions of Moroccan poultry pie and lamb with apricots and honey. - EM

__Imperial Fez, 2285 Peachtree Road, 404-351-0870. Atlanta's most luxurious interpretation of the Casbah, this carpet-lined, pillow-strewn hideaway serves authentic prix fixe Moroccan in a five-course ceremony complete with hand-washing and belly dancing. Take your shoes off and stay awhile. - SSS

Southern

Atlanta Grill, the Ritz-Carlton Atlanta, 181 Peachtree St., 404-221-6550. A clubby, semi-casual Southern steakhouse has replaced the once fiercely formal restaurant. Expensive grilled beef and super-size spuds are perhaps the most reliable offerings at this corporate attempt to please road warriors, conventioneers and expense-account hosts seven days a week, three meals a day. - EM

__Blue Ridge Grill, 1261 W. Paces Ferry Road, 404-233-5030. Southern haute cuisine is served in a Ralph Lauren-ish mountain lodge setting; fresh-picked organic vegetables are family-style, and the Iron Skillet Georgia Trout and steaks are sublime. Take note, though: Organic ain't cheap. - SSS

Horseradish Grill, 4320 Powers Ferry Road NW, 404-255-7277. First-rate fried chicken, pork barbecue, mashed potatoes, savory greens, hot biscuits and traditional Southern desserts from rising-star chef Dave Berry are served in an elegant trophy room masquerading as a Chastain Park stable. Lovely outdoor tables can be requested in nice weather. - EM

__Justin's, 2200 Peachtree St. NW, 404-603-5353. Rap dinner theater in the former Sfuzzi and Coco Pazzo features big smiles, gorgeously draped staff, moderately loud musical background static, otherworldly prices and formularized soul food of the warm-and-serve persuasion. - EM

Holyfield's New South Grill, 6075 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs, 404-531-0300. Yeah, that Holyfield. Boxing champ Evander wrote the checks. Nigerian-born John Akhile (Azalea, Waverly Grill) designed a fusion menu that's heavily weighted toward the Thai, Chinese and Italian aspects of contemporary Southern cooking. Good service and inconsistent kitchen work make it worth half a try. Outdoor tables available. - EM

__Thomas Marketplace, State Farmers Market, 16 Forest Parkway, Forest Park, 404-361-1367. Venerable purveyor of heirloom Southern cooking, hefty portions and down-home hospitality is among the Southside's best bets for traditional breakfasts, meat-and-two lunches and corn muffins. Fried chicken livers, grilled salmon, turnip greens and corn muffins recommended. Go elsewhere for barbecue. - EM??

 



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