Omnivore - Falafel Cafe: A Persian treasure

After a spring and summer that seemed like one long stampede of high-end restaurant openings, it's nice to remember that Atlanta's true culinary treasures are often well-hidden and underexposed. If you're in need of an antidote (as I often am) to the expensive meals found in the gleaming towers along Peachtree, check out Falafel Café, hidden behind a Waffle House on Cobb Parkway in Marietta.

Falafel Café's endurance is a hotbed of contradictions. The impossible-to-locate location is only the beginning. What was once a campus take-out joint mainly patronized by Life University students is now a family restaurant serving hearty Persian cuisine. That change took place years ago, when current owner Reza Gharaat took over. But still, the restaurant was reminiscent of a poorly lit, slightly grubby dining hall.

That space still exists, but two years ago, Gharaat expanded, adding a swanky dining room with brocade-covered chairs, chandeliers and a large TV that inexplicably plays a constant rotation of fashion shows and random red-carpet moments. The newer space is hardly slick, and looks as though its main purpose is to hold wedding receptions, but it's a nice upgrade from the drab room adjacent to the kitchen.

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(Photo by James Camp)

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