Neighborhood Eats: Oldies and newbies
A tour of classic, and soon-to-be classic, metro-area eateries
Within each of Atlanta’s numerous and divergent neighborhoods are restaurants that feel quintessential to both time and place — that show us where our city has been and where it seems to be going. Whether a luxurious old steakhouse or a sleek new gastropub, a midcentury meat-and-three or a trendy farm-to-table, certain establishments just seem to capture the flavor of the neighborhood, living emblems of the communities in which they stand and serve. Here, we highlight two different restaurants in five different neighborhoods around the metro area that do just that: one, a beloved standby that has stood the test of time; the other, a notable new kid on the block.— Hilary Cadigan
Bones - No restaurant epitomizes old Buckhead more than Bones, the dark and clubby haven of beef whose valet often backs up a line of luxury cars onto Piedmont Road just south of Peachtree. Stepping into the dimly lit rooms filled with Brooks Brothers suits feels like stepping back in time. Bones opened in 1979 and maintains a Reagan-era vibe, though the pairing of old-school service, pricey porterhouses and California cabernet remains timeless. The cheap way in is a lunchtime seat at the bar for the thick, steak-y burger with a side of equally thick onion rings ($15). 3130 Piedmont Road N.E. 404-237-2663. www.bonesrestaurant.com.
Seemingly plucked from the Italian countryside, Storico Fresco is a hybrid market-restaurant that excels in helping Atlantans live la dolce vita through remarkable plates of pasta. The market makes it easy for you to impress guests with a gourmet meal at home — just grab some prosciutto, one of the house-made filled pastas, and a long-simmered sauce. The restaurant — helmed by chef Mike Patrick (pictured above) — supplies the setting to enjoy a glass of vino, antipasti like roasted oysters smeared with intense nduja, and pastas ranging from simple (tagliolini cacio e pepe) to elaborate (a weekly timballo pasta pie stacked six inches high). 3167 Peachtree Road N.E., Suite S. 404-500-2181. www.storicofresco.com.— Brad Kaplan
Open since 1999, Café Lily has long established itself as a Downtown Decatur standby. Owner and chef Anthony Pitillo emphasizes fresh, quality ingredients and bold-but-balanced flavors from the many countries around the Mediterranean. Namesake niece Lily’s favorite appetizer is the beignet de crabe, a six-ounce lump crabcake served with Café Lily’s house-made aioli, while Lebanese kibbeh and chorizo Español are popular choices. Pasta doesn’t get much better than goat cheese and roasted tomato-stuffed ravioli formaggio di capra, but the signature dish is pinchitos, a Spanish-spiced lamb tenderloin with picante salsa verde. 308 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur. 404-371-9119. www.cafelily.com.
Comet Pub and Lanes
Decatur’s prime hangout since the 1950s returned with a serious face-lift last year, and standard bowling fare is now a thing of the past. The former Suburban Lanes reopened mid-July thanks to brothers Ethan and Uri Wurtzel of Twain’s, general manager Ben Horgan and a whole new menu created by Twain’s former executive chef Savannah Sasser. Goodbye plastic-y nacho cheese, hello house-made herb ricotta on hand-tossed pizzas and beer queso served on shaved Brasstown beef chuck roast. Canned beers remain, but the cocktail menu tips its hat to Lebowski with White Russians; the El Duderino with coffee, cream and mole bitters; and a 16-beer draught menu. 2619 N. Decatur Road, Decatur. 470-225-1931. www.cometpubandlanes.com.— Grace Huseth
When Ralph Yarbrough first opened Barbecue Kitchen in 1958, he probably didn’t imagine his meat-and-three would become known for the six-foot-wide hot pink and green pig hanging outside. But there it is, overlooking bustling Virginia Avenue where the joint relocated in 1959. A now-historic neighborhood fixture, Barbecue Kitchen is open seven days a week, its pew-like wooden booths routinely filled with generations of College Park locals, airport travelers, and the stray actor, hip-hop artist or well-dressed religious figure — entourage in tow. Like the laundry list of slow-and-low smoked brisket, sugar-cured ham and classic Southern sides that grace each table, the place wouldn’t be the same without the sounds of clinking silverware and happy voices echoing off the green rafters overhead. 1437 Virginia Ave., College Park. 404-766-9906. www.facebook.com/barbecue.kitchen.
In case you missed it, Porsche debuted its new $100 million North American headquarters in May 2015. Just a block from the Hapeville line and overlooking the northeastern edge of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the 27-acre complex houses a 1.6-mile driver development track, a fancy business center and event space, and Restaurant 356 — a lounge-y fine-dining affair named after Porsche’s first-ever luxury sports car. A retro dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the racetrack below sets the stage for boozy craft cocktails (like the incredibly balanced barrel-aged Manhattan), an inviting wine list and executive chef Ensan Wong’s streamlined dinner menu of French-meets-wherever-he-feels-like-it fare. Try the specialty duck two ways, a rich pairing of anise-flavored duck breast a l’orange and duck leg confit risotto with glistening daikon radishes. 1 Porsche Drive. 770-290-4356. www.restaurant356.com. — Stephanie Dazey
Serving up “food that pleases” 24 hours a day since 1929, the Majestic Diner is one of the oldest restaurants in Atlanta. The diner’s iconic neon signage, red Formica countertops and matching pleather stools attract a full spectrum of ATL life, from late-night post-MJQers soaking up their liquor with BLTs and milkshakes to families munching chocolate chip pancakes and eggs rancheros on Sundays after church. Charlotte-based investment firm Asana Partners just bought the art deco-style Briarcliff Plaza that houses the Majestic (along with other Ponce icons like the Plaza Theatre and Righteous Room) for $18 million, which freaked us all out, but both the theater and diner promise the sale won’t affect them anytime soon. “We have a very long lease,” says Majestic manager Shane Patrick, “and plan to be around for a very long time.” ''1031 Ponce de Leon Ave. 404-875-0276. www.majesticdiner.com.
Since the untimely passing of one of Atlanta’s brightest rising stars, chef Angus Brown, local industry pros have come together to keep his universally loved Ponce eatery not only afloat but thriving. Business partner Nhan Le steers the ship while baker Sarah Dodge keeps the biscuits fluffy during breakfast and lunch. Weekend brunches add Wilson Gourley of Brown and Le’s previous venture, Lusca. Chef Keith Remes (Lusca, Octopus Bar, Muss and Turner’s, Local Three) has taken over dinner service, keeping dishes rotating daily with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Last month, the team debuted their long-awaited outdoor patio, centered on a shipping container bar with a beverage program led by Joshua Fryer of the Lawrence, Lusca’s Timothy Faulkner, and sommelier Tim Willard. They’ve also added a late-night menu, à la Octopus Bar, complete with lobster rolls and the famous Lusca burger. 710 Ponce de Leon Ave. N.E. 470-875-5856. www.8armatl.com.— Hilary Cadigan
Stepping into Matthews Cafeteria is like taking a trip back in time, when the South was full of meat-and-threes serving country classics. Fluffy cathead biscuits are made by hand each morning just like they were 50 years ago, perfected with the addition of thick sausage gravy. Since 1955, family recipes of Brunswick stew, chicken and dumplings, banana pudding and fried chicken have been served next to the railroad tracks along Main Street. Lunch and dinner options change throughout the week but the checkered tablecloths never do. Make note of the strawberry cobbler, served on Mondays. 2299 Main St., Tucker. 770-939-2357. www.matthewscafeteria.com.
While cozy and rustic, M572 brings a sense of refinement to Tucker’s Main Street. The name comes from Militia District 572, the early designation for this town. The airy shotgun-style spot has a farmhouse chic feel with a sleek bar running almost the entire length of one side and ending at an open kitchen. It’s a place to linger over elevated Southern fare like mountain trout and Parmesan grits with lemon caper butter, duck confit hash and flash fried oysters. Listen to the sound of passing trains and clink glasses to progress with a Prosciutto and cheese plate and a glass of rosé or a craft cocktail and duck fat beignets. 2316 Main St., Suite C, Tucker. 470-395-9635. www.fiveseventwo.com.
— Angela Hansberger