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GRAZING - January 2022

Cliff Bostock's January 2022 Grazing Recommendations

GRAZ TUM POK POK
Photo credit: Cliff Bostock
TUM POK POK: Beyond the Wall of Bric-a-Brac is the city’s newest and best Thai food.
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POCO LOCO: Step inside for breakfast burritos and carnitas to go. Photo credit: Cliff Bostock
Poco Loco


This breakfast takeout joint in Kirkwood gives full expression to the wacky imagination and humor of its owner, Nick Melvin. Three fat, perfectly rolled breakfast burritos are offered daily – one for carnivores, one for ovo-lacto-vegetarians, and one for kids. Just as compelling are daily-changing provisions in a case next to the cash register. You’ll find, for example, Atlanta’s realest carnitas, sauces, soups, and other entrees for home heating. — Cliff Bostock

Poco Loco, 2233 College Ave., open 7:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday-Friday and 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, no phone. Find the week’s menu and place advance orders on the website, pocolocoatl.com, IG & FB: @pocolocoatl

 

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PHO CUE: Where you get a classic banh mi, but with house-smoked brisket. Photo credit: Cliff Bostock
Pho Cue


Vietnamese cuisine, wildly popular in the late ‘80s and ‘90s, has surged again and even been upgraded with Texas BBQ here. That means lots of juicy, house-smoked brisket (as well as chicken and pork) to add to the A+ pho or fries with typical pickled and fresh veggies. There are frequent specials that respect your redneck tongue’s refusal to eat foreign food — chili-cheese dogs and bacon-cheese burgers, for example. The regular menu’s smoked wings are extremely popular. — Cliff Bostock

Pho Cue, 925 Garrett St., 404-549-7595, eatphocue.com, IG & FB: @eatphocue


 

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CHE BUTTER JONEZ: Never pass on the shrimp fries and lamb burger combo. Photo credit: Cliff Bostock
Che Butter Jonez


You know your mouth starts salivating when you see a burger named “That Shit Slambing.” That shit is actually a delicious smashed lamb burger that got its start on the owners’ food truck before they opened this brick-and-mortar location just south of the airport. The shrimp fries are also deservedly popular, as is the ever evolving and dissolving Who Let Mookie Make the Pasta. Obviously, owners Malik Rhasaan and wife Detric Fox-Quinlan have a sense of humor that comes with a political sensibility that made Malik a leader in the Occupy Hood movement. I mean, who names their restaurant after Che Guevara and shea butter? Best advice: Don’t head here unless you check out the day’s often irregular hours on social media or their website. — Cliff Bostock

Che Butter Jonez, 757 Cleveland Ave., 404-919-4061, chebutterjonez.com, FB & IG: @chebutterjonez


 

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TUM POK POK: Beyond the Wall of Bric-a-Brac is the city’s newest and best Thai food. Photo credit: Cliff Bostock
Tum Pok Pok


This restaurant’s doorway became a place for food critics to genuflect throughout 2021. It’s Thai but unique in its emphasis on the quite spicy cuisine of the country’s northeast area, Isan. The simple shredded papaya salad (somtum) will instantly remind you that you once dreamed of becoming a fire eater in a carnival sideshow. Ditto for the larb. Besides these Isan specialties, Tum Pok Pok has a menu of street food popular throughout Thailand yet still rare in our city. Try the stir-fried crispy pork in a basil sauce. Pray over the pad Thai pok pok. — Cliff Bostock

Tum Pok Pok, 5000 Buford Hwy., 404-990-4688, tumpokpok.com, IG: @tum_pok_pok, FB: @TPPUSA


 

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CARROT DOG: Kemi Benning is waving her magic carrots to create some of the city’s best vegan fast food. Photo credit: Cliff Bostock
Carrot Dog


If you dislike hot dogs and find carrots boring, you need to try this vegan pop-up at the Window outside the MET. Kemi Benning brines hefty carrots in spicy brews and nestles them in grilled buns with a variety of toppings. My fave has been the Southern Santa Fe topped with chopped romaine lettuce, sliced avocados, smoked chipotle mayo, chopped onions, and vegan bacon. — Cliff Bostock

Carrot Dog, 680 Murphy Ave. (outside the MET), 404-447-8451, 12-4 p.m. Saturdays only, kemibenning.com. Call or check IG — @foodforthoughtvegancafe — to make sure they are open.


 

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BOMB BISCUITS: This is Erika Council’s buttermilk biscuit split and stuffed with an oversized slice of country ham, melted pimento cheese, and some addictive substance. Photo credit: Cliff Bostock
Bomb Biscuits


Are you looking for a new substance addiction? Go to this former pop-up now in Irwin Street Market for Erika Council’s buttermilk biscuits. Specifically go for the breakfast sandwiches. Most people love the fried chicken breast, especially good when drenched in hot honey, but my favorite is the country ham. By all means follow the menu’s suggestion to add the house-made pimento cheese. You won’t believe it. Erika is also making cinnamon buns. — Cliff Bostock

Bomb Biscuits, 660 Irwin St., 678-949-9439. Open 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Thurs. & Fri. and 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat. & Sun. Order online only at bombiscuital.com, IG: @bombbiscuitatl.com


 

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El Viñedo Local: Under that onion salad is ceviche made with Georgia shrimp, avocado puree, cilantro, and Meyer lemon oil. Photo credit: Cliff Bostock
El Viñedo Local


Another restaurant that opened just in time for the pandemic’s reduced hours, this South American café in Midtown is now serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The menu includes especially well made arepas, empanadas and sandwiches, plus plates like ceviche and fried fish. There are also bracing coffees and South American wines available. Favorites include the ceviche and the empanada filled with finely chopped beef, green olives, and boiled eggs. — Cliff Bostock

El Viñedo Local, 730 Peachtree St., 404-596-8239, elvinedolocal.com, IG & FB: @elvinedolocal


 

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BOTICA: For the price and the flavor, there’s no better paella in the city than Botica’s, served Wednesday nights only, along with the regular menu that echoes Chef Mimmo Alboumeh’s Spanish-Lebanese-Italian background
Botica


If you’re looking for Mexican food partly spiked with Italian, Spanish, and Lebanese flavors in a restaurant with countless sports-watching screens and an awesome patio, this is your best destination. Opened by Chef Mimmo Alboumeh, the former owner of Red Pepper Taqueria, the restaurant’s best choice by far is the paella served at dinner on Wednesdays. Among the best tacos are lamb birria and the pork pibil. If you want a starter to share, consider the gigantic and dramatic tamales coated in white crema, sitting in a pool of salsa morita. You can drink a lot here. — Cliff Bostock

Botica, 1820 Peachtree Road, 404-228-6358, eatbotica.com, IG: @boticaatl, FB: @eatbotica


 

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BOTICA: For the price and the flavor, there’s no better paella in the city than Botica’s, served Wednesday nights only, along with the regular menu that echoes Chef Mimmo Alboumeh’s Spanish-Lebanese-Italian background
Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ


Charleston chef Rodney Scott is one of America’s royal pit masters, having won the James Beard award for best chef in the Southeast in 2018. He published a long awaited cookbook last year and also opened a restaurant here across from the MET on the Westside. The big deal here is that the restaurant smokes “whole hogs” over wood fires and your barbecue plate or sandwich includes pulled meat from different body parts. Call it “snout to tail ‘cue.” Personally, I found it a little dry, but adding Scott’s vinegar-based sauce quickly remedies that problem. Don’t miss the hushpuppies and the honey-butter. The menu is huge and includes plenty of other Southern favorites to feed sacrilegious diners who don’t like barbecue. — Cliff Bostock

Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ, 668 Metropolitan Parkway, S.W., 678-855-7377, rodneyscottsbbq.com


 

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KURA REVOLVING SUSHI BAR: It twirls! It whirls! It’s sushi that makes your head spin!
Kura Revolving Sushi Bar


Have you ever eaten sushi on a ferris wheel? That’s kinda what the experience at this restaurant is like. Countless plates of sushi skitter by on a conveyor belt and your task is to grab them before they get beyond your reach. An upper conveyor belt delivers a broader menu of food specifically ordered via a tableside device. I have to say you get what you pay for here — inexpensive medium-grade sushi — but it’s fun. And fast. — Cliff Bostock

Kura Revolving Sushi Bar, 6035 Peachtree Rd., Doraville, 480-255-2071, kurasushi.com/locations/doraville-ga/


 

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THE ABBY SINGER: The Juicy Lucy, oozing cheese from its center, comes from the Midwest. Order it with cheese curds. Photo credit: Cliff Bostock
The Abby Singer


You’re always looking for food with a Midwestern twang, right? Find it at this rather peculiar gastropub inside the Pratt Pullman Yard, where the gigantic “Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience” was located for about six months (and will be reopening elsewhere in Atlanta in March). The big deal here is the Juicy Lucy, a half-pound burger stuffed with cheese, but I was more smitten by the fried cheese curds that Canadian and Wisconsin fugitives cry for constantly. Get a seat at the bar and chat with the bartender Abby — not the Abby — who pastors a church and is fluent in liberation theology and boozeology. — Cliff Bostock

The Abby Singer, 225 Rogers St. N.E., #11 in the Pratt Pullman District, secondmeal-llc.com. IG: @the.abby.singer, FB & Twitter: @theabbysinger


 

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MERCER STREET MEALS: Chef Lance Gummere, well known for his Southern comfort food, is providing the city’s best takeout food for the dollar. Meals for two like this cost $25! Photo credit: Cliff Bostock
Mercer Street Meals


The pandemic has brought about some long-needed changes in the dining industry. One of those is access to quality restaurant food for takeout at reasonable prices. The leader in Atlanta is this operation by Lance Gummere, one of our city’s chefs expert at tweaking Southern comfort food into something special. Plates with entrees, sides, and dessert cost only $25 for two. A typical meal is coq au vin with cavatappi pasta, arugula and baby kale salad, and bread pudding. — Cliff Bostock

Mercer Street Meals, 404-713-6001, order online at mercerstreetmeals.com, FB & IG: @mercerstreetmeals


 

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ELSEWHERE BREWING: This new restaurant in Grant Park’s Beacon is serving a mashup of Italian and Argentine flavors. The choripan sandwich made with local chorizo stands up to two sauces. Photo credit: Cliff Bostock
Elsewhere Brewing


It’s well known that there’s a large population of Italians in Argentina and that’s one theme here. You can find a mash-up of flavors in Argentinian-style milanesa napolitana and empanadas filled with mozzarella and wild mushrooms. The hybridization broadens with chimichurri hummus and beer-glazed Amish chicken with oregano. Craving a sandwich? Try the super-rich choripan. It’s a soft, house-made white roll layered with grilled, locally made chorizo sausage, served with a bracing chimichurri sauce and a salsa criolla made with mild red peppers (put both on the sandwich). It’s located in the Beacon development in Grant Park. — Cliff Bostock

Elsewhere Brewing, 1039 Grant St., 770-727-0009, elsewherebrewing.com, IG: @elsewherebrewing, FB: @elsewherebrewingco


 

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OK YAKI: Dirt-cheap with golden flavor, the okonomiyaki here has every texture and flavor your mouth desires. Photo credit: Cliff Bostock
OK Yaki


Are you obsessed with the okonomiyaki? I am sick of that word, “obsessed,” but if you have to use it, apply it to this Japanese pancake that has been a “thing” everywhere for quite a while. OK Yaki describes it this way: “Japanese savory pancake made by mixing a rich batter with cabbage, green onions, pickled ginger, tenkasu and nagaimo. Fired on both sides and topped with okonomi sauce, Kewpie mayo, seaweed flakes, bonito flakes and one topping.” I like the pork belly topping. There are other dishes, including noodles and small plates for sharing here. If you eat inside, you’re going to have to prove vaccination proof. There is a large patio where you can breathe easy. Did I mention that it’s really cheap? — Cliff Bostock

OK Yaki, 714 Moreland Ave. 404-999-9254, okyakiatl.com, IG &FB: @okyakiatl

 

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CREMALOSA: This caramel ginger-bar sundae should inspire anyone anywhere to drive to Decatur. Photo credit: Meridith Ford
Cremalosa


Here’s the place I haven’t been that I most want to visit. It’s operated by Meridith Ford, formerly dining critic for the AJC. It’s already won just about every “best of” competition around. The shop churns out 9 or 10 gelato flavors daily and two seasonal sorbets. I want to put my head in a gigantic vat of the Mascarpone and Caramelized Fig but I wouldn’t pass on the Butterscotch Macadamia Brittle. — Cliff Bostock

Cremalosa, 2657 East College Avenue, Decatur, 404-600-6085, cremalosa.com, IG: @cremalosa_gelato, FB: @cremalosaatlanta

 

 

 




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