The toothpaste, lip balm and deodorant take their rightful place on the shelves among the tins of English mustard and the freshly baked goods wrapped in crinkly film.
Urban Cannibals Bodega + Bites has to be one of the most carefully curated neighborhood markets around. Every item appears to have been placed on its weathered wooden shelving like a key component to a folk art installation.
What’s in those pretty blue boxes lining one eye-level shelf across the store? Not iPads…
The “bodega” part of the equation may give you a chuckle, but the “bites” are what you’ll find most intriguing.
The married owners Calavino Donati and Doria Roberts have put a lot of thought into the sundry food needs of their East Atlanta Village neighbors. Unfussy dry goods (snacks, mixes, staples) keep company with more gourmet-minded cheeses and prepared sauces in the refrigerator case.
Rather than watch fresh produce languish in the market, Donati and Roberts have come up with the smart plan to offer CSA packages from Destiny Organics, each one topped off with a loaf of bread, a prepared sauce or one of Roberts’ desserts.
From the small, open kitchen in the back Donati prepares a daily roster of soups, sandwiches and a daily packaged dinner entree to go. Customers know to check out the daily specials on the shop’s Facebook page. Recent choices include turkey meatloaf with poblano gravy or oven-fried tilapia. All dinners come with sides such as spicy collard greens, roasted garlic mashed potatoes and mandarin orange cornbread.
I stopped by for lunch recently and liked what I tried.
Donati — former owner of the Roman Lily Cafe, who knows her way around comfort food — makes a fine, vinegar-edged beef chili and a big, squishy black bean burger served with Monterey Jack cheese and tomatillo salsa. Her “Urban Cuban” is a like a medianoche sandwich halfway morphed into a panini. It’s fine in that gooey-squishy way, but I prefer the clean, lean albacore tuna salad.
If you’re lucky, Roberts may be taking some of her chocolate-cherry quick bread out of the oven when you’re there. In addition to running Urban Cannibals, Roberts is also a well regarded local singer/songwriter. She may not burst into song, but you can pick up one of her CD’s along with your sundries.
Urban Cannibals: 477 Flat Shoals Ave. 404-230-9865. Closed Mondays. www.facebook.com/urbancannibals.