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A trip down the international memory lane

These days, every time I drive up and down Buford Highway I can’t help but think about the restaurant industry and those who have come and gone. It’s been over four years since the Great Recession began rearing its ugly head, and you don’t even have to be on Buford Highway to see its overall effect on the industry.

Even though I’ve been in and out of metro Atlanta going on 20+ years now, I’m beginning to lose sight of places that used to be around.

Do you remember:

Mirror of Korea? This sat in the plaza off the intersection of Ponce De Leon and North Highland and was run by a friendly Korean couple who outfitted the front window with a huge water wheel. I believe a Fedex delivery office is now in its place.

Toyotaya off Buford Highway? Oh my Lord, the thought of sushi buffet is not appealing as it was in the early 1990s when I was a college student and on a slim budget. But this all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant was a favorite with my peers and had an amusing sign at every table that read “Do not waste the rice of the sushi.” I guess Dr. Atkins had a firm grip on people twenty years ago as he does now.

Happy Hermans, Cheshire Bridge Road? I loved this place and it introduced me to the New York-ish deli before I knew what they are like. Happy Hermans didn’t close too long ago, and I was sad to see it go for nostalgic reasons more than anything else.

Two Pesos (speaking of Cheshire Bridge Road)? Taco Cabana is what this place is called now, and it pretty much looks the same (at least on the outside) before it changed its name. In college, a lot of late night runs were made here followed by an indigested wave of regret the next morning.

Hanwoori? At the time, this was probably the fanciest Korean restaurant in metro Atlanta and sat perched and aloof from the rest of its Buford Highway peers. The front door was a smoky glass automatic sliding door, and the inside was large and in charge. The last known time it was open for business was around late 2004, early 2005-ish.

Dinho Frank Ma in the Chinatown Shopping Center? Before the likes of Peter Cheng and Yiquan Gu (Gu’s Bistro) became the rave, Frank Ma was killing it with flavors that danced on your tongue. Ma then left and reemerged intown as a menu consultant to some hole-in-the-wall off Briarcliff Road. Ma didn’t stay there that long either and decided to call time on the business altogether.

Sakanaya in Norcross? I don’t remember too much about this Japanese restaurant other than our local critics loving it. I went a couple of times and enjoyed some izakaya favorites and sampled its lauded oden once. I believe it shuttered around the early 2000s.

Cedar Tree in Emory Village? Whoa nelly, this was a Middle Eastern favorite back in the 1990s. The restaurant made these delightful kebab wraps swabbed with a tangy hummus that is making my mouth water thinking about it right now. As is the story with most businesses in Emory Village, it eventually closed. The original owners opened a new place nearby called Mezza, which has completely fallen off my radar all these years until now.

A Taste of Thai, Norcross? This was the very first place I sampled Thai food, circa early 1990s, and it began a scorching love affair with the cuisine. I can’t recall when it closed, but I’ll always remember it was the first time I sampled tom yum goong (hot and sour shrimp soup), and it was love at first spoonful.

I know I am only scratching the surface here, so lay it on me… What else can you recall?

By Gene Lee, Food and More blog

53 comments Add your comment

sansho1

January 18th, 2012
7:18 am

Reaching further back, there was a restaurant on Peachtree Industrial (which, come to think of it, is ALSO gone, in favor of the more pastoral “Peachtree Boulevard”) in Chamblee back in the ’70s called Coco’s. Their sign advertised “World Famous Hamburgers”. Literal-minded child that I was, I didn’t understand why we would ever go out to eat anywhere else, for the world had already spoken on the matter.

Jim R

January 18th, 2012
8:50 am

There was also a Coco’s at the intersection of North Druid Hills and Briarcliff. Even further back in time, shortly after the continents seperated, was a french restaurant called ‘Chateau Fleur de Lis’ near Lenox Rd and 85. I think it is an small office building now. Down the road was the ‘Catfish King’ (later Catfish Inn). The building is still there and it is now…well it ain’t a catfish restaurant! Nor is Shakey’s Pizza that was once next door. Next to it was a small bagle shop run by a german family.

carla roqs

January 18th, 2012
8:53 am

where did the pretty picture of the korean dish go?? that really looked good enough to eat!!

Gene Lee

January 18th, 2012
9:17 am

Ha! “Shortly after the continents separated..”
Would that have been around when “Pangea” off Huff Road closed?

Matt Freedman

January 18th, 2012
9:25 am

Anyone remember the name of the super-popular Chinese restaurant that was located on Chamblee-Dunwoody Road (between Buford Hwy and Peachtree Industrial)? Great food, NASTY bathrooms.

1164mgc

January 18th, 2012
9:34 am

I remember going to a Chinese place called Ho-Ho’s with my grandmother and Aunt back in the 70’s and/or 80’s. It was where I first ate many chinese dishes, and I remember it fondly. I can’t remember where it was, but somewhere in Dekalb near my grandmother’s. I suppose I like the nostalgia – we probably stopped going there because it started going downhill before it closed.

robert

January 18th, 2012
10:03 am

@matt – Honto’s. I have yet to taste a salt and pepper squid as good as Honto’s made. Their black bean scallops and Hong Kong steak kue (sp?) were killer as were the snow pea greens. The sanitary ratings killed the business. Nobody I know died or even got sick there so I kept going to the end. Still miss that place. Good god was it good.

Edward

January 18th, 2012
10:23 am

I have fond memories of Happy Hermans and Two Pesos. Also, I was lucky in that a friend and I got to the place on Briarcliff while Frank Ma was still there. Delicious. But, we went several weeks later and it was obvious he had left, the food was deplorable.

Coffee Tawk

January 18th, 2012
10:52 am

I can’t remember the name but there was a great New Orleans – Cajun – Creole restaurant on Peachtree Street years ago just a little south of Buckhead. Nice place. Took my mom there for her first taste of Louisiana style food and she loved it. Been gone for years.

Jim R

January 18th, 2012
11:36 am

Touche’ Gene….Can you come up with a restaurant reference for Gondwanaland?

A. Teesman

January 18th, 2012
11:47 am

Le Peep, U.S. Bar y Grill, Cashin’s, La Paz, ‘Round the Corner, D’Lite’s and Mighty Casey.

Ivan S.

January 18th, 2012
12:28 pm

How can you forget Kool Korners?!

Grasshopper

January 18th, 2012
12:30 pm

Does Taco Cabana still have the double drive thru with the conveyor belt that brought your food to your car that Two Pesos had?

I have memories – foggy memories – of going to the Two Pesos late at night and ordering the fajita tacos to soak up the booze. Weren’t their beans good? Seems like I remember that as well.

robert

January 18th, 2012
12:33 pm

Well, if you want to go way back to the 60’s there was Eng’s chinese restaurant on Roswell Road just north of Piedmont. Eng’s was a hugh palatial restaurant built in the chinese style and guilded to the hilt. It was the original fancy chinese restaurant in this city. In fact there were very, very few chinese restaurants in the city at all. The Mandarin House in Sandy Springs has been around since at least the early 70’s and it’s still kicking.

Gigi’s Pizza was good too. Belle Isle and Roswell Road originally then moved across and up the street a little.

Dang, I still can’t stop thinking about Honto.

Kar

January 18th, 2012
12:43 pm

In addition to the lamented Honto, there was also Panda Inn by the Chinese Cultural center, now a grocery store. First Chinese restaurant in Atlanta that I went to that didn’t have the usual triad of duck, hot mustard and soy sauce on the table. Didn’t even give you a fork and everybody got rice bowls. You placed your order on top of your rice for “flavoring.”

Also Pho Hoa Binh also known as Pho Uteri on Cheshire bridge as that was always on their mneu. Incredible broth in their pho. Plus, you got the floor show of guys hauling half a pig over their shoulder in front of you, the cardbox box of chicken feet on the next table and the waitress running to the store for items to go in your dish. The new place on Buford just isn’t the same.

Lastly, the best barbecoa in the city at the old Mercado de Puebla grocery store. Cook/Waiter/Busboy didn’t know English but boy, he could make juicy, delicious tacos.

willy

January 18th, 2012
12:44 pm

What was the name of thet Russian place on Roswell Road near Bell Isle in the 80’s? Onion something? That’s where we found out that Borscht was pretty good. I think it burned.

Gene Lee

January 18th, 2012
1:14 pm

Jim R – Wow, I don’t think I can..

Ivan S. – Kool Korners indeed. I think its sign was still floating around the area until recently. What a tease.

Kar – I forgot about that Vietnamese place. I ate there regularly back around the mid ’90s.

Grasshopper – I’m unsure. And I think my late night runs were similar to yours. We probably bumped into each other from time to time..

GNM

January 18th, 2012
1:46 pm

Some more missing favorites… Good ol’ Days serving sandwiches in a flower pot in Emory Village before the fire – Pippin’s Pizza deep dish next to GA Tech on North Avenue – Rio Bravo’s at Powers Ferry before going corporate – Conversations in the old Belk’s building now housing Eddie’s Attic in Decatur – Rio Vista all-u-can-eat fish & chicken on Memorial Drive. Old school Zesto’s off North Decatur near Emory near Evan’s Fine Foods. Excelsior Mill pizza with the pipe organ playing TV tunes.

GNM

January 18th, 2012
1:51 pm

Ooops… sorry not all of mine were International… sorry!

The Big Maru

January 18th, 2012
2:54 pm

Kwong Chow on Buford Highway, next to where El Taco Veloz is currently located. First place I ever had the dry-style Chinese spare ribs, which I still don’t see on a lot of menus. Was there once when we noticed a steady stream of roaches running down the wall. The waitress explained that we shouldn’t worry – they were running away from the exterminator.

Da Lat, at Shallowford and Chamblee-Tucker, in the ‘clubhouse’ of what was once a mini-golf course. My favorite pho ever, plus great cha gio. There was hardly ever anyone there except for some scary looking characters smoking strong cigarettes and drinking vietnamese coffee, and the occasional gang of well-dressed businessmen that we decided was the Chamblee / Doraville mafia.

Jarusek’s Crab Shack (or something like that), on Buford Highway just south of Clairmont. Not really international, but certainly not local either. Steamed crabs and oysters on the half shell washed down with pitchers of cold beer.

Sadlebred

January 18th, 2012
3:33 pm

I remember the Mirror of Korea. It was owned by a coworker’s parents. He and his wife could be found there working a couple of days a month on the weekends.

JIMBOB

January 18th, 2012
3:50 pm

The New Orleans place on p’tree was Huey’s. They had great beignets.

The former Chamblee Putt-Putt is now some sort of club/karaokee called Em Toi. Loved playing putt-putt over there.

robert

January 18th, 2012
3:58 pm

@willy – The russian place was Papa Paroshki’s (I’m sure I spelled that wrong). Good food there but it wasn’t cheap.

@Sadlebred – You need to start listing good eats locations that are near the organized cycling rides you note on your cycling website so we know what’s good to eat after a hammerfest.

Coffee Tawk

January 18th, 2012
4:04 pm

Nope – not Huey’s – this was a real restaurant not a sandwich and beignet place.

ziza

January 18th, 2012
4:15 pm

Mirror of Korea was great but the last time I went there (right before they closed) they had a roach invasion too…. Sad because it had been a great place….

Tears for Kool Korner

January 18th, 2012
4:43 pm

French Quarter next door to the old Stein Club.

Ivan S.

January 18th, 2012
4:45 pm

Gene,

Yeah, they were trying to rebrand that newly rebuilt strip mall on the site of Kool Korners AS “Kool Korners.” Uh-huh. And I seem to remember a good Jamaican joint in the old Rio Bravo mall (the scary frog strip mall where the North Ave Publix is now.) Or was that my imagination?

There was also a pretty good taqueria in Grant Park where Ziba’s was (before Solstice.) I miss that place. Hell, I also miss Tortillas and the crappy snack bar upstairs in Backstreet.

I don’t like change much.

Ivan S.

January 18th, 2012
5:18 pm

Also, the Patty Hut in the Rio Bravo Mall. Anybody remember that place? Bueller? Bueller?

Jim R

January 18th, 2012
5:29 pm

@Ivan..I think the Jamaican place at Rio Mall (or Frog Mall..what were they thinking?) was called the Coyote Cafe.

The Big Maru

January 18th, 2012
5:55 pm

The Jamaican place at Rio was across from Coyote Cafe. It was a smaller storefront.

Ivan S.

January 18th, 2012
6:12 pm

@Jim R/ Big Maru Nah, pretty sure it was the Patty Hut. It just took a while (and some prompting from friends) for me to remember. Unless the Coyote Cafe also served Jamaican food, which is entirely possible.

Jim R

January 18th, 2012
6:25 pm

Years and margaritas certainly have not fogged my brain…Didn’t the Coyote Cafe served Mex/Southwest? Is there a chance the Patty Hut replaced the Coyote Cafe? Years and margaritas may have fogged..oops….didn’t I just say that?

Edward

January 18th, 2012
7:45 pm

And let us not forget the old San Jose Mexican joint at Ansley Square, next to King and I. Where else could you get mediocre Tex-Mex from a kitchen owned/staffed by a Pakistani family and served by drag queens?

Gene Lee

January 18th, 2012
8:05 pm

@The Big Maru – You are like a treasure trove of restaurant info.

@Ivan S – Nayarit Taqueria in Grant Park? Really liked that place..

Been here awhile

January 18th, 2012
9:13 pm

Coffee Tawk: Maybe it was Joe Dale’s Cajun House near the Piedmont/Peachtree intersection (on Maple, I believe). He was involved with a couple of other places near Druid Hills and Buford Highway (Fuzzy’s and Zuffy’s).
1164mgc: Ho-Ho was on Clairmont near Dresden. It was a small place with a pretty exotic menu.

Muffin

January 18th, 2012
9:18 pm

There was another chinese restaurant called The Ho Ho at Briarcliff Village back when the the theater used to be there. That was a weekly night out for us when i was a kid.

Maureen

January 18th, 2012
9:51 pm

Bien Thuy on Buford Highway. I think it was my first ever Vietnamese food–ever–back in 1990.

Minjenah

January 18th, 2012
10:52 pm

Hot Wok, the Indian Chinese restaurant that was in the same shopping center as Sakana-Ya.

Darin

January 18th, 2012
11:46 pm

Great list you’ve got here — I remember most of those well. I’ll second the previous mention of Bien Thuy. That was an excellent Vietnamese place. And I’ll also add 88 Tofu House. They had some really great Korean soups there and some of the spiciest, most palette-scorching food I’ve ever had.

Pot Pie

January 19th, 2012
9:10 am

Great call Tears for Kook Korner – French Quarter was awesome.

Pot Pie

January 19th, 2012
9:10 am

oops, I meant Kool Korner

Foodgeek

January 19th, 2012
9:24 am

Boston Sea Party! That place was really fun, for those times when you wanted to pig out on lobster and all of the amazing stuff on the buffet. I guess that doesn’t count as “international,” though. Speaking of buffets, I miss Shiraz in Roswell, even though it was only open for about a year. Terrific Persian buffet with cooked-to-order skewers of meat, served over rice with a roasted tomato on the side. Excellent.
I did really like Toyotaya way back then, simply because it was a great place to take someone who was new to eating sushi and would otherwise be intimidated by ordering by the piece. It’s a good way to try a lot of different styles of sushi.
I really miss Stefan’s on the Square in Marietta, formerly Slovakia. Not very many places around to get good Eastern European food, and no place to get Slovakian food. I miss that old school steak tartare. I’m sure there are many more that I could mention, but that’s a good start.

Sadlebred

January 19th, 2012
2:47 pm

@Robert I would love to do that if I could take my website full time. Got bills to pay working for “the man” during the week. I’d love to combine cycling and restaurant listings.

rayd

January 20th, 2012
6:56 am

EmileQ’s French catfe in buckhead
Stan’s sandwich shop next to original Engineers bookstore on north avenue
Piazza by candlelight near Agness Scott

marty stein

January 20th, 2012
8:39 am

The cajun restaurant was Lennox’s in the “old” Colorado Mining Company location next to the”old’ Mad Itlalian on Peachtree St. It was around from 85-87.

Andrew

January 20th, 2012
9:12 am

I’ve been to Toyotaya many times back in the early 90s. I ate for lunch and dinner!
Do you remember Happy Hermans in Perimeter Mall in the 90s? That was when McDonald’s was operating in Perimeter Mall.
Sakanaya was such a dump (and dirty) no wonder they were out of business. Their foods were great. But the place and service were just not up to the standard.

memory lane

January 20th, 2012
10:23 am

Feedmill in Buckhead, Grandma’s Biscuits Collier Road, Aunt Fanny’s Cabin! Sorry Susan from Bien Thuy on Buford Hwy. left town, the best Vietnamese!

MarieLetsEat

January 20th, 2012
9:47 pm

I loved Casa Gallardo in Smyrna, on Spring Road, which was there from around 1987-93. The building is home to an Applebee’s now. A. Teesman, above, named another couple of Smyrna restaurants that I loved as a kid: Round the Corner and Mighty Casey’s.

Two Pesos was, it turned out, a complete ripoff of the original Taco Cabana concept. When Taco Cabana started trying to expand outside of San Antonio in the late 1980s, they found that business rivals had put up quickie Two Pesos locations, which copied just about every one of their trademarked design elements, in every town where they were considering a move, from Denver to Atlanta. They were in court for years, and it ended up with Two Pesos’ owners owing the Cabana’s owners so much money that it was easier to just sell Cabana all of their remaining locations and take a bucket of paint to the walls, and put up some new signs.

chefhelen

January 21st, 2012
1:31 am

I remember eating at the Crab Shack (House?) and having eaten so many raw oysters, steamed shrimp, mussles and blue crabs that I embarrassed my husband (who normally out eats me by 3 to 1). I remember that I ate so much there that I had to stand up for about an hour when I got home because I was so full. Gluttony, thy name is ones’ 20’s. I also remember The Cedars on Lenox road. We used to love their buffet (the hot food was ok, the cold “salads” were to DIE for). It’s turned into the Sultan or something on Roswell Rd but the time that we went it was *nothing* like the Cedars. I also remember going to the first ever sushi bar I visited. It was just south of 85 on Peachtree and it was a beautiful place. We went in ‘81? ‘83? I had just taken medical parasitology and the whole experience was lost on me and I was the one who had insisted on going! We sat at the bar and asked the chefs to feed us and every time I took a bite my throat wanted to close up and I kept thinking about all of the nifty parasitic diseases that I could get. We ate a bit and hit McDonalds on the way home. I’m still ashamed (and not nearly as paranoid with food!).

KEAD

January 21st, 2012
5:35 pm

I remember Mirror of Korea very fondly; Happy Herman’s was always a fun trip. I miss Brasserie le Coze; somehow, for me, French American Brasserie never hit the mark in quite the same way.