City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Explore Food and More

As the AJC’s dining critic, I will continue to offer in-depth restaurant reviews and my Top 5 picks of the week every Friday in the AJC’s weekend Go Guide, as well as on-line on the Food & Restaurant’s page of Access Atlanta. Plus I’ll be writing my little fingers off covering special features — like upcoming interviews with Duff Goldman of Ace of Cakes and gluten-free Thanksgiving dishes — in the AJC’s Food and Living sections. Look for coverage of both on-line in Access Atlanta. And you’ll still find my restaurant reviews every week on food writer John Kessler’s Food and More blog.

Starting Sunday, head over to Food and More for dining news and restaurant buzz.  John will explore Atlanta’s food scene with a reinvigorated appetite — checking out interesting newcomers, revisiting forgotten oldies and alerting you to the intriguing ethnic dining options that make Atlanta such a unique food city.


Check me out in he AJC's Food and Living sections! Photo: Joey Ivansco/AJC

Check me out in the AJC's Food and Living sections and on-line in Access …

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Top five eats for under $30

Sure your budget’s tight. But you’ve gotta eat, right? Here are five of my favorite spots where you can grab substantial nibbles (you know – a meal) for $30 per person. Some you’ll recognize as former favorites; others are new. And some are far less than $30. So grab a buddy, a date, your mom – your kids. It’s time to eat.


1093 Hemphill Ave., Atlanta, 404-724-2333

Prego! When the blogosphere (I heard it first from Blissful Glutton) lit up with news that former Fritti pizzaiolo Enrico Liberato was baking pies at this absolutely adorable spot on the Westside, the world (okay, maybe just the foodie crowd) rushed to stuff pizza fra diavolo with spicy peppers, sopressata, pepperoni and mozzarella di bufala in its face. From bianca to the house specialty of San Gennaro, with salsiccia, peppers and onions, this pizza is, once and for all, the best in Atlanta. The small shop (a former French bakery) is basically just “solo d’asporto,” or take-away …

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The best restaurants in Atlanta 2009: Songs of the South

Abattoir's chicken liver and foie gras mousse/Credit: AJC

Abattoir's chicken liver and foie gras mousse/Credit: AJC

The lagging economy can’t stop Atlanta’s restaurants from setting a pace that’s continually being recognized nationally. We have great restaurants, and we’re not afraid to show it. With the entire ruckus, a brand new breed of regional cuisine has emerged. Restaurants that exude modernity while embracing what’s best about Southern cooking have blossomed as examples of what’s best about Atlanta dining now: farm-fresh ingredients, artisanal methods from cheese making to butchery and the love of preserving. Plus there’s always dessert, something these restaurants prove is at the top of any great Southern menu. These six restaurants exemplify what’s best about Atlanta restaurants now.


1170 Howell Mill Road, inside the White Provision complex, Atlanta, 404-892-3335

Atlanta’s most lauded restaurateurs, Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison, have created in Abattoir a personal statement that has already become, …

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Restaurant Eugene: Cocktails

Barkeep and beverage manager Nick Hearin/Credit: AJC

Barkeep and beverage manager Nick Hearin/Credit: Becky Stein, Special

Pepper pot, front and PB & J cocktails/Credit:AJC

Pepper pot, front, and PB & J cocktails/Credit:AJC

These days, great restaurants mean great cocktails – a list of signature drinks that diners will want to come back to, as well as seasonal inspirations that reflect trends and allow barkeeps to be as creative as the chef.

Restaurant Eugene has long been a proponent of what some in the industry refer to as “culinary cocktails” – drinks made from fresh ingredients, top shelf liquors and mixed with the creative hand of a bartender that not only gets inventive, but maintains the integrity of the chef’s menu as well.

Rarely is this done better in Atlanta than it is at Eugene. Barkeep and beverage manager Nick Hearin – dapper in his suspenders, soft spoken and self assured – is behind the bar most nights, creating drinks as awe-dacious as Hopkins’ butter poached Maine lobster.

It’s not unusual for Hearin to make his own bitters, tonic water and pickles for …

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The AJC’s 2009 restaurant of the year: Restaurant Eugene

Linton and Gina Hopkins in the Restaurant Eugene's dining room/Credit: AJC

Linton and Gina Hopkins in Restaurant Eugene's dining room/Credit: Becky Stein, Special


It’s not unusual for Linton Hopkins to spend the better part of an afternoon making pickles with a classroom full of fourth and fifth graders from Eretus Rivers Elementary school in Atlanta.

The chef and owner of Restaurant Eugene, Holeman & Finch Public House and H & F Bread Co. goes way back with pickles. Born in Atlanta, he was raised on them, along with everything else than comes with Southern cooking, from farm-fresh vegetables to fried chicken. He grew up about a half-mile from the restaurant’s location on Peachtree Road.

He and wife Gina opened Restaurant Eugene in the spring of 2004. Since then, this small, elegant spot has changed and grown into one of the city’s greatest dining treasures. And this year, it joins former honorees Pura Vida, Sotto Sotto, Five & Ten in Athens and Tierra as the AJC’s pick for Restaurant of the Year.

When I began dolling out the …

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Havana Sandwich Shop opening pushed to January

This from a comment on a blog I wrote on June 8, 2009, from William Benedit:

“Dear loyal customers,
Thank you again for your continued support of the opening of Havana Restaurant. After many months of looking for the perfect location, we are happy to say Havana has found a home!!!
The new address is 3373 Buford Hwy Atlanta, GA 30329. We will be located 1/2 mile north on Buford Hwy at the entrance of Northeast Plaza Shopping Center. 404-636-4094 The projected opening date is January 1, 2010.
We will keep you posted on the progress. When we are closer to the opening date, we will e-mail coupons to everyone.
We are very excited about opening the restaurant and serving each and every one of you.”

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Bistro Niko to open November 5

Niko and Pano Jr. at Bluepointe/Credit AJC

Niko and Pano Jr. at Bluepointe/Credit AJC

Bistro Niko, one of two new concepts scheduled to open this fall from Buckhead Life Restaurants, is scheduled to open to the public on November 5.

Originally to be called Balon Rouge, the restaurant is named after Buckhead Life founder Pano Karatassos’ son, Niko, and will have Gary Donlick at the kitchen’s helm as chef. Donlick was the chef at Pano’s & Paul’s before it closed after 30 years of business earlier this year.

No word yet on if the concept, which was to be a stylish brasserie in the Sovereign Building at 3344 Peachtree Road, has changed as well.  And no opening date yet for  Pano’s, part of the St. Regis Atlanta at 88 W. Paces Ferry Road, and touting a menu and ambiance that is “a little more high-end,” according to Karatassaos,  Sr.

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Top five for Friday: All things offal

It’s time to embrace your inner carnivore: eat some offal for goodness’ sake. Whether it’s sweetbreads with a smear of velvety demi-glace or a heap of chicken livers, innards are where it’s at these days. And if you’re wondering why Holeman & Finch isn’t included on this list, it’s because when it comes to souse and sweetbreads, Atlanta’s only true gastro pub is in a class of its own.

10 Degrees South ***

4183 Roswell Road, Atlanta. 404-705-8870

The South African owners of this longtime Roswell Road favorite sauté their chopped chicken livers in peri peri (or piri piri) sauce, but it lacks the fire this Portuguese sauce can add to a dish. The crock of goodie that comes to the table with slices of baguette is saucily sweet, almost relish-like in flavor, and a rich diversion with a glass of the restaurant’s Pinotage.

The Shed at Glenwood ***

475 Bill Kennedy Way, Atlanta. 404-835-4363

Light-yet-toothsome tufts of country bread and warm, house-made apple preserves are what …

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On Tap with Bob Townsend

Everyone’s favorite beer guy is back this week with some great beer news. Read on to find out about Tom Colicchio’s visit to Craft for a special beer dinner, and … drum roll, please … bacon-flavored beer. You knew it was coming, right?


by Bob Townsend

Tom Colicchio will be in Atlanta/Credit: courtesy of Craft Restaurant

Tom Colicchio will be in Atlanta/Credit: courtesy of Craft Restaurant

Some exciting news for devotees of fine dining and cutting edge craft brewing: On Monday, Nov. 2, Craft Atlanta and chef Tom Colicchio will present a special beer dinner featuring Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster Garrett Oliver.

The five-course tasting menu, concieved and prepared by Colicchio, will be matched with beers brewed and selected by Oliver, including several limited edition offerings that could rightly be called “culinary.”

Of course, Colicchio has become widely known as a co-producer and judge on TV’s wildly popular Top Chef show. But foodies have followed him for years — from NYC’s Gramercy Tavern to his own empire of  places, including Craftbar, …

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Publik Social House a good pre-stop nibble for Fox shows

Leonard Cohen/ Credit: Unknown

Leonard Cohen/ Credit: AJC archive

Most of Atlanta — at least those who follow music closely — has one thing to rave about today: Leonard Cohen. The Canadian songwriter, poet and novelist performed last night at the Fox Theater and pretty much blew every audience member’s mind. At 75, Cohen was remarkably nimble, and his great, deep voice was in full form. So were his stellar band members. By the time he and the Webb Sisters performed “If It Be Your Will” in what I think was his third encore — there were so many I can’t remember — I was weeping uncontrollably.

Before hand, we stopped into Publik Social House, the new gastro-pubbish spot from the owners of Bazzaar that occupied the same space, for some small snacks. The menu is short, but offers familiar goodies, from a very fresh iceberg wedge salad to shrimp and grits, with nothing exploring uncharted territory. Crab cakes were “eh” — better to stick with pub classics like a cheeseburger or fish and chips. A charcuterie plate …

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