Tag Archives: restaurants

One of Atlanta’s Most Exciting Chefs Takes It to the Streets

Westside Provisions, Atlanta, Westside, West Midtown, Hector Santiago, El Burro Pollo, Pura Vida, latin food, restaurant, latin restaurant, latin eatery, burrito, chicken burrito, Atlanta, street food, fair, market, Ponce City Market,

Chef Hector Santiago, of Pura Vida and Top Chef fame, serving his delicious burritos at the Westside Provisions District Farmers Market.

The Westside Provisions District Farmers Market, which just started for the season, was humming Sunday with sunny browsers picking up produce, handmade candles and kimchi. But the draw for me was Chef Hector Santiago, whose insanely missed Pura Vida tapas restaurant was my favorite spot in the city for years.

At the El Burro Pollo burrito stand, he rolled me up a  lunch so tasty it took me back to the orgiastic delights of Pura Vida — those flaky empanadas packed with juicy meat, the sweet and sticky pork puff pastries, the silky fresh seafood ceviche… and the avocado ice cream. Ah, yes and truly … the avocado ice cream.

Hector also had Pura Vida’s sister sandwich shop, Super Pan; appeared on “Top Chef;” and served as executive chef at Abattoir for a while. Lately, he’s been doing “pop-ups” like this one at fairs and markets around town. (You can keep up with his appearances on Facebook and Instagram.)

Hector Santiago, El Burro Pollo, Pura Vida, latin food, restaurant, latin restaurant, latin eatery, burrito, chicken burrito, Atlanta, street food, fair, market, Ponce City Market,

Santiago rolls up my lunch, El Burro Pollo.

Now he’s planning a one-night return on June 25 to Pura Vida, with a pop-up at the old spot, 656 N. Highland Ave., now home to Sweet Auburn BBQ.

Any of that avocado ice cream planned?

“Oh, man,” he said. “You know, I could do that as one of the desserts for the pop-up.”

And he says he’s about ready to share details of his upcoming spot, which could be El Burro Pollo or Super Pan. He didn’t want to talk about the location on Sunday, but media outlets have reported it will likely be in Ponce City Market.

That’s almost as close to my home as the old Pura Vida. I’ll take it.

Here are some pics from Sunday’s market. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Sunday through September, at Howell Mill Road and 14th Street. Click a picture to make it bigger; mouse over to see the captions.

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See Why Inman Park Remains an Atlanta Jewel — PHOTOS

Inman Park, Atlanta, neighborhood, festival, tour of homesOne of Atlanta’s oldest and best neighborhoods is gearing up for its yearly party this weekend. But the story of its recent, ongoing growth spurt goes beyond the 44th Inman Park Spring Festival and Tour Of Homes.

Hundreds of new apartments have gone up in just the last couple of years, along with trendy restaurants and cafes. Much of it’s centered around the Atlanta BeltLine, which currently ends next to the Krog Street Marketanother of the area’s exciting projects.

Walking around the neighborhood Wednesday afternoon, I bumped into Alex Kinjo at the site of his soon-to-open MF Sushi on North Highland Avenue near Elizabeth Street. Sushi lovers all over metro Atlanta have missed MF since Kinjo closed the flagship on Ponce in Midtown and the second location in Buckhead.

Inman Park, neighborhood, Atlanta, MF Sushi, Alex Kinjo

Alex Kinjo is getting ready to relaunch MF Sushi.

“I fell in love with this spot,” he says. “The Inman Park folks and the people in Midtown (nearby),  have been very loyal … and they support the community.”

His place is still under construction for a planned opening in late May. And that’s only fitting, since there’s so much construction going on within one of the city’s most prominent, historical zip codes. It is home to countless gorgeous mansions as well as the rolling namesake park.

The new vitality is unmistakable around the Inman Park Village area, where Fritti has been serving gourmet pizza for 15 years. Chef Riccardo Ullio, who also has Sotto Sotto down the street, is an Inman Park native.

“It’s popular because it’s the coolest neighborhood in town,” he says.

Displaced to make room for new apartments, Dad’s Garage theater company has moved to nearby Little Five Points. Dad’s is currently mounting a new musical there at 7 Stages based on none other than The King of Pops – another local hero with its base on the block.

The Inman Park festival is one of the biggest in town, and definitely worth checking out if you don’t mind the crowds. And the tour of homes promises to be spectacular – any drive or walk through Inman Park reveals a treasure of sprawling Victorian homes lovingly maintained amid impressive landscaping.

Here are a few links pieces about the neighborhood, too.

Inman Park, Atlanta, neighborhood, festival, tour of homes

North Highland Avenue, just off the BeltLine has restaurants, shops, apartments, doctors offices and more.

Inman Park, Atlanta, neighborhood, festival, tour of homes

Dining al fresco at Barcelona, a tapas restaurant and bar

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Krog Street Market Continues Atlanta’s Intown Redevelopment Buzz — PHOTOS

Krog Street Market, one of the many intown projects to turn old industrial space into fabulous retail/restaurant developments, is coming along smashingly.

Friends had a great dinner Friday at The Luminary, where the bar staff says they’ve been packing in diners for a couple of months. John Tarrant told me Saturday that he and his wife, Cindy, hope to open French Market Flowers next week. Folks at Little Tart coffee and bakeshop said the same thing.

Krog Street Market is next to the BeltLine and not far from Ponce City Market. From the engaging and informative website:

Krog Street market is a destination for Atlanta’s intown culture – those who are always searching for unique, specialty creations. It’s designed to be as authentic as the 1920’s warehouse it’s built into. With market stalls to sell produce, goods, and prepared food, along with a few southern-grown restaurants and retailers, the market will offer Atlantans a gathering place of sorts – a locale for taking in an extraordinary meal or picking up a few inspiring ingredients – a west coast-style market, right in the heart of Inman Park.

I enjoyed a quick walk-through Saturday, where renovations are concluding, and I look forward to Krog Street Market’s success. It’s another exciting addition to the neighborhood. And now I won’t have to drive so far for my Jeni’s Ice Cream fix.


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Real Estate, Restaurants and the Delicious ‘Bitter’ — A Reader Shares His Favorite Local Blogs

A reader sent this handy list of Atlanta blogs he reads daily. I liked it so much that I want to share it — and ask you to let me know about other good blogs or social media accounts in and around metro Atlanta, or your own hometown. Shoot an email or leave a comment! Thanks.

Blog Name URL Notes
Curbed Atlanta http://atlanta.curbed.com/ Great real estate general interest site. Syndicate of the national site, but very up on development news and events in the community.
Eater Atlanta http://atlanta.eater.com/ Curbed’s sister site. Very good for restaurant openings, etc. Eater 38 directory is my go-to for restaurant recommendations to friends.
Architecture Tourist http://architecturetourist.blogspot.com/ This is probably my favorite site. He’s a great writer with an excellent eye. While his focus is ostensibly about  buildings and architecture, many times he makes poignant commentary on Atlanta, its history and its challenges and opportunities.
ATL Urbanist http://atlurbanist.tumblr.com/ Always worth a look and I love his commitment to and advocacy of downtown.
Sidewalk Radio http://sidewalkradio.com/ This is a podcast that also has a website cultivated by Gene Kansas, a local developer/broker focused on pedestrian-scale commercial  real estate.
Bitter Southerner http://bittersoutherner.com/ This is an online magazine founded and edited by a friend, Chuck Reece. Great stories about the new/developing/emerging/blossoming South. Really excellent writing.
Creative Loafing – Fresh Loaf http://clatl.com/blogs/freshloaf/ This is Creative Loafing’s news blog. While their slant is a little predictable, their coverage is generally excellent. Thomas Wheatley, their editor, is great – finds time and space for issues that otherwise completely uncovered.
Arts ATL http://www.artsatl.com/ Good arts news and events. I love their local architecture critiques.
Atlanta Reddit Page http://www.reddit.com/r/Atlanta/ Read primarily for the comments – although a little scatter-brained (as you would expect) sometimes the insights into living in Atlanta can make it worth it.
Atlanta Time Machine http://www.atlantatimemachine.com/ Actually I changed my mind, this is my favorite. It’s not update much as he was run over in a tragic accident a few months ago… read more about it on the Atlanta Reddit page. WARNING – BLACK HOLE OF TIME – I could literally spend a whole day on this website.
Midtown Archive http://themidtownarchive.tumblr.com/ Great but rarely updated site. Still, I love what he is able to find.
What Now Atlanta? http://www.whatnowatlanta.com/ Restaurant and retail openings and closings by sassy gay boy. Oh – and failing restaurant inspections!

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Photo Tour: Why You Must Check Out Atlanta’s Thriving West Midtown Now

Scroll over a pic for caption; click to make it bigger. More pics below.

Atlanta, West Midtown, Westside, Bacchanalia, Actor's Express, King Plow Arts Center, Marietta, Northside, Jeni's, Star Provisions

Bacchanalia’s a focal point.

Like all great cities, Atlanta is a collection of great, distinct neighborhoods.

West Midtown (or Westside) has exploded over the last several years into one of the most vibrant and engaging around town. West of Midtown across the I-75/I-85 Connector is home to hundreds of new apartments, stylish boutiques, trendy restaurants and nightclubs, art galleries and performance venues. They populate the area around anchors like Atlantic Station, Ikea, Georgia Tech and the railroad tracks that don’t so much cut through the area as give it earthy character to balance all the fab renovations.

Atlanta, Westside, West Midtown, Star Provisions, Bacchanalia, Jeni's Ice Cream, JCT Kitchen, Walton Westside, Jonathan Adler, Miller Union, Westside Cultural Arts Center, Tweeds, Bartaco, Atlanta Humane Society, Urban Grind, Bocado, Peroni, Antico, Miller Union

Plenty of coffee shops have popped up, including Urban Grind.

Some of my favorites spots in the city are there: Yeah! Burger; Jeni’s Ice Cream; Actor’s Express theater; Nebo digital marketing agency; West Egg eatery; Room & Board; Taqueria del Sol (except for that tiresome lunchtime line out the door); and all the old-school furniture and decor shops that were there even before the place got hot. More are in the photos below.

The neighborhood shows its richly funky roots, swapping sometimes on the same block — industrial/warehouse; and high-tech, with a college touch (Georgia Tech); and high-end/smartly offbeat. West Midtown rewards exploration, so get out of the car and walk around, off Marietta and Northside, and see what you can find.

And eat. And drink.

Fun stuff.

Atlanta, Westside, West Midtown, Star Provisions, Bacchanalia, Jeni's Ice Cream, JCT Kitchen, Walton Westside, Jonathan Adler, Miller Union, Westside Cultural Arts Center, Tweeds, Bartaco, Atlanta Humane Society, Urban Grind, Bocado, Peroni, Antico, Miller Union

Atlanta or Southern California? Lunch at Bartaco. Scroll down for more pics.

Mouse over a pic for the caption. Click on a pic to make it bigger.

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A local narrative: Sharing a Post about a Night on the Town in Istanbul

My friend Chuck lives in London and, as an international business consultant, he travels all over the world all the time. I’m sharing his most recent post, about a night out he had in Istanbul. It’s a nicely told tale, with interesting observations about the role of place, evolving locations and the importance of good companions. Enjoy!

Wild Duck Road

Karaköy was billed, slightly tongue-in-cheek, as Istanbul’s Shoreditch . These days, it’s pretty hard to say anything about Shoreditch that isn’t tongue-in-cheek. I love where I live, but I live in an urban cliché. If you don’t take things too seriously, it can be fun.

Never mind, I was in Istanbul with my travel companions from last year’s trip to Berlin, and we had some exploring to do on our final evening.

As we began our descent into Karaköy from the Galata Bridge, I was initially sceptical. Where was the scaffolding, the loft conversions, the shops with bare Edison bulbs? I looked around anxiously. It didn’t make sense to look for beards. They’re everywhere in Istanbul, worn entirely without irony. Imagine that.

And then, around a corner, it started. Newly laid paving stones. Renovation works. Fresh façades on re-purposed buildings. And everywhere, a field of dilapidated elegance that…

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Some Sushi Might be Art, but This Was Something Else

Fuyuhik Ito, jazzman, sushi, umi, atlanta, restaurant, buckhead

Chef Fuyuhik Ito

You know how some meals are so good they transcend mere dining and become something bigger? How the skill and soul put into their preparation is not just cooking, but something more profound?

Maybe it’s your grandmother’s Thanksgiving spread, or even your kid’s first attempt at breakfast in bed, or simply food so freaking delicious that it fills you will pleasure and joy.

I had one of those meals recently at Umi Sushi in Buckhead. I went with a pal, who is a chef and knows many people in Atlanta’s restaurant scene. Inside Umi’s swank dining room, the staff and chef Fuyuhik Ito recognized my friend and seated us in the center spot at the sushi bar, where Ito told us to put down our menus because he would be preparing our meal, one item at a time.

I watched him slice magnificent bricks of fresh tuna, salmon and more, place them over warm pods of rice, decorate them with various vegetables and fruits. I was in melt-in-your-mouth foodie heaven, nodding and smiling and admiring and enjoying. Flame charred beef, the delight of the uni…

sushi, buckhead, atlanta, restaurant, umi, itoAround us, we overheard so many other diners admiring the visual beauty of the fish as art. And, indeed, the plates looked exquisite and, somehow, imminently devourable, as well. Pristine, fresh, a little roe sprinkled on this one, maybe wasabi applied ever-so-lightly.

Art? Yes, but… But there’s something more… What is it, I asked him. Are you telling a story with each meal, the way you serve one distinct plate after another?

“No, it’s not a story. And everybody says it’s art, but it’s not art to me,” Ito said. “To me, it’s jazz.”

And he explained how he was building our meal spontaneously, noticing how we reacted to notes and textures, incorporating our reactions with the day’s catch (flown in from Japan), what else he had going on in the kitchen, and what he wanted to share with us.

Art? Sure. A narrative? Maybe.

But sushi as jazz? Oh, yeah, man. That night in Buckhead, oh, yeah.

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Friday Night at Virginia and Highland

Tony, John and I met for a bite Friday night at Murphy’s. Oddly enough, we all ordered the trout, which was great, as everything is there. The neighborhood looked so nice that cold, crisp night that I took a few shots on my iPhone. Nothing special. Just a nice time of year in a nice part of town, which I’m thankful is mine.

Everybody Wins in the Burger Wars

Richard Blais, Blais, Flip, Flip Burger Flip Burger Boutique, Atlanta, hamburger, chef, cheeseburger, top chef, celebrity chef, Shaun Doty, Yeah Burger, Manuel's Tavern, Highland Avenue, Krispy Kreme milkshake

Richard Blais has brought Flip Burger Boutique to Poncey-Highland.

I love a good cheeseburger. And I’m in the right neighborhood, with Manuel’s Tavern, George’s and Yeah! Burger (from Shaun Doty). Now comes celebrity chef Richard Blais (a “Top Chef” winner) with his third local Flip Burger spot, where his HD 1 hot dog emporium previously tried to bring the fabulous to the weiner. (Results: Eh… Sometimes a hot dog is just a hot dog.) I stopped in last night and totally greased down on the fried chicken burger, killer fries and signature Krispy Kreme milkshake, about which I have one word: miraculous.

Flip Burger Boutique, 644 N. Highland Ave., just off Ponce. Where San Francisco Coffee was until it moved two doors down.

Published Dec. 16, 2013


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