As excited as I was to catch up with friends and family over the holidays, it’s no secret that I was especially looking forward to reuniting with the Atlanta food scene. While I made sure to feast on old favorites (like Willy’s and Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q), I also made it a point to try out new places. Here’s a shout-out to four great meals I had while I was home:
- Buttermilk Kitchen – It was a case of bad timing when after months awaiting the debut of Buttermilk Kitchen, the doors opened days after I left Atlanta. I saw a preview of the menu over the summer and knew that this breakfast and lunch spot would become a regular stop for me. I met some friends at the old Café at Pharr location (that I frequented often) for brunch. The menu is full of old favorites with reinvented recipes. I had the Eggs Benedict (english muffin + apple jam + country ham + poached eggs + red-eye hollandaise). The sweetness of the jam gave this brunch staple its own flair and left my palette very happy. Buttermilk Kitchen will definitely be that lunch-with-the-girls or early-breakfast-meeting go-to when I’m back home.
- Mi Cocina – I remember visiting my sister at SMU years ago and eating always at Dallas’ favorite Mexican hotspot, Mi Cocina so I was happy to see it open in midtown Atlanta. After missing the grand opening (again), I made sure to try it out while home with my sister. We started with the restaurant’s signature Mambo Taxi cocktail (frozen margarita + house-made sangria) and delicious Queso Blanco. We all know that cheese dip can be hit-or-miss so I’m delighted to share that Mi Cocina is on the “good list”. I ordered the Tacos “De Camaron” (chile-lime seasoned shrimp + Mexican cole slaw + corn tortillas) as my main course. While it was tasty, I wish I’d opted for one of the restaurant’s more popular dishes. Atlanta was in need of upscale Mexican cuisine, so I’m happy to have found it at Mi Cocina.
- The Optimist – At the top of my must-try list while home was The Optimist – Atlanta’s most talked about restaurant at the moment. I didn’t mind forking out the cash for an upscale seafood lunch featuring raw oysters, sablefish, “beignet-style” hush puppies and the messiest shrimp I’ve ever eaten. Read more here.
- South City Kitchen – Y’all have seen shout outs to my favorite food friend, E.J., who has dined with me everywhere. Per his request, I sought out delicious, Southern cooking in Atlanta for dinner while he visited over break. Sadly, it took a lot of brainstorming to settle on an honest-to-God, good country cookin’ place. I decided to give midtown’s popular South City Kitchen a try for a more sophisticated Southern experience. Between the five of us we ordered Fried Green Tomatoes (goat cheese + red pepper coulis), Cornmeal Crisped Oysters (fried okra pickles + green tomato relish + pepper-bacon aioli), Shrimp & Red Mule Grits (poblanos + housemade tasso ham + smoked tomato gravy) and Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese. I must give the Fried Green Tomatoes praise for its oozing goat cheese and unique kick and the macaroni for reminding me how much I miss America. You may leave wondering why you spent an arm and a leg on something you could find in your grandma’s kitchen, but hey, sometimes you gotta eat in style.