Shandiz is a Middle Eastern eatery, in a location that used to house one named Baba’s Gyro and Kabab. The menu is very close to the previous restaurant, with many of the same items the old one served. This is, in my opinion, a good thing, as I liked Baba’s. I also like this restaurant as well.

Shandiz replaces Baba's

Shandiz replaces Baba’s

There is an impressive selection of various meats in Shandiz’s kababs, from ground chicken to lamb and Cornish game hen. In a meal, you’ll get a single kabab, often off the skewer (if you need huge meat servings, go somewhere else). The meats are flavorful and juicy, salads excellent. We liked the hummus and we also liked the dinner atmosphere. Baba’s at lunch could be cramped. This place at dinner was relaxing.

Good, creamy hummus can be had at Shandiz.

Good, creamy hummus can be had at Shandiz.

I don’t have pictures of the kababs. Blame me. But it is worth a try, especially at lunch, if you’re around the area.

Shandiz House of Kababs
5270 Peachtree Parkway
Norcross, GA 30092
(678) 966-9994

Shandiz House of Kabob on Urbanspoon

This establishment has been in/near Peachtree Parkway and Holcombe Bridge for what seems like the longest time, in the same strip mall as Dalia’s. I hadn’t chosen to visit it, as it seemed yet another variety of the steakhouse/teppanyaki joint that so many suburbanites favor. My mother-in-law is Japanese, and so I don’t need a gentle, safe introduction to Japanese food.

Happy Sumo, though, has a sushi bar and that’s what interested my boss. He asked me to accompany him after work, as he has dietary restrictions that do not include fish. So this is a review of Happy Sumo as a place to eat sushi and sashimi. For those interested in Happy Sumo’s teppanyaki, you can try this review by Marie Let’s Eat.

Happy Sumo can serve up a pretty temaki roll, a cone shaped sushi oft favored by the Japanese housewife.

Happy Sumo can serve up a pretty temaki roll, a cone shaped sushi oft favored by the Japanese housewife.

I tend to judge sushi places by the quality of the fish in nigiri sushi. This variety, thick slabs of fish atop vinegared sushi rice, is the purest test of the quality of the fish in a sushi house. You can’t hide discolored fish, as you can in a stock roll. The simplicity of the presentation makes it a more extreme test of quality.

Tuna and salmon sashimi plate.

Tuna and salmon sashimi plate.

So we sat, we talked, we ate sushi. I was generally pleased with what we ate. We had nigiri, hand rolls, and a nice big plate of sashimi. Happy Sumo has a tuna and salmon sashimi plate I can highly recommend, and their hand rolls are a visual delight. Service quality in the sushi bar is quite good. Staff are friendly and service is constant.

Would I go back? Probably not for teppanyaki, as I see no reason to do teppanyaki when my family doesn’t favor the style. But the sushi at Happy Sumo is quite good, service is pleasant, and it’s totally suitable for a business dinner or a casual respite.

Happy Sumo
135 Peachtree Parkway
Norcross, GA 30092
(770) 248-0203

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Haveli Indian Cuisine is part of a small Atlanta chain of restaurants, unnoticed by newspapers and social media. I’m not sure why. Lively spicing and rich flavors are the hallmark of this restaurant, along with a tendency to cook their foot on the spot — though these days they do have lunch buffets.

Photo taken when Haveli was first opening.

Outside sign of more recent vintage.

Their samosa have a kick to them and are good eaten in or takeout.

Nicely spiced.

Their naan isn’t bad either.

dal makhani

Tandoori chicken and tikka masala work well here, and Haveli’s curries have some kick to them. They have a dish called a jalfrezi which seems an Indian equivalent of ropa vieja, rich in tomato flavors and really worth some consideration.

Lamb jalfrezi. I really enjoyed this dish.

Mutton curry. Earthy meat with some bones, sauce has some spice.

I’ve eaten in and taken out, both more than once, and right now, I’m tending to eat out more than in. I like the staff, sweet natured generally and helpful. The inside is serviceable instead of pretty, and has the feel of a restaurant still ironing out their kinks. On occasion they lose their air conditioning. I would call ahead if you’re considering dining in.

Haveli Indian Cuisine
1480 Beaver Ruin Road
Norcross, GA 30093
(770) 820-0070

Haveli Indian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

The Bleu House Cafe is a cute sandwich shop, no more than a couple minutes walk from the heart of historic Norcross. It’s on a side street though, a little small. The color theme is blue, with the inside painted in different shades of blue. There is a festive mural of masked jugglers on one wall.

Sign and Parking.

Converted house.

A dice marks your seat and meal.

Bleu House offers a nice collection of sandwiches, with quality meats in use. There is some humor in their sandwiches: witness the Roman Muffalata, with turkey and prosciutto. I ended up with a Bronx Bomber, a sandwich that had prosciutto, sopressata, salami, chunks of moist, fresh mozzarella, and roasted red peppers.

Bronx Bomber with slaw.

I enjoyed the sandwich. The sweet roasted peppers added a flavor and texture component not often seen in a traditional sub. The bread was soft, as opposed to crusty, and the sharp taste of the oil and vinegar nicely offset the subtle, richly flavored meats.

I enjoyed the ambience, perfect for spring weather, and with useful outdoor seating. I had arrived a little early, and as I was leaving, a steady stream of customers, largely women, were filing into the eatery. It seems a bit of a “find” really, just one that requires a bit of a sense of direction and the right timing. And if eating along the railroad tracks of historic Norcross has lost its zest, this little aside might be just the trick to add some flavor back into your lunches.

Bleu House Cafe
108 N Cemetery St
Norcross, GA 30071
(770) 209-0016

Bleu House Cafe on Urbanspoon

I’m doing this because some “critic” on Urban Spoon screwed up – as in, “I’m unable to read the menu of the restaurant I’m reviewing” style screw up. After someone  said that shepherd’s pie and bangers and mash were not to be had at Iron Horse Tavern, I went ahead and ordered the dishes there.

Shepherd's Pie. If you're a diabetic, scrape off the potatoes on top.

Bangers and mash. Couldn't have the potatoes but the sausages were good.

Now, to be sure, the manager here tells me that shepherd’s pie may be going off menu in a bit – The Dunwoody Restaurant Group routinely changes their menus, often seasonally, so what is available can come and go. That said, the menu I ordered from had been in place for a year and a half, time enough for people to get it right.

Iron Horse Tavern
29 Jones Street
Norcross, GA 30071
(678) 291-9220

Iron Horse Tavern on Urbanspoon

Don Chava is in a strip mall a bit north of the corner of Beaver Ruin and Buford Highway. It has some interesting food options, such as 99 cent regular tacos, $1.99 lamb tacos, and the most amazing bowls of birria I’ve ever seen (see for example, this article, for a glimpse of the stew). More aptly, though, Don Chava had the first bowls of birria I’ve ever seen. For a while I was wondering how yuk gae jang with oxtail made it into a Mexican joint. But those bony chunks of good looking meat were probably something else – goat, for example.

A trio of fish tacos

I enjoyed my fish tacos, good mild fish with a bright zesty pico on top. Don Chavas has three salsa available, all at a bar. Their spicy isn’t very spicy at all, and I  used heaps of their salsa verde on my tacos and chips.

In one sense Don Chava is the anti-Zapatas. The service is come and go, since there is only one staffer who takes orders, serves food, and cleans tables. The menu – the good one – is the dinner menu (only one copy of this, up at the counter, and it is the one you want to order from), and it tends to have items that cost more. This place isn’t perfect. I don’t like the oily chips much and it’s hard, in a one meal review, to judge the consistency. But judging from the Anglos coming in to sample the tacos and talking it up, this place already has a good rep with a certain set of eaters.

Don Chava Birrieria y Taqueria
5316 Buford Highway #104
Norcross GA 30071
(678) 534-3500

Don Chava on Urbanspoon


Zapatas is a good looking restaurant on Jones Street in historic Norcross, one whose major claim to fame are the molcajete dishes they serve, dishes served in a hot stone mortar. I had never been able to get there for lunch, though, something that clearly had to change. Recently I showed and tried some of their lunch options.

I find many of their lunch options to be heavy with carbs, not entirely optimal for a diabetic, or just too heavy in calories in general. If I were to recommend one, though, I’d recommend their tacos. With two, they also can serve beans.

Barbacoa and pastor tacos, with frijoles charros

Tacos are 2.50 each. Two tacos with beans cost 6 dollars. Zapatas has a large glass window open to Jones Street and the T shaped intersection nearby, making it very suitable for both eating and people watching in the early afternoon.

Please note that the going rate for tacos near Norcross is between a dollar and a dollar fifty, so if you’re going here to eat lunch, you’re paying for the ambience, the looks of the restaurant, the location, the service. And yes, Zapatas delivers all that. I saw plenty of businessmen in pairs, businessmen hovered over their portable devices or laptops – Zapatas has free wifi – or engaged in conversation with their peers.

The salsa is good here, tasty and bright with the flavor of fresh cilantro.

Overall? Recommended for lunch, but watch for the carbs.

Zapatas
15 Jones Street
Norcross, GA 30071
(770) 248-0052

Zapata on Urbanspoon

It’s close to the intersection of Spalding and Holcombe Bridge, a nice restaurant on the southeast side of the intersection in a strip mall full of restaurants. It’s neat and clean inside, has plenty of sushi options, and if you’ll look hard – sushi and rolls tend to dominate the lunch menu – you can find things like donburi and shioyaki. Because of my diet, shioyaki is a staple these days.

saury shioyaki

eel and octopus sashimi

This isn’t a location I could have reached from my old work location, but being more on the Holcombe Bridge side of things, suddenly I can get to this site. I was pretty happy I could.

The saury was a sweet fish, tasty, but it’s a whole fish and better when cleaned. Both the eel sashimi and the octopus were satisfying. Sushi Mito can get comfortably full at lunch. There are plenty of patrons, including native Japanese.

I didn’t show at dinner, but Chloe, of Chow Down Atlanta, has a review of their dinner scene, and the Constant Gobbler has a nice photo montage of their dinner. As a lunch spot though, this place has a lot to recommend it.

Sushi Mito
6470 Spalding Dr
Norcross, GA 30092
(770) 734-0398

Sushi Mito Japanese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

The nature of this eatery reveals itself at the dessert counter, where the Napoleans are unlike any I’ve seen since my days in West Philadelphia. The desserts are enormous, and look fantastic. The desserts, the pared down menu, the character of staff here: efficient and no nonsense, suggests this is a real New York style eatery. That’s notable, because 100 places might claim New York roots, and perhaps 5 actually manage to pull it off.

I had a sausage sandwich here. I’m not able to eat the pizza, for which I can give a qualified optimistic note: the bottoms of crusts are satisfyingly brown, and when I asked people who were eating pizza here, they seemed to like it. This won’t satisfy the crust hounds of the Atlanta food world, I know, but some discerning foodie who can eat a slice or three does need to prowl this place and render judgement.

In speaking with customers, they would mention Northeast or Midwest roots, and generally praise the “sauce” here, the marinara. And that seems to be how it works here, to do a few simple things well. Northeast pie places tend to be that way: a few ingredients, a very well done crust. It’s far more easily said than done.

Gino’s NY Pizza
5975 Peachtree Parkway
Norcross, GA 30092
(770) 263-7000

Gino's NY Pizza on Urbanspoon

My first impressions of Ten Bistro were good. The food was respectable, the atmosphere something else, a sonic essay by Dave Brubeck in 5/4 time. Perhaps such a look is ‘meh’ to ITPers, but to the commuting/OTP crowd, this place stands out. I’d compare it most directly to an eatery on Canton Street in Roswell or perhaps Lilburn’s “Three Blind Mice“.

"The King" sandwich, with grilled veggies.

For cold winter days, this place is warm, soothing comfy. Inside, there is a long bar backed by an equally long extended table along the back, speckled in between by tables for two or four. There is art on the walls, real oils, with the gouges, scratches, and raised rough edges to prove it. With the sounds reflecting an authentic early 1970s groove, the menu itself has its share of puns and allusions to groups, singers or bands of the period. I haven’t been at dinner, or had their wines, it doesn’t really fit along my commute back home, but as a lunch place? It has a lot going for it.

Lamb sloppy joe with a bit of Perfect Ten salad.

One item I prefer, and try to work into my meals is the Perfect Ten salad. It has tender  greens, some artichoke, and shades of the old “Badayori“,  a bit of heart of palm. There are  useful grilled vegetables on the lunch menu, and  plenty of sandwiches. The clientele, if you listen carefully, are some of the most astute, smart people I’ve ever overheard, and I’ve had plenty of lunches in the cafeterias of the University of Pennsylvania. It’s attracting an erudite crowd.

Yes, I’m aware that some people have had mixed results with this eatery, but the owner is engaged, active, friendly, cordial. And when I started a long discussion with his staff about what music might set off his restaurant the best — seriously, where  in my 400+ reviews have I ever gotten into it about a restaurant’s music – he listened attentively. And yes, they need to sneak in a little more jazz into their 1970s mix.

It’s an upscale bar, better looking than most, more friendly than many, convenient to my work, so I bothered to find it, and it surprised me a little. Whether others find it as appealing, I can’t tell, but watching the good looking and active customers over repeated visits, I think this place will find its niche.

 

Ten Bistro
5005 Peachtree Parkway
Norcross, GA 30092
(770) 375-8330

Ten Bistro on Urbanspoon

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