May 2011

It’s a restaurant in Norcross Village, a strip mall a little south and east of the intersection of Jimmy Carter and Buford Highway. This mall has always been a hot bed of Latin American stores and shops. And why I stopped this time, as opposed to any other time, is a mystery. Perhaps  the combination of chicken and salsa intrigued me. That’s a combination I can eat without dietary concerns.

Chicken & Salsa isn’t the only restaurant in the area. There is Costa Verde, a Peruvian/Columbian restaurant, and Los Ranchos as well, which serves Salvadorian foods. This isn’t Taco Bell dining, nor is it the neighborhood taqueria either. There is a lot to explore here.

There was a special on Chicken & Salsa’s blackboard, the filete de pescado (fish fillet). I’ve had good luck with fish dishes, and so  that’s what I ordered when I entered. To note, the focus of the restaurant is rotisserie chicken, and serving chickens with tons of sides the specialty of  the restaurant. I can’t eat that way, so please keep that in mind.

The special came with a soup, a green broth in which there were green beans, plenty of rice, and chunks of soup. I found the broth to  be very tasty,  so I ate what chicken I could pick out and  tried to dodge the rice.

The main entree I liked. Yes, a thin little filet, but with the fine spicy green sauce they provided, I was entirely happy with what I ate. I’m probably not probing what this restaurant does best, but given the quality of the soup starter, I’d not be hesitant to come back.

Chicken & Salsa
6200 Buford Highway, Suite 1k
Norcross, GA 30071
(770) 807-7952

Chicken & Salsa on Urbanspoon

Rajbhog Cafe is located in a strip mall on Pleasant Hill Road, across the street from the new QT, behind the Krispy Kreme. I’ve been watching it go up for some weeks now, curious about what it would finally end up being. As the eatery is now open, we can now find out.

It’s a chain, it turns out, with locations in New York, New Jersey, and North Carolina. It is associated with the Rajbhog Sweets and Snacks company. There are a stack of their products in a display as you enter the place.

I snagged a menu as I entered. There weren’t many offerings to my eye. There are a list of snacks, some chaats, a do-it-yourself salad choice, and a couple entreés. I ended up getting their chicken kabobs. They had samosas but as a diabetic, not as if I’m going to indulge in those. I’d need my family to explore this place’s starches.

Chicken kababs

It’s a pretty place, with nice chairs and clean. You buss your own tables. They do bring food to you. Nothing is expensive, and the place is clearly geared for take out.

I liked the kababs I had. I suspect that more of the “action” is in their starches, which I can’t really indulge in. But the kabab was promising enough that I’ll get my family here sometime. Any grade I give this place now has to be incomplete, but for now, recommended.

Rajbhog Cafe
1500 Pleasant Hill Road
Duluth, GA 30096
(678) 924-1440

Rajbhog Cafe on Urbanspoon

Joes to Goes is a small, largely Atlanta based chain, and there is one at the corner of Highpoint Road and Highway 124 in Snellville. That puts this restaurant just a few blocks from my house. I had never gone to this particular restaurant because the signage was garish, and featured, more than anything else, buffalo wings. My experience has been that restaurants that feature wings before anything else tend to be dreadful.

The kicker this weekend, though, was they had a smoker. And someone was out there, tending it. That was enough of an excuse to ignore the bright signs and step inside.

Inside, staff was without pretense and polite. “Yes sir, no sir” was the order of the day. Prices ran a little steeper for the basics than I expected. It took a while to get my order together. You could see through the counter and into the back, and watch their staff preparing the order. This wasn’t being microwaved, that I could tell.

Given that they were smoking, and they had product (I did ask that question), I went ahead and ordered a pulled pork sandwich, some ribs, and then later, a grilled chicken sandwich.

baby back ribs

The grilled chicken sandwich is pretty large

The pulled pork had a clearly visible bark, was rich in smoky flavor, and was excellent quality meat. The pulled pork I had that day was as good as any I’ve had in the city. The ribs were a good cut of baby backs, pink through and through, and very tender. The ribs were heavy on the sauce and there was smoke flavor, but the emphasis was on a tender product, not a smoky product. I’m definitely a smoke head, so these weren’t my favorite style of ribs.

The grilled chicken sandwich was large, a full serving of food. It was a bit spicy, a little kick in the sauce they dropped onto the chicken.

So count me surprised. I was expecting something so plain I was avoiding this place. But the smoker intrigued me, and my first try yielded a pretty terrific pulled pork sandwich, and the remainder of the order was respectably good.

Joes to Goes
2595 Highpoint Road
Snellville, GA 30078
(770) 972-1131

Joe's To Goes on Urbanspoon

It’s pretty. Little European Bakery is a seller of cakes, tarts, baked goods of all kinds with a sandwich maker at one end of the store. The lady making sandwiches wasn’t very fast at all, and there were some prepared po’boys sitting beside her. I took one of those.

The sandwich featured good bread, and had a healthy chunk of meat and cheese. The bakery is convenient to work actually, so I was happy to find it. There isn’t much seating inside or outside, just a couple tables in both locations. If you’re going to become a regular here, be prepared for a lot of take out.

Unfortunately, diabetes keeps me from trying any of the baked goods, which look fantastic.

Little European Bakery
334 Sandy Springs Circle Northeast
Sandy Springs, GA 30328
(404) 255-8200

Little European Bakery on Urbanspoon

It’s plain. Even by the standards of take out places, it lacks eye appeal. But it is inexpensive, and reasonably good, and when you can get a large filling meal, drink included, for less than $8.00,  they’re doing something right.

The menu is simple and dominated by numbered combos. The menu can also be found in pictures on the wall. The wings were decent, the philly a thin thing, but meaty and cheesy and good. Bits of onions complemented the meat.

Verdict: Worth seeking out for the bargain hunter, tired of chains.

NY American Deli
4343 Dunwoody Park
Dunwoody, GA 30338
(770) 351-0089

NY American Deli (Steak & Wings) on Urbanspoon

The banner across the eatery walls says it all, lunches for $4.99 and $5.99. I’m a fan of this small, owner-driven establishment. This is one place that I wish sold T-shirts. Their iconography is exceptionally good.

Maya Fresh Grill
960 Pleasant Hill Road, Suite A
Lawrenceville GA 30044

Maya Fresh Grill on Urbanspoon

Woo! It’s begun again, the absolutely most reliable source of grass fed meats and organics in Snellville. And of course, it’s hosted by some of our finest. Can I say how much I appreciate  the  police presence at this corner? Perhaps not in words, but in pictures I can.

This man rocks.

They have a sign now, and a Facebook page, which I’d suggest ya’ll friend, if this is a place you shop.

My wife wanted fruits. I didn’t see any, and I forgot to  get cash, so all I could do was stroll and gather photos. I was hoping  Darla of Snellville Eats would show so I could say “hello”, but no such obvious luck. She was tweeting this opening as if there were no tomorrow, though.

I'm told their popsicles are awesome.

The King of Pops were there. I’ve not seen them before.

And other vendors, too many to mention by name.

Water was being served by the people who set up this market.

Entertainment was starting about the time I was leaving.

It’s tiny. 6 chairs and 9 stools are all packed in a small eatery that shares space with a convenience store. It has no outside seating. Prices aren’t cheap, but the serving sizes are more than reasonable. I bought their largest plate, and sat down to try what they cooked.

The greens were really good, and I wished I had more of them. The slaw was crunchy and good. The Brunswick stew I really liked, flavors well in balance.

In terms of  the meats, the pulled pork was a solid version, very moist and tender with plenty of bark. The chicken was good as well. It was in the ribs and brisket that this place creates an impression. Chew on one of the ribs and it was amazingly tender, and then only when you’re close to finishing does the smoke flavor appear. It really creeps up on you.

The brisket has a sensibility you seldom find in American meals, but often encounter in Asian foods. Perhaps it just was a lucky accident, but texture differences in bites of this stuff could  be mind blowing. From the soft crusty salty outside to the tender meaty bits of meat, to the occasional creaminess of the fat, the experience was more like eating a well prepared slice of duck from skin to fat to meat than anything else I’ve had over the past couple years.

Their two spicy sauces were good. I’d pour one or the other over the pulled pork, and then eat.

Asian yams (i.e. Korean sweet potatoes) are an available side.

Impression? I’d hesitate to tell people to race down to a place this small, but deserving of the food buzz it’s been getting? Entirely. There are some really good plates of food here.

Heirloom Market Barbecue
2243 Akers Mill Road
Atlanta, GA 30339
(770) 612-2502

Heirloom Market BBQ on Urbanspoon

Atlanta Things To Do on raveable

It’s a deeper brown, rather than black, and rich on the tongue. It doesn’t have the aromaticity of a chardonnay or say Bell’s high gravity offering. It has plenty of flavor, spice, malt and hops, fruit overtones in balance, and the alcohol isn’t as noticeable as many. The knock out punch comes much later, and yes, you’ll feel it. There is a touch of bitter in the aftertaste. In my opinion, it finishes well.

Sierra Nevada's high gravity beer.

For those wanting a live review, this one by the Youtube contributor Video Beer Reviews is a good way to spend a few minutes.

It’s near Umaido, with a Korean only name and an icon of a cow just to the left of the name. I knew of it because Chloe had reviewed it, but we found it mostly by trial and error after taking family to Discover Mills. A short jaunt up the road and we were there.

Korean eateries have become a safe haven when I’m not sure where I can eat. Koreans have an emphasis on meats, spices, and vegetables in the form of banchan. Rice is generally separated from the rest of the meal. The cuisine allow me to control my carbs, and thus lets the rest of the family eat what they please. Usually between the soups, the barbecue, and soon dubu, we usually can find our comfort zone.

Brown rice, Korean style

The comfort zone this night was in the spicy grilled octopus, which was really good. The yuk gae jang was reliable: plenty of meat, just enough spice, the leeks safe and tasty. The Kang Seo version of tofu soup was one my wife favored and my daughter stuck with the safety of short ribs, or galbi.

Service was, I felt, quite good, if a bit more plain spoken than polished. That’s fine. The waitress spoke up when we were about to order too much food and probably saved us a good ten to fifteen dollars by doing so. There is a button on the table to ask for service (which we essentially never used) and the silverware is all metal. I’m under the impression that’s a bit like the fine silverware in a typical Southern household.

I enjoyed my time here. So did my family. They serve some fancier dishes here, but given their price, we’re not likely to explore them. They seem to be in the same family as Japanese nabemono, intended for groups. It would  take a group, I think, to explore that kind of eating.

Kang Seo
2790 Lawrenceville Suwanee Road
Suwanee, GA 30024
(770) 932-7753

Kang Seo on Urbanspoon

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