Chuy’s surprised me a little. I was expecting a fajita-heavy restaurant with a dinner emphasis. Instead, I got a more fun happy hour oriented place, brightly colored, and one whose food has culinary influences from the state of New Mexico, particularly in their heavy use of green chiles from the Hatch, New Mexico area.
It’s the green chile touch that makes this more than a generic Texas Tex-Mex chain. Otherwise, it’s kind of Cheeseburger in Paradise with a sombrero, a place to eat light hearted food where the proteins are just okay and the sauces and salsas are often above average.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is what they call this. The chicken is forgettable, but the cheese and green chiles in the Boom Boom sauce give this dish a worthwhile bite.
To note, this location will be celebrating its one year anniversary on Thursday, December the 6th, and if you like the idea of a lingering happy hour and food specials, try to show up and attend.
118 Perimeter Center West
Atlanta, GA 30346
Graft is a rarity, an ambitious farm to table restaurant in the northeast OTP. It’s located on Grayson Parkway, part of a triangle of roads that also house other interesting Grayson eateries, just as this Johnny’s on steroids. It’s in a converted wood frame house and not all that easy to see. A sign alone gets you there. Parking is in the back of the house and extends some distance away from the house. The first bit of parking you see isn’t the only place to park.
Inside, the tables are of wood and heavy, reassuring. The menu is small and rotates frequently. There is a good wine list and a usable selection of American industrial and craft beers, both regional and national. There is a ‘C’ shaped bar that takes up a fair amount of space, but given the crowd they had the night we went, it’s surprising how many people they can seat in that space.
I apologize for the picture quality, but Graft uses very low light.
smoked salmon appetizer. Excellent.
Graft’s pork chop, along with some broccolini.
Flank steak, topped with kale and on top of some root vegetables.
We loved their smoked salmon appetizer. There was a hint of heat that lingers on your tongue, a reminder the salmon just didn’t come out of a refrigerator and onto your table. I had a flank steak, richly marinated, and my daughter had a pork chop, which also was quite good.
The sides were good enough we took extra servings home, for later. The creative sides led to the following exchange with my daughter:
“Does this restaurant remind you a little of Top Flr?”
“Yes, but it’s not as claustrophobic. You don’t feel like you have to join some members only club to eat here.”
We both agreed it would be a good date restaurant.
Take home? For those in this neck of the woods, I’m saying this restaurant should be on your short list. If you’re a northeast foodie, then run, don’t walk, to this place.