It’s a pretty place inside, with gold records on the walls and a sultry sound. The clientele are largely black, but that shouldn’t be surprising in this part of Georgia, because it’s the same in the nearby Olive Garden. The menu is relatively simple, the serving sizes are enormous.

They have a braised oxtail on the Lithonia menu, but I was told it wasn’t available that day. Two of my party ordered the “Midnight Train”, which was a mix of waffles and chicken wings. The wings were larger than some drumsticks I’ve bought, simply enormous. I bought a plate whose name escapes me, but in essence was three pieces of chicken and two sides. Many of the sides were starchy, so it was a little tricky to find sides I could eat. This restaurant has good collard greens, but I couldn’t try their green beans because they were out of green beans as well.  When you have so few entrees,  I’m not sure what the issue is with keeping adequate stocks of things like oxtail and green beans.

I had two thighs, and they managed to tread the thin line between “juicy” and oily. The chicken wings, by contrast, ran a little dry. My wife’s chicken breast, which seemed to cover half the plate, was touched but not entirely consumed. This is a place where a single chicken piece could be an entire meal.

For those who are curious, the menu suggests that chicken and waffles was a combination that began in Harlem. So it’s not a ‘Georgia’ thing. Given that my wife told me when we were dating that she could eat chicken seven days a week, this was a useful place to explore. It’s a couple dollars more than Popeyes or KFC, but the seating is pleasant, the music is good, the food is decent, and the serving size has to be seen to be believed.

Gladys Knight and Ron Winian’s Chicken and Waffles
7301 Stonecrest Concourse
Lithonia, GA 30038
(678) 619-4570
 
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My family has been talking about traveling Arabia Mountain Trail for some time, but until the pollen counts grew low enough that my wife could comfortably ride, we’ve been patiently waiting. But this weekend, the weather was cool enough and the poillen mild enough for the whole family to get outside and enjoy the ride. Arabia Mountain Trail has paths that circle the north end of Stonecrest Mall, so it was at Stonecrest that we joined the trail, and traveled about 6-7 miles down it and back.

There is a lot of stopping and starting, waiting at corners of roads in the beginning,  but then it begins to open up and the views can be impressive, especially the bridges.

There are farmhouses and barns along the way as well, and portions of the  trail so quiet and wild I could reach out and almost touch the deer alongside the trail.

Next time we’ll bring food and water with us. The trail has a lot of shallow dips and rises, but after a few miles of this, it’s wearying for people like us, just starting out any kind of organized riding. But the sights, the quiet, the possibility of seeing others enjoying the path is pretty refreshing for a pleasant September day. I suspect we’ll be back, and I’ll be wearing a backpack with supplies next time.

Arizona’s at Stonecrest is a great looking restaurant.  It’s spacious inside, surprisingly so given how compact the building appears from the outside. The waitstaff dress all in black, and are efficient but unobtrusive. The background music is jazz, not too soft, not too loud. There is a bar on the left as you enter, two good sized flat screen televisions on view, and sofas are available, so you can sit and watch while your party assembles.

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These virtues, and the lack of other functional alternatives, have turned Arizona’s into the best place for adults in Lithonia to meet and greet. It also makes it a place where parties happen. A party was happening as we entered, a girl’s night out, perhaps, or a shower or wedding party. They were happily and noisily taking photos of each other, and drinking plenty of wine.

This leads to one central problem that Arizona’s does have. The restaurant is, in essence, one large shared room. If a single table is loud, everyone gets to hear it. If a party is loud, then to a first approximation, that party is being shared by the whole restaurant.  And that wasn’t much of a problem when we arrived and were hungry, but it made it very easy to leave after the entrees were finished. Now I’ve done reviews of restaurants that were having parties and seldom has a party affected the mood of my eating. I think the difference is that in the other instances, the parties were being housed in separate rooms, and the noise reduction was substantial.

That said, let’s talk about food. We ordered a starter, the Denver lamb ribs, and we ordered the hickory grilled Atlantic salmon, Arizona’s baby back ribs, and their signature sirloin. We ordered salads with the ribs and the steak. My daughter had a side of mashed potatoes with her salmon. Before the food arrived, a loaf of bread arrived at the table.

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It was a decent bread, even if I found crusts on the very ends a little dry. The house salad was also a nice plate of greens.

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Pretty soon after the lamb arrived. I liked this appetizer a lot, as did my daughter, considering how quickly she went for seconds.

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There was a bit more of a wait, a second loaf of bread appeared, and then the entrees arrived at the table. Of all the dishes, perhaps the salmon was the best received. It had two good sides, the grits and the mashed potatoes, and the salmon was very appetizing as well. My wife didn’t like the sweetness the spinach and chili oil imparted, but I liked the bit of fish I tried, and my daughter ate most of her fish.

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The baby back ribs are a huge plate of food, mostly dry and have a bit of a smoke flavor. I was a little surprised, not expecting that from steakhouse ribs. I’d call this entree a success as well.

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The least successful entree was the steak. It had taste, and was a genuine medium rare for the most part, but the meat was relatively tough and chewy. I’ve had consistently better and more tender sirloins at much less expensive steakhouses. The steamed vegetables were also just okay. Had I known, I’d have gotten the same dish my daughter ordered.

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More quibble perhaps than critique: Arizona’s seems to rely a lot of sauces, marinades, and coatings to get more flavor out of their dishes. I find this curious since steaks need little more than salt, cracked pepper and garlic to bring out their best flavors. The best proofs, however, of the success of this approach are the full restaurant we saw when we came, and the crowds that mark up this restaurant on review sites such as Urban Spoon.

Verdict: Mostly good food. Highly recommended if you’re looking for a place to hold a party.

Arizona’s at Stonecrest
2940 Stonecrest Circle
Lithonia, GA 30038
(678) 526-7775

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