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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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

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