The Oak Street Cafe is an “in” thing for a group of Roswell foodies, to the point they claim for it “Best Burger in Town” honors. On top of that, a coworker of mine loves the place. I can’t visit him without him asking me to try it. So I did.

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To get there, head north on Roswell Road, and start watching street signs after you pass Spiced Right. At the corner with the Krispy Kreme, turn right. Oak Street Cafe will be a block or so down on your right, at the first strip mall you see on your right.

Oak Steet Cafe is pretty inside, lots of wood, plenty of space between tables. The service is counter style. You go to a counter, make the order and sit. No number cards, they remember where you sit. Staff are in black Ts and jeans, a good look. Clientele were, for this lunch, largely female and largely well dressed.

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The burger was fine, made well, and I can see where the claims of best burger come from. The product quality puts it there. But it was grey meat with a hint of pink when I ordered a medium rare, and that loses a point on a five point scale for me. If I could get more consistent doneness, then yes, I’d be happy to reconsider.

I’m told by my friend that there are large crowds for Oak Street’s brunch, that lines can extend outside of the eatery. It’s a small eatery, less than 20 tables, perhaps, and I can easily see a line forming here.

Recommended, especially suitable for a mixed sex casual lunch.

Oak Street Cafe
45 Oak Street
Roswell, GA 30075
(770) 594-1300

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It’s in a Publix shopping center, after a considerable drive from highway 400. My path? Take Holcombe Bridge to Warsaw Road. That road becomes Norcross Street. Turn left at Alpharetta Street. Stay on this road. It will become Marietta Street, then Pine Grove Road, and then eventually Shallowford. After a long period of passing subdivisions, a Publix sign will appear on your right. Turn in there.

Sampler platter

The sign almost doesn’t exist, just a red “BBQ” near a S shaped zigzag in the strip mall. Inside, however, is very neat and clean, and encouraging is that their card says they travel with their competition gear. And once the food arrives, and you get a smell of it, you know you’re in for a treat.

Ribs? Excellent, both smoky and tender. The pulled pork had a bark, smoke ring, and smoky flavor. Brisket? Smoke ring, tender, smoky flavor. Everything was smoked, everything was good. Even the chicken was clearly smoky and delicious.

Upshot? This is BBQ on the same class and caliber as Fox, Heirloom, and Big Shanty. Yeah, the sauces aren’t stellar – the mustard sauce has the better flavor, in my opinion, but runs a little thin – but these meats don’t need sauce. The two sides I tried were good. I liked the sour notes in the greens I had.

An hour after I ate, the smell of the smoke was still on my hands.

Highly recommended. This is a primo BBQ eatery.

Grand Champion BBQ
4401 Shallowford Road
Roswell, GA 30075
(770) 587-4227

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Lucky’s is on the left as you’re heading north up Alpharetta Street, relatively easy to see and with plenty of parking. It is named after the owner’s dog, and it has been noted in other reviews that dogs can eat here if they sit outside on the patio.

But the biggest reason to head here is a well priced burger made to order. That’s what we had when we dropped by, and that’s exactly what this place can deliver. Want a medium rare burger? You’ll get one here.

Inside, the dog theme continues with photos of Lucky pretty much everywhere. The look inside is functional, not beautiful, but clearly clean and neat. Staff are friendly and efficient.

Lucky’s Burger and Brew
1144 Alpharetta Street
Roswell, GA 30075
(770) 518-5695

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The Roswell Tap is a pretty restaurant, a virtue not easy to emphasize enough. There is a huge oak tree in front of the restaurant and outdoor seating in front of the oak. The house in which the Tap lives has plenty of glass, and the light through the glass makes for a wonderfully visual experience.

The food is pretty good too. They have a house salad with added bits such as pine nuts,kalamata olives, and hearts of palm. Their Pittsburgh Club sandwich has a layer of meat, a layer of peppered slaw, and then a layer of french fries. The bread is a soft white with a hard crunchy crust. Their mussels are flavorful and earthy; no heavy creams are there to drown out the flavor of the seafood.

I want to thank Northside Food for reviewing this restaurant, and without that review  I wouldn’t have tried this place. For those near Roswell, this is a bar well worth considering on your regular rotation.

One last point: the pale green house isn’t the easiest thing to see as you drive north on Alpharetta Street. Once you see the longish yellow strip mall to the left, look to the right for the house. You probably won’t see the “Tap” sign until it’s too late.

The Roswell Tap
1090 Alpharetta Street
Roswell, GA 30075
(678) 294-3620

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Inc Street Food is an exceptionally pretty restaurant, and one based on a theme. What looks like a side of a food truck is actually the portal to the kitchen, and otherwise, the restaurant features a carefully crafted look, suggesting plenty of age. The look, and the very pleasant staff helps gets customers in the mood.

Something about it reminds me of Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia. I can’t tell you entirely why.  Perhaps it’s that the half car look of the kitchen reminds me of the bustle of the converted rail station. But the look for me is transporting.

steak, fish, and pork tacos.

I wish I could say the food were as wonderful as the atmosphere, but it’s merely good. There was a bit too much sauce for my  taste, and my  tacos all had oily inner tortillas. I pulled those out and threw them away; not as if I need extra carbs anyway. But really, this is a place to see and be seen. The food just has to be good enough and it is. If I were after the best and freshest tacos, I’d be prowling taquerias rather than this place. I suspect its best use is as an after hours respite. In that spirit, you could show up around 7 pm, kick back a few drinks, and eat enough food so that you could drive home.

To note, it’s a small place and seating is pretty close. You’ll end up hearing the conversations of the people around you. It’s just part of the flavor.

Inc Street Food
948 Canton Street
Roswell, GA 30075
(770) 998-3114

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I ran into Mc Alisters the same day I visited the Waysider in Tuscaloosa. I was hungry, tired and the signs near Jackson MS were appealing. So we pulled off the road, took a look inside, and were generally impressed.

Deal is, you go inside and order. They have a large selection of sandwiches, some soups of the day, plenty of large filling salads. You pick up a number and sit.  As you wait, staff will refill drinks, make sure everything is okay. The spacing of tables is roomy. It’s a good place for, say, a mom weighed down with a few kids and needing some help getting them all calm and fed.

At the time I got the impression Mc Alisters was a small regional Mississippi chain. The food was good, not mind blowing, but good. There was a smart, interesting menu; things like gumbo and muffulettas were available, pointing out how close Mississippi was to New Orleans. Another sandwich, the Memphian, pointed out that Tennessee and Memphis was a neighbor as well. They served other southern favorites, such as iced tea. For those who didn’t like the stock sandwiches, they had a “build your own” option. I was thinking it’d be cool if they expanded into Atlanta.

Turns  out that Mc Alisters is much larger than my original guess. They’re in 22 states, and there is a location in Lawrenceville. One of the things I was planning to do before being snowed in  this January was find the Lawrenceville location, and try it out.

The menu, as currently posted in Georgia, is much reduced compared to the menu in Mississippi. I ordered a sandwich for myself and then a couple sandwiches for my family. I spoke with a member of the Lawrenceville staff (Tyler I believe) for a few minutes, asking the questions that were on my mind.

To note, the menu in Georgia is about to change. Things available in Mississippi can be had in Georgia. For now you have to ask for them. The one meat item they didn’t have is pastrami, and  that meant the New Yorker was off the menu here in Atlanta. But having the muffuletta available is huge for me. I’m a big fan of muffuletta sandwiches.

The Lawrenceville location is off Old Peachtree Road, and it’s just a minute or two north of Discover Mills. For those of us near Snellville, considering Mc Alisters when we make a jaunt up Sugarloaf towards 85 and Discover Mills simply makes sense.

Mc Alister’s Deli
1030 Old Peachtree Road
Lawrenceville, GA 30043
(678) 407-0818

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From the corner of Brown Road and Sugarloaf Parkway, next to Discover Mills, take Brown Road north. Mc Alister’s will then appear on your left, as you approach the intersection of Brown Road and Old Peachtree. It’s in the strip mall that has a Publix.

Mc Alister’s Deli
200 Riverwind Drive
Pearl, MS 39208
(601) 933-0476

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There are two other locations in the Atlanta area:

Mc Alister’s Deli
1425 Market Blvd
Roswell, GA 30076
(770) 594-3220

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Mc Alister’s Deli
2950 George Busbee Parkway
Kennesaw, GA 30144
(770) 499-1581

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This last location has an interesting review by John Bickford.

The Pie Hole is Alayne Graham’s homage to one of the oldest and most treasured desserts, the pie. The shop is small, neat, and pretty, but clearly the work of a single individual. The day we arrived she was replacing her freezer. She had managed to outgrow her old one.

The offerings are seasonal, based on what Alayne can get. What you as a customer can get are marked on a blackboard. To my untrained eyes, the costs seem entirely reasonable for a hand made product. To note, many of the pies are simply huge, especially Pie Hole’s apple. My wife was openly comparing this restaurant with Houston’s House of Pies, which we both love.

I wasn’t able to eat anything, so comments on taste are based on second hand experience. My wife had a slice of the cherry pie, liked it immensely, and called the cherries ‘humongous’. My daughter had a slice of the mango key lime pie, which she liked. The conversation went something like this:

“I just had the mango pie. It was good.”

“Pretty good, good, or really good?”

“It was good.”

In any event, the Pie Hole is away from the street in a small building, up in the part of Canton Street that are remodeled homes. It’s perhaps 1-2 blocks north of Ceviche, on the right hand side as you’re heading north. A small waist high sign is the only thing you see as you’re traveling along the road.

Verdict: As good as its reputation, the Pie Hole is a must-stop-by in my book. Very Highly Recommended.

The Pie Hole
1025 Canton Street
Roswell, GA 30075
(678) 461-3776

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