Wright’s Gourmet is a bit of southern hospitality in the heart of Dunwoody, close to the intersection of Mount Vernon and Chamblee Dunwoody. It’s reachable by heading north on Chamblee Dunwoody from the intersection and turning left as soon as you can, into the Shops of Dunwoody. Just opposite Wright’s is an Old Hickory House and nearby is the Dunwoody Tavern and the Dunwoody outpost of C’om Vietnamese.

You’ll see the outdoor seating for Wright’s long before you find the entrance. They have about 20 tables with chairs outside, all colored white, under large ceiling fans and shaded with a generous overhang. Inside, there are perhaps 10 tables, all natural wood and showing some age, as if they collected them all in estate sales. It’s part of the charm of the place that they mix old fashioned with 21st century expertise.

Front of Wright's Gourmet.

Front of Wright's Gourmet.

Once inside, there are the chairs. To the right are display cases with full sized cakes, cupcakes and other prepared foods. There are good looking chicken pot pies in the cases, as well as lasagna, ziti, manicotti and other pastas, family sized and ready to pop into the oven. In the back is the counter where you can order. Behind the counter is a blackboard with the salads  and sandwiches available that day. Another display case is on the right of the counter, and it has prepared salads you can choose.

The day I came I got a medium order of their marinated vegetables and Glenda’s Garden, a vegetarian sandwich.

glendas_garden

It was a really good sandwich, full of flavor, with slices of tomato, cucumber, sprouts, red onion, avocado and very thin slices of cheese. Their marinated veggies were also quite tasty. I was hungry that day and the vegetables didn’t last long.

I came here later in the afternoon and there were a lot of people here still. People were gathered around tables and there were distinctly more women than men lingering. It almost had the feel of a tea house or one of the Asian bakeries, where men and women gather, eat small amounts of food and chat.

This is a place whose offerings and food compete directly with a place like Alon’s. It’s just that while Alon’s is a place to get a sandwich, a bit of gelato and maybe a cream brulee, at Wright’s you might get a sandwich, buy a pot pie for your daughter, and maybe pick up a slice or two of red velvet cake. The target audience for Wright’s is a lot more down to earth.

Wright’s, The Gourmet Sandwich Shoppe
5482 Chamblee Dunwoody Road
Dunwoody, GA 30338
(770) 396-7060

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Alon’s Bakery and Market, Dunwoody edition, is the bigger, brasher, brighter counterpart to the Virginia Highlands location. Gone is the small quaint shop, but in return there is more access, and more space. Included in the size increase is a richer selection of sweets and breads, more market items, a coffee shop, substantial amounts of inside and outside seating, and loads more parking space.

For people who commute along 285 to get home, this location offers much more access to Alon’s sandwiches and goods. I’ve been here at least three times since I located it.  It’s relatively easy to get to once you exit 285 onto Ashford Dunwoody and head north. It’s opposite Perimeter Mall, and it’s the largest component of the complex of restaurants and shops it is found in. Like Buford Highway Farmer’s Market, it’s close enough to the loop to make it a very short detour on the way home.

Things I like about this Alon’s: they have a lot of sandwich sized breads, and they are inexpensive. Between the breads, a lot of vegetarian prepared foods, and at least one vegetarian sandwich, they make it easy to drop meat for a day or more, should you desire. If you want to feed your inner carnivore, the meats they do offer are high quality and delicious. Need something cold and sweet? They have gelato and sorbet at this location.

Verdict: Great sandwiches, prepared foods, exotic soft drinks,  quality breads and desserts. Highly recommended.

Alon’s Bakery and Market
4505 Ashford Dunwoody Road
Atlanta, GA 30346
(678) 397-1781

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This was a last minute choice on a day when my wife wasn’t feeling well. She asked me to pick up some food and bring it home. Usually that means heading to an ethnic restaurant and getting a few items to go. But we had been wanting to find Alon’s Bakery and Market for some time. So I didn’t tell her I was heading that way. I wanted it to be a surprise.

Alon’s can be difficult to find. As you near it from the north, it seems a dozen roads spin off in every direction. It’s easy to get lost. This time, though, I stayed to the right when the road split. Soon, I spied the sign I had seen in so many web pages and managed to find a parking spot. Once parked, I called and let my wife know where I was.

Once inside of Alon’s, the store has a way of just making you stop, look, and stare at the items they offer. I can’t begin to encompass all they sell, but the first thing you see are danish and cookies, then small desserts. Alon’s sells breads as well, but I didn’t see any, as it was late in the day. Next was a sandwich ‘booth’, then prepared foods. And that’s just the left side. On the right there were fine cheeses, other dairy products, items like truffle oil, an assortment of hard to find soft drinks, and fine canned goods.

So, to start, I got some cookies and a danish. I picked up three desserts, a lemon square, a small apple based dessert, and a cheesecake tart. Three sandwiches followed (turkey, pastrami and ham), then small salads: chickpea and feta, a tabouleh salad, and orzo, chicken and cashews.  I ended with a couple sodas (Fentiman’s Ginger Beer, and Gale’s Root Beer).

Once home, I unpacked everything and people took what they wanted. I ended up with the roast beef sandwich and the beef was fresh and cool, the bread crusty and excellent, the sandwich quite good. My wife really liked the turkey, commented on the quality of the meat and my daughter’s sandwich was finished before I could ask her about what she ate. The salads went over well. I like the orzo salad the most, my wife was partial to the chickpea salad. My daughter came back for seconds on all of them.

The desserts were very good. I thought the apple dessert was exceptional, the cheesecake tart very good. My daughter liked the lemon square, but wanted a bit more flavor from it. The cookies, oatmeal raisin bites, were popular as well.

For those who don’t want to treat this as a place ‘to go’ there is outdoor seating though not a whole lot of it. The sightseeing in the area is pretty special, though. It’s not every day you see someone park their greyhound outside and then go shopping for food.

Verdict: Unusually good place to buy sandwiches, bread, prepared foods and desserts. Charming, a visual eyeful. Highly recommended.

Alon’s Bakery and Market
1394 N. Highland Ave
Atlanta, GA 30306
(404) 872-6000

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This restaurant is at the corner of 124 and Springdale, in a shopping mall that has a really big Kroger. You’ll see the Kroger long before you see the Johnny’s, while heading south down 124 in the direction of Lithonia. The mall itself is ‘V’ shaped, with a point, and the Johnny’s is located right at the point. The store itself is modest, with about 8 booths along the far side, 2 booths on the near side, and 6 tables scattered in the middle.  There are bar chairs alongside a gaming machine, a Johnny’s clock on the wall, and 3 televisions scattered through the store. Wall decor is largely beer advertisements and neon.  This Johnny’s tends to have one cook and one active waitstaff.

The taste of Johnny’s Pizza is worth some trouble. At one job location, Johnny’s was our favorite eatery. 5 or 6 of us would pile in a car and head to the restaurant. Since no one had money at lunch, it was a lot of pizza slices, meat ball subs, the occasional pepperoni calzone. One of their large slices and a soft drink is often more than enough to keep going for another 4 hours.

Slices at Johnny’s start at $1.85, and go up by the ingredients added. Johnny’s has 19 specialty pies, from a simple pesto pie to their Johnny’s Deluxe. Medium pizzas start at about $10.95 and large pizzas start at $12.95. Their oven baked subs run about $5 to $6 and the parmigiana subs are close to $6. They have lunch specials Monday through Thursday and they will deliver, for a $10.00 minimum.

Service is pretty good, considering. Because staff is limited, you won’t be waited on hand and foot every minute of your stay. But in my experience this is a very honest little restaurant and they’ll give you the best they can. The last time I went, a discussion of “Twilight” broke out among customers and staff. There is very little pretense here.

Verdict: Recommended. Crisp tasty pizzas, good sandwiches, and calzones.

Johnny’s New York Style Pizza and Subs
3035 Centerville Hwy
Snellville, GA 30078
(770) 978-8180

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They call them flats, but they look like pizzas to me. They’re oblong ovals, covered with a light sampling of toppings. Mine was an Italian sausage flat, and it was crisp, tasty, and certainly worth the $9.50 I spent to get it.

I wasn’t intending to go to Urban Flats. All I wanted to do was find it. It turns out to be in the same mall area as Red Robin and Ted’s Montana Grill. If you head to Red Robin, you’ll pass Urban Flats on your left.

It was a peculiar time of the day. No one was around, but once I stepped inside I had to see a little more. This is a place with some very promising reviews (here from the AJC and here from Chow Down Atlanta). And it is pretty. Urban Flats has high ceilings, a kind of industrial roof. Most of the clientele this time of the day were female, with cell phones glued to their ears.  Below the roof it has a kind of modern look. I asked to sit at the bar, as it made some sense. They have inside and outside seating, for those wanting some breeze with their food.

Urban Flats is part wine bar, part restaurant and by my count, they had 24 wines on tap, and about 10 different beers on tap. The wines.. I don’t know wine well, but I’m sure they have something you like if you’re into that kind of thing. Beers on tap included Yuengling, Guiness, Bass Ale. In bottles they have a wide range of beers, from Bud Light and Corona to exotic microbrews. I ordered a Guiness and their Italian sausage flat. Atop the glass doors and steel enclosing the wines being tapped is a selection of liquors and liqueurs (I recall a nice big bottle of Drambuie, which my father favors).

Service was very good,  considering the hour I arrived. I had no trouble getting attention when I wanted it, but staff were chatting among themselves, since it was so slow. I can’t give you any indication of how it would be at, say, 9pm at night.

Prices are better than you might expect. If you compare Urban Flat’s prices to Red Robin or Ted’s, they’re about the same. If you compare their flats to Mellow Mushroom‘s small, once you add toppings, they’re about the same. The flatbreads are not competitive with Mellow’s medium or large pizzas, but then again, that’s an entirely different market altogether.

Verdict: I haven’t been here enough to call this more than a first impression, but the restaurant is pretty, the food is good and competitive in price with surrounding restaurants. The beer collection is quite good. Highly recommended if you like wine or beer with your food. Especially recommended if you’re younger and want the possibility of a social scene with your food.

Urban Flats Flatbread Company
1250 Scenic Hwy SW
Lawrenceville, GA 30045
(678) 344-2022

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Mellow Mushroom is something of an Atlanta area institution. Working with a late 60’s psychedelic theme, this series of franchise restaurants has been putting out good pizzas, good hoagies, good calzones for decades. In a region not known for good crusts, Mellow Mushroom pizzas have good crusts.  Prices tend to be reasonable as well. Slices start at $2.10. Small pizzas start at $7.25 and large at $12.25. The large easily feeds everyone in my family of 3, with leftovers.

The Snellville Mellow Mushroom is located on highway 78, north of the Regal Cinema mall, north of Dickey’s BBQ. It’s found in a building of its own on the right hand side while traveling towards Athens from Snellville.  There is seating both inside and on a patio outside. There are both booths and tables inside.

In my hands and over my length of commute, this is a pizza that travels pretty well. It maintains crispness despite being boxed. Personal favorites among their named pizzas are the House Special, the Gourmet White, and the Mighty Meaty. Among their hoagies over the years, I’ve had pretty good luck with the steak and cheese hoagie. My wife is fond of the small greek salad. And their menu is online.

Service isn’t bad here, especially given how hectic the place gets at times. If I have any complaint about this restaurant, sometimes it is too popular for its own good and gets a little noisy. I will have to say the last 2-3 times I’ve been here, it has been pretty quiet.

Verdict: Recommended. Crisp crust pizzas with good ingredients that travel well make this place a keeper.

Mellow Mushroom
2000 Main Street East
Snellville, GA 30078
(770) 736-9396

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A coworker, Thomas, recommended I try the place. He was high enough on Gimza he gave me a menu and circled the leek salad. I had never tried Polish cuisine before, so I thought I’d give it a shot on a weekend. Another coworker, Veronica, told me that it was “very good”.

It’s not that hard to get to. Head north on Peachtree Industrial from 285 or Jimmy Carter, turn left on Medlock Bridge Road, and at the intersection of Medlock and Spalding, the restaurant will be on the left hand size of the road. The restaurant has a web site which contains a menu.  Before I went to Gimza, I looked for reviews and found one by the Blissful Glutton. I marked down on my menu items that looked good, so we had some hints before going in.

Once inside, the restaurant is very pretty. There is a bar on  one side, with drinks in cubbyholes all the way to the roof. The chairs have a mahogany cast, the tables a pleasant dark brown. The menu is normally printed, and placed in sleeves, but this day they didn’t have time. It was a little awkward reading the new menu.

I ordered the leek salad that Thomas recommended and the cucumber salad that the Blissful Glutton recommended. My daughter ordered the apple and mint drink. My wife took a long time before settling on the pork cutlet. I had pierogis, the cheese and onion ones that were recommended, and my wife also ordered the mushroom pierogis. My daughter said she didn’t want an entree of her own and got herself a dessert (a sorbet, as I recall).

Both the salads were good. The leek salad had some pickles in it, and the flavor reminded me of one of my mother’s older salad recipes, just this one was a little darker in flavor and had hints of egg in it. The cucumber salad was light and tasty. The hit of the meal were the mushroom pierogis, which everyone tried and then went for seconds. The pork cutlet was, my wife decided, just okay.

I ordered some soup at the end, a vegetable and barley soup. When it came, it was a light broth, with chunks of potato and carrot, and cracked barley. I like the “mouth feel” of grains and I’ve been growing fond of barley. The soup was no exception. I recommend it.

The waiter was exceptionally good. He was soft spoken and aware we were new. He explained everything as best he good and encouraged us to take the remainder of our food home. The service was a strong suit in our visit.

In summary, Gimza is a good restaurant and they serve good food.  It is not, however, eye catching, flamboyant stuff. Other cuisines, such as Japanese, are very aware of color and texture and the food is both art and a meal. But if you have a taste for original European recipes, Gimza will provide that.

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