It’s a small restaurant in a small strip mall, on the right on Highway 78 as you’re headed from Atlanta to Athens, and thus easy to miss. “We Got Soul” calls itself a soul food restaurant, but I’m not sure what really distinguishes it from a meal and three restaurant, really. The dishes served are pretty common across restaurants that call themselves “Southern” or “family” in these parts.



Baked chicken, collards, cabbage, all very tasty.

Baked chicken, collards, cabbage, all very tasty.

It is, however, pretty inside, with the most unique salt and pepper holders I’ve seen in any restaurant so far. The foods are rich tasting, dripping with flavor and worth the price this restaurant charges.

Try it. It’s another of these small, respectable eateries that are appearing around the Stone Mountain side of Highway 78.

We Got Soul
5210 Stone Mountain Highway
Stone Mountain, GA 30087
(770) 413-4213

We Got Soul Food Restaurant on Urbanspoon

This place is an original, a Caribbean-Southern fusion buffet with food good enough to talk about. It has bits and pieces of other cuisines as well. They had a General Tso’s chicken that day, and some dishes with Italian roots. It’s the Caribbean and Southern foods, however, that will keep folks coming back.



The curries here – chicken and goat, are respectable. They’re flavorful and relatively mild. They have jerk chicken too, a good looking dish, but it doesn’t hold up to the steam the way the curries do. They have southern style vegetables and dishes. I tried collards, green beans and fried chicken. I liked the fried chicken, liked the collards, felt the green beans to be a little watery and lacking flavor.

Curried chicken, curried goat, fried chicken.

Curried chicken, curried goat, fried chicken.

Still for as much curry as you can eat, for 9 dollars including drinks, for decent Southern vegetables and a bite or two of fried chicken, it should probably attract more attention than it does. It’s a relatively new restaurant and concept, so we’ll see.

Fusion 78
5150 Stone Mountain Highway
Stone Mountain, GA 30087
(678) 344-5497

Fusion 78 on Urbanspoon

These are two restaurants with a common name, largely compatible menu, and yet in many ways, these restaurants are markedly different. The Addison Original Pancake House is in a large modern building on the edge of a divided highway and when we went, it was packed. We had a thirty minute wait, in overstuffed chairs and sofas. This eatery were used to their crowds. Once seated, we were offered a choice of rolls and they were good ones. The kitchen area was well separated from the dining areas. There was plenty of staff, and the feeling of substance, abundance, luxury was ever present.

Addison Original Pancake House

Rolls are served in Addison.

The Stone Mountain Original Pancake House is in a modest round building that reminds me of the “mushroom cap” buildings that many older Mellow Mushrooms are found in. There is limited seating, due to the size of the building, and no waiting area. There was a modest staff. The menus were much lighter weight than the Texas menus. No rolls were offered when we sat. If we wanted, we could see some of the goings on in the kitchen. The feel, if I had to compare it, was closer to that of a Waffle House than the Addison restaurant.

Stone Mountain location.

The menus are different not only in look and feel, but also the Texas restaurant has additions that suit the Texas breakfast eater. For example, there are migas in Texas, a selection not found in Georgia. That said, the food delivered to the table in both eateries was of high quality.

Bacon pancakes, from Dallas.

Pumpkin pancakes (Dallas).

Migas. Usually you wrap these in tortillas.

Corned beef hash.

Dutch baby, no dusting of sugar. My wife was curious about this.

Western omelette. Good and enormous. Like the hash, came with a side of pancakes.

We had pancakes and migas in Texas, pancakes, corned beef hash, a dutch baby, and an omelette in Georgia. Serving sizes were ample. There was more food than we could eat at both locations. Service to the table was excellent in Texas, and quite good in Georgia.

Original Pancake House
5220 Belt Line Rd
Dallas, TX 75254
(972) 385-6468

Original Pancake House on Urbanspoon

Original Pancake House
5099 Memorial Dr
Stone Mountain, GA 30083
(404) 292-6914

Original Pancake House on Urbanspoon

I’ve not had strombolis many times in my life, but I know a good crust when I see one. I’d had mixed luck with the pizza at Cioffi’s in the past, but this stromboli is a sharp double, if not a home run, in my book.

OMG! Look at the crust!

The stuffing was pretty darned good as well.

Cioffi’s Pizza
1218 Rockbridge Rd
Stone Mountain, GA 30087
(770) 935-8822

Cioffi's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Always Fresh is a meat and two place near the corner of Five Forks Trickum and Rockbridge Road, a few feet away from Colossus Family Restaurant. The focus is on “the everyday family cooking that we grew up with”, and the simplicity of the menu bears that out. They have a rotating menu with different meats offered each day, different sides offered each day. If they don’t have collard greens one day, perhaps they have them the next.

My daughter and I came on a weekday to try it. I enjoyed my baked chicken, though I wish I had shown on a day when they served greens. My daughter had a turkey sandwich which she enjoyed (besides a meat and two and a four vegetable plate, there are sandwich offerings as well as burgers here).

Service was good, and in my opinion, the reason to come. The local buffets offer similar food, but places like Golden Corral tend to be crowded affairs, elbows into the sides of others at tables and really no one to talk to about your meal. Service here, for us, arrived early and was often around.

Always Fresh Neighborhood Restaurant
5385 Five Forks Trickum Road
Stone Mountain, GA 30087

Always Fresh Neighborhood Market and restaurant on Urbanspoon

Colossus was a surprise to us, offering far better Greek food than we expected. Clearly a superior choice for dinner, I’m very tempted to claim it’s the best Greek within half an hour of Snellville. As our overall experience with Greek cuisine is neither broad nor exhaustive, I’m also happy saying take any of my claims with a grain of salt. Still, I’d have no qualms taking out of town guests to this restaurant.

It’s perhaps the largest restaurant near the corner of Five Forks Trickum and Rockbridge Road, on the right as you’re heading south down Five Forks, and located a bit before the intersection. Inside, the restaurant is longish, as opposed to square. Staff were wearing black tops and the men were wearing baseball caps when we arrived. There are tables and booths, and as the eatery is thin and one side has good windows, if you love light you can get plenty of it.

really good.

My wife ordered pizza, I ordered the Greek plate and my daughter ordered the Moussaka. We ordered salads and appetizers, some fried zucchini. The fried zucchini was excellent.

The Greek plate is a tasty meat paradise.

Moussaka. The hit of the meal.

Of the entrées, the pizza had no crust to speak of, except at the edges, just a floppy “suburban special”. But the Greek food was superior and impressive. The Moussaka was the hit of the table, something I expect we’ll be ordering again and again. The plates were enormous and we took back food from almost every entrée we ordered.

In conclusion? This is a place we’re likely to go back to. Overall, we were impressed by what we ate. This restaurant is a keeper.

Colossus Family Restaurant
5385 Five Forks Trickum Road
Stone Mountain, GA 30047
(770) 923-9852

Colossus Pizza on Urbanspoon

Reviewing Cioffi’s has been a bit like a Monthy Python skit. I would come for the pizza, and the people manning the ovens would be novices. I would get floppy pizza. I would come again. Teens were manning the ovens (or perhaps they just looked young) and I would get a “suburban special”, a pizza with too little char and stiffness, and a little overloaded with ingredients, leading to softer, wet crusts.

If you’ve spent any time in the Northeast United States, you come to quickly realize that without a good crust, then a pizza is essentially nothing. I wasn’t getting what this eatery was capable of. It was a bit too much like this bit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail:

Listen, lad, I built this kingdom up from nothing. All I had when I started was swamp … other kings said I was daft to build a castle on a swamp, but I built it all the same … just to show ’em. It sank into the swamp. So I built a another one … that sank into the swamp. I built another one … That fell over and THEN sank into the swamp …. So I built another … and that stayed up.

Some years later, I’ve found a much better way to drive to this section of the world, and I gave Cioffi’s yet another try. This time, yes, I can see a pizza worth writing about. Of course, it’s my daughter eating it. With my physical issues, I’m best sticking to sandwiches these days.

A respectable crust, and more flavorful than chain pizzas.

The whole pie.

Italiano sandwich.

We came at lunch and in general found the lunch specials not all that appealing. My daughter likes meat pizzas, and my recollection was that Cioffi’s did have a reasonable personal sized pizza. I ended up having an Italiano sandwich, she had the personal meat pizza. These we ordered off the dinner menu.

Asked to rate the crust, my daughter gave it an 8, and said it actually had some flavor. The sandwich had a nice crusty bread and good meats. It was certainly worth the money I spent.

I’ll note some changes on the inside. It’s a bit more sedate, less focused on the local school. A middle aged gentleman manned the oven, and one staffer waited tables. They still had beer taps on the far side of the eatery, and the best beers provided are those on tap (a Terrapin selection caught my eye).

Veridict? A generally good eatery, but my personal experience with these pizzas has been hit or miss. I’m much better with hits when veteran chefs man the ovens.

Cioffi’s Pizzeria
1218 Rockbridge Road
Stone Mountain, GA 30087
(770) 935-8822

Cioffi's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Rather than fight traffic down Highway 78, it’s a much easier drive to get onto Five Forks and head past Killian Hills. A few minutes later, you’ll run into the intersection of Five Forks and Rockbridge Road. Turn right and look to your right almost immediately. Cioffi’s is up on a rise just past the turn.

I spent the last week in the Bay Area, eating in spots from downtown San Francisco to San Jose’s Japantown (yes, San Jose has one too). I saw an incredible supermarket in Cupertino, an enormous flea market in San Jose, and I have pictures of much of this. So over this week (perhaps next) there will be a lot of articles about Bay Area eating and shopping.

In the meantime. we arrived late enough to need a 24 hour eatery, and one of the best diners near Snellville is the Metro Cafe in Stone Mountain.  We had two specials, a grilled lamb shank and grilled tilapia there, and we also had hot wings.

The hot wings fared best in our hands, large, dry and spicy.

The tilapia serving was enormous, and accompanied by a decent set of steamed vegetables, mashed potatoes, and a ton of rice. The tilapia was good, but lacking in spices. Tossing some black pepper on the tilapia cured a lot of the lack of taste.

My daughter ordered the lamb shank, which she originally thought was good and then later decided was just ordinary. I had a taste. Yes, not much flavor from a chunk of meat that should have been flavorful almost by default. It was very tender though.

MGR Palace is one of a number of restaurants in a mall near Wall Mart on Rock Bridge Road that include Cici’s Pizza. The eatery is roughly across the street from the Metro Diner. I’ve been here a couple times, and in general I’ve liked the food. It is, however, the kind of cuisine that leaves me fighting for words to describe it. What doesn’t help is that just down 78 in Decatur is the Udipi Cafe, also vegetarian and Indian, and though similar, they have very different cuisines. I’ve been to both, and entrees at one I like I can’t find at the other.


If a rule of thumb at Udipi might be “it’s hard to go wrong with chickpeas”, then a rule of thumb at MGR Palace is “it’s hard to go wrong with potatoes”.  It’s very hard, however, to remember the names of the dishes. Thankfully, MGR Palace has the equivalent of a combination plate called a thali. So this day I ordered a thali and that’s what I’ll be describing. It’s a good looking plate of food, with or without the naan (flatbread).



Along the bottom of the plate are three vegetable curries. The left side has a chutney (pickles), a yellow fruity dessert and above it, yogurt with some vegetables. Along the top are two different kinds of rice. The right side has two soups, a soup called a sambar being the upper of the two. The sambar is a little spicy.

What can I say? I liked and ate pretty much all of it. I thought the curries were excellent, the dessert was a pleasant suprise. The rice I mixed in with other foods or ate plain, and I like the sambar a little better as a soup because of the spice. The food is not especially hot but it is nicely spiced. The naan was about as close to butterless perfection as can be. I tore it into pieces, dipped it into the yogurt and the soups, or used it as a wrap for chutneys or curries.

The clientele here is largely Indian, with the occasional collection of curious Americans. Staff, in my experience, is friendly and helpful.

Before leaving, I ordered samosas to go. A samosa is roughly akin to an empanada, a stuffed pastry, and MGR Palace’s samosas are really good. I’ve also had MGR Palace’s dosai, a kind of crepe, and they are quite good as well. Finally, MGR Palace is inexpensive. The thali is one of the most expensive dishes on the menu, and it cost 12 dollars. Most entrees are under 10 dollars.

Verdict: Surprisingly good Indian food outside 285. Very affordable, and very highly recommended.

Madras Sri Ganesh Ram Palace
1825 Rockbridge Rd
Stone Mountain, GA 30087
(770) 413-1415

MGR Palace on Urbanspoon

Notes: Meredith Ford Goldman has an excellent review of this restaurant.

Last Sunday, August 2, We went to Frontera in Snellville and they featured a mariachi band.


The band, we were told, shows up every other Sunday at the Snellville Frontera. That makes their next visit into town about August 16, 2009. Their trumpet player is quite good. I played that instrument at one time, and you don’t do what he did without plenty of practice and endurance. They go to 12 other Frontera restaurants I’m told, which seems an awfully busy schedule.

Frontera also has some new foods, such as this catfish ceviche. They also have old favorites, such as their burrito al carbon.



Some locations near Snellville I really need to write some reviews about in upcoming days:


Some of these places I’ve eaten at and need to try again to nail down an opinion on. Others I’ve not tried yet.

Some views from inside Total Wine, which we have spoken about before.


One of the prettiest views of a restaurant in all of Atlanta is the view of the California Pizza Kitchen in Lenox Square from the level just above it:


And of course, one photo of Guam boonie peppers. Even the runt boonie is adding leaves these days.