WE WELCOME FALL by finding epicurean bliss at a pharmacy, watching tiny dancers twirl, searching out the newest flavors and saying goodbye, sadly, to some longtime favorites. You might say it’s all … food for thought.
Go east, young man (or woman) on I-20 to an extraordinary little gem in downtown Covington. There, a Norman Rockwell setting awaits. A scenic 19th-century clock tower overlooks a town square with quaint shops and cafes — including the all-new buzzworthy CITY PHARMACY.
The space did, indeed, begin as a pharmacy. After a renovation, the décor feels retro/hipster, and the cuisine, led by chef CHRISTIAN PEREZ (The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead, the Pig and the Pearl), feels of the moment. Chili-rubbed fried chicken, butter-poached scallops and shrimp risotto, Kobe beef burgers and pork porterhouses are among his creations, all sophisticated, top-quality fare. With Covington, about 35 miles southeast of Atlanta, now a certified movie/TV hotbed, both the city and City Pharmacy seem ready for their close-ups …
The spiciest intown opening of late is Nashville darling HATTIE B’s. The Nashville Hot Chicken phenom teased us for a few years but is now burning up Little Five Points (in the former 1950s-era Phillips 66 gas station on Moreland Avenue). Order one of six spice levels, starting with “Southern style” (no heat) and culminating with “Shut the Cluck Up,” which turns the birds crimson and renders them lip-burningly hot. Get your fix as a chicken sandwich, chicken tenders or wings. The sides are standard Southern barbecue — crinkly fries, collard greens, pimento mac-and-cheese and a wickedly good banana pudding or peach cobbler for dessert …
After much anticipation, TINY LOU’s has opened in the reimagined Hotel Clermont on Ponce de Leon Avenue. It’s named for the 1950s dancer who once grooved in the hotel’s Gypsy Room and, as legend has it, once refused to dance for Adolf Hitler. Follow a pink neon sign down a staircase to the French-American brasserie decorated midcentury modern with French accents.
The menu follows traditional brasserie guidelines with steak tartare, escargot, steak frites, trout almondine and a double-stacked burger with gruyere and a house bacon jam. After dinner, ride the elevator to the sixth-story rooftop bar crowned by the original Hotel Clermont tower, a 10,000-plus pound, neon-draped, 65-foot steel obelisk, and enjoy the westward view of Ponce City Market and the sunset …
From Savannah comes ZUNZI’s, a next-level South African-inspired sandwich shop that made a “34 Meals Worth Actually Traveling For” list on the Buzzfeed website. The West Midtown (Howell Mill Road) takeout-and-catering spot does have sit-down seating. It features sandwiches on classic French baguettes. They’re stuffed with white meat chicken, salmon, boerewors (a South African smoked sausage), curry chicken salad and more, then smothered with one of Zunzi’s proprietary savory dressings. Don’t forget to finish with a bag of Byrd’s Famous Cookies, little powdered-sugar grenades of flavor.
THE COLLECTIVE, a 20,000-sq.-ft. space opening in Midtown in 2019 as part of the CODA AT TECH SQUARE development, will further sate Atlanta’s appetite for food halls. Developers project 10 concepts, beginning with chef HECTOR SANTIAGO’S EL BURRO POLLO BURRITO KITCHEN, POKE BURRI (sushi burritos, sushi doughnuts, sushi corndogs, poke bowls) and WILDLEAF (fast-casual salads, grain bowls, soups and smoothies).
Olivea Restaurant Group (of Ponce City Market’s Italian market/wine bar Bellina Alimentari) plans to debut two eateries in spring 2019, both inspired by Israeli food. You’ll find AZIZA, a refined, sit-down experience, at Westside White Provisions, and RINA, a casual option, at the Ford Factory Lofts near the Atlanta BeltLine in the Old Fourth Ward.
Another Nashville import is on the way, too. SLIM AND HUSKY’S PIZZA BEERIA is pursuing a permit for a ground-up restaurant on Metropolitan Parkway. The brand is known for specialty pizzas and local craft beer; the name comes from the owners’ physiques.
HAND IN HAND has been pulling pints of British beer in the popular Virginia-Highland neighborhood a for 18 years, but no more. Financial issues, slow traffic and escalating intown real estate prices shut the taps in midsummer. Hand in Hand joins Rose and Crown (Powers Ferry Road), Fox & Hounds (Buckhead) and Prince of Wales (Piedmont Avenue in Midtown), all thriving British pubs once upon a time, in ale heaven.
After nearly 10 years, late-night ramen legend MISO ISAKAYA has served its last loving spoonful. The Edgewood Avenue spot fell victim to rising lease costs and a tsunami of competition from the Krog Street and Ponce City markets.
The fortune of Buford Highway’s legendary CHEF LIU is an unfortunate one: You’re out of business. HOT MELODY CHINESE replaces Chef Liu in Doraville. The restaurant was famous for its soup dumplings and noodles but was stung recently by health-code issues.
Photograph by David Danzig