Monday, August 27, 2007

Taqueria del Sol a Runner-Up for Best Tacos

Brooklyn's Peter Luger Steak House and New Orleans' Willie Mae's Scotch House were among the winners in Bon Appetit magazine's recent Food Network special. Winning restaurants were selected from each of three semifinalists for the best versions of six quintessential American classics: pizza, steak, tacos, hamburgers, fried chicken, and ribs. The winners were announced on the Good Eats with Alton Brown show on the Food Network.

Here are the winners and runners-up:
PIZZA: Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix (WINNER); DiFara Pizza, Brooklyn, NY; Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles
STEAK: Peter Luger Steak House, Brooklyn (WINNER); Cut, Los Angeles; Doe's Eat Place, Greenville, Miss.
TACOS: Taco Taco Cafe, San Antonio (WINNER); Taqueria del Sol, Atlanta; South Beach Bar & Grill, Ocean Beach, Calif.
Hamburgers: Bobcate Bite, Santa Fe, NM (WINNER); Taylor's Automatic Refresher, St. Helena, Calif; The Meers Store and Restaurant, Lawton, Okla.
FRIED CHICKEN: Willie Mae's Scotch House, New Orleans (WINNER); Price's Chicken Coop, Charlotte, NC; Blackberry Farm, Walland, Tenn.
RIBS: 17th Street Bar & Grill, Murphysboro, Ill (WINNER); Charles Vergos Rendezvous, Memphis; Jaspers, Plano, Texas.

IN THE NEWS: Best newspaper restaurant criticism first place award winner Gail Shepherd of New Times Broward/Palm Beach, runner-up Tom Sietsema of The Washington Post, and third place winner Besha Rodell of Creative Loafing in Atlanta have been honored by The Association of Food Journalists in its 2007 awards competition. They received their awards Aug. 25 at a reception and banquet held in conjunction with AFJ’s annual conference in Minneapolis. ... The AJC's Meridith Ford reviews Luckie Food Lounge (375 Luckie St., 404-525-5825,, while Bob Townsend considers Haas Bar (1314 Glenwood Ave., East Atlanta, 404-230-6177), and H.M. Cauley reviews Seafood Soiree (4469 Marietta St., Powder Springs, 770-943-2707) and Luciano's Ristorante Italiano (10970 State Bridge Road, Alpharetta, 770-375-8203). ... Cauley also notes that Copeland's of New Orleans has closed its Alpharetta location, and the former Snooty Fox at 12460 Crabapple Road has been reinvented as the Dogwood Bar and Grill. (770-667-1112). ... Creative Loafing's Besha Rodell gives three stars to Chocolate Bar (201 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur. 404-378-0630., while Cliff Bostick visits French restaurants Atmosphere (1620 Piedmont Ave., 678-702-1620) and Violette (2948 Clairmont Road, 404-633-3363) and blogs about Top Floor (674 Myrtle St., 404-685-3110), and Maureen McCarthy's Cheap Eats considers Azalea Bistro (At the Women's & Surgical Center at DeKalb Medical Center. 2701 N. Decatur Road, Decatur. 404-501-5020). ... Bostick also reports Calavino Donati, owner of the defunct Roman Lily Cafe, is opening a new restaurant, Calavino’s, in Oakhurst Village (350 Mead Road, 404-270-9575, currently occupied by the Oakhurst Grill. The restaurant should be operating at full capacity by Sept. 1. ... The Epicurean Restaurant (1361 Clairmont Rd., Decatur, 404.321.0530) has a new chef, Jon Wolf (Ritz Carlton), and Chow Down Atlanta checks out the results.

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

J. Alexander's Set for Old Houston's Spot

IN THE NEWS: The AJC's Meridith Ford awards three stars in reviewing Clark & Schwenk's (3300 Cobb Parkway, Suite 3240, Atlanta), while Bob Townsend reviews Quinnie's BBQ (2860 LaVista Road, Decatur), Adrianne Murchison considers Mittie's Tea Room Cafe (35 South Peachtree Street, Norcross), and H.M. Cauley visits Entree Vous (960 Mary Eliza Trace, Marietta) and Londzell's (2300 Holcomb Bridge Road, Roswell). ... Cauley also reports the old Houston's near Perimeter Mall is being transformed into a J. Alexander's, a multi-state restaurant chain based in Nashville whose first Georgia location opened in the Forum in Norcross. Look for an opening sometime in October. ... Ford reports on expansion at Floataway Café (1123 Zonolite Road N.E., Suite 15,, owned by Bacchanalia chef-owners Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison. The renovation is scheduled for the second and third weeks of September, with hopes of closing only one or two days. ... Creative Loafing's Besha Rodell gives two stars to Mezza (2751 LaVista Road), while Cliff Bostick checks out Atlanta Cupcake Factory (634 N. Highland Ave), Ted's Montana Grill (133 Luckie St.), Eclipse di Sol (640 N. Highland Ave), Wolfgang Puck Express (1745 Peachtree St.), and Atmosphere (1620 Piedmont Ave.), while Cheap Eats visits Salsa (Howell Mill Village, 2020 Howell Mill Road). ... reports: Ricardo Ullio, owner of Sotto Sotto and Fritti, is gearing up for the openings of his two news restaurants, Beleza and Cuerno. Beleza will be a Brazilian-inspired restaurant with a focus on healthy foods. It is slated to open Aug. 14. ... Cuerno will be a Spanish restaurant with dishes like Paella and other regional specialties. Cuerno will not be open until the fall. Both restaurants will be located in the 905 Juniper Street building. ... visits Capozzi’s NY Pizza & Pasta. ... Walnut Street Capital has bought Atlanta gourmet coffee shop chain Saxbys Coffee for an undisclosed amount, and plans to open 40 new stores within the next six months, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reports. Saxbys Coffee's headquarters will move to Philadelphia. The coffee chain already has 27 locations. One of the first in metro Philadelphia was developed by Joe Grasso, principal and founder of Walnut Street Capital.

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Monday, August 13, 2007

Taqueria Del Sol Among Tacos Finalists

Bon Appetit magazine's September 2007 Restaurant issue features three finalists in a list of quintessential versions of six American classics: pizza, steak, tacos, hamburgers, fried chicken, and ribs. Winner will be announced on the Food Network on Aug. 18 (Good Eats with Alton Brown, 6 and 10 pm CDT). The finalists:

PIZZA: Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix; DiFara Pizza, Brooklyn, NY; Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles
STEAK: Peter Luger Steak House, Brooklyn; Cut, Los Angeles; Doe's Eat Place, Greenville, Miss.
TACOS: Taco Taco Cafe, San Antonio; Taqueria Del Sol, Atlanta; South Beach Bar & Grill, Ocean Beach, Calif.
Hamburgers: Bobcate Bite, Santa Fe, NM; Taylor's Automatic Refresher, St. Helena, Calif; The Meers Store and Restaurant, Lawton, Okla.
FRIED CHICKEN: Willie Mae's Scotch House, New Orleans; Price's Chicken Coop, Charlotte, NC; Blackberry Farm, Walland, Tenn.
RIBS: Charles Vergos Rendezvous, Memphis; 17th Street Bar & Grill, Murphysboro, Ill; Jaspers, Plano, Texas.

The magazine also features favorite restaurant recipes, including: Lucia's in Minneapolis-St. Paul; Eve in Ann Arbor, Mich.; Dali Restaurant & Tapas Bar in Somerville, Mass.; Binkley's Restaurant in Cave Creek, Ariz.; Kelly Liken Restaurant in Vail, Colo; Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles; and Park Kitchen in Portland, Ore. ... And the mag also features 12 small restaurants and their recipes, including: The Little Owl, New York City; The Good Fork, Brooklyn; La Laiterie at Farmstead, Providence, RI; Cremant, Seattle; Bonne Soiree, Chapel Hill, N.C.; Hatfield's, Los Angeles; Canteen, San Francisco; Revolver, Findlay, Ohio; Le Pigeon, Portland, Ore; and Komi, Washington, DC.

And the magazine lists actor-pop star Usher's favorite Atlanta restaurants in an interview: The Grape (which he co-owns), South City Kitchen, Rathbun's, Cafe Dupri, and the White House for breakfast.

IN THE NEWS: The AJC's H.M. Cauley reports on the closing of Dick and Harry's, a dining destination for more than 10 years at 1570 Holcomb Bridge Road in Roswell. ... Cauley also notes the Aug. 31 closing of Acworth's French eatery, Seasons de Provence, and the addition of a full bar to Cotton's, Seasons' neighbor at 4381 Senator Russell Ave, . ... Cauley also notes the openings of: the second location of Metrotainment Cafes' Hudson Grille, with a Brookhaven site (4046 Peachtree Road, adding to the existing Alpharetta location; Marlow's Tavern, with locations in Vinings and Alpharetta, is now open in Midtown at 950 W. Peachtree St. Owned by the same company that oversees Aqua Blue in Roswell and Hi Life in Norcross, Marlow's is the restaurant group's version of a neighborhood pub where tavern food made from scratch is the star. ... Critic Meridith Ford gives a "poor" rating to Geisha House (1380 Atlantic Drive, Atlanta), while Cauley reviews Varner's Restaurant and Tavern (725 Concord Road, Smyrna) and Pho & Com Asian Grill (915 Woodstock Road, Roswell). ... Bob Townsend rounds up Caribbean food, including Negril Caribbean Cuisine. ... The AJC reports the death of 25-year-old Conor Lancaster, who died in his sleep Aug. 8. He and his older brother, along with a friend, had just signed the papers to take over DePalma's Italian Cafe in northwestern Atlanta, where he would be a manager and co-owner. ... Creative Loafing's Besha Rodell reviews Tap (1180 Peachtree St., and reports that The Farmhouse at Serenbe’s chef Tony Seichrist is taking a “culinary sabbatical” to Italy, and Nicolas Bour, former chef/owner of Iris and current chef at the Blue Eyed Daisy bakery at Serenbe, will be taking over chef duties at the Farmhouse. ... Cheap Eats spotlights Mediterranean Bakery (3362 Chamblee-Tucker Road, Suite B). ... reviews Tap. ... reviews Kiosco (48 Powder Springs Street, Marietta). ... reviews Top Floor in Midtown (674 Myrtle St.).

Compiled by Pat Embry,

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Joel In Midst of 6-Month Renovation

IN THE NEWS: The AJC's Elizabeth Lee reports: Joël, the acclaimed Buckhead restaurant with James Beard Award-winning chef-owner Joël Antunes, shut down after July 28's dinner service for six weeks of renovations. When the restaurant reopens in early September, diners will find a warmer setting and a menu designed to encourage frequent visits rather than special occasion splurges. Joël's impeccable French cuisine has been a favorite with critics but has struggled to fill its large dining room and bar, set on the first floor of the office-residential development Piazza at Paces, off Northside Parkway. So Joël, which cost $5 million to open in October 2001, is getting a makeover and downsizing from its original designer, the Johnson Studio. ... Meridith Ford awards two stars in her review of the new gastropub Tap (1180 Peachtree St.), while Bob Townsend reviews Shorty's (3701 Lawrenceville Hwy., Tucker), H.M. Cauley visits Ray's On The River (6700 Powers Ferry Road, Sandy Springs), and Adrianne Murchison considers Alligator Blues Cafe (15 Jones St., Norcross). ... Cauley reports, "The new West Village complex in Smyrna will soon be home to Lime Taqueria, the first restaurant venture for Diaz Foods, an Atlanta company that supplies restaurants and stores with authentic foods. Owner Rene Diaz says Lime will be chef-driven, with dishes such as mango papaya cilantro salsa and seared ahi on house-made corn tortillas. And look for limes to show up in daiquiris, martinis and margaritas. An opening is expected in October." ... Columnist John Kessler observes the return of the neighborhood market, spotlighting Sawicki's Meat Seafood & More (250 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur), Cabbagetown Market (198 Carroll St.), and Belly General Store (772 N. Highland Ave.). ... Creative Loafing's Besha Rodell reviews Tamarind Seed (1197 Peachtree St., Suite 110,, while Cliff Bostick visits Palomilla's Cuban Grill House (6470 Spalding Drive, Norcross) and rounds up other Cuban joints, including his personal intown favorite Las Palmeras (368 Fifth St.), as well as blogging about upgrades at Las Margaritas (1842 Cheshire Bridge Road). ... Maureen McCarthy's Cheap Eats stops by Caffe Lisette (3489-D Chamblee-Tucker Road). ... Atlanta Foodies reviews World Peace Cafe (227 Sandy Springs Pl., NE, Suite 302, Sandy Springs,, Williamson Bros. Bar-B-Q (1600 Marietta Hwy., Canton), Lobster Bar at Chops (70 West Paces Ferry Rd., Atlanta, and Doc Green's - Salads & Grill (Perimeter Location, 4511 Olde Perimeter Way, Ste. 800, Atlanta, ... USA Today rounds up tiki bars, including: Portland's Alibi Lounge, River Grove (Ill.)'s Hala Kahiki, Los Angeles' Tiki-Ti, San Francisco's Tonga Room, Atlanta's Trader Vic's, Saugus (Mass.)'s Kowloon, Fort Lauderdale's Mai-Kai, and Smyrna (Tenn.)'s Omni Hut.

Compiled by Pat Embry,