A line sometimes stretches out the door during the weekday lunch rush, but Pangaea never gets as chaotic as nearby rival Taqueria del Sol. A Zen-like calm seems to reign. The dining room accommodates a handful of blond wood tables, and a shady patio doubles the seating when weather's nice. Speaking of which, the dining room itself practically converts to a patio when the big, glass garage doors are rolled open. There's nothing like Atlanta in April, and Pangaea takes full advantage.
The banh mi is Pangaea's claim to fame, and it's admittedly a terrific sandwich. It's the ultimate fusion of French and Southeast Asian cuisines: A crusty baguette slathered in mayo cradles grilled lemongrass pork, chicken or shrimp, along with a bracing mix of shredded carrots, daikon radish and cilantro leaves. Slices of fresh jalapeno give it fiery kick. An authentic banh mi sandwich takes the fusion even further, adding slices of pâté in with the grilled meat. Pangaea wisely recognizes that pâté tends to creep people out, and omits it.
If you can tear yourself away from the banh mi, there are plenty of other things worth trying on the menu. My personal favorite has always been the Mexican torta filled with roast pork, though on my most recent visit, it disappointed me. The pork was still nicely seasoned and tender, but something was missing. There was no oomph. After a few bites, I realized the sandwich only had shredded lettuce on it - it was missing onion and avocado, key ingredients in the oomph department. Glancing back at the menu, I noticed that you have to pay extra for avocado now. My advice: Splurge for the avocado, and make sure they don't forget the onion.
I love the fact that you can get Thai iced tea and café sua da, Vietnamese-style iced coffee sweetened with condensed milk. Both are delicious and add to Pangaea's charm. If you've got room for dessert after a gigantic sandwich and a tall, sweet iced coffee, you're a better man than me. But if you must, the sinful toffee-coconut bars are a treat.
Chow for Charity Midtown's Nam continues its series of benefit dinners Mon., April 11. The dinners are aimed at raising money for local nonprofit organizations. This month's dinner benefits Cradle of Love Adoption Services, a locally based agency that provides comprehensive services to birth parents, babies and adoptive parents. Call 404-541-9997 for reservations. 931 Monroe Drive, Suite A-101. www.namrestaurant.com.
A Toast to a Culinary Great On Tues., April 12, Toast Chef Drew Van Leuvan hosts a dinner to salute the late chef Jean-Louis Palladin and raise funds for his foundation. The evening features a seven-course prix-fixe dinner, with each course prepared by a different chef. Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres served at 6:30 p.m., with dinner following at 7:30. Tickets are $200 per person. 817 W. Peachtree St. 404-815-4993. www.toastrestaurant.com.
Wine Pairing 101 Head sommelier Philippe Buttin leads a special course on the essentials of wine pairing at Joel from 6-7:15 p.m. Wed., April 13. $30 per person. 3290 Northside Parkway. 404-233-3500. www.joelrestaurant.com.
Springtime Table A special dinner at Woodfire Grill on Mon., April 18, will feature two lovely spring ingredients, asparagus and morel mushrooms. Chef Michael Tuohy's four-course prix-fixe dinner is $75 per person, including wine pairings (tax and gratuity extra). The regular menu will also be available. 1782 Cheshire Bridge Road. 404-347-9055. www.woodfiregrill.com.
Flights of Fancy La Tavola Trattoria in Virginia-Highland hosts a Flight Night every Monday evening during dinner hours. April focuses on wines from the Trentino-Alto Adige region, along with sparkling wines. April 11 features chardonnay, April 18 is red wines, and April 25 is all about Prosecco and Asti sparkling wines. 992 Virginia Ave. 404-873-5430. www.latavolatrattoria.com.
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