Carnita taco on a freshly made tortilla at Taqueria El Rey de Taco
The ultimate two-bite fast food. Succulent chunks of slow-cooked pork carnitas with a hint of barbecue-esque bark are nestled with chopped cilantro and white onion into a handmade tortilla by the resident abuela. A dollop of the neon-green avocado salsa makes this humble peasant's dish rich with flavor. $2. 5288 Buford Highway. 770-986-0032.
Chile relleno taco (or burrito) at El Taco Veloz
This chile relleno is a work of simplicity. The kitchen takes a mildly spicy poblano pepper, stuffs it with creamy cheese and fries it in a thin batter. Then it's wrapped in a flour tortilla that provides a bit of a tug and seals in the warmth. It's all super fresh, and that's what makes the difference. $2.45. 5084 Buford Highway. 770-936-9094. www.tacoveloz.com.
Fish tofu kabob at Te Wei Chinese Kabob
Small rectangles of glazed and crisped tofu pierced by bamboo skewers look ordinary enough. But the underlying seafood flavor makes this savory soy treat weird enough to be destination worthy. $2. 5090 Buford Highway, Doraville. 770-455-8388.
Hot and numbing tofu rolls at Peter Chang's
Tight rolls of white flour tortilla-like pancakes cradle shreds of cabbage, veggies and cubes of firm tofu. It's all brought together with a spicy Szechuan peppercorn-infused oil. Each bite provides crunch and heat that's so addictive, you can expect to experience full-blown food-lust for weeks to come. $7. 6450 Powers Ferry Road. 678-766-8766. www.petertasty2.com.
Ikura Don at Sushi House Hayakawa
Sunset orange ikura (salmon eggs) ceremoniously piled onto perfectly seasoned sushi rice still warm from the steamer are crowned with slivers of deep-green seaweed. Each popping bite into an egg releases a flood of the sea mellowed with the sweetness of the dish's mirin marinade. $8. 5979 Buford Highway. 770-986-0010. www.atlantasushibar.com.
Mixed maza platter at Café Agora
Vegetables manipulated into neat mounds crowd the plate: Earthy eggplant rife with smoke. Thick yogurt infused with cucumber. Chopped carrot made creamy with even more yogurt. The warm pita is a perfect vehicle to experience them all, but a fork is an even more direct route. Having owner Al feed them to you like an insistant but sweet older uncle is even better. Small: $7.99; large: $12.99. 262 E. Paces Ferry Road. 404-949-0900. www.cafeagora.com.
Mofongo at Pura Vida
You won't find classic Puerto Rican mofongo anywhere else in town. Served as a tapa, it's a mound of mashed green bananas flavored with cracklings and carnitas. Pork jus adds needed moisture. Yep, you get slightly sour bananas mashed like potatoes and studded with crispy bits of flavor-screaming pork. $9. 656 N. Highland Ave. 404-870-9797. www.puravidatapas.com.
Tlayudas at Taqueria La Oaxaqueña
A crackly baked tortilla the size of a pizza is loaded with every Mexican topping staple imaginable. Smooth wedges of avocado, long, chewy threads of Mexican string cheese, and crumbled salty chorizo sausage all mingle together in messy harmony. The bold flavors are only amplified by the tactile pleasure that comes from cracking off a piece, piling on a little of what did and didn't fall off, and shoving the bite into your mouth nacho-style. $10.99-$13.99. 605 Mt. Zion Road, Jonesboro. 770-960-3010. www.taquerialaoaxaquena.com.
Tomo Uni at Tomo
Eating uni is like having sex with the sea — the creamy texture and oceanic flavor are almost kinky. For those of us hooked, nothing else will satiate that particular desire. At Tomo, the experience is ramped up: The uni is wrapped in a shiso leaf and tempura fried. The result? A hot steaming package of lusty seafood creamsicle. Turned on yet? $9. 3256 Cobb Parkway, Vinings. 770-690-0555. www.tomorestaurant.com.
Vietnamese "burnt rice" at Chateau de Saigon
Most every culture likes the crunchy rice at the bottom of the pot. This dish simulates that coveted treat and turns it into a full entrée with your choice of a topping. The best is the pork cooked in a clay pot and caramelized in fish sauce. $8.95. 4300 Buford Highway, Suite 218. 404-929-0034. www.chateaudesaigon.com.
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