Word of Mouth 

Our critics' guide to Atlanta restaurants

Page 2 of 9

Highland Wraps & Pizza Kitchen, 1250 Virginia Ave., 404-872-2562. A mostly takeout operation in the Virginia-Highland neighborhood, this storefront charmer produces decidedly Americanized, albeit notably tasty meat and vegetarian burritos and tacos. -- EM

In the Shade Cafe, inside the Wish-Fulfilling Tree Bookstore, 2329 Cheshire Bridge Road, 404-634-7411. Juices, sandwiches and light noshes are all fresh and delicious. Plus you get your spiritual high from sniffing the nearby incense. -- CBB

Java Jive, 790 Ponce de Leon Ave., 404-876-6161. "The Cup That Pleases" definitely lives up to its name. The rich, faintly nutty cups of coffee accompany from-scratch biscuits, pecan or gingerbread waffles and well-stuffed omelets and veggie scrambles. Service is personable, reliable and unobtrusive. -- SL

Mondo Bakery, 1210 Howell Mill Road. 404-603-9995. With Billie Holiday crooning softly in this subdued, yet swank atmosphere, Mondo Bakery is an ideal place to meet someone for coffee and an intimate chat. Although it has a news stand, postcards, sandwiches, fresh juices, freshly baked pastries and a coffee bar with a full line of coffee and espresso drinks, Mondo's specialty is gourmet sandwiches and pastries. The dates, pesto, brie and basil sandwich on sourdough is to die for. -- KL

Mumbo Jumbo, 89 Park Place, 404-523-0330. Located in a treasure of a building, this bar/lounge/restaurant is a visual feast. And the New American cuisine, as interpreted by Chef Shaun Doty, ain't bad either. Globally and seasonally influenced, the menu always changes often. You also can rely on an interesting crowd, from oh-so-chic to far-out. -- SSS

Murphy's, 997 Virginia Ave. at N. Highland Ave., 404-872-0904. Now 20 years old, Tom Murphy's neighborhood deli changes with time and demographics. Just now, it's worth visiting for moderately priced fish and meat entrees, traditional baked goods, a splendid wine list and slick, knowing service. Call-ahead seating, valet parking at night and take-out offered. --EM.

North Highland Pub, 469 N. Highland Ave., 404-522-4600. This Poncey-Highland joint features an impressively large menu, imported and on-tap beer and a plethora of tunes on the jukebox. Of note is the Bacon Swiss Guacamole Burger, cooked to a perfect medium and served on a sesame seed bun. Onion rings, beating out the fries, are a delicious companion. Sizable salads are worth a whirl, too. -- SL

The Palm, 3391 Peachtree Road NE, 404-814-1955. Steak and lobster are the name of the game at this expense-account eatery in Buckhead's Swissôtel. Clubby attire is enhanced by the restaurant group's schtick -- caricatures of famous faces peering down on those who go to see and be seen. -- SSS

Park 75, Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta, 75 14th St. NE, 404-881-9898. Rich, well-constructed New American cuisine in a luxury setting with prices to match. Initial menus from executive chef Brooke Vosika -- transplanted from the extraordinary Four Seasons Olympic Hotel in Seattle -- are particularly strong on soups and seafood. -- EM

Portabella's Pantry, 9 S. Main Street, Alpharetta, 770-751-6464. Humming mom-and-pop storefront with order counter, serve-yourself beverage dispensers and flea-market furniture draws office workers and families with unusual, first-rate sandwiches and cookies. All baking done on premises. Good for takeout. --EM.

The Roman Lily Cafe, 688 Highland Ave., 404-653-1155. Calavino Donati and her buzz-headed staff in overalls are serving killer contemporary American diner food and a great experience in this storefront restaurant. Meatloaf with a tequila-jalape-o gravy and scallops with baked polenta and wild mushrooms are fave dishes. But salads and sandwiches are tasty, too. Reservations are accepted (and necessary) on weekends. -- CBB

Sage, 121 Sycamore St., Decatur, 404-373-5574. With no pretensions beyond generic American-bistro food and ambience, the Courthouse Square-area baby sister to Le Giverny offers hefty portions, modest prices, decent if spotty cooking, wide-ranging wine list and warm, welcoming service by a mostly female staff. -- EM

San Francisco Wraps, 8725 Roswell Road, Dunwoody, 770-993-3999; 2160 N. Decatur Road, Decatur, 404-320-9111. Best local effort since Tortillas on Ponce (and, arguably, Great Western Burrito Co.) to produce a variety of burrito-style wraps with plenty of flavor and minimal attitude. -- EM

Stoney River, 10524 Alpharetta Highway, at Holcomb Bridge Road, Roswell, 678-461-7900. The mainstream runs through this steaks-and-sushi dinner house from the creators of Brookwood Grill. The wilderness lodge decor, upbeat service and decent sushi bar are much superior to the salty, overseasoned American food. No reservations. Expect long waits at prime hours. -- EM

Sweet Tomatoes, 6350 Peachtree Dunwoody Road, 770-913-0203; 1125 Barrett Parkway, Kennesaw, 770-429-5522; 3505 Mall Blvd., Duluth, 770-418-1148. Pizza, spuds, soups and about half the greenery are worth their weight in calories and cholesterol at units of this San Diego, Calif.-based buffet chain aimed at families and office workers. Atmosphere is bright and upbeat, prices reasonable. -- EM


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