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Word of Mouth 

Our critics' guide to Atlanta restaurants

Page 9 of 9

Blue Ridge Grill, 1261 W. Paces Ferry Road, 404-233-5030. Southern haute cuisine is served in a Ralph Lauren-ish mountain lodge setting; fresh-picked organic vegetables are family-style, and the Iron Skillet Georgia Trout and steaks are sublime. Take note, though: Organic ain't cheap. -- SSS

Horseradish Grill, 4320 Powers Ferry Road NW, 404-255-7277. First-rate fried chicken, pork barbecue, mashed potatoes, savory greens, hot biscuits and traditional Southern desserts from rising-star chef Dave Berry are served in an elegant trophy room masquerading as a Chastain Park stable. Lovely outdoor tables can be requested in nice weather. -- EM

Justin's, 2200 Peachtree St. NW, 404-603-5353. Rap dinner theater in the former Sfuzzi and Coco Pazzo features big smiles, gorgeously draped staff, moderately loud musical background static, otherworldly prices and formularized soul food of the warm-and-serve persuasion. -- EM

Thelma's Kitchen, 764 Marietta St. NW, 404-688-5855. Thelma Grundy's venerable soul-food cafeteria appears to be coasting. After three years at the new stand, the lunchtime crowds are steady but the cooking -- especially the once-marvelous fried chicken -- is notably inconsistent. Worthwhile choices include fried catfish, sweet potatoes, mac-and-cheese and almost any form of beans. --EM

Thomas Marketplace, State Farmers Market, 16 Forest Parkway, Forest Park, 404-361-1367. Venerable purveyor of heirloom Southern cooking, hefty portions and down-home hospitality is among the Southside's best bets for traditional breakfasts, meat-and-two lunches and corn muffins. Fried chicken livers, grilled salmon, turnip greens and corn muffins recommended. Go elsewhere for barbecue. -- EM

Thai
Little Bangkok, 2225 Cheshire Bridge Road near Lenox Road, 404-315-1530. Now it can be told: Some of the best Thai food in town is at this absurdly inexpensive hole in the wall. Pay close attention to evening specials like chicken with eggplant or spicy squid. Seasonings are fiery, portions are very large and ingredients always include a few surprises. The menu also features Chinese cuisine. -- CBB

Northlake Thai Cuisine, 3939 LaVista Road, at Montreal Road, Tucker, 770-938-2223. A slightly less glamorous cousin to Midtown's spectacular Tamarind, the strip center showplace holds its own in tropical decor, Bangkok ambience and reassuring air of formality. Though the cooking shows less finesse, the cuisine, by the standards of the neighborhood, also is a standout. Starters (duck salad, fried squid, coconut-chicken soup) are worth particular attention. -- EM

Satay Ria, 1861 Peachtree Road NE, 404-609-9990. An Intown find. The younger, SoBuck brother to Buford Highway's Little Malaysia offers mid-scale comforts, Malaysian-Thai cuisine (chicken satay, chicken curry, acar salad) and unusually good service. -- EM

Vegetarian
Broadway Cafe, 2168 Briarcliff Road NE, 404-329-0888. Vegetarian fare, much of it kosher, can be inventive and quite tasty in this Druid Hills strip mall spot; who knew faux sausage could taste so good? -- SSS

Harmony Vegetarian Chinese Restaurant, 4897 Buford Highway, Chamblee, 770-457-7288. Curry flavors (noodles, dumplings) and moo shu vegetable wraps are tops at this minimally decorated newcomer. Stick with greenery and skip the imitation beef and fish. -- EM

Woodland Vegetarian Restaurant, 1080 Oaktree Road, Decatur, 404-321-6005. Larger and brighter than competing self-service Indian restaurants, this newcomer near Market Square Mall specializes in stuffed, topped and sauced pancakes and crepes. An affordable lunch buffet Tues.-Sun. is another good way to jump right in. -- EM

Vietnamese

Cha Gio, 132 10th St., 404-885-9387. Solicitous service with reasonably priced, family fare at a little-trafficked eatery in the heart of Midtown. The ideal place for an exit interview, or to feed the cold that hits the week after. Slurp and sup on nourishing chicken broth (the base for Cha Gio's won ton and vegetable soups), steamed summer rolls, and lean sirloin stir fries or Vietnamese crepe omelettes. --KL

Song Long, 4166 Buford Highway, 404-320-9772. Bright star among a galaxy of Asian newcomers in Oriental Mall (the former Outlet Square), this Vietnamese specialist features eager-to-please staffers, budget prices, music videos and an extraordinarily complete menu. Don't miss the cha gio (Vietnamese fried spring rolls) with lettuce and herb leaf wrappers, or the various rice-noodle soups. No credit cards. -- EM

Vietnam House, Little Saigon Shopping Center, 4186 Buford Hwy., 404-315-9979. Stylish, mid-scale Viet newcomer features traditional and Eurasian-fusion cuisine (beef seven ways, beef-and-noodle soup, excellent egg rolls) and exceptionally helpful service. As an unexpected bonus, restrooms are Chambodia's most pristine. -- EM.

CBB is Cliff Bostock, EM is Elliott Mackle, SSS is Shelley Skiles Sawyer, SL is Shelley Lawrence, KL is Kate Lueker.

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