Now, despite the fact that I'm almost as close to the Westside as I was before, it seems silly to drive there. Why? Well, it's odd to leave the huge parking deck and come back when there's so much to eat at Atlantic Station. The question is, is any of it worth eating?
Regarding who I'd rather give my money to, there's no contest. All of the businesses mentioned above are locally owned, quality establishments who, in my opinion, deserve my patronage. At Atlantic Station, at least for now, chains rule the day. There's Cafe Nineteen, which may be an independently owned business (it appears so from its website, though I'm not sure who owns it), but it turned me off on day one when I realized it charges $4 for a cup of coffee (and y'all thought Octane was expensive). The Atlantic Grill is also independent I think, but I don't really want heavy, OK bar food most of the time. Apart from that, we've got Moe's, California Pizza Kitchen, Tin Drum, and Which Which, along with Strip and Rosa Mexicano. My opinion of Strip hasn't changed since I reviewed it in 2006, and while Rosa Mexicano has some decent food, I don't have any interest in paying $13 for guacamole most days.
Tin Drum manages something quite impressive: to be a purveyor of slutty Asian food and yet serve nothing worth eating. Where's the noodle soup?? The spicy glop? Instead, we get greasy rice and a frightening, spearmint-colored sludge of a green curry. It does have a passable coconut soup, but even doused in sriracha I can't find hope for anything else there.
I've had two horrible sandwiches at Which Which. My previous experiences at Moe's have kept me away. And I don't have much interest in trying out Copeland's Cheesecake Bistro.
The lunch light at the end of this dark tunnel comes from the Publix deli counter, which makes totally decent sandwiches to order. They're cheap, the bread could be better but isn't too bad, and they taste fresh and satisfying.
Of course, on Thursdays we now have food trucks, and I've heard from many people, including the folks who run Atlantic Station, that the food scene here will soon include many more independently owned restaurants.
But we've got a long way to go.
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