Friday, February 24, 2012

Atlanta's best margaritas

Posted By on Fri, Feb 24, 2012 at 2:39 PM

As a select few dedicated tequila-drinkers may know, this past Wednesday was National Margarita Day. Unfortunately, the holiday coincided with some brutal post-Mardi Gras hangovers and, you know, that whole lent thing.

But it's never too late for margaritas. So let's hear the CL edit staff weigh in on the best places to drink them in Atlanta.

The big winner is Holy Taco . Besha Rodell, Food & Drink editor, Debbie Michaud, Culture editor, and Vené Franco, associate editor, all cited the East Atlanta joint as the best place to knock a couple margaritas back. Vené digs the organic margarita there, while Besha just thinks they serve up the best "goes-good-with-margarita food."

Bobby Feingold, digital associate editor, and Alicia Wages, operations editor, both go to El Azteca for their icy-cold tequila fix...that is, when Alicia's not being a "dirty OTPer" and hitting up El Torero in Duluth off of Pleasant Hill.

Rodney Carmichael, Music editor, goes to F.R.O.G.S in Midtown, where, after two margaritas and a few shrimp tacos, he's "good n' tipsy."

Eric Celeste, editor-in-chief, fancies the La Tradicional margarita at Escorpion—"simple, cheap, and the right ingredients."

Wyatt Williams, events editor, has had a lifelong, intimate relationship with frozen alcoholic beverages. "I grew up in Louisiana, where my mother would buy quart-size, frozen daiquiris from the drive-thru on long commutes. The stiff, frozen margarita machine at Mi Barrio reminds me of the sips I would sneak from her styrofoam cups," he said.

Another popular choice was...Besha's house. For real. Besha replied to my email inquiry with this: "My favorite place is my house, and if Debbie doesn't say my house as well I'm going to be super offended."

A few minutes later, Debbie responded, "Besha's house serves great margaritas."

But don't go there.

As we all know, tequila is not for the faint of heart. So some loafers, like Gwynedd Stuart, staff writer, take their margaritas with a side of Pepto Bismol. And the winner for best chalky pink cocktail goes to...drumroll...the CVS on North Highland Ave.

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Fair Eats campaign targets restaurant inequity

Posted By on Fri, Feb 24, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Faraj and other Atlanta 9to5 members
  • Courtesy of
  • Faraj and other Atlanta 9to5 members

Yesterday, WABE news interviewed Vanessa Faraj, a chapter organizer with 9 to 5 in Atlanta. 9to5, along with the National Association of Working Women, the Restaurant Opportunities Center United, and other groups, released a report on a nationwide study on injustice in the food industry. This "ROC" report focused primarily on the wages of tipped workers. The results were pretty much what you'd expect—restaurant workers who have to bank on the generosity of their customers aren't making nearly as much as their un-tipped cohorts.

Although federal minimum wage is $7.25, the subminimum wage, which applies to tipped workers, is only $2.13. These workers are supposed to make the extra $5.12 or more in tips. If they don't, the restaurant's management is legally required to pay the difference. According to the ROC report, this nice little idea usually doesn't pan out. When tipped workers make less than $7.25 an hour, most bosses don't do a damn thing about it.

There are, however, those restaurant owners who pride themselves on the fair treatment of their workers. That's why the Fair Eats campaign, run by 9to5, works to highlight and promote restaurants where tipped workers are paid wages of $3 or more an hour.

The organization is also working to build a network of local tip workers and promoting legislation that would double the subminimum wage.

While Faraj acknowledges that inequity in the restaurant industry is a nationwide phenomenon, she emphasizes that the issue carries particular weight for Georgia. The ROC report demonstrated that the southern states were the ones with the worst conditions for restaurant workers.

“There’s an anti-union and anti-worker sentiment that’s more passionate and more voracious here in the south,” said Faraj.

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Weekend Food Events, Feb. 24-26: Food for Dudes, Buckhead Restaurant Week, and more

Posted By on Fri, Feb 24, 2012 at 1:00 PM


MARKET Fri., Feb. 24, 7:30 p.m. LIVE! On Peachtree. A live performance by Donna Hopkins will be accompanied with festive cocktail specials and MARKET menu bites by Jean-Georges. Details

Churchills British Pub Fri., Feb. 24, 8 p.m. Bourbon Tasting. This bourbon tasting will feature product from Bulleit and George Dickel. Details

Cibo e Beve Sat., Feb. 25, 1-4. Food for Dudes Class. Chef Linda Harrell has decided to focus on just the guys for her third cooking class. Attendees will learn how to prepare elaborate versions of both charcuterie and cocktails, and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Details

Steamhouse Lounge Sat., Feb. 25, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sun., Feb. 26, 12-6 p.m. Steamhouse Lounge Oysterfest 2012. Oyster buckets, drinks, and live music with a portion of the proceeds going to EMBRACED Atlanta. Sister restaurants Fontaine’s Oyster House, Highland Tap and Vickery’s Glenwood Park will be on site as well. Details

Also, Buckhead Restaurant Week starts this Sat., Feb. 25, and runs until next Sun., March 4. All restaurants feature $25 and $35 three-course prix fixe dinner options. Participating restaurants include Atlanta Fish Market, Aria, Bistro Niko, Market, Pricci, Southern Art, and many more.

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Food Media Roundup, 2/24/12: Portlandia via Barcelona, Craig Claiborne bio, Southern Revival benefit for SFA in Miami Beach

Posted By on Fri, Feb 24, 2012 at 11:23 AM

If you missed Portlandia the Tour last night at Variety Playhouse, you also missed seeing some of our favorite full-time and part-time Atlantans, including Dave-FM's Mara Davis and surprise guest Margaret Cho. We weren't sure if writer Jamie Allen was inside or outside the venue, but evidently he's not one to suffer hipster fools or "that Barcelona place."

Kat Kinsman, managing editor for CNN's food blog Eatocracy, is better known to the ATL food Twitterati as @kittenwithawhip. She's pretty excited about receiving an early copy of the Craig Claiborne bio. How excited? Like Kristen Bell-sloth kinda excited.

Oh, hey, if you're going to the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival this weekend, you might wanna see if tix are still available for the Southern Revival benefit event at Yardbird Southern Table & Bar. The fundraiser is for the Southern Foodways Alliance. Details are posted on the SFA blog.

So you're drinking your morning joe at Octane thinking, "Hm, besides these guys, who are the other 10 most influential people in coffee right now? "Food Republic's Coffee Culture column has the names. (Check out that ad, too, for Austin Food & Wine Festival coming up in April.)

Another Food Network notation: When you're setting your DVR this weekend, remember that @foxbrosbarbq 's favorite new show just might be "Worst Cooks in America."

It's like being nominated for an Oscar, sort of, only for magazine people. Congrats to @BillAddison, Atlanta magazine's food editor and restaurant critic, on being selected as a finalist in the 2012 National City and Regional Magazine Awards. Three of his feature stories were selected for the judging, including this one about Kristen Hard, owner of Cacao Atlanta. The CRMA awards will be handed out in May at the mag group's annual conference. This year it's being held in Vegas, baby, Vegas.

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Gravy Train: New life for Silver Grill, Feast Restaurant to close

Posted By on Fri, Feb 24, 2012 at 11:18 AM

Fifth Group updates us on the progress at Lure. The new Midtown seafood restaurant will open in early July. David Bradley, a 12 year Fifth Group veteran and currently the chef de cuisine at Ecco, will oversee the kitchen. The menu at Lure will feature a variety of oysters and raw bar classics, traditional seafood dishes and plates designed for sharing - including house smoked seafood “charcuterie.”

Feast Restaurant in Decatur will be closing this weekend. The restaurant posted a message to patrons on their Facebook page explaining that the cause is a mix of the economy and a tough battle with breast cancer. The restaurant has been open for seven years. They also owned the short lived Farmstead 303/Rail Kitchen and Bar, which closed last August. Owner Teri Rogers hopes to start a catering company.

The former Silver Grill on Monroe Drive will become La Hacienda Mexican Restaurant. The building will almost double in size, getting an 892 square foot addition. La Hacienda has two locations, one in Peachtree City and one in Newnan. The massive menu is full of the standard Americanized Mexican fare.

Lime Fresh Mexican Grill, which had already announced two Atlanta locations, will open a third location - this time taking the Genghis Grill spot in Peachtree Hills at Brookwood Sqaure. They already have two planned locations along the Peachtree stretch - one in Midtown (formerly Bakeshop) and one in Buckhead (formerly Johnny Rockets). Each outpost is only about 2.5 miles from the next. All three will open soon.

Continue reading »

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Osso buco, carnitas, bacon yogurt, pigging out at DBA

Posted By on Thu, Feb 23, 2012 at 3:00 PM

I just filed a column about so-called gay restaurants in the city, the best of which these days is Roxx Tavern in my opinion. The restaurant has been featuring a Friday-night special of a Flintstone-sized pork shank (badly photographed at right), which I very much enjoyed. It's available through March.

Roxx calls it "pork osso buco," a term that confuses me, just as the increasingly common term "lamb osso bucco" does. Traditionally, osso buco is made with a veal shank.The shank is cut into short pieces. The "buco" (hole) refers to the opening in the bone that gives access to the marrow, which is for many of us the best part of the dish. Veal is, for good reason, a controversial dish, so maybe traditional osso buco should be retired from menus. But I don't get use of the name with lamb and pork with no access to marrow.

Yeah, I'm being picky. Putting that aside, I've not run into pork shanks frequently in Atlanta. A dependable exception is Murphy's, where it is my favorite dish on the menu. The kitchen there serves it with crispy skin — almost a carnitas effect....

Continue reading »

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Michael Pollan says yea on Chipotle, nay on French Laundry

Posted By on Thu, Feb 23, 2012 at 2:30 PM

  • Photo by Sage Ross

Based on a recent interview with the Denver Post, it seems like Michael Pollan would take a Chipotle burrito over a five-course meal at French Laundry any day. That's right. The renowned culinary activist and writer of The Omnivore's Dilemma said that the fast food burrito chain "is a step in the right direction." In the same interview, he snubbed French Laundry, which has previously been voted as the best restaurant in the country. Pollan ate there on his 50th birthday and said that the whole experience "felt like work."

If you're a world-famous food expert like Pollan, you can eat whatever and wherever the hell you want. You can hit up five-star restaurants on the daily and refuse to eat anything with a pronounceable name. But if you're anything like Pollan, this probably does not appeal to you. Because for Pollan and like-minded promoters of the farm-to-table philosophy, simplicity is paramount. This is why fancy-schmancy, "theatrical" restaurants like French Laundry just don't make the cut. And that's why places with an emphasis on fresh ingredients, like Chipotle, do.

Let's all go get a 1000-calorie burrito and call it a day. Michael Pollan approves.

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Baby steps in local beer laws

Posted By on Thu, Feb 23, 2012 at 1:46 PM

House Bill 472 was passed by the Georgia House of Representatives Tues., by a margin of 152-6. According to the First Reader Summary, the bill is meant to:

amend Code Section 3-5-36 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to the brewpub exception to the three-tier distribution system, so as to amend the terms and conditions that exist for owners and operators of brewpubs; to increase the maximum quantity of barrels of beer that may be manufactured and sold; to remove that requirement that beer be sold solely in draft form; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.


Say what?

Previously, a brewpub in the State of Ga. could only manufacture 5,000 barrels for sale on premises, up to 500 of which could be sold to a licensed wholesaler for distribution to retailers.

We caught up with one of the bill's sponsors, Rep. Richard Smith, who explained that the previous law inhibited a brewpub's desire to manufacture enough beer to both sell in their restaurants and to wholesalers for retail distribution. In other words, both amounts were too small to make economic sense to small business owners.

The adoption of HB 472 would mean that brewpubs could legally manufacture up to 10,000 barrels per year for sale on the premises, and sell up to 5,000 barrels to a wholesaler in keg form.

Section 2, lines 21-25 of HB 472 read:

21 Said title is further amended by revising paragraph (2) of Code Section 3-5-36, relating to
22 the brewpub exception to the three-tier distribution system, as follows:
23 "(2) A brewpub license authorizes the holder of such license to:
24 (A) Manufacture on the licensed premises not more than 5,000 10,000 barrels of beer
25 in a calendar year solely for retail sale on the premises and solely in draft form ;

Followed by lines 34-36:

Continue reading »

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'Top Chef' competition winner!!

Posted By on Thu, Feb 23, 2012 at 1:34 PM

So. You guys. Debbie's been busy. Real busy.

And honestly, I feel as though the wind went out of this season weeks ago. Hopefully Debs will be back next week to recap the finale. But in the meantime, we have a winner! Totm has won two passes to the Atlanta Food & Wine festival this coming May, with his inspired pick of Paul Lindsay and Sarah. I have no idea who those people are, but I do know what the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival is, and I'm psyched to be able to give tickets to one of our long time commenters. Totm, email me at and we'll get you set up.

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Old Fourth Ward grocery-store owner killed, Sugar Coated Radical robbed

Posted By on Thu, Feb 23, 2012 at 1:33 PM

The two-story building at the corner of Howell and Irwin streets in the Old Fourth Ward was the scene of two crimes last night. First, around 10 p.m., a grocery-store owner was killed as he closed for the evening. Hours later, Taria Camerino, the confectionary master better known as the Sugar Coated Radical, was robbed in an upstairs apartment she rents. We've got more details at Fresh Loaf.

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