Signed guitars and celebrity photos line the walls at Star Café Inc., but it's the food that gets top billing. And it's no wonder, with a menu chock full of hearty Southern-style food. Biscuits drenched in sausage gravy stick to ribs, while ribs and brisket elicit looks of longing from the faces of The Beatles and Bob Marley, looking down from photo frames. Down-home meals can be rounded out with traditional side dishes, such as sliced red georgia tomatoes, sweet potato souffle, and purple hull peas.
There's no room for additives in Juice Zone's smoothies, not even extra sugar. Instead, staff members make them with non-fat frozen yogurt, sorbet, and fresh fruit?including everything from pineapple, strawberries, and coconut to peaches and bananas. Their commitment to simple, delicious and, most importantly, healthful recipes is evident throughout the rest of the cafe menu as well, which features crisp salads and a selection of wraps and sandwiches that can be grilled atop the kitchen's miniature volcano.
Chef Chris Hall, one of the three locals behind the eatery’s moniker, sources fresh, seasonal ingredients from area farmers and weaves them into creative and playful comfort dishes. For example, the chefs show off some of the region's best meats—and some of their own butchery skills—in the Notorious P.I.G. charcuterie plate, and they modernize the classic meatloaf by subbing in a sophisticated pâte and pairing it with pickled seasonal vegetables.
More than 100 varieties of wine quite literally surround guests at Local Three, where the bottles are tucked into the walls in a private dining room. Space behind the curved oak bar is reserved exclusively for spirits, including more than 40 bourbons available by the glass or flight. The bar’s taps flow with local and international craft brews, and bartenders shake up a seasonal cocktail list that, more often than not, features a drink inspired by The Big Lebowski.
Most locavores dwell more on where their food comes from than where it’s prepared, but the owners of Local Three poured a lot of thought into their kitchen—which, at more than 4,000 square feet, is actually larger than all the restaurant's dining rooms combined. This sprawling workspace houses enough gadgetry to make just about everything from scratch, including a duck-fat fryer, two smokers, and a computer-controlled oven complete with USB port. There's even a designated pasta room that operates on a separate heating system to control humidity.
R. Thomas Deluxe Grill offers the sort of over-the-top kitsch that must be seen to be believed. The vibrant décor offers a bit of the tropics in the middle of Atlanta, laced with the bright colors of the wild and hippie-chic touches that will have you smiling through your meal. If anything, R. Thomas Deluxe Grill is a little escape in the middle of your workday. It’s also a great place to get flavorful California-leaning food that won’t leave you full of regret afterward, with healthy touches that play into the warm, peaceful vibe. Look out for the exotic birds that call the patio garden their home, and don’t be afraid to swing in after-hours for a curious bit of fun; R. Thomas Deluxe Grill is open 24 hours.
At first, Tin Drum Asia Café's rapid service and bright decor evoke the aromatic street stands of Hong Kong, where founder Steven Chan ate throughout his childhood. The traditional ambiance is no accident—the franchise's name also harks back to a bygone era, when a tin drummer would awaken citizens and regale them with current events as they ate the day’s first meal. The electronic kiosks dotting the café, however, plunk this traditional scene in the middle of a cyberpunk setting. They allow patrons to customize their orders based on taste preferences and nutritional content, accommodating dietary endeavors such as vegetarianism and weight-loss goals.
This merger of technology and urban convention reflects a penchant for edgy ideas that also affects the menu. Items inspired by the culinary techniques of Japan, China, Vietnam, and Thailand share space in the savory catalog, taking the form of street tacos, soups, and mango chicken, a take on the general tso's staple that's sweeter than a syrup-soaked army helmet. Music is the final ingredient that charges the atmosphere. Nation's Restaurant News reports that it typically plays at an energizing 120 beats per minute and was a factor in attracting the café's initial college crowds.
What do you get when you cross local, farm-to-table ingredients with a southern-cooking mentality? It’s a question that Briza attempts to answer with food that stands out for its dedication to quality—yet doesn’t skimp on the playfulness. When making the menu, Executive Chef Janine Falvo was inspired by her family’s robust culinary traditions and by the chefs she worked under as she made her name in the business. From them she contracted a passion for working with only fresh and local ingredients whose flavors pop on their own merits.. Her cornmeal fried green tomatoes up the ante on the Southern staple, with a breading that melds with the acidity of its pickled shrimp accompaniment. Halibut comes on a bed of lobster homefries, in which each chunk of crustacean and each tiny, crisp potato cube contributes flavor or texture. Then there’s the organic smoked and fried chicken, which adds a new layer to a well-loved dish. Certainly it’s that creativity that played a part in previously awarding Falvo with Restaurant Hospitality's Rising Star Chef accolade. Looking around the modern-meets-baroque dining room, it’s evident that a mix of textures is just as important in the scenery as it is in the food. Velvety couches flank stainless steel cocktail tables in the bar area and the dining room cozies studded armchairs up to heavy wood tables. Everything looks touchable, yet museum-worthy—a conundrum that thankfully doesn’t apply to the pretty and magnetic food.