Smashburger isn't just the name?it's the way chefs, otherwise known as Burger Smashers, cook every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Certified Angus Beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. Each slab is then sandwiched in an artisan bun and is turned into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market.
This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the restaurant does, from blending handspun shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded from one restaurant in 2007 to 220 today, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.
With churrasco steaks, grilled red-snapper fillets, and shredded flank steaks rubbed with Cuban spices, it's hard to tell which dish earned Papi's Cuban & Caribbean Grill the tile of Best Cuban fare in 2010 and 2011 from the readers of Creative Loafing Atlanta. It could have been owner Rey Regalado’s recipe for pork marinade passed on from his father. Brought to America in a harrowing tale of escape from oppression, the signature sauce now trickles beneath layers of smoked pork, ham, swiss cheese, and dill pickles on the cuban sandwich or traditional masitas de puerco made with tender cubed pork. Selecting from a stash of family recipes, chefs fill plates with bold flavors and cap meals with such sweet treats as coconut flan and rice pudding. As the sun falls out of the sky on Fridays and Saturdays, live salsa music populates the dining room with toe-tapping beats and digestion-aiding rhythms.
Generations-old Thai family recipes and established Japanese cooking techniques continue to inspire the cooks at Fuji Hana & Thai Peppers. Hibachi chefs man the dining room's six tabletop grills and sear entire orders of scallops or filet mignon right in front of transfixed guests. Hibachi-grilled lobster tail even makes its way onto the restaurant's sushi menu, which includes 12 specialty maki selections that attempt to elevate sushi with sriracha sauce, dried cranberries, or cleverly disguised helium balloons. The Thai menu items remain more grounded in familiar flavor combinations, such as spicy basil fried rice and panang curry with coconut milk and dried chilies.
The colorful cuisine stands in stark contrast to the deep, soothing earth tones that fill the dining room. Hand-laid mosaic tiles complement the dark leather booths, and a 31-foot oak bar surrounds the sushi chefs and bartenders as they dexterously assemble orders.
After 30 years of curating and perfecting recipes, founders Linda and Julie unleashed their culinary powers to create a Roly Poly menu of more than 50 rolls and sandwiches, plus a tempting selection of desserts. Slinging sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the sandwich artisans envelop a variety of inventive ingredients inside warm, floury tortillas, from pesto chicken to dill-seasoned tuna. Customized sandwiches may also be rolled to suit various diets, preferences, or carbo-loading competitive mimes. In keeping with the restaurant's commitment to combining delicious taste with low-calorie ingredients, Roly Poly caps off dinners with sweet spoonfuls of frozen yogurt, filled with wholesome live active cultures and topped with fresh fruit and nuts.
Creative Loafing Atlanta declared Chin Chin the city's best Chinese restaurant in 2012; that's a title the eatery has held for the better part of a decade thanks to the skill of the chefs there. Diners catch glimpses of those chefs chopping vegetables, braising tofu, and glazing breasts of duck through a large pane of glass that separates the kitchen from the dining room. Rice soup simmers, and dumplings open blossoms of steam near plates of pork ribs covered in honey like the world’s wealthiest bear.
At Kuroshio Sushi Bar and Grille, sushi creations and other beautifully presented dishes could double as artwork. The "Crazy" roll, for instance, includes unagi and avocado rolled together, then topped with spicy snow crab salad and tobiko?but the bright reds, greens and, carefully presented rolls first serve as something to stare at in admiration. The menu includes a wide range of inventive specialty rolls, plus appetizers such as crispy egg rolls and calamari, edamame, and hot wok shrimp.