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.
At Buckhead Pizza Co.'s two locations kitchens bustle as chefs simmer house-made sauce and bake Atlanta-style thin-crust pizzas to a golden brown in 500-degree ovens. They toss fresh regular, whole-wheat, and gluten-free dough and make each pie to order before covering it in signature toppings such as Atlanta steak with caramelized onions and blue cheese. The charming pizzeria also fills cherry-wood tables with crispy flatbreads, calzones, and bubbling pans of lasagna.
Diners take a break from the sun and his unreasonable demands for pizza sacrifices under the outdoor patio's awning, enjoying breezy sunset dinners or cocktail hours filled with frosty brews from shared pitchers and red and white wines from the full bar. Back inside, diners stay entertained by participating in trivia or watching as many games as eyeballs will allow on the eatery's many televisions.
Keso Mexican Grill rouses the palates of Johns Creek and its surrounding communities with sizzling Mexican dishes that pack bold flavors. Inside, a contemporary vibe seeps from the restaurant’s stone walls. Standing guard as the dining room’s centerpiece, a large stone Olmec head watches over meals with far more authority than the mustached scarecrow that also tried out for the job. As a group of friends crisscrosses forks over shared tapas at one table, a waiter delivers a still-steaming steak to another. Along the dark marble bar, glasses of wine, beer, and tequila clink beneath the flickering glow of flat-screen TVs, which are perched above rows of bottles behind the bar.
Cheeky rouses a sizzling flavor fiesta with its fresh menu of made-daily Mexican favorites, signature salsas, and vast drink directory. Diners can sink tortilla chips into one of Cheeky's five vibrant salsas or wield crispy plantain wedges when chomping through an authentic shrimp-and-calamari ceviche ($9) to the rhythm of the Mexican national anthem. Paw-ready sandwiches include a crispy torta asada ($9), and custom-built tacos can be crafted from signature crab-cake fritters, steak, shrimp, and fish ($3). Grumbling bellies are hushed by piping entree plates, such as a shrimp-and-spinach quesadilla ($10) or a poblano pepper stuffed with melted mixed cheese and topped with a cherry tomato sauce ($8+).
The crackerjack oven operatives at La CupCakerie whip up a staggering selection of freshly crafted cupcakes daily. Patrons can sate sweet teeth with classic cupcakes that include banana, peanut butter, chai latte, and mocha ($2 each). Spice up celebratory shindigs and new-couch ribbon-cuttings with booze-infused cupcakes packed with intoxicating shots of Guinness or apple-flavored vodka ($2.75). Gluten-free cupcakes ($3) are also available, and although not included in today's Groupon, La CupCakerie's confectionary specialists also assemble an epic assortment of cakes, breads, bagels, and model racecars crafted with caramel glue guns.
Pacific Spice’s friendly staff members guide patrons through a multicultural menu, sending diners hurtling mouthfirst through the varying cuisines of Japan, China, and Thailand. Chopstick a dizzying array of sushi from the hawaiian roll filled with tuna and pine nuts ($8.95) to the carbohydrate-conscious Geisha roll teeming with eel, avocado, and red snapper ($12.95). A Thai standout, the fragrant pineapple-roasted duck curry, frolics in coconut milk dotted with bell pepper, cashews, and fresh basil ($15.95) for a taste more complex than a neurotic Rubik’s cube. The sizable Chinese menu bursts with classic favorites such as pork lo mein ($8.50), mongolian beef ($9.95), and kung pao chicken ($9.50).