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 three 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 and red and white wines from the full bar.
Chefs at Scratch Fresh construct classic comfort fare from scratch, dishing up a menu of hearty entrees and desserts at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Like a rooster sounding his ceremonial bugle, stone-ground cheese grits ($2.20) salute the dawn of a new day. Fresh eggs populate numerous breakfast dishes, joining hearty sustenance such as fried chicken and sausage gravy ($5.99). Diners can paint blank burger canvases ($3.59–$5.59) with condiments or craft avant-garde sculptures by fusing toppings such as roasted garlic mayo, grilled mushrooms, and artichokes. The grilled honey ham 'n’ cheese ($5.39) pilots a convoy of sandwiches, and pie—made with peanut butter crafted from boneless peanuts—caps off the meal ($4.59 for a quarter pie, $7.99 for a half pie).
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+).
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).
On the surface, Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee House is just selling coffee—albeit high-quality coffee brewed using a French press, pour over, or Chemex. But look deeper and the cafe's true mission has more to do with creating community, both locally and globally.
A spacious outdoor patio and free WiFi give regulars a reason to stick around and enjoy classic coffee drinks, signature carminallas, and lattes that, with their intricate foam art, are perfect for hanging on the wall. Thursdays feature wide-ranging trivia contests, and live musicians enliven the space on Fridays and Saturdays.
And beyond the coffeehouse premises, Land of a Thousand Hills works to strengthen communities abroad. Its Rwandan coffee beans are sourced from growers at higher-than-fair-trade prices. The cafe also invests profits in community projects in Rwanda, such as a sustainable farm for orphans and a soccer field.