Foodie News x Restaurant Reviews x Hip-Hop Attitude

In 2010, I (Nick Love) spent over 45% of my annual income eating out at some of Atlanta's best (and worst) restaurants. So, who better to guide you through the city's crowded dining terrain?? Now, I, along with my team of Hip-Hop generation foodies, will expose and review ATL's newest hits, hidden gems, and old favorites. Hopefully, this blog will earn us a free meal or two while we point you guys in the direction of some good food and steer you away from the wackness. Let's eat!!!

Nov 30, 2011

ATL Bite Life TV Show Coming Soon!!!

I know that many of you have heard me talk about this on Twitter but I don't think I've really mentioned this on the blog.  For those of you not in the know, I've been working on a visual version of ATL Bite Life with my partner Grim.  Basically, this show will be a combination of Travel Channel's Man vs. Food with the pages of Vibe Magazine.  I'm eating good at some of the coolest places in the city while interviewing some of the best and brightest from music, sports, and entertainment.  I won't let the cat out of the bag about who has been on the show to date but I think you guys will love it.

The trailer for the show should be ready soon so please stay tuned!!!  S/O to all the ATL Bite Lifers who have supported since day one!!!

See you on the small screen.

Happy Eating!!!

Nov 29, 2011

The Great Debate: Tacos

With what seems like THOUSANDS of Mexican spots to choose from, Atlanta has become a mini-haven for restaurants called Taco this or Taqueria that.  They're EVERYWHERE!!!

It's no secret that I'm partial to Taqueria del Sol.  But, I also like Prickly Pear on West Peachtree.  Several of my friends eat at Tin Lizzys on a regular basis.  And, I was just invited to Bell Street Burritos just yesterday by my new friend Ollie.  Oh, and let's not forget about the bigger more commercial spots like Moes and our girl Sheneka Adams' favorite - Chipotle.

So, today's question is simple - Who has the best tacos in the ATL??

Can't wait to hear your answers.

Happy Eating!!!

Nov 28, 2011

Food Critics Wanted!!!

Ok, guys, I need you!!!  In just 3 short months, ATL Bite Life has really turned into something special.  You guys have told your friends and family about my little hobby and now some very interesting business opportunities have developed.  It's a little overwhelming.  It's not like I wasn't busy before.  With my current clients and other ventures I started around the same time as this blog, honestly, I'm swamped!!!  But, that's where you come in.

I need one or two fellow food lovers to join me as ATL Bite Life takes over the food landscape!!!  If you enjoy dining out here in the metro Atlanta area, have at least an 8-megapixel camera, and can string a few coherent sentences together about what you're eating and the restaurant you got it from, I wanna hear from you.  This is an unpaid position BUT there are several opportunities presenting themselves everyday.  Why should I be the only one who benefits??

If you're interested, hit me up here.

Let's eat together!!!

Nov 21, 2011

ATL Restaurants Serving Thanksgiving Dinner on Turkey Day 2K11

Can't make it to be with the family this year??  Did you say or do something inappropriate last year that got you uninvited to Turkey Day at the in-laws??  Did Big Mama get her groove back and run off to the Bahamas with a guy who graduated the same year as you??  If so, you're probably looking for somewhere to eat good on Thursday??  Well, check out this list of restaurants that will be open on Thanksgiving Day and serving that traditional turkey, dressing, and more :
  • Sun Dial - $51/person for a prix-fixe Thanksgiving menu
  • Legal Seafood - $21.95/adults, $7.95/children for a 3-course Thanksgiving meal
  • Paschal's - $29/adults, $15/children for a traditional buffet
  • Chequers - $32/adults, $16/children for a traditional buffet
If these spots are a little too rich for your blood, there's always Waffle House, Huddle House, or good ol' Golden /Corral. 

Shouts out to the AJC for beating me to post on this story.  They posted a very similar entry yesterday while I was watching football.  Smh.  I gotta do better.

Happy Eating!!!

Nov 17, 2011

You Gotta Try: Popeyes' Fried Turkey

Coming off of  National Fast Food Day (lol) and going into my favorite holiday - Thanksgiving - I felt like now would be the best time to put some of my slower readers on to something you should have been a LONG time ago - Popeyes' Cajun Fried Turkey!!!

They've been offering this for quite some time but if you haven't had it, you're missing out!!!  It's a whole turkey that been prepared with many of the spices that they use for their original recipe chicken plus some cool extras.  No, it does not come out crispy and golden like their 2pc meal.  However, the taste is second to none.  I had their fried turkey for the first time like 5 years ago and I've been championing it ever since.

Now, I will tell you that I found the Cajun Fried Turkey recipe online.  But, come on.  Why would you make it yourself when you could just buy and save yourself all the time and hassle.  Thanksgiving is for EATING!!!  Who cares how it got there??

Happy Eating!!!

Nov 16, 2011

Today is National Fast Food Day!!!

Gas up your cars and head to your nearest drive thru!!!  Apparently, November 16th is National Fast Food Day!!!  According to many of the sites that I check daily for food news, today is the day that we celebrate cold fries, greasy burgers, and jumbo size sodas.  When I first read this, I thought to myself, "isn't EVERYDAY National Fast Food Day in this country??".  Lol.  But, what do I know??  I wonder if any fast food spots are doing anything special for this day. 

Anyway, ya'll know that ordinarily I would NEVER advise you guys to eat fast food.  But, just for today, grab a Triple Stack from Wendys, some extra large fries from McDonalds, a large chocolate shake from Sonics, and the biggest Diet Coke that Burger King will give you.

Happy Eating!!!

Nov 15, 2011

The Great Debate: Steak

I know, I know.  Steak (or just red meat in general) has become so taboo these days.  Everyone is either a vegetarian or a vegan or has relegated themselves to eating just chicken and fish.  It's kinda sad, don't you think?? 

I don't know about ya'll but I definitely enjoy a nice, juicy steak every now and again.  My absolute favorite is that Hawaiian Ribeye that serve at Houstons.  That thing is INCREDIBLE!!!  Words can't even describe how good it is.  I've heard good things about several other spots though.  I hear Stoney River grills a great piece of meat.  Strip isn't bad.  McCormick & Schmick has its' fans.  And, we've all heard about Ruth's Chris

I wanna hear from you.  Who has the best steaks in Atlanta??  Is there a place or hotel that I don't know about??  Let me know.

Happy Eating!!!

Nov 14, 2011

Review: OMG TACO | Soy Oh Boy!!!

Name: OMG Taco
Cuisine: Korean Mexican
Neighborhood: Little 5 Points
Address: 1126 Euclid Ave. Atlanta, GA 30007
Phone: (404) 343-3935

For months, whenever I rode thru L5P on my way to Stir It Up, I would pass this little brown building on the right hand side that read "OMG Taco".  I can't put my finger on it but it was just something about it that repeatedly piqued my curiosity on every drive by.  I think it was the fact that they used the ever popular texting phrase "OMG".  That word conjured images in my head that the restaurant was run by some 16-year old girls that would force you to text your order in on your iPhone.  Lol.  Whatever it was, I just remember thinking, "I gotta try that place whenever it opens".  Well, it opened.  And, about 2 weeks ago, I made my way on in to see what this place was all about.

Upon walking in the door, my first impression was that OMG Taco was everything and nothing I expected.   The funky colors and the graffiti on the walls were kinda foreshadowed by the sign outside.  I pretty much expected that carryover.  But, the contemporary, chrome stools all pushed against the wall and the glow in the dark bar light show was a bit of a shocker.  It was like a rave party with a touch of feng shui.  Interesting to say the least.

(Nick the bartender mixing it up)

(Sangria, the beverage of champions) 

Then, I encountered Nick.  Not only does he have the greatest name ever, he also happened to be probably the coolest, friendliest bartender I've ever met in life.  Not sure what he's getting paid over there but he deserves a raise.  He's the perfect ambassador for this particular restaurant!!!  While making this signature (very fruity) Sangria that was on display at the bar, Nick told me all about how long the restaurant had been open (3 months), what menu items he highly recommended (the chicken, fish, and short rib tacos), and the fact that OMG was NOT in fact owned by teenage girls but was developed by a couple of guys in their early twenties who began with a food truck and had decided to branch out into the full brick-and-mortar concept.  Not bad!!!

He also informed me that OMG Taco served KOREAN-infused Mexican food.  I'd heard of this strange blend before but I'd never had the pleasure of tasting it.  As usual, I was kinda skeptical.  But, Nick's attitude, the ambiance, and the fact that I was in Little 5 Points (home of everything experimental), were all the ingredients I needed for an adventurous day.  So, I went for it.

(2 chicken tacos, 1 fish taco, and 1 short rib taco)

At Nick's suggestion, I ordered 2 chicken tacos, 1 fish taco, and 1 short rib taco.  I also got an order of the OMG Super fries (french fries covered with OMG slaw, OMG sauce, Monterey Jack cheese, Cheddar cheese, your choice of meat, and Caramelized Kimchee). The food comes, I bite in, and then. . . . a confused look comes to my face.  What's this slightly delightful yet very different taste in my mouth??  SOY!!!  It threw me off for a minute until I was able to comprehend all the taste sensations going on in my mouth at one time.  There was meat, soy sauce, cheese, a soft tortilla, tartar sauce, lettuce, and whatever else was in there.  It was odd but not in a bad way.  Actually, it was pretty darn good.  One of those "acquired taste" that you could easily and quickly acquire.  I was really digging it.

(OMG Super Fries)

After polishing off those tacos, I dove head first into the Super Fries.  This was great!!!  It was everything that the tacos were with some crispy french fries at the bottom.  Definitely not for you calorie-counters out there.  Oddly enough, the fries seem to soften the blow of the soy/sesame taste that seemed to shine through in each item.  It was flavorful and filling.  Without being sweet, it had an almost dessert-sh quality to it (if that makes any sense).  Kind of a Korean/Mexican comfort food.  Delicious!!!

(Nick's signature Blue Thunder drink)

Finally, just for good measure (since it was a Friday afternoon), I got one last drink to wash it all down.  Nick told me he had a signature drink in his stash called Blue Thunder that I just had to try.  Why not??  I'm not gonna lie.  I can't even remember what it tasted like.  But, I do remember that it was really good!!!  Even better than the Sangria.  You gotta get dude to make it for you.  #Winning

At the end of the day, I was definitely pleased.  I'm sure I'll find myself back at OMG Taco sooner than later.  It was a great change of pace outing and it's always great to find gems like this in the city to keep that culinary diversity alive.  Next time you find yourself sitting in that hideous 5:00 Atlanta traffic near I-20 and the 75/85 merge, pull into OMG and kill some time.  You might even run into your boy up there.

Happy Eating!!!

Grade: B-
What's Great: Ambiance, Service
What Ain't: Parking
Ideal For: Lunch, Casual date night

OMG Taco on Urbanspoon

Nov 10, 2011

You Gotta Try: Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding @ Dantanna's

A couple of weeks ago, I popped into Dantanna's for the first time to watch the Georgia Tech vs Clemson football game (GT won by the way!!!).  The place is cool.  I was kinda underwhelmed.  I had heard so much about Dantanna's from listening to sports talk radio so I expected more (the 3D TVs are great though).  But, one thing that wasn't underwhelming. . . the Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding!!!

First of all, you guys should know by now how much I love Krispy Kreme!!!  I'll order pretty much ANYTHING that has the KK infused in it.  And much to my pleasure, unlike that Krispy Kreme milkshake at FLIP Burger Boutique, this thing was great!!! 

It's kinda hard to describe the texture and taste of it.  It was warm with a hint of that sugary sweet glaze that Krispy Kreme is known for.  The way it was prepared gave it a kinda crust similar to an apple fritter.  Then, when you bite into it, there's that soft, somewhat mushy center that you find in most bread puddings.  With the vanilla bean ice cream on top. . . WOW!!! 

I couldn't put it on my Best I Ever Had list because it still couldn't touch that Chocolate Pineapple Upside Down Cake.  But, it was still good enough to make me do an entire post about it.

Have you had this before??  Let me know.  Also, is there anything that you think I need to try??  I'm taking suggestions!!!

Happy Eating!!!

Nov 9, 2011

B-L-T Can Kiss Our A-S-S!!!

A few weeks back, I tweeted a couple of harsh comments about a restaurant in downtown called BLT Steak Atlanta.  More specifically, the shots were fired at their General Manager (who happened to be named Nick).  Since that day, I've gotten quite a few texts/emails from you guys wanting to know exactly what happened.  Well, here goes.

On my very first day of taping the ATL Bite Life television show (coming sooner than you think), we arrived at BLT at 2pm sharp for what was scheduled to be a 2-hour shoot. Within those 2 hours, we would be shooting footage of the restaurant and kitchen, interviewing the owner or manager, interviewing the chef, and then interviewing AND eating with our celebrity guest.  It sounds like a lot but it's really not.  Everything was set up and cleared with Green Olive, the company that handles PR and Marketing for BLT Steak Atlanta, and relayed to the staff at BLT a week in advance.

Initially, everything seemed cool.  Me and the camera crew were greeted with smiles and pleasantries by Nick the GM and Rebecca the Event Coordinator.  But then, things took a turn.  Since Nick was the GM of the restaurant and the acting manager on duty that day, he was supposed to be the person who spoke with us and represented BLT on camera.  However, for some reason, he insisted that Rebecca do it instead.  Nick stated that he'd done "a million of these things" and that Rebecca should "get her feet wet".  Rebecca was clearly unprepared, flustered, and didn't know some of the answers to some of the basic questions we had about BLT.  She pleaded with Nick, in front of us and the staff there, to go ahead and do it AS PLANNED but he refused.  Eventually, we all just decided to work together to prep Rebecca and get the interview completed.

A second hiccup happened in the middle of all of this as well.  Our celebrity guest for the day was supposed to be newly cemented Hip Hop superstar, B.O.B.  I found out right before we walked in the door that he had to reschedule with us because his plane from Germany had just landed a few hours prior and he was tired.  So now, not only are we slightly behind schedule because we're prepping Rebecca, we also don't have a celebrity guest for the day.  At this point, I'm scrambling.  But, I did what I always do -  I hustled and figured things out.  I get my man DJ Teknikz on the phone and I pull the favor card to get the hottest Hip Hop artist in the ATL to come out and do the show - 2 CHAINZ!!!  Because me and 2 Chainz have a solid relationship, he agreed to do it.  However, because the call came to him so last minute, he wouldn't be able to show up until 3:30 or 3:45 which would put us right up against the clock.  So, I informed Nick and Rebecca about our 2 dilemmas and offered 2 options - #1. We could do everything as planned but we'd more than likely run over time OR #2. We could shoot just the restaurant and kitchen portion today and then come back another time with our celebrity guest and be out of the restaurant by 4 as was discussed.  In the middle of talking, Nick walks away.  Rebecca, realizing that she was some what to blame for our time crunch, gave the green light for us to complete our show taping all today.  So we're good. . .  so it seemed.

Now, keep in mind that when we arrived, there were about 8 customers in the restaurant.  By the time we stared shooting, there were ZERO.  They told us they were getting set up for a party of 40 that had a reservation time of 4:00.  So, WE suggested that we set up in a corner booth that would put us out of the way of the party since we'd probably still be there when they arrived.  No worries.  Then it's time to order the food that me and 2 Chainz would eat on the show.  Nick offered to make us some BREAD.  That's it!!!  From across the restaurant, he yells to Rebecca "I don't wanna WASTE a steak for some TV show".  First of all, you're a STEAK restaurant and we're not gonna eat BREAD on camera.  That's just stupid!!!  Second, the steaks were already approved and cleared BEFORE we got here.  We didn't just spring this on you.  Now, me and my team are getting noticeably agitated.  

The Oven Toppers Bread
Then, 2 Chainz arrives.  Grim goes outside to film him getting out of his car and walking into the restaurant.  As soon as he steps out of his car, Nick AGAIN yells across the restaurant, "He can't come in here with that hat on!!!  If he wears that hat, we'll just shut this whole thing down!!!".  First off, once again, WHY ARE YOU YELLING AT US FROM ACROSS THIS RESTAURANT LIKE WE'RE YOUR CHILDREN??  Second, we have no problem following your establishment's dress code.  Once 2 gets in, I'll speak with him and we can proceed.  IMMEDIATELY after 2 sits down (and before I could even say one word to him), Nick runs over and says "Let me explain to you guys how this is gonna go.  First, you need to remove your hat.  Second, I need you guys to wrap this up in the next few mins because we have a party of 40 coming in and I don't want these cameras in here when they show up".  The only reason that we didn't get up and leave at that moment was because this was our first show and we really wanted to get that first episode in the can.  Plus, we got 2 Chainz to show up at the last minute and we didn't wanna just say "forget it" and further inconvenience him. 

We proceeded to do our interview.  2 Chainz, who had politely removed his hat with no problem, actually ended up ordering AND PAYING FOR some grilled chicken and asparagus since he doesn't eat steak.  An extremely rude Bar Manager (who had very harshly insulted Rebecca in front of us earlier for letting our cameras into the wine cellar without notifying her) continuously came to the table, while we were taping, in attempts to pick up the money for the check.  Then, at 4:05, Nick walks over and tells us to wrap up the interview.  Mind you, the restaurant is still COMPLETELY EMPTY!!!  Not one person from this "party of 40" had shown up yet.  Actually, by the time we packed up, took pictures, and said our goodbyes, it was about 4:30 and STILL NO ONE WAS THERE!!!

Grilled Chicken + Asparagus
The only plus side to the day was that we got an incredible interview from 2 Chainz.  I can't wait for you guys to see it.  But, for real, me and Grim actually considered scrapping the entire thing just so we wouldn't shed any light on BLT Steak Atlanta.  But, here I am talking about it.  We might figure out a way to show the interview without showing the restaurant.  I don't know.

But, to summarize, BLT and especially their clown-ass General Manager can catch fire as far as I'm concerned.  I won't EVER spend a penny in that place and I plan on letting all my family, friends, and fellow ATL Bite Lifers know.  I do wanna say THANK YOU to Rebecca because she was so sweet and so cooperative.  She actually convinced me and 2 Chainz to try some tuna tartare.  But, other than that. . . 

Tuna Tartare

I'll see ya'll tomorrow!!!  

Happy Eating!!!

BLT Steak on Urbanspoon

Nov 8, 2011

The Great Debate: Italian Food

 I need your help guys!!!  Who has the best Italian food in Atlanta??  I hate to admit it but I'm a faithful Olive Gardener.  I love it and I'm not ashamed (well kinda).  But, my main reason for going there is because I don't know where else to go.  HELP!!!

Leave some comments on the page so I can try some new places!!!

Happy Eating!!!

Nov 7, 2011

Review: TUK TUK | Good Good!!!

Name: Tuk Tuk Thai Food Loft
Cuisine: Thai
Neighborhood: Buckhead
Address: 1745 Peachtree St. Atlanta, GA 30309
Phone: (678) 539-6181

This past Friday, I had the good fortune of popping into Tuk Tuk for a full sit down meal.  As many of my regular readers may remember, I went there for the first time about 3 weeks or so ago for the Taste of Atlanta Sneak Peek event.  On that evening, I only got to sample a few of the menu items but this place really stood out.  So, when the opportunity presented itself for me to really go for what I know, I jumped right at it.

(the view from the main lobby)

Now, this review may come off kinda like a super fluff piece because I really can't think of one bad thing to say about this place.  The entire experience was dope!!!  From the time I pulled into the parking lot until I time I exited back onto Peachtree, I was amazed!!!  How could one restaurant get everything so right??  I'm still not sure.  But I do know that you guys have got try this place out.

(the main dining room)

Allow me to narrate you thru my experience - First, I pulled into a well lit, FREE parking lot right in front of the restaurant with plenty of available spaces.  If you eat out in downtown Atlanta at all (or read this blog), you know that this is RARE.  Second, as soon as I walked into the main entrance, I found myself facing 2 beautiful elevators that would take me to the second floor dining room. After a quick ride up, I stepped off of the elevator and was instantly WOW'd by the view.  I mean, I knew we weren't that high up but to be able to see a good portion of the ATL skyline was definitely a nice precursor to the food.  Then, I was escorted to the main dining area.  Nice (Fabolous voice)!!!  My picture above really doesn't do it justice.  You just gotta see it for yourself. 

(the Satay Kai)

Then, there was the food.  As an appetizer, the Satay Kai (grilled chicken skewers) was delicious!!!  The meat was tender and the peanut sauce was a great compliment to the already flavorful chicken. On this night, I decided to play it fairly safe (as I always do on my first visits to places).  I'd only been to one other Thai food place before this evening - me and super engineer Seth Firkins went to L'Thai Wine Bar - and I wasn't crazy about it.  So, my mind was set on chicken or shrimp or some combination of the two.

(chicken fried rice w/ Thai Hot spice)

After unsuccessfully scouring the menu for something I was interested in, I finally did what any young black man would do in a nice restaurant -  I made up a dish and asked the waitress if it was possible for the kitchen to make it.  Smh.  I'm a little ashamed of myself too.  Sorry guys.  I'm not too sorry though.  My food was INCREDIBLE!!!  My order was basically some fried rice with chicken tossed in some Thai Hot spice (I asked for the Thai Hot spice so I could get the full "Thai experience".  I actually said those words and I used air quotes to the waitress.  Lol).  The spice was so hot, it was on the line of being almost unbearable to eat but it was FANTASTIC!!!  I haven't had a meal that good since. . .

(the Lychee Mojito)

The highlight of the night, however, was my drink - a Lychee Mojito!!!  I was able to get a small taste at the Sneak Peek event but, this time, I ordered a full drink.  THAT ISH CRAY (Kanye West voice)!!!  Ordinarily, I would run away screaming from the mere suggestion of a mojito.  I hate those things!!!  But, this drink!!!  THIS drink!!!  I've never had anything like it!!!  Apparently, the lychee (which looks like a shrimp when it comes in your glass) is an Asian fruit.  I didn't know that.  What I also didn't know was that when you blend that darn lychee into a mojito cocktail, it turns into something very magical!!!  This drink could easily make my "Best I Ever Had" category.  This drink is a MUST ORDER!!!  I would really go back to this restaurant JUST for this drink.  It's THAT good!!!

(the outdoor patio)

So, here's the part of the review where I would usually tell you about the downside of the restaurant.  Oddly enough, I have nothing to write.  This place was great!!!  Even the bathroom was super nice!!!  I wish it had been a little warmer because their outdoor patio is really nice and that view is everything that "ATL Bite Life" should be about.  I could go on and on about how great this place was but I think you get the picture. 

(the outdoor patio corner section)

To summarize, whenever one of you wants to go to Tuk Tuk, let me know.  I'm all in!!!  We can get 2 or 3 Lychee Mojitos in our systems and go crazy!!!

Follow Tuk Tuk on Twitter.  You can also Like Tuk Tuk on Facebook

Happy Eating!!!

Grade: A
What's Great: Food, Ambiance, Parking
What Ain't: N/A
Ideal For: Date night

Tuk Tuk Thai Food Loft on Urbanspoon

Nov 3, 2011

The Great Debate: Chinese Food

This is a post that I had to do because I wanna know what you guys think.  Simple question - Who has the best Chinese food in Atlanta??  Every year, I open Creative Loafing or I check Atlanta Magazine and it seems like Chin Chin is consistently voted #1 in the city.  For real for real, I've had Chin Chin quite a few times and I like Chinese Buddah on 10th St in Midtown or even Chou Lees on Covington Hwy in Decatur way better!!! 

Now, I'll admit, I'm not a very diverse Chinese food eater.  I don't do sushi at all.  I also tend to stay away from much of the pork or beef or noodle dishes.  I'm a shrimp and chicken man thru and thru.  Mostly Sweet & Sour, General Tso, Sesame, etc.  Chin Chin just doesn't do it for me like that. 

So, help me out.  Who's got the best Chinese food in the city?? 

Happy Eating!!!

Nov 2, 2011

Review: PAPI'S GRILL | Cubana Just (Okay)

Name: Papi's Grill aka Papi's On Ponce
Cuisine: Cuban, Caribbean
Neighborhood: Old Fourth Ward
Address: 216 Ponce De Leon Ave. NE Atlanta, GA 30308
Phone: (404) 607-1525

So, at the recommendation of ATL Bite Lifer Shannon, I ventured over to Ponce in the middle of the afternoon a few weeks back to grab a bite a Papi's.  It was a very random trip.  But, I go through these random feelings fairly often nowadays.  I've grown so bored with chicken and burgers that I'll search Scoutmob or ask friends on Twitter for suggestions on something new.  Today's taste was Cuban.  Now, prior to this day, I'd NEVER had Cuban food before.  But, I'd heard about it, it seemed interesting, so I went.

There are 2 entrances into the restaurant (I didn't know that til later).  One on the Ponce De Leon side and the other on Myrtle St.  I parked at a meter on Ponce and entered from that side.  I walked up and this place seemed very small which confused me at first.  I had heard stories of people coming in and sitting down and enjoying lunch here but it seemed kinda impossible given the space in front of me.  As I was just about to order something to go, a waiter led me downstairs to a bigger dining area with tables and a bar.  This was more of what I expected.  However, as I'm sitting at my table, I notice that this place is getting busier and busier and there really weren't enough seats to accommodate the crowd.  And, since there was no real lobby, people just ended up standing by the Myrtle St entrance door and hovering over nearby tables.  I definitely wasn't crazy about that.

(the Authentic Cuban Sandwich)

Finally, my waiter appears.  He hands me a menu and, honestly, EVERYTHING looked good.  The prices were more than affordable and there were about 12 items that I wanted to try just because of the menu descriptions.  But, seeing as how I was a rookie with Cuban food, I played it safe and ordered 2 different sandwiches - the Authentic Cuban Sandwich and the Pan con Bistec (steak) with a side of yellow rice and black beans.   In my mind, I was preparing my mouth for a delicious, filling, fairly spicy meal.  What I got was - full.

(the Pan con Bistec)

Let me say this - the food wasn't bad.  It just wasn't what I expected.  When the food hit the table, it smelled heavenly.  However, the sandwiches were pretty tame.  Nothing really jumped out at me.  And the rice and beans were just. . .  rice and beans. Maybe my expectations or assumptions were off but I felt a little cheated of my "Cuban experience".  In the end, I finished half of both sandwiches and ended up leaving the rest there.  My server was really nice and he told me to come back another time and try something else.  I think I would come back.  I think there's something there on that menu that I would really like but it wasn't on my plate that day.

If any of you have been there and had a good experience, let me know.  Tell me what I should've ordered.  For some strange reason, I wanna give Papi's another chance.

Grade: C+
What's Great: Service, Prices, Portions
What Ain't: Seating, Parking
Ideal For: Change of dining pace

Papi's Cuban & Caribbean Grill (Midtown) on Urbanspoon

Nov 1, 2011

Review: TAQUERIA DEL SOL | Heaven In A Soft Shell

Name: Taqueria Del Sol
Cuisine: Mexican w/ American Infusion
Neighborhood: West Midtown
Address: 1200-B Howell Mill Rd. Atlanta, GA 30318
Phone: (404) 352-5811

All praises due to my friend and business partner, Tory "Grim" Edwards for putting me on to this magnificent place back in April of this year!!!  If you've never been here, you are truly missing out on something special.  The food is great, the place always seems sunny and bright (due to the many windows and the white paint on the walls), and the service is extremely prompt and courteous.  I mean, what else could you ask for??

As you see in the picture above, there's a line hanging outside the door.  That line is pretty much there anytime you go.  Don't let it frighten you.  Yes, the restaurant is busy.  But, there's not much room for a line on the inside so they have to push it out the door.  It may not be as bad as you think.  However, here comes plus number 1 - MARGARITAS.  While you're waiting in line, they allow you to walk inside and order a drink from the bar (I recommend the frozen margarita) and take it back outside while you wait.  Beat that!!!  Also, don't forget to grab a menu while you're waiting.  Remember, the line is long so you don't wanna play the folks behind you.

As you peruse the menu, you'll notice that it is not littered with a million items.  While some may argue that this displays a lack of variety, you'll appreciate it later when your food shows up hot and fresh almost less than five minutes later.  Like many Mexican restaurants, Taqueria Del Sol will bring you some tortilla chips and salsa to your table.  However, I ALWAYS order the Salsa Trio and some Queso Dip to go with my chips.  Their queso is amazing!!!  And, it comes out piping hot!!!

Now, after ordering, depending on how busy it is, there is the potential for an adventure. It's kinda frowned upon to sit down before you've ordered so you may find yourself racing to beat someone to a table a la Musical Chairs.  Or, you could be waiting briefly until someone gets up.  It's never too bad.  It seems like someone is always coming in and going out here like a mini food factory or something.  You'll be fine. 

Now, while I've tried a respectable portion of the menu, there's nothing better than their specialty - TACOS.  I usually order 2 fried chicken tacos and one fish taco.  Feel free to order the beef brisket taco if you like.  It's not one of my favorites but to each his own.  They keep the tacos pretty simple.  Some tartar sauce here, some jalapenos there, a little lettuce and tomato and VOILA, Magic (Future voice)!!!  When you bite into them, you'll instantly notice the non-Taco Bell, non-Moe's-ish quality about the tacos.  There aren't hundreds of flavors and textures bursting in your mouth all at once.  It's even, consistent, and delicious throughout.  The chicken and the fish are seasoned very well and the sauce and peppers compliment them well.  And, if you're really feeling good, dip your taco in the queso dip!!!  Oh boy (Jazze Pha voice)!!
The only bad thing I can say about Taqueria Del Sol is that is closes in the middle of the afternoon to prepare their dinner menu.  Very often, I've driven all the way to Howell Mill from the eastside (Decatur where it's greater) and the place was frickin' closed!!!  *insert BBM angry face*  Other than that, I love this place!!!  I think you will too.

Stop by and let me know that you think.

Happy Eating!!! 

Grade: A
What's Great: Food, Prompt Service, Prices, Margaritas
What Ain't: Waiting in line, Seating (sometimes)
Ideal For: EVERYONE 

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