Tuesday, November 27, 2018

New Taste Tuesday: Bell Street Burritos

Bell Street Burritos now serves breakfast! Every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the beloved Atlanta eatery is offering a new breakfast menu with four delectable items. Think fluffy scrambled eggs and cheese wrapped in the most delicious tortilla of your preferred configuration (burrito, quesadilla, etc.) with your choice of meat, salsa fresca, and all the dipping sauces your heart desires.

Check out more details about the new breakfast menu below and let me know which menu item you want to try the most.
Don't these look delicious?

WHY GO: Because there’s no better way to start your Saturday morning than with a tasty breakfast burrito!

VIBE: Chill, simple, clean. There is plenty of seating – indoors and out – if you’d like to eat at the restaurant, or you can grab your breakfast burrito to go.

DRINK THIS: Pick your choice of canned or bottled beverage, alcoholic or not (think beer and sodas).

EAT THIS: You have several options to choose from on the new breakfast menu: The burrito, quesadilla, shrimp & grits, or the breakfast bowl. 

The burrito is, obviously, amazing. It’s what Bell Street Burritos is known for, and you can customize it to have just scrambled eggs and cheese, or add sausage or bacon.
The tortilla on this breakfast burrito is one of the best I've ever had in Atlanta

The quesadilla is also tasty, and the shrimp and grits has a nice little kick to it.  
The quesadilla topped with salsa verde 
The shrimp and grits 

But my favorite item from this new menu is the breakfast bowl: It’s the healthiest option and comes loaded with scrambled eggs, spinach, and salsa fresca. As with the burrito and quesadilla, you can add your choice of meat (sausage or bacon), and you can also add a side of guacamole, which I highly recommend doing.
The meatless breakfast bowl -- that guacamole is so delicious!

Of course after 2 p.m., you can choose from a full menu of tacos, quesadillas, salads, and – of course – burritos.

LOGISTICS: Two of Bell Street Burritos’ three locations now feature the new breakfast menu: Midtown/Buckhead and Inman Park (on the Beltline, near Krog Street Market). The hours and parking availability are different for each location, so check out the restaurant’s website for details.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

New Taste Tuesday: Gypsy Kitchen

Gypsy Kitchen is now serving brunch! The Spanish tapas restaurant in the heart of Buckhead is known for its dinner service and late-night cocktails, but they’ve added a new daytime menu, and it is fantastic! It puts a Spanish-inspired twist on all your brunch favorites, which is the absolute best hangover cure you didn’t know you needed.  

WHY GO: Because you love tapas and brunch, and on Sundays, Gypsy Kitchen has both.

THE VIBE: Exotic and inviting. There’s something about this Moroccan-inspired d├ęcor that immediately makes you excited to be there and to nosh on all of Gypsy Kitchen’s delicious offerings.

The restaurant’s expansive patio is also worth mentioning, and a perfect place to grab brunch.
The patio of Gypsy Kitchen (c) Adam Davilla
DRINK THIS: Definitely try the Bloody Mary bar. It. Is. Impressive! There are two types of mix – spicy and regular – and seemingly countless options for hot sauces, spices, and toppings. The latter include pickled shrimp, prosciutto-wrapped dates, blue cheese-stuffed olives, and a wide assortment of fresh and pickled vegetables.
The giant Bloody Mary bar -- look at all those options! (c) Anna Lanfreschi

Choose your spice level on the Bloody Mary mix, before adding all the extras (c) Anna Lanfreschi
EAT THIS: Start with gypsy-style poutine. This dish is a bit of a surprise from the brunch menu, because it’s not necessarily a classic Spanish tapa, and it’s not quite authentic Canadian poutine – it’s a mix of the two. And it is so good! Perfectly cooked potatoes, topped with a cheesy sauce, bacon chunks, and a poached egg.
Poutine by way of a gypsy -- the official name of this delicious plate (c) Anna Lanfreschi

Other tasty brunch options to consider: Steak and eggs, Gypsy Kitchen migas, and the candied spicy chorizo Belgian waffle. Yep, it’s a fluffy waffle topped with candied chorizo and served with dulce de leche syrup. Y’all, it is ridiculously delicious! Again, sounds a little out there, but all the flavors go so well together, it’s magical.
Candied spicy chorizo Belgian waffle (c) Collin Rooney

Gypsy Kitchen migas -- chicken sausage, country bread, piquillo charon sauce, sunny side egg (c) Anna Lanfreschi
Pro tip: All plates are tapas-sized, so they’re smaller than typical brunch servings. The server recommended 2-4 dishes per person, and that worked out great. I would highly recommend getting at least 2 orders of the waffles!
Non-brunch tapas are also available, like this whipped goat cheese with mushrooms & cashews (c) Anna Lanfreschi  

One more pro tip: Chef Gary Finzer is working on perfecting the brunch version of his famous paella, and once it’s ready, it will be served family-style on the patio during Sunday brunch hours. Be sure not to miss that once it launches.
The brunch paella -- it is so good! (c) Collin Rooney

LOGISTICS: Gypsy Kitchen is located at the Shops Buckhead Atlanta. Self-parking is available in the garage, and the restaurant validates it.

P.S.: The first photo in this blog post (along with a couple of others throughout the post) is by photographer, videographer and editor Collin Rooney. Thanks, Collin! 

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Heads up: Taste of Atlanta is this weekend!

The best foodie event of the year, Taste of Atlanta, is happening this weekend, October 19-21! Taking place inside the Historic Old Fourth WardPark, the three-day food and drink festival will showcase the best bites and beverages from more than 90 Atlanta restaurants for the 17th year in a row. 

New to Taste of Atlanta this year is the beer garden, which will not only highlight Atlanta’s best craft breweries, but also serve wine and cocktails to satisfy all taste buds.

Taste of Atlanta is pure foodie heaven: Noshing on culinary art from renowned Atlanta restaurants, mingling with top Atlanta chefs, learning new cooking tricks during chef demos, sipping on craft cocktails and local brews, all while enjoying beautiful fall weather. It doesn’t get much better than this for an Atlanta foodie!
One of my favorite dishes from Taste of Atlanta 2015: Seared scallop over succotash 

Here’s how to get in on the action and what to expect from Taste of Atlanta this year:

Friday night: All-inclusive kickoff party
WHAT: Honoring the theme of “World of Taste,” chefs will wow festivalgoers with global flavors from their internationally inspired Atlanta restaurants. The host chefs for the evening are Hector Santiago of El Super Pan, Eddie Hernandez of Taqueria del Sol, and Archna Becker of Bhojanic, but more than two dozen Atlanta chefs and restaurants are participating, including Porch Light Latin Kitchen, Tiny Lou’s, and Donetto.
WHEN: Friday, October 19, 6:30 – 11 pm
HOW MUCH: $85 perperson, which includes all food and drink, as well as live music

Saturday: Full festival day 1
WHAT: The first full day of the foodie festival will feature presentations such as “The Sexiest Dish in Atlanta,” “Grilling with Wine,” and “Eat Better One Morsel at a Time,” in addition to celebrating the expansive local restaurant scene.
WHEN: Saturday, October 20, 12 – 7 pm
HOW MUCH: Generaladmission tickets are $25 per person, VIP tickets are $75 per person

Sunday: Full festival day 2
WHAT: The second full day will also be full of tasting tents throughout the park, as well as presentations such as “Brunch-a-Holics,” “Sharpen Your Southern Cooking Skills,” and the tenth annual Barcraft Celebration.
WHEN: Sunday, October 21, 12 – 6 pm
HOW MUCH: Generaladmission tickets are $25 per person, VIP tickets are $75 per person

Quick note on tickets: General admission tickets include an RFID wristband preloaded with 10 tasting points, which you can spend on any of the bites at the festival. You can always add more tasting points to your wristband for $1 per tasting point.

VIP tickets come preloaded with 20 tasting points, which you can spend both inside the VIP tent and in the general festival areas.

In case you're curious, here's my recap of the 2016 Taste of Atlanta.

Details for getting down to Taste of Atlanta: Street parking is limited, but there is additional parking in Deck B of the Atlanta Medical Center. Ride sharing, taking MARTA, or riding an electric scooter down the Beltline are highly recommended instead of driving.

As an incentive to take alternative methods of transportation, Taste of Atlanta is offering promo codes for existing and new Lyft riders (TASTEATL and TASTEATLNEW), as well as a complimentary shuttle to the park from the Civic Center MARTA station.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Fall cocktails coming to the Marquee Club at the Fox Theatre

Now that fall is officially here, the Marquee Club at the fabulous Fox Theatre is celebrating Atlanta's best season with the addition of two new craft cocktails to their menu: The Atlanta old fashioned reborn, and the secret crush.

Both cocktails are made with Atlanta’s 18.21 tart cherry & saffron bitters and have just the right hint of cherry flavor. It’s not overwhelming and is so perfect for sipping on the Marquee Club’s rooftop patio during Atlanta’s fall season.

The Atlanta old fashioned reborn is made with ASW Fiddler bourbon and a mix of 18.21's coffee vanilla cacao, barrel old fashioned syrup, and the tart cherry & saffron bitters. 

The secret crush is crafted with prosecco, Jack Rudy small batch grenadine, and of course, 18.21's tart cherry & saffron bitters. 

If you haven’t been to the Marquee Club yet, here’s what you need to know:

  • The new, fully renovated space opens 90 minutes prior to the start of the show and is also open during intermission and after the show
  • Heavy hors d’oeuvres are served before the show, and coffee and dessert during intermission
  • Non-alcoholic beverages are included in the price of the ticket, but alcoholic ones cost extra
  • You have to have a ticket to a show at the Fox Theatre on the same day you want to visit the Marquee Club
  • The space has three distinct levels, and there are restrooms on each one (so no waiting in line for the bathroom during intermission!)
  • There are bars on the main and rooftop levels, so no waiting in line for a drink either
  • The rooftop alone is worth the price of admission! Instead of offering city skyline views, like other rooftops in Atlanta, the patio at the Marquee Club makes you feel like you’re in the heart of the city
I had the chance to check out the Marquee Club before seeing Aladdin at the Fox Theatre, which is in Atlanta through September 23, and I absolutely loved the entire experience! The admission is pricy, but worth it. The food was delicious and filling (so no need to scramble for a rushed dinner reservations before the show), the service impeccable, and the drinks delectable.

Speaking of drinks, the new fall additions to the menu will be available starting in October, so if you have tickets to any of the upcoming Fox Theatre shows – whether it’s a Broadway shows, like School of Rock, or a concert, like David Byrne's Atlanta stop on the American Utopia tour — be sure to grab your ticket to the Marquee Club and order one of the new beverages.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

New Taste Tuesday: Secreto in Brookhaven

Brunch in Atlanta is king, y’all, and Brookhavenites have a new go-to brunch place now that Secreto’s newest location is open.

You may remember that Secreto’s original location in in Alpharetta. But its new space is in Brookhaven, near Chamblee. And it is wonderful!

The menu features elevated southern staples, and the restaurant itself is absolutely beautiful. Secreto is a great place to simply grab a drink or to enjoy a full meal for a special occasion. It’s also an amazing place for brunch (especially right now, before it gets packed and goes on a super long wait!).

WHY GO: Because you want classic brunch items in an environment that’s more updated than your typical southern restaurant, at prices that are more reasonable than your typical stuffy southern eatery.

THE VIBE: Cool, modern, elegant. Dark wooden tables stand in contrast to white curtains and plenty of natural light for the perfect contemporary chic look. 

DRINK THIS: Since we're talking brunch, you could go the classic route and order a pitcher of mimosas for the table.

Or you could try the Law of Attraction from Secreto’s signature cocktails menu. Crafted with gin, aperitivo, rose, lemon and rhubarb bitters (yum!), it is such an inventive way to start your Sunday brunch.

EAT THIS: I absolutely loved the eggs Benedict! It’s made with prosciutto, poached eggs and traditional Hollandaise sauce, but served on flaky southern biscuits with a small tomato salad on the side . I ended up ordering a side salad as well, since I didn’t realize it comes with any kind of side, which ended up being a great decision -- that side salad was delicious!! It’s simple and clean and complemented by breakfast perfectly!

My husband ordered the salmon BLT, which is cooked to your preferred temperature (he ordered his salmon medium). This dish is served with your choice of fries, salad or soup, and the hubs went with soup -- a seafood gumbo with shrimp, chicken, sausage and lots of veggies.

We both also got the bang bang shrimp as a starter. They were amazing! Four jumbo shrimp are lightly battered and coated in a red chili glaze, served over a sesame ginger cucumber salad with red onions and roasted peanuts. Not necessarily an obvious choice for a brunch starter, but it didn’t disappoint.

THE LOGISTICS: Secreto’s new Brookhaven location is at 3575 Durden Drive NE, Suite 201. It’s next door to Burn Studios and in the same complex as Pure Taqueria and Marlow’s Tavern. It’s Secreto’s only location that serves brunch, so if you’re in the mood for a classic brunch menu with an elevated southern twist, do yourself a favor and check this place out.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

New Taste Tuesday: Irby’s Tavern in Buckhead

Football season is officially upon us, and if you’re looking for a new place to watch your favorite Dawgs / Falcons, I’ve found it for you: Irby’s Tavern in Buckhead.

Legend has it, the spot where this new sports bar is located is where Buckhead got its start, and Irby’s Tavern does a great job paying homage to the neighborhood’s beginnings, which are actually rooted in food.

The menu of Irby’s Tavern tells this story well, but I’ll sum it up for you: Henry Irby builds a tavern and grocery store on the corner of today’s Peachtree and Paces Ferry Roads. It quickly turns into a food mecca and a hunter hangs a buck’s head in front of the tavern as a landmark. The area became known as Buckhead, and to this day, it is considered a food and beverage destination of Atlanta. And the newly opened Irby’s Tavern is no exception.

WHY GO: Because you want to watch your favorite Atlanta/Georgia team play in the company of like-minded fans, in a bar that’s dedicated to your hometown/state. Oh, and you also want healthy and delicious food.  

THE VIBE: An elevated sports bar -- think large TVs everywhere, wrap-around bar in the middle, and large tables throughout, but there are also comfy couches, bookshelves and sports memorabilia to help warm up a sporty atmosphere.
Atlanta sports memorabilia inside Irby's Tavern (c) Henri Hollis

DRINK THIS: Do try one of the house cocktails! Irby’s Old Fashioned and The Southgate are both excellent choices. The former is made with Georgia-made bourbon and pinot noir-macerated cherries, and the latter is a floral take on gin and tonic that’s more tart than sweet.
Left to right: The Southgate, Irby's Old Fashioned (c) Anna Lanfreschi

EAT THIS: The food is what easily sets Irby’s Tavern apart from other sports bars. Do not expect typical bar food, where everything is fried and your tummy hurts for days afterwards.

Sure, you can still find sports bar staples on the menu, like wings and burgers, but everything is made with fresh ingredients and a delicious twist.
Irby's Tavern wings (get them with veggies instead of fries for a healthier dinner) (c) Henri Hollis

The sections of the menu that really shine are the appetizers, garbage bread, and entrees. They all have actually-healthy-for-you menu items that taste great. Try starting your meal with the tuna tartare or the charred octopus from the appetizers section. Unusual choices for kicking off a Dawgs game, sure, but both dishes are full of healthy fats and fiber and are incredibly satisfying.
Tuna Tartare from the appetizers section of the menu at Irby's Tavern (c) Anna Lanfreschi

At first glance, the garbage bread options look like the opposite of a healthy meal, but consider this: You can ask the chef to make any of the choices in this section on grilled portabella mushroom caps instead of bread, and just like that, you’re avoiding processed carbs without having to miss out on the outstanding flavor of these dishes. The last item in this section, Mike Tyson’s spinach dip, is also great if you’re lactose-intolerant/staying away from dairy, since it’s made with cashew cheese.
Mike Tyson's Spinach Dip Garbage Bread (in the middle) (c) Anna Lanfreschi

And now for your main course: The entrees section of the menu has so many great options to choose from! The pan seared salmon would be my go-to choice -- it is flavorful, perfectly cooked, and I could honestly eat it every day! Other great options include the shrimp and grit cake with sauteed wild mushrooms, and the fire roasted cauliflower.
Pan roasted salmon with roasted potatoes, asparagus and Brussels sprouts and a romesco remoulade (c) Anna Lanfreschi

Shrimp & grit cake with sauteed wild mushrooms (c) Anna Lanfreschi
Fire roasted cauliflower, served with green curry, chopped cashews and pickled red onions (c) Henri Hollis
The entire menu is highly customizable: Feel free to make an appetizer or garbage bread your main entree, or balance out your meal by ordering a salad and one of the scrumptious sides. Once again, so many choices and so many different combinations! No matter what you order, rest assured it will be delicious and you can make it as healthy as you want to.

LOGISTICS: Irby’s Tavern is located at 322 East Paces Ferry Road NE, near the intersection of East Paces Ferry and Grandview and next door to Cafe Agora. The restaurant has limited free parking available up front, but there is also plenty of paid street parking at The Shops Buckhead.

Starting Thursday, September 6, at 3 p.m., Irby’s Tavern is partnering with 680 The Fan to bring you Thursday Night Throwdown. In addition to broadcasting live from the restaurant, the Atlanta radio sports team will be giving away a variety of Atlanta sports team prizes, including tickets to a Falcons game!

Friday, August 31, 2018

Event Recap: Grant Park Summer Shade Festival

Is there a better way to say goodbye to summer than with a celebration full of music, food and drink in Atlanta’s oldest park? The correct answer is no, there really isn’t.

Grant Park welcomed Atlantans of all ages during the weekend of August 25 & 26 for the 16th annual Summer Shade Festival. Free to attend, the festival featured an impressive lineup of live musical guests, and expansive artist market, and a diverse selection of food truck fare, local beer and craft cocktails.
Live music on one of the stages at Summer Shade Festival

The crowds enjoying the live music

The two-day festival really had a little bit for everyone: A kid zone full of games and bouncy houses
for the little ones, a VIP lounge with an extensive selection of wine and delicious food for the 21+
crowd, and a dog competition for anyone who appreciates canine athletics. Or you could simply stroll
through the park with a drink in hand, perusing the works of local artists and enjoying live music.
Festival goers perusing the artist market

The variety of food was incredible this year!
The dog competition was impressive!

Presented by The Beacon Atlanta and benefiting the Grant Park Conservancy, the 2018 Summer Shade Festival raised more than $100,000 to help preserve the 120+ year old park. What a great note to wrap up summer on!

PS: All photos in this post were taken by Fabian Fernandez.