Thursday, November 5, 2009

Yummy Local Eats Under $10-15

When eating out, here's what I like: a locally-owned place that makes its food from scratch, using whole/unprocessed ingredients, which are if possible, locally and/or organically grown, and not at gourmet prices. Do such eateries exist? Yes! I am constantly on the lookout for these mouth-watering oases, in my city (Atlanta) or yours (because one day my children will be old enough to join me on a foodie roadtrip across the US) so please add your local recommendations as comments below.

In the meantime, check out Cooking Channel's "Unique Eats", which
spotlights "casual neighborhood treasures" across the country. Here's my running list for Atlanta by area:

Multiple Locations
Alon's (Bakery/Deli) - Since 1992, European-style market serving hot sandwiches, salads, prepared foods, breads, desserts, cheeses, wines. Where? Virginia-Highlands, Dunwoody (
Try...the fresh breads, ginger scones, Tuscany sandwich - goat cheese/arugula/eggplant; gelato (Dunwoody only); ordering ahead online; and checking out the soon-to-be restaurant in 2010 (Dunwoody)

Caribbean Fiesta (Caribbean) - Since 2001, serving a daily-changed array of authentic caribbean and other less-spicy options cafeteria-style, with several staples as constants. Where? Norcross, Sandy Springs, Alpharetta
Try...Coco bread around a beef patty, peppery/creamy mac-n-cheese, rice and peas (beans), fried plantains, a combo dish (for less than $10, choose up to 2 meats and 2 sides)

Eclipse di Luna (Tapas) - Small plates of specialty foods, fun drinks, live music and artsy, lush decor make this a great place for a small bite to eat, or party time. Menus differ at each location. Where? Miami Circle, Dunwoody (
Try...$10 Bottomless Sangria Sundays; $15 All-You-Can-Eat Mondays and BOGO Mojito Mondays (Miami Circle only); Pan Catalan (crusty bread with tomato sauce), Roasted Beet Salad w/goat cheese, Pimiento Peppers Stuffed w/goat cheese, the Spanish cheese plate, Grilled Chicken Breast, Empanadas (all of them)

Figo (Pasta/Italian) - In 2002, native Italian Sandro Romagnelli brought authentic Italian pasta and sauces to Atlanta, many of them family recipes. Since then, both Figo's Atlanta presence and its menu has grown; now they serve sandwiches, salads, appetizers and desserts. You choose which pasta and sauce to pair - try them all! Where? Howell Mill Road, Little Five Points, Virginia Highland, Decatur, Buckhead, North Point, Dunwoody (
Try...Zucca for $9 - butternut squash/amaretto ravioli with mascarpone/Italian red chicory radicchio sauce; and the Lunch Special for $5.95 = an iced tea and 2 items (soup, salad or panini)

Mediterranean Grill (Middle Eastern/Greek) - Family-owned Mediterranean Grill serves fresh, homemade Mediterranean specialties, cooked to order. Where? Marietta, Midtown, Decatur (
Try...the hummus, the Falafel Plate; the Business Lunch Combo Special for $6.49 = shish kabob, kufta kabob, gyro slices, rice pilaf, salad, pita and a drink

Souper Jenny (Soups, Salads, Sandwiches) LOVE THIS PLACE for the creativity it oozes and a daily-changing-freshly-homemade menu of 6 hot soups, 2 sandwiches and a few salads, served cafeteria style. Open for lunch 6 days a week, and now dinner on Tuesdays and Thursday nights, Souper Jenny is founded and operated by local theater performers, who add vibrant service to the already colorful, cozy decor, outdoor garden seating area, and take-home words-of-wisdom. Cash or check only! Where? 56 E. Andrews Drive, Buckhead, 30305 (
Try...the $12 lunch deal = 2 each (soup, salad, sandwich), cookie, roll and drink; and joining the email list to be notified of the day's menu

Maison Robert (Bakery/Chocolatiers) - Maison Robert was opened in 1977 by the Reeb family, natives of France, and third and fourth generation patissiers-confiseurs. They have recently moved to a larger location in Chamblee, where they handcraft confections, pastries, breads, sandwiches and salads to-go. Where? 5256 Peachtree Road, Ste 110, Chamblee, 30341 (
Try...the rich and perfect quiches (any flavor), the Roast Beef/Swiss sandwich on French bread, all of the chocolates (i.e., the Vanilla Marzipan in dark chocolate)

(Tea Bar) - What was once the Chamblee town hall is now one-year-old ZenTea, where more than 100 assorted high-quality teas are served hot, cold, in spritzers and lattes. In addition to an assortment of sweets and savories provided by Maison Robert, ZenTea has recently expanded its food offering with locally prepared light fare. Where? 5356 Peachtree Road, Chamblee, 30341 (
Try...sampling the 2 featured teas of the day; the matcha latte with soy milk; Friday-night $10 tea tasting = taste 4-5 teas with pastries; Saturday-night $6.50 tea flights = 3 9oz pots of hot tea; drumming, yoga and meditation classes; sipping tea while you work at ZenTea (free Wi-Fi); reserving afternoon tea

(also see Mediterranean Grill listed above)
Duck's Cosmic Kitchen (Bakery/Bistro) - Everything at Duck's is made on-site with all-natural, seasonal ingredients, from fresh breads and desserts, to sandwiches, soups, salads and pizzas. Where? 111-D New Street, Decatur, 30030 (
Try...the cinnamon doughnuts, the cupcakes, the James Calvin - slow roasted pulled pot roast/horseradish sauce/Dijon on walnut leek bread

Southern Sweets
(Bakery/Sandwiches) - Family-run bakery open in 1992, they home-make sweets, sandwiches and soups according to their motto,
"Perfect Ingredients, Simple Preparation." Where? 186 Rio Circle, Decatur, 30030 (
Try...all the desserts, especially the freshly-baked warm fruit pies, the Grown Up Grilled Cheese - choose 2 cheeses and add Smithfield Baked Ham; the Greek Turkey Wrap - roast turkey/feta/Kalmata olives/vinaigrette/horseradish sauce

Your Dekalb Farmers Market Restaurant (International) - Serving freshly prepared foods cafeteria-style, made with the market's organic and natural ingredients, with a heavy emphasis on fresh vegetables. Pay by weight, including a salad bar and daily specials of fish, meat, chicken, and vegetarian dishes. CASH ONLY. Where? 3000 E. Ponce De Leon Avenue, Decatur, 30030 (
Try...the seasonal vegetables, the samosas; bringing your recycling to drop off at YDFM's recycling center

Dunwoody (also see Figo, Alon's, Eclipse di Luna listed above)
E. 48th Street Market (Italian/Deli/Bakery) - the Augello family opened E. 48th in 1986, transplanting their New York - Italian - restaurateur -baker roots to Georgia (thank God for the rest of us transplants that they did!). Here they make available traditional Tuscan, Piedmontese and Sicilian delicacies and staples, preparing their own fresh mozzarella, sausages, fresh pasta, breads and sauce among other things. Serving as a neighborhood Italian grocer, deli (hot and cold subs) and caterer, they stock the shelves with imported Italian wines, pasta, cookies, cakes and candies. Where? 2462 Jett Ferry (at Mt. Vernon), Dunwoody, 30338 (
Try...the Eggplant Casserole, the cannolis, the marinated artichokes with stems, the tiramisu, the Greek salad, any of the deli sandwiches on fresh bread

(also see Mediterranean Grill listed above)
 R.Thomas Deluxe Grill (American) The only 24-HOUR healthy restaurant in Atlanta, R.Thomas has been using high-quality, at times homegrown ingredients, since 1985 (before "organic" was in fashion), to offer carnivores and vegetarians equally interesting menu choices, serving all meals all day long. Where? 1812 Peachtree Street, Atlanta, 30309 (
Try...Visiting with R.Thomas' pet birds outside; the Warm Chicken Supreme salad, the Magic Quesadilla, Hot Sweet Chai Yerba Mate, or any of the fresh juices and smoothies (i.e., Donkey Kong - strawberry, oj, coconut, banana, honey)

Norcross (also see Caribbean Fiesta listed above)Bleu House Cafe (Sandwiches, Wraps) Family-run catering business also opens for lunch weekdays, serving generous portions of inventive hot and cold sandwiches, freshly-made salads and soups, and home-baked desserts. Where? 108 Cemetery Street, Norcross, 30071 (
Try...the Bronx Bomber - prosciutto/sopressata/salami/fresh mozzarella/roasted red peppers; the Roman Muffaletta - turkey/prosciutto/eggplant/fresh mozzerella/olive spread/pesto mayo; the Funky Chicken Melt - grilled chicken/cheddar/honey mustard; the Spicy Chicken Wrap - grilled chicken/yellow rice/cheddar/onions/spicy ranch

Mojitos (Cuban-American) - the Fernandez-Cortes family opened this bistro a couple years ago, where they prepare authentic Cuban food and delicious drinks, as well as the live entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights. Where? 35 S. Peachtree Street, Norcross, 30071 (
Try...the Stuffed Plantains with avocado-cilantro sauce, the yuca fries, the Guantanamera Salad - greens/baby spinach/caramelized Charleston pecan halves/diced pears/fresh goat cheese/champagne-guava vinaigrette, black bean soup, Guava BBQ baby-back ribs, the Mango Pie, the mojito (of course)

(Mexican) - recently moved into downtown Norcross, Zapata serves authentic Mexican dishes, a refreshing alternative to the ubiquitous "Mexican" On-the-Border-esque chains. Where? 15 Jones Street, Norcross, 30071 (

Try...Crema de Chile Poblano (creamy poblano soup), Fantasia Olmeca - flank steak/roasted poblano peppers/onion/au gratin, the margaritas; generous kids portions for less than $6

Roswell Teahouse
(Sandwiches/Salads/Afternoon Tea) - Native Belgian owner and chef Carine Bourgeois prepares "food from scratch every day with the best possible ingredients using organic as much as possible." International flavors of Europe and Asia inspire the menu of sandwiches and soups. Where? 108 Magnolia Street, Roswell, 30075 (
Try...ordering off the extensive tea list, hot or cold; the Chicken Spinach Wrap Panini with goat cheese, the Vol-au-Vent - Belgian style chicken potpie, the apple strudel; reserving afternoon tea

Sandy Springs
World Peace Cafe
(Vegan/Vegetarian) - Built with donations and by volunteers, World Peace Cafe is owned and operated by the Rameshori Kadampa Buddhist Center, which puts all profits towards meditation classes and special events designed to help others find peace of mind. The entire menu -- including breakfast all day, sandwiches, salads, soups, "peace burgers," entrees, and desserts -- is organic, and whenever possible, locally supplied. Take-out packaging is biodegradable, non-toxic cleaners are used, coffee comes from Atlanta-based JavaVino, desserts from Southern Sweets (see listing in Decatur above), groceries primarily from Dekalb and Buford Farmer's Markets. Where? 220 Hammond Dr., Suite 302, Sandy Springs, 30328 (

Try...the Mock Mint Julep - organic ginger ale/lemon juice/fresh mint, Grilled Polenta Cake with Eggplant Caponata, Mushroom Stroganoff, Sun Salad - avocado/sunflower seeds/dried cranberries/and raisins, $4 kids menu, 2 items for $4.99 specials

1 comment:

  1. Terrific recommendations! I heart most of these as well. Now that I know about the $15 all you can eat Mondays at Eclipse, I will start saving up my appetite!