Tag Archives: Atlanta

Did y’all know I have another blog, too?

Hey, did y’all know I have another blog, too? It’s about stories, writing, fantasy, mythology, and Renaissance festivals.

You can find it here: http://blackthornefaire.net

The most recent post is about Renaissance fairs, and the feeling of falling into a story. There’s a lot there about communities, too. I hope those of you who follow this blog will take a look at that one, too. I’d be grateful.

Thanks and huzzah!



Pizza Review: Pizza K (no, really, it’s good!)

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Visit Pizza K Decatur/Emory

About a year ago, I published one of my more popular blog posts, 10 Places to Get Terrific Pizza in Atlanta. Since then, one of them (Decatur’s Zucca) has closed, alas. So I’m one short. In the interest of public service and keep the number at 10, here is a replacement, also in the Decatur area.

I likely wouldn’t have stopped at Pizza K. It’s a generic-looking hole-in-the-wall in a Publix strip mall at the corner of Clairmont and North Decatur. (Coincidentally, that’s two more spots on my list of ten great spots for pizza are near that same intersection … Athens and Cappozi’s. Talk about an embarrassment of riches.) I’d stopped at that center for dog food, and decided to get a little people food, too. But it was raining, and I was too lazy to venture to the Publix. So I gave Pizza K a try. I’m glad I did, because wow, this was a surprise. A couple of them, actually.

Frankly, I wasn’t expecting much. But much to my surprise, I saw bags of flour, tomatoes, and, you know, actual ingredients. Not frozen dough or canned sauces. That was surprise number one.

The second surprise was that they had actual Chicago style pizza. Not deep pan pizza that’s all bread. Real Chicago style pizza. With the thin crust stuffed with mounds of cheese and ingredients, a thin upper crust, and real sauce on top. Sort of like what you get it Nancy’s, but at least as good. Maybe even a little better. And for a fraction of the price.

Granted, this is colored bit by low expectations. But I’ll be back, and often. I haven’t tried anything other than the Chicago style, and it’s so good that I may never. But the other styles are probably worth a try. In the meantime, this is probably the best Chicago style pizza I’ve had outside of the cities of Chicago or Orlando, at least since Uppercrust closed back in the 80s.

The prices here are amazing. Little Ceasar’s prices, but for real pizza. Sadly, there are no tables. It’s take out or delivery only. But it is amazingly good, especially for the price.

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Theatre Review: The Book Club Play at Horizon Theatre

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See The Book Club Play at Horizon Theatre

8703078440_dda1453400_zThis is a short review, largely because I want to urge you to catch this show, and since it closes soon, I don’t want to slow you down more than necessary. Well, better late than never, right? The Book Club Play isn’t as edgy or innovative as much of the work Horizon Theatre in Little Five Points/Inman Park is known for. It is, however, an absolute, laugh-out-loud delight that deserves to be seen. But hurry, you only have a couple of weeks.

One of my heroes, C. S. Lewis, once wrote that “we read to know we’re not alone.” I also think we read to find out a little about who we are. We feel compelled to share, and to explore more deeply, because the secrets we discover are secrets about ourselves and how we relate to one another, and to an increasingly complex world. But when we scratch the surface of secrets, especially in the company of others, it’s not always going to be a comfortable experience. Ann, played wonderfully by Wendy Melkonian, has a perfect life … career, catalog-perfect home, handsome husband, and tightly-knit book club. When the delicate mix of the latter is stirred both by the presence of a stranger and by becoming the subject of a documentary film, intimate discussions lead to sit-com level pandemonium.

Yes, the play is sweet, even cloying. The outcomes are neat and fairly predictable. But the cast (which also includes Bryan Brendle, Maria Rodriguez-Sager, Danielle Deadwyler, and Dan Triandiflou) is so terrific, and the laughs are frequent and loud. More, the questions raised are interesting and worthy of exploration. More, the characters are genuine, and I was delighted to spend an evening with them. Real belly laughs have been rare this season (The Internship, I’m looking at you). The Book Club Play provides them in spades … with more than a little intelligence and heart thrown in for good measure.

Do yourself a favor and don’t miss this. But get moving; it ends June 23, alas.

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Review: Beer From a Growler

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There’s been a rather remarkable change over the past few months. As late as the end of summer, I don’t think I’d heard the term “growler” before. By the fall, I’d found a store, the beer lover’s heaven known as Ale Yeah, that offered them. Now, they seem to be everywhere. There is literally no direction I can go upon leaving my house without passing a store that offers quality craft beers and ales in growlers. The neighborhood markets, Cander Park Market and Oakhurst Market, carry them. Heck, even the gas station at the end of my street has them now.

For those of you who are where I was just two seasons or so ago, a growler is a glass beer bottle, 64 or 32 ounces, filled with beer from a tap. The term growler dates way back to the late 19th century, before the dawn of the age of the six-pack, when folks carried fresh beer home from the local pub in a small bucket. The inside of the pail was usually coated with lard to decrease foam, meaning more beer for the buck (if you don’t mind a certain lardy taste). Supposedly, the escaping CO2 made a growling noise when it escaped from the lid as the beer sloshed around.

Pick your ale from a list like this, fill 'er up, and enjoy!

Modern growlers are glass bottles, not lard-coated tin (or whatever) pails. You buy your bottle (they’re pretty cheap. I mean, it’s a glass bottle.), and it’s yours to keep forever. Take it back to the shop of your choice, and choose a beer from a selection that (in the stores around my neighborhood, anyway) changes regularly. They’ll sanitize and fill your growler, send you home, and then it’s time to enjoy. You don’t get the growly sound anymore, but then, you don’t have to worry about the lard, either. So, you know, give and take.

There’s something that’s just deliciously old-fashioned about growlers. Maybe it’s just the novelty, but frankly, I can’t help thinking that beer tastes better when it comes from a growler. After all, you won’t have to go far to find someone who thinks draft beer is better than canned or bottled. In fact, I’m willing to bet that you’re more likely to find people who’ll disagree about why draft is better than those who quibble about the premise itself. Growler beer is draft made portable and convenient.

There’s another advantage, too. Sometimes, you just want a little beer (I’m as surprised as you are, but yeah, that’s possible). Not a whole bottle or pint. With a growler, you can pour as much or as little as you like (well, up to 32 ounces, anyway). The choices are usually craft beers, and the selection is usually eclectic and well-chosen, when more than a few that you might not have discovered otherwise. Yeah, even at the gas station.

I’m not sure when or how then trend got started, or rather rediscovered. I certainly have no idea how or why it became ubiquitous so quickly. But I’m delighted. Oh, one more thing. Someone asked my wife Carol and me how long beer in a growler would last when opened. Does it go flat after a certain amount of time? Carol just smiled and shrugged. “We don’t know,” she admitted. Like the number of licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, the world may never know.

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Ten Places to Get Amazing Pizza in Atlanta

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If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard someone say they just can’t find good pizza in Atlanta, I could buy a lot of slices, all with extra cheese. Frankly, the comment never ceases to astonish me. That is, until I remember that it’s usually uttered by carpetbagging Yankee new-comers who likely haven’t found their way past the mall Pizza Huts yet. For better or worse, Atlanta hides its hole-in-the-wall gems well.

And so, offered as a public service, here are ten places (with two extra honorable mentions) to get amazing pizza right here amongst the maze of Peachtree Streets. By the way, these are listed in alphabetical order, not in order of quality or preference.

For the record, I am skipping some of the more popular chain type places, like Mellow Mushroom and Fellini’s, despite the fact that I am fond of both. But the simple fact is, you’ve probably already tried them, or at least know about them. And to be frank, yummy as they are, they simply didn’t make the top ten list.

1.) Antico Pizza Napoletana

This was the place that redefined what pizza can be for me. I made that comment to a friend of mine who is both a Yankee and of first or second-generation Italian descent, and she admitted that it had redefined it for her, too. You order at the counter, and then you hope for the best since seating is extremely limited. There are bench seats that surround long tables that you share with others, making you feel (rather delightfully) as though you’ve been invited into someone’s kitchen, where you can see these giant imported Italian ovens (which heat to more than 1000 degrees), bags of imported flour and cans of exotic imported extra virgin olive oil, fragrant fresh herbs, and stuff like that. It’s homey, warm, and wonderful.

I think I would have fallen in love with the place even if the pizza was only passable. Happily, it’s a lot better than that. It’s transcendent. The word Antico means ancient, and the techniques and recipes the master bakers employ here have stood the test of time for a reason. They are amazing. It’s a little hard to find (the west side, behind Georgia Tech in that nebulous area between downtown and midtown, is more maze-like than any other part of the city, and that’s saying a lot), but it’s worth it. I promise.

2.) Athens Pizza House

When searching for pizza, generally what you’re looking for is a pie baked by a Yankee with a last name that ends in a vowel. There are exceptions to that, albeit not many, and Athens is chief among them.

A few years ago, my wife offered to take me to any restaurant in the city for my birthday. She assumed I’d pick one of the pricier steak houses, like Bones, Rathbuns, or Parker’s on Ponce. I picked Athens, because, frankly, when the Athens craving is upon you, nothing else will do. Nothing.

The pizza is Greek style, meaning the crust is a little breadier, softer, and very so slightly sweeter than New York or Italian styles. It’s always astonishingly fresh, which matters more than I’d realized. It’s probably the best crust you can find in Atlanta, and it hold up will under a pile of ingredients without getting soggy, which is good, because Athens is generous with the toppings. The sauce is tangy, slightly salty, had has a hint of premium olive oil in it. It’s impossible to describe and impossible to forget. It’s comfort food at it’s most comforting, and if I had to pick a last meal, this might be it. (unless I could think of something that, like, takes several years to cook. Anyway.)

Some of my friends swear by the other Greek dishes, especially the Lemon Chicken Soup, and they may will be right for all I know. I’ve been ordering the same thing for years: a small pizza with pepperoni, Canadian bacon, and feta cheese, just the way the Lord and Mrs. Papadopoulos intended. Be sure to try it the feta.

3.) Avellino’s

Remember what I was saying about pizza baked by a Yankee with a last name that ends in a vowel? Maybe more than any other spot in the city, or the known universe, Avellino’s proves this rule. The recipes here come from New York, where Avellino family has been baking for generations. In fact, the family claims that the pizza here is better than what they can make up north, because they have access to better and fresher ingredients.

The pizza is some of the very best I’ve had anywhere. Everything tastes fresh, wonderfully spicy, and, for lack of a better word, hand-made. It ranks a solid A, but it gets a boost to A+ for atmosphere. It’s small, homey, charming, and friendly. It practically defines the term “neighborhood spot.” The staff is great, the crowd of regulars is welcoming, and the overall experience keeps me coming back again and again. Well, that and the fact that it’s walking distance from my house. But seriously, I’d drive to the ‘burbs for this.

One more thing: the beer is is terrific (it would have to be, since it shares space with beer heaven, Ale Yeah) and the deserts are to die for. I haven’t sampled the wine yet, but my wife is pleased. The list is small but solid and eclectic.

4.) Bambinelli’s

Of all the glorious pizza spots on this list, Bambinelli’s might be the one I’ve loved the longest. It opened in the early 1980s, and happened to be located right smack between my old high school and the mall where I worked at the B. Dalton Bookseller. I was there the day they opened and, although I don’t get to this charming little family-owned place as much as I used to, Bonnie Bambinelli still greets me by name.

Picture a cozy New York neighborhood spot in little Italy. Not one of the newer, trendier places. Think of a smaller, warmer, more comfortable corner that a single family has run for generations. Pull that image off the shelf of clichés in your brain, transport it to the Northlake area, and you’ve got Bambinelli’s. They’re only missing the red and white checkered table cloths.

Bambinell’s was the first authentic New York style pizza I ever tried, and although I’ve new visited New York itself dozens of times since, it’s still the standard by which I judge. It’s the A+. And it’s scores that A+ on all four of the main criteria: crust (crisp and favorable), sauce (tangy and ever so slightly sweet, with fresh herbs), cheese, and toppings. While I generally prefer the thin, the Sicilian style is also excellent, with that wonderful fresh-baked bread aroma. The other Italian dishes are first rate, especially the ones with cream sauce. But the pizza is what keeps bringing me back, decade after decade. Oh, and the garlic rolls? To die for. Seriously.

5.) Bella’s Pizzeria

If you were to describe Bella’s as Bambinelli’s west, you would not be far wrong. They’re not exactly sharing recipes, mind, each is unique, but there’s a certain neighborhood charm and cozy goodness that makes one remind me fondly of the other. Like Bambinelli’s, it’s family owned. That makes a difference. In fact, nostalgia aside, I’m hard pressed to think of something I’d say about Bambinell’s that I wouldn’t say about Bella’s, except that Bella’s won’t have that basket of hot garlic rolls on your table before you order, at least not at lunch. Bambinelli’s has an edge in taste, too, but it’s close. You’ve got to drive over to Bambinelli’s on the northeast side for that. But the slices are solid, with good crust and tangy sauce, and they’re always hot. A warning: I haven’t been there in a few years, but I assume it’s just as good as always. By the way, I was torn on whether to put Bella’s or the New York Pizza Exchange (see the honorable mentions, below) in this spot. It was a hard decision and might have gone either way.

6.) Cappozi’s

Cappozi’s is one of the most versatile spots in all of Atlanta. I’ve been there for special occasions (an amazing Valentine’s dinner with my wife), family gatherings, and when I just want to grab a seat at the bar for a fast slice. It’s causally elegant, romantic, warm, and welcoming. Every time I visit, I leave knowing I’ll be back … and soon.

The slices are foldable (my Yankee friends assure me that this is a crucial test) and tasty, with home-made sauce that’s the star of the show (although they have the best pepperoni in town). Everything tastes fresh, and the high-quality of the ingredients is evident from bite one. You’re best to stick with the traditional, the pepperoni (seriously, the best in town) and the sausage. Stuff like that. I’ve ordered extra cheese a few times, but it’s not really because it needs it.

This list is about pizza and I don’t want to drift too far off topic, but I have to mention the rest of the Italian menu. It’s fantastic, creative, and always delicious. There’s even a chef who creates daily specials, and the wine list is exceptional. The staff is terrific. This is another place that gets a boost from solid A to A+ for ambience and welcome.

7.) Edgewood Pizza

Edgewood Pizza in Atlanta’s historic Old Forth Ward neighborhood pretty much defines the concept of urban “no frills.” As near as Google and I can tell, they don’t even have a Web site — I had to link to the Facebook page. There aren’t many tables (a problem if you want to go at night—the neighborhood hipsters will have already grabbed them) and parking is limited. Although to be fair, neither of those are an issue at lunch.

What you’re going to get in place of the charm and, uh, seats you might find elsewhere is a darn good, honest slice of pizza served hot and quickly by a friendly staff. Everything tastes fresh and homemade; the crust especially is delicious. When you lost past the counter, you see those machines they use to mix dough. Always a good sign. The herbs in the sauce are terrific. And even if you order the “King Slice,” (other places would call that “two slices”), you’re not going to pay a lot for it. Edgewood Pizza is one of intown Atlanta’s best lunch bargains. It might be the closest thing you’re going to find to a genuine Manhattan pizza slice south of the Sweet Tea Belt.

8.) Nancy’s

In my long-ago youth, one of the very best spots of pizza was the long-vanished Upper Crust. It closed (I think, back in the 1980s), and I’ve missed that three-inch pile of gooey goodness ever since. At the time, I thought Upper Crust was utterly unique. I thought I’d miss that decadent yumminess forever. Then, I found Gino’s East in Chicago, and realized I wasn’t just missing a restaurant, I’d been missing a whole genre: Chicago-style pizza. Happily, Nancy’s Pizza, a chain that originated in Chicago itself, is every bit as good as Upper Crust was, and nearly as good as mighty Gino’s itself. (Although they don’t have that flaming cheese appetizer that I could never pass up at Upper Crust. Seriously, it was cheese and bread, and it was on fire! What’s not to love?)

If you don’t know Chicago-style pizza, it’s not pizza in the traditional Italian/New York style. It’s like the too-delicious to exist love child of pizza and lasagna. You start with a thin and crispy lower crust that that’s deep … like a pie shell. A really deep pie shell. Then, it’s stuffed with enough cheese to fill a bucket, and topped with another crust. The sauce, thick and tomato-y, bubbles on top of that. There’s still plenty of room for toppings. It’s pricy, sure, but then you’re buying a whole cheese shop in every pie. And man, is it amazing.

There are two locations here in Atlanta. One is in Buckhead, where I am told they have lots of table seating and all the amenities. I’ve never been there. The Ponce de Leon location, close to my neighborhood, is carry-out only, and it’s next to impossible to park. (Think of that pie slowly cooling while you circle. Grrr.) But it’s worth all the trouble.

9.) Varasanos

Varasano’s is probably the most upscale place on this list, tucked as it is in the high-rent district between Midtown and Buckhead. Don’t let that fool you. You can still get a good, honest pie here, with a nice, crispy Napoletana-style (not New York style, so set your expectations accordingly!) crust, tangy and favorable sauce (you can taste the fresh tomato and basil), and high-quality ingredients. Varasano’s adds a sourdough base to the crust, something (as far as I know) that’s unique. But eat it quickly, while it’s piping hot. Sure, that’s important everywhere. Especially here, though, because as all that bubbly deliciousness cools, the sour taste becomes more pronounced, and a little less pleasant, It’s still yummy, though. If you take some home (the pies are huge) the left overs will be disappointing, unless there is some arcane secret to reheating that I haven’t cracked yet.

10.) Zucca

Zucca has the rather dubious distinction of being the place I found because it’s the one place where you can usually find a table when all the other Decatur Spots are full. Thank heaven, because otherwise, I might have missed some mighty tasty pizza. It’s one of the best slices in a neighborhood that’s full of them, and while you can’t (alas!) get slices at night, the pies are always piled high with generous toppings and cheese, and the crust has a subtly sweet bready taste that’s terrific.

To be honest, the ambience seems a little out of place for Decatur, known mostly for charming, quaint pubs and casual but upscale dining. Entering the door is like crossing a portal that leads from the Square to a dive in any college town, anywhere in the USA. It can be a little loud, although in a fun rather than oppressive way, and the service can be a little on the slow slide. It’s friendly, though, and the pizza is worth the wait. The sauce is made fresh on-premises every day. That makes a difference. The bar is solid.

Honorable Mention:

New York Pizza Exchange

As you’ve likely guessed from the name, New York Pizza Exchange is the closest thing you’re likely to find to New York street pie south of Jersey. It might be a little pricier than, say, Edgewood, but there are plenty of seats, an extensive bar, and an extensive non-pizza menu. You’re probably going to want to avoid it after 7 on Friday and Saturday night, when the crowd and live music makes conversation challenging.

The pizza, though, the pizza is down right yummy, made special by the subtle dash of oregano in the red sauce. The garlic sauce on the white pizza is terrific, too. In fact, while the crust and toppings are delicious, the sauce is the star of the show here.

The New York Pizza Exchange is as much a sports bar as a pizza place, a change from my college days, so it’s a good place to catch a game if you happen to be in the neighborhood. In Atlanta, longevity counts. The fact that this place has been around and thriving for more than three decades says something.

Uncle Vito’s

To be honest, I haven’t been to Uncle Vito’s in years. The location I used to know and love when I lived in the wilds of suburbia has long since closed, and the remaining ones just aren’t close to any place I ever go. So I am reviewing from memory, which is probably unfair. I am convinced that one of the reasons transplants can’t find pizza that compares to what they got back home is simply this: Atlanta pizza isn’t competing with any specific New York pizza, it’s competing with memory. Nostalgia always wins. But I remember Uncle Vito’s having generous slices, enough cheese that you never felt the need to order extra, good, foldable crust, and some of the very best Italian sausage I’ve ever tried. Here’s hoping they’re as good as I remember, and that I find myself passing one at lunch time some day soon.

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Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Pastries A Go Go
Candi’s for Breakfast at the Irwin Street Market
The Marlay House Pub
Parker’s On Ponce Steak House

Actually, this isn’t a review of those meals, specifically. The truth is, I am for all of them. This is about some truly outstanding and more or less undiscovered gems where you can find them.

I’ve often referred to my neighborhood and the surrounding mile or two as Pubtopia. with all sincerity, I think it may will be the very best pub crawl area outside of Boston. Yes, even above New York, Chicago, and St. Louis. It’s Pizzatopia as well, and is fast becoming Q-topia (barbeque, of course), but those are topics for another blog.


Getting (at last, and in the third paragraph no less) to the subject at hand, this area — the Atlanta neighborhoods between Decatur, Little Five Points, Inman Park, East Atlanta Village, and Druid Hills — is breakfast-topia, too. When you live in a neighborhood with the venerable Flying Biscuit (the oatmeal pancakes are amazing), Java Jive (the ginger waffles with lemon curd are to die for), and two Thumbs Up locations (best pancakes in the city, bar none) and none of them make it to the top of the list of your favorite spots, you know your options are pretty close to terrific.

My two favorites are Pastries A Go Go, just a couple of blocks from the square in downtown Decatur, and Candi’s for Breakfast at the Irwin Street Market in the Old Fourth Ward. I usually order pretty much the same thing at both — a good old fashioned southern breakfast with scrambled eggs, biscuit, sausage, and (naturally) grits. Both offer other alternatives with the southern breakfast, like bacon, toast, and potatoes. Both places are amazing. Despite the somewhat similar menus, neither could be more different from the other.

Pastries A Go Go is a bakery first, and one of the very best. The biscuits are simply amazing — quite possibly the best I’ve had that wasn’t served at a southern relative’s home. They make their own sausage, and they do something (and I have no idea what) that makes their scrambled eggs just absolutely heavenly. My wife says that the Eggs Benedict are delicious.

The place is small, homey, and causal, but with a subtle vibe of Decatur hipness. They say that Decatur is the place where Berkley meets Mayberry. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised to find Pastries A Go Go in either place. The coffee (from local roaster Dancing Goats) is terrific and plentiful. The staff is friendly. Comfort (comfort food in a comfortable space) wraps you like a blanket. Don’t miss it.

Speaking of comfort, you’ll find that feeling in abundance at Candi’s for Breakfast. It feels like an old fashioned diner … and honestly, the food tastes like what you always think (or hope) diner food will deliver. Sadly, diners seldom live up to your expectations. Candi’s exceeds them. The food is cooked in a tiny kitchen right in front of you (assuming you sit at the counter — if you take a table, well, it’s close by, anyway) and is crafted with care.

The biscuits aren’t as subtly sweet at those at Pastries A Go Go; they are breadier for lack of a better word, and absolutely delicious with butter, sausage, or one of the hand-crafted spreads that Candi has to offer. The house specialty is the stuffed biscuit. Baked to order, it’s a biscuit stuffed with your choice of yummy things: sausage, home made turkey sausage, bacon, cheeses, or veggies. I’ve never tried anything like it.

My pal Jay Gagliardo says that the Eggs Benedict (available served on a biscuit, of course) are the best he’s ever had. And in fact, Candi’s has more than a few specialties that I have yet to try. I can’t wait.

Sunday Lunch:

Speaking of pubtopia, I’ve mentioned my beloved Marlay House Pub a time or two. It’s one of my three or four favorites here in the Decatur/Little Five Points area (out of more than a dozen or so that I would consider very legitimate contenders). I’ve been for dinner and drinks, the amazing Tuesday night Celtic Jam, and even breakfast. In all that time, I never once tried the Sunday Roast. What was I thinking?

In Ireland, a Sunday roast is traditional at the pubs. Darren Comer, one of the owners, assures me that the Marlay House’s recreation is just like the ones he remembers from home. I’m more than willing to take his word, but in all the times I traveled to those fair Isles, I never once found pub food this good. And I say that as a man who adores pub food.

The roast is a standing ribeye, rubbed with herbs and cooked slowly to to be tender. It’s served with roasted potatoes, a “lashing” of gravy (I had to ask — a lashing means a lot, so think about getting it on the side), fresh veggies (from experience, I can assure you than these can be held), and Yorkshire pudding, which again is much better than any I’ve found abroad.

The Sunday Roast at the Marlay House is comfort food, pure and simple. It’s delicious (it pretty much has to be to survive in Decatur) and, along with a frothy pint from one of the best beer and ale menus in the city, it’s a wonderful way to relax away a Sunday afternoon. Share it with good company, even if that company is a good book. I wish I’d tried it sooner.


Decatur and the surrounding areas provide a wealth of dining, from comfort food to exotic “foodie” paradises. What’s been missing is a truly outstanding steak house. I am happy to report that Parker’s On Ponce fills that gap neatly. I can’t say it’s the best steak I’ve ever had. It is, nonetheless, one of the top ten or so that I’ve had anywhere, and a genuine A+. In a city where people will literally line up for a B- steak, that’s saying a lot.

The steaks are seasoned subtly and well, and cooked perfectly. A medium actually comes out medium. Vegetarian options are more than an afterthought. My wife tried a grilled portabella mushroom, and found the flavor and the presentation delightful. She wasn’t even remotely jealous of my steak, or the Porterhouse for two that my parents praised.

The flavor and quality is absolutely first rate. The sides are generous; some familiar, some imaginative, all (that we tried, anyway) outstanding. The beer and wine list is solid and the deserts are superb.

The ambiance is casual, friendly, and comfortable, and blessedly lacking the “upscale” pretentious attitude in which so many fine steak houses seem to bask. The place is divided into smaller nooks (and a private room for events), making the large space seem more intimate.

Parker’s on Ponce is a welcome addition to one of the very best dining neighborhoods Atlanta has to offer, and I look forward to visiting regularly. In fact, I’m looking forward to trying the brunch this weekend.

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