Paletas, Not Pops
Well before the King of Pops elevated the ice pop to an unprecedented (and expensive) gourmet status, modest shops were making frozen treats by hand all over Atlanta’s Hispanic neighborhoods.
The tradition of paletas started in the Mexican state of Michoacán, and many Mexican ice parlors here—the cute Paleteria Michoacana in Marietta, La Mejor de Michoacan in Norcross, and Michoacana Loca in Lilburn, to name a few—use some version of the name. And the pops are so much more interesting than their gringo counterparts! There’s creamy kiwi and strawberry as well as more modern flavors (hooray pistachio) at the new Panpaleta on Buford Highway’s Northeast Plaza and snow-white fresh coconut that tastes like a Mars bar minus the chocolate at Paleteria Michoacana. I am addicted to the bracing sourness of tamarind paletas and the aggressive heat of the mango with chile, both of which are ubiquitous at Mexican establishments.
Bonus: For artisanal sweets, the prices are sane, usually just $1.50 to $2. That should have every parent in town stocking the freezer with paletas this summer.
Rising Son, in the not-yet-cool Avondale Estates, is a family place. Chef Hudson Rouse owns and runs it with his wife, Kathryn Fitzgerald, and they get help from Rouse’s identical twin and his three kids. It’s the kind of mom-and-pop restaurant that hardly exists anymore: an impeccably Southern meat-and-three that’s filling and affordable.
“My mom is a hillbilly, and my dad is a redneck,” says Rouse, a former farmer who grew up in Albany, Georgia. He became a chef by accident when his friend Angus Brown, the recently deceased talent behind Octopus Bar and 8Arm, for whom he grew vegetables, offered him a job and started calling him “my sous chef.” Rouse went on to work at Wrecking Bar, Ration & Dram, and Homegrown GA, and then, in March 2016, he opened Rising Son.
Rouse still owns a farm in Rockdale County, where he grows many of the vegetables served at Rising Son. Comfort food without histrionics is his beat, and that there are still chefs in this town like Rouse is, in turn, comforting to me.
This article originally appeared in our June 2017 issue.