Photograph by Emily Schultz
Watch out, Taqueria del Sol. There’s a new fast-paced competitor in town. Adrian Villarreal returns to his Monterrey roots with fresh corn tacos filled with grilled fish, al pastor seasoned with pineapple-smoked chiles, slow-cooked beef barbacoa, and refried beans with fried avocado. A cheerful decor, crisp aguas frescas, and thoughtful sides like vegan guajillo bean soup and kale salad with chayote are a delight to those of us who’ve been eagerly awaiting this Midtown lunch spot. 110 Sixth Street, 404-458-5887.
The newest restaurant in Ponce City Market channels 1950s-era glamour, with so much midcentury modern furniture that diners might wonder if they’ve stumbled onto an early Mad Men set. Cocktails like Moscow Mules with homemade ginger beer and Scofflaws are solid, which isn’t all that surprising since the owners also run Pinewood. Steaks and a seafood-heavy appetizer lineup (lobster fritters, crab bouillets) are fine, if a bit perfunctory. For a sparkly surprise, tell the server it’s your birthday. 675 Ponce de Leon Avenue, 404-500-5253.
Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit
A tiny, sun-drenched cafe dedicated entirely to biscuits? Count us in. Carrie Morey, who opened her first biscuit shop in Charleston in 2005, stacks crumbly squares with peppered bacon, country ham, cheese and chives, and blackberry jam. Our favorites are the daily specials, like the BLT with roasted heirloom tomatoes. For something heartier, try the creamy grits bowl topped with bacon gravy. Biscuit mixes, jams, sliced Edwards ham, and cheeky T-shirts are also available for purchase. 1004 Virginia Avenue, 404-330-8285.
Ford Fry’s new Inman Quarter establishment relies on many of the same tricks that made its sister restaurant, the Optimist, such a success. A serious oyster bar, small plates with global (often Asian) influences, and an enchanting cruise ship vibe pull in the crowds. Brazilian moqueca seafood stew with coconut milk and the spicy octopus with labneh and Persian-style pita (straight out of the wood-burning oven) are early favorites. Ideas that don’t work as well include a greasy lobster roll, inexplicably on a hamburger bun, and a tiny New York strip steak served with dull escargot. Cocktails are somehow mixed better downstairs in the den than upstairs
in the dining room. 299 North Highland Avenue, 678-732-0360.