Oaxacan restaurant Casi Cielo brings charcoal rice, mezcal, and grasshopper salt to Sandy Springs

The new restaurant from the La Parrilla team is set to open in Modera Sandy Springs in late July
Casi Cielo
Rib eye steak

Photograph courtesy of Casi Cielo

The team behind La Parrilla Mexican Restaurant, which has around a dozen locations in the metro area, is expanding its focus. It’s newest project is a chef-driven Oaxacan restaurant called Casi Cielo. A more adventurous, upscale restaurant, Casi Cielo will serve delicacies such as sous-vide baked octopus, charcoal rice, foie-gras meatballs, duck croquettes, and cocktails made with grasshopper salt. Helmed by executive chef Juan Ruiz—who brings experience from Michelin-starred restaurants in Barcelona and Panama—Casi Cielo will open in Modera Sandy Springs in late July.

“We wanted to pay tribute to Mexico in a more upscale way,” says Casi Cielo vice president Juan Fernando Henao. “We traveled all around Mexico, and Oaxaca always got our attention. It’s this magical place where everything is handmade and fresh.”

“It’s like the pantry of Mexico. They have so many climates—the dessert, the mountains, the ocean—that allow for more options.”

Ruiz crafted a menu designed to introduce Atlantans to Oaxacan cuisine, while still offering some Mexican options that locals have come to expect. The proteins will be sourced locally and served with familiar vegetables like broccoli and eggplant. The spices and flavors will come from Oaxaca.

“Everything at Casi Cielo is shareable,” Ruiz says. “We’re creating a place where the guests can come to feel alive, in the moment, and make some memories in our restaurant.”

Casi Cielo
Ensalada de Nopales

Photograph courtesy of Casi Cielo

Expect pork terrine tacos with avocado sauce, octopus tacos, duck carnitas, and aguachiles, as well as tostas and enchiladas. Tostadas, made from 100 percent griddled corn, will be served to every table, along with red and green salsas. There won’t be cheese dip, but guacamole fans can look forward to an aromatic version made with fresh mint.

“We’re trying to stay more traditional as far as the cuisine,” Henao says.

As for the grasshopper salt? “I think Atlantans will be surprised when they try the unique flavor,” Ruiz says. “While grasshoppers contain earthy hints, the most profound flavor is herbs and citrus with smoky notes. It compliments many of the flavors we will be preparing the dishes with and adds a noteworthy element to the dish.”

Casi Cielo will serve lunch and dinner, as well as Saturday brunch. The brunch menu will include chilaquiles, house-made bread, and sunny-side up eggs.

The bar will feature more than 50 types of mezcal, including 12 cocktails. There will be five gin and tonics, plus Mexican and local craft beers. Wine will come from Spanish-speaking countries, namely Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Spain, and Mexico.

The space will be minimalist with a few Mexican chandeliers, high-top tables, and a patio.

“We’re trying to create an atmosphere where people can stop by for a cocktail or enjoy a nice meal,” Henao says.