The verdict on 3 new Atlanta restaurants: Nick’s Westside, Mukja Korean Fried Chicken, and Elsewhere Brewing

A more casual (but still fancy) Westside watering hole, Korean fried chicken in Midtown, and beer and Argentinian food in Grant Park

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Nick's Westside
Bouillabaisse at Nick’s Westside

Photograph by Martha Williams

Nick’s Westside
Nick Leahy’s splashy, side-by-side restaurants, Aix and Tin Tin, were known for great wines and for dishes honoring the South of France. Last fall, almost two years after they opened, they morphed into something more casual and pandemic-appropriate. It feels strange to me that the new concept, Nick’s Westside, serves burgers and fries in what used to be such a fancy setting. Of course, the double-stacked Westside burger, dripping with white American cheese and garnished with jalapeños, caramelized onions, and a brilliant aioli, is very much a luxury product.

Leahy still offers his bouillabaisse (Saturday only, I am afraid), brimming with fish, shrimp, scallops, and mussels in a saffron-scented broth. His rouille (I am particularly fond of the aioli variation), meant to be slathered on the bread served with the bouillabaisse, is appropriately garlicky but could use stronger, hotter spices. A local kale “Caesar” with biscuit crumbs, Parmesan, and capers hardly qualifies as a Caesar, but the (inexpensive!) addition of house-cured salmon upgrades the dish to a tasty, light meal. Dessert will change with the seasons, but it always will be worth ordering here; I got a shapely and insanely rich persimmon upside-down cake soaked in caramel and topped with thin slices of fresh persimmon. I’d recommend this pastry kitchen to anyone.

The wine list is still brilliantly curated and the lineup of cocktails equally trustworthy. And though Nick’s doesn’t feel like a simple neighborhood restaurant and bar, it does just fine as a more glamorous one. 956 Brady Avenue, Westside, 770-838-3501

Mukja Korean Fried Chicken
Korean fried chicken, extra crispy and usually served with sweet and spicy sauces, used to be confined to the suburbs. In the past, I regularly traipsed to Duluth, Suwanee, and Doraville in search of the ideal pairing of Korean beer and beer-friendly Korean food—but I used to worry about the trip back. Mukja (“enjoy food,” in Korean) in the heart of Midtown makes it easy to grab a favorite brew (Hite or Cass, in my case) and such treats as said chicken.

The restaurant, opened by two friends who hatched this dream in college, is modern and clamorous, like a typical Korean beer hall. It doesn’t face Peachtree but is easy to find across from Sweet Hut. The chicken pieces, heavily crusted and a little too hard-fried for my taste, are satisfactory rather than stellar; the wings are mostly batter. But the house sauces (Korean sweet heat, garlic and soy, and honey butter) are fun for dipping. The bird comes in three sizes—quarter, half, or whole, conveniently cut into pieces—and while there may not be as many sides here as the more typical suburban spot, you can choose between thin waffles stuffed with a paste of scallions, garlic, and jalapeños; Korean loaded fries; mac and cheese with kimchi, smoked bacon, and smoked Gouda; and something typically Korean called the Standard (green cabbage, white onion, sweet corn, gochujang) that’s the best of the lot. 933 Peachtree Street, Midtown, 404-855-5516

Elsewhere Brewing
This brewery and Argentine grill is one more reason to head to the Beacon in Grant Park, an already superfun development that’s mostly about eating and drinking. With its cheerful mural and hospitable patio, Elsewhere is a far cry from the usual dark and masculine atmosphere one associates with beer culture.

Even if you don’t drink beer or eat meat, the trip would be worthwhile because of the restaurant’s magical empanadas. Filled with wild mushrooms and dry-aged mozzarella; smoked trout, confit leeks, and green peas; or, the most typically Argentinean of the lot, Kobe beef and roasted onions, they easily boast the most perfect, flaky dough in Atlanta. Like pretty much everything on the menu, including the asado mixed grill (chicken, steak, chorizo, guava shrimp, and fries) and the easy-to-love choripan sandwich (locally made mild Argentinean chorizo on house bread), the empanadas come with chimichurri sauce (lots of parsley, garlic, and oil) for a fresh kick.

You may not share my beer preferences—I loved some and hated others—but I can vouch for the fresh taste of the German-style Hefeweizen (Promised Marvels), the dark Czech lager (Gest), and even the Marzen beer (Zicke Zacke) that I couldn’t stand. 1039 Grant Street, Grant Park, 770-727-0009

This article appears in our February 2020 issue.

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