The verdict on 3 new Atlanta restaurants: Salaryman, Redbird, Junior’s pizza

Three new restaurants in three minutes

A woman using chopsticks to lift noodles out of a bowl
Brussels sprouts, Hangover Ramen, and kimchi fried rice balls

Photograph by Martha Williams

The team behind Noona (the Korean-ish steakhouse in Duluth’s Parsons Alley), Ramen Station (the hip, counter-service spot in Grant Park’s Larkin development), and Suzy Siu’s Baos (the trusty Krog Street Market stall) has a new joint. Salaryman, whose name is a nod to Japanese businessmen and whose food is equal parts Tokyo and Seoul (with a dash of Southern comfort), is situated in a quaint corner storefront in mostly residential East Lake. The neighborhood might have proven too sleepy for its former occupant, the short-lived Mary Hoopa’s House of Fried Chicken & Oysters. Salaryman seems a little less comfortable in the space that Mary Hoopa’s so stylishly inhabited; while the vibe is sports-bar casual, there’s an undercurrent of formality both in the room and in the presentation of some of the food. But we suppose that, with time, Salaryman will loosen its tie. For now, unwind with gooey-cheesy kimchi fried rice balls (like arancini, but with a kick), brussels sprouts roasted to a blackened crisp and dressed in gochujang vinaigrette, and fiery-red Hangover Ramen that very well could serve as a preemptive strike, should you want to fully explore Salaryman’s superb sake list. 2371 Hosea L. Williams Drive, 404-218-1458  —Mara Shalhoup

Chef Zeb Stevenson and restaurateur Ross Jones, formerly of Watershed, the iconic, two-decade-old, James Beard–winning Southern restaurant, have gloriously regrouped with their new venture, Redbird. After Jones sold Watershed to a new chef-owner in 2018, she and Stevenson set out to do something different. With Redbird, they’ve swooped into the grand Westside Provisions District digs vacated by Bacchanalia (which has moved about a mile west)—and they’ve managed to escape the long shadows cast both by Watershed and the even better-pedigreed Bacchanalia. With an open kitchen along one wall and a long bar topped by soaring windows along another, the space has been reimagined to the extent that it’s unrecognizable. The hushed reverence of Bacchanalia is gone, replaced with a bustling energy that suits Stevenson’s exuberant, free-form, vegetable-worshipping cooking. Okra skeptics will be converted by a deceptively simple-looking plate of the seared pods, served in a shallow pool of buttermilk and topped with crispy shallots. It is divine. Baby turnips are similarly (and elegantly and perfectly) dressed down, glazed in potlikker and parsley butter. The seven or so proteins on offer, served a la carte, include a knockout market fish topped with sizzling scallions. This is food meant for leisurely but serious grazing. 1198 Howell Mill Road, 404-900-5172  —M.S. 

Junior's Pizza Summerhill Atlanta
Junior’s pizza

Photograph courtesy of Junior's Pizza

Located next door to bustling Wood’s Chapel BBQ in Summerhill, Junior’s is a quintessential, laid-back, neighborhood pizza place. Alex Aton, who opened the shop with wife, Jen, in August, honed his skills at Fellini’s, and while Junior’s pizza isn’t necessarily better than that Atlanta pizza mainstay, it is just as satisfying. The thin, New York–style pies can be topped with thick, tiny pepperoni slices that curl perfectly at the edges and red bell peppers rather than green, lending slices a sweeter taste. (Pro tip: Order extra cheese.) The most charming thing about Junior’s is its retro vibe. Anyone who came of age in the 1990s will be thrilled by the tablemarkers: actual VHS tapes. (Yes, Mystic Pizza is among them.) The walls are decorated with similarly ’90s-esque, tattoo-inspired murals—and a pizza-eating unicorn for good measure. Sip a variety of local canned beers out on the patio or, if you want to keep the nostalgia going, a Bartles & Jaymes. 77 Georgia Avenue, 404-549-7147  —Myrydd Wells

This article appears in our December 2019 issue.