The Pantry & Provisions
Located just off the enchanting rotunda of the historic Healey Building in the Fairlie-Poplar district (give yourself a few extra minutes to stare at the ceiling), this sandwich counter is one of the best things to happen in recent years to downtown’s lunch scene. Before you even have a chance to look at the menu, you’ll likely be fed samples of the housemade aged truffle rillette (wow) and perhaps challenged to distinguish between the vegan pimiento cheese (pretty good!) and the regular one (really good!). The menu pays homage to famous meat-and-bread offerings from other cities (a Chicago dog, a New Orleans muffaletta, a New York corned beef on rye), and there are also a handful of original offerings and a half-dozen vegan ones, many of them relying on Beyond Meats to simulate their carnivorous counterparts (a banh mi, a patty melt, a sloppy joe). I’m partial to the entirely lunch-appropriate breakfast sandwich that pairs an almost-airy egg loaf with decadent brisket, Benton’s bacon, avocado, and green goddess dressing. The best part: The sandwich-maker’s rapid-fire banter is as entertaining as his sandwich-making is impressive. Give yourself a few extra minutes for that, too. 57 Forsyth Street, 404-254-4042
Restaurateur Nhan Le of 8Arm, Octopus Bar, and Soba has teamed up with former Octopus Bar chef Duane Kulers to open this minuscule in size and gigantic in flavor taco shop. “Shop” might be an overstatement: It’s a shipping container–sized structure with a walk-up counter and a tiny, standing-only patio. Go ahead and order all of the menu’s eight tacos (one is technically a tostada, a fabulous and fiery jumble of shrimp, cucumbers, and onion). Served on fragrant, housemade tortillas, the tacos range from a spicy lamb barbacoa with consommé to a rich and mellow mole poblano with chicken, pepitas, and crema to an al pastor with sizzling meat shaved straight off the trompo. Late eaters: You can pick up these beauts as late as midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. 701 Memorial Drive, 404-965-1446
Along with Redbird and Aziza, Forza Storico is part of a trio of ambitious restaurants to open recently at Westside Provisions District. The second venture from the founders of beloved Buckhead Italian spot Storico Fresco, Forza Storico is similar in look and taste but occupies a bigger and more booming space, which suits its Roman bent. There is a ton of overlap between this menu and Storico Fresco’s, including the must-order cacio e pepe (perhaps the best litmus-test for a pasta-forward place; I challenge you to find a better version in town). In addition to that characteristically bold-yet-simple Roman staple, you’ll find others, including spot-on renditions of carbonara and amatriciana. Welcome to carb heaven. 1198 Howell Mill Road, 404-464-8096
Was it risky to name a Vietnamese-influenced restaurant perched in the glittering Shops of Buckhead after the 60 years of French colonial rule in Southeast Asia? Yeah, probably—but the diners packed into the glamorous, soaring dining room don’t seem bothered. Nor do they seem to mind that Le Colonial doesn’t deliver any memorable Vietnamese food, because it turns out that Le Colonial does a better job of being a fancy restaurant in general. There is serviceable cha gio (crispy pork and shrimp rolls with fresh herbs and chili-lime sauce) and also tuna tartare with hard-to-detect sweet chili and soy caviar that just tastes like caviar. And for the Instagram set, the $66 snapper is served whole, fried, and upright, as if with a flick of its tail it might glide off your table. 3035 Peachtree Road, 404-341-0500
This article appears in our January 2020 issue.