The verdict on 5 new Atlanta restaurants: Che Butter Jonez, the Continent, Drawbar, the Abby Singer, Daisuki Sushi Izakaya

Che Butter Jonez opens a brick-and-mortar, Scotley Innis lands on BuHi, the Interlock development gets its first restaurant, and more

2338
The verdict on 5 new Atlanta restaurants: Che Butter Jonez, the Continent, Drawbar, the Abby Singer, Daisuki Sushi Izakaya
That Sh!t Slambing at Che Butter Jonez

Photograph by Martha Williams

Che Butter Jonez
One of the liveliest food-related Instagram accounts in the city belongs to Che Butter Jonez, the beloved food truck from spouses Malik Rhasaan (the titular Che) and Detric Fox-Quinlan (aka Bae Butter Jonez). Their shouty joie de vivre is also conveyed in their business motto—“I cook better than your muva!”—and, now, their first brick-and-mortar outpost, a cheery counter-service joint neighboring a Chevron station. Rhasaan, a Queens native, is the chef, offering a cuisine woefully underrepresented outside the five boroughs: New York street food. You can keep your lox bagel, your $1 slice—to me, the perfect NYC dish is the soul-satisfying chicken and rice served from its halal carts, and I’m awfully grateful to CBJ for making a solid version available here. One recent lunch hour, a customer tucking into a plate of Who Let Mookie Make the Pasta (named for Spike Lee’s character in Do the Right Thing) mused aloud that the dish—spicy, garlicky noodles with spinach, tomatoes, and Parm, plus shrimp, mussels, or chicken—reminded him of a jerk pasta he used to enjoy on 14th Street in Manhattan. The aforementioned offerings appear on a frequently changing menu that also includes That Sh!t Slambing—a smashed lamb burger with caramelized onions and a creamy herb sauce—and a bodega-style breakfast sandwich. Open at 7 most mornings, Che on Cleveland is just off I-85; this food would be great on the go. 757 Cleveland Avenue, Perkerson, 404-919-4061

The Continent
When last he graced the pages of this magazine, in February, Scotley Innis was doing a brisk takeout business selling decadent dishes like lobster mac and cheese from a ghost kitchen called Scotch Yard. These days, Innis is serving lobster mac—and other preparations at least as sumptuous—at the Continent, his long-awaited restaurant on Buford Highway. In his oxtail lo mein, the noodles’ chew is offset by the meltingly fatty meat and sweet, tender onions. Like Scotch Yard, the Continent takes its culinary cues from Africa—the lamb chops are inspired by suya, the West African street skewers—and the Caribbean: It’s not every Atlanta chicken joint that marinates its wings in warming jerk spices, then tosses them in sweet-tart tamarind sauce. It’s exceedingly easy to feel comforted by this food but harder to feel challenged by it: I wouldn’t have minded a bit more spice, funk, sour—something to make a diner sit up straighter in the Continent’s enveloping red booths. The ultrachill atmosphere does, no doubt, recommend this restaurant, where the staff are unflaggingly friendly and where Innis himself—a former Hell’s Kitchen contestant with a face for television—may drop by the table to see how things are going. A cigar bar adjoins (but is sealed off from) the dining room. 4300 Buford Highway, Chamblee, 404-228-2027

Drawbar
Drawbar is a stylish new restaurant located . . . well, somewhere deep within the Interlock, the mixed-use development opening in phases on Howell Mill Road. Wander around long enough and you’ll find it—and once you get there, wander a little further onto the patio, which affords beautiful views of downtown Atlanta. Maybe other people have had trouble, too; on a recent weeknight, the roomy dining room and bar, which double as the lobby of the Bellyard hotel, were all but deserted. The emptiness only intensified that weird, irresistible charm you encounter in certain hotel restaurants, which Drawbar has in droves: After I ordered a drink (the purple-hued, gin-based Ocean Eyes, similar to an Aviation), a server who was not even my server dropped by and chatted me up for a good 20 minutes, touching on everything from the miso-glazed salmon, which she recommended, to Atlanta’s Black Pride festivities in September, which she also recommended. I sipped my drink; I had a blast. The menu—from Christina Wai, a hotel-restaurant veteran—has a little something for everyone and nothing particularly audacious; Southern influences show up in dishes like pimento cheese arancini and Coca-Cola short rib toast. I’m suspicious of anything “glazed” that’s not a doughnut, but my new friend was spot on about the salmon. 1 Interlock Avenue, Westside, 404-806-8333

The Abby Singer
If you’re looking to get a little starry-eyed before wandering through the immersive Van Gogh “experience” at the Pratt Pullman District, stop on the way in at the Abby Singer—the first permanent dining establishment in this rambling campus being reconstructed from the old bones of an early-20th-century manufacturing facility. The niche this low-key counter-service restaurant seeks to fill is “comfortable food cooked with the Midwest in mind,” and the dish anchoring its menu is the Jucy Lucy—a Minneapolis-born burger in which molten cheese is encased within the meat rather than topping it. When I visited recently, though, said cheese seemed to be missing—leaving just a whole lot of burger and bun, plus half-raw onions (“caramelized,” per the menu) and mass-market pickles. Cheese or no, some seasoning would’ve been nice: sauce, aioli, ketchup or mustard, a bit more salt; man cannot live by half-pound portions of unflavored beef alone, even if that is the dominant culinary style of the upper Midwest. (I’m from there! I’m allowed to joke!) Still, the tater tots did everything they needed to (come winter, one hopes, they’ll find their way into another Minnesota delicacy: hot dish) and the cocktails, as I suggested earlier, were affecting. In particular, a watermelon-hibiscus-mint agua fresca had two virtues: It was delicious—immensely refreshing and not too sweet, with your choice of gin, vodka, or tequila—and it was served in a 16-ounce cup. By the time I tottered away along the Pullman Trail, most disappointments were forgotten. 225 Rogers Street, Kirkwood, no phone

Daisuki Sushi Izakaya
Daisuki conveys great affection in Japanese—the literal translation is “big like”—and conveys, as well, the jovial mood inside this new Johns Creek spot, where customers are greeted warmly in Japanese and bade a farewell that’s at least as effusive. The menu is a nice mix of sushi-counter favorites, deftly prepared with fresh-tasting fish—I enjoyed the chirashi bowl, an assortment of sashimi over vinegared rice, and there are many options for maki and nigiri—and hot snacks to share alongside bottles of Sapporo and/or sake. In the latter category, see, for instance, tonkatsu (breaded pork cutlet), fried chicken, vegetable croquettes, the wonderful savory Japanese pancake okonomiyaki, and irresistible takoyaki—soft-centered octopus fritters. Daisuki has been serving takeout since March and only recently opened for dine-in service; outdoor seating is available, though the view is of a strip-mall parking lot. 11105 State Bridge Road, Johns Creek, 678-585-1604

A version of this article appears in our August 2021 issue.

Advertisement