Since 1981, Atlantans in the know have made the trek to a barren access road off of 285 for cheesesteaks at the Mad Italian. It’s not a place you expect to be a food destination, those who know, know. And that same area has yet another interesting culinary destination if you don’t mind eating in the back of an Israeli market.
Israelis David Malka and Yehonatan Hazot opened Tip Top Kosher Market last August. Tip Top sells hard-to-find treats such as crunchy Bamba, a peanut-flavored bagged snack, and fun items like kosher Doritos. The real treasure is in the back of the store, where there’s a kosher restaurant you might mistake for a stockroom if you didn’t know was there.
If you keep kosher in Atlanta, your options for dining out can feel limited, so any new options are good options. While Atlanta has spectacular Persian options like Rumi’s Kitchen (one of my personal all-time favorites) and plenty of falafel and shawarma joints, Israeli and Lebanese food isn’t as well-represented in our otherwise diverse international culinary landscape.
Inside the sparse restaurant at Tip Top is a slightly grumpy chef and a young, super friendly server with a thick Israeli accent. Sitting in the back of this kosher market somehow feels transformative, as if I’m suddenly in a market in Tel Aviv and not minutes from bumper-to-bumper traffic on 285. Perhaps it is the chef and waitress speaking in Hebrew, or the TV broadcasting a mix of music videos and soccer, or the small dish of babaganoush given to us as a complimentary nosh alongside red cabbage cole slaw.
There’s plenty of comfort food options—falafel, fried chicken schnitzel with thick cut steak fries, and juicy merguez sausages (spicy lamb). The falafel is golden brown and crunchy, a nice start to the meal alongside a salad. But the hummus, which comes topped with all sorts of topping such as boiled eggs or ribeye, was a bit thin and underseasoned. While there is a lack of salt in some dishes, it’s easily remedied with the dash of a salt shaker or a smear of zhug, a Yemeni-Jewish spicy chili paste (think a thick, homemade salsa) we ended up slathering on everything. However imperfect, Tip Top has its merits. I would go back for the crunchy and juicy schnitzel if on this side of town—assuming I can resist that Mad Italian cheesesteak. 2211 Savoy Drive B, 470-365-2994