Not long ago, on the same morning that I reluctantly forked over $2.17 for a small pouch of M&M’s at my regular gas station, I paid $7 for a cortado and an excellent breakfast sandwich—eggs and bacon on a soft sesame-seed roll. How could such a thing be? In any event, I have since returned almost daily to the Best Sandwich Shop and the Wurst Beer Hall, chef Shaun Doty’s new restaurant combo in the former Moe’s space on Ponce de Leon Avenue.
An Oklahoma native who once worked at the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead and has opened restaurants including the Federal and Bantam + Biddy, Doty has gotten this spot up and running with the help of vice president of operations (and life partner) Natalie Samples. He’s already doing remarkably well with a concept that seems pretty brilliant to me—“bringing the North to the South”—and a commitment to both quality and affordability that feels increasingly rare these days. As any New Yorker can tell you, one can still get a cheap egg sandwich and a cup of coffee on every corner of the city, courtesy of an old-fashioned food cart or a diner. In Atlanta, it’s impossible.
Well—nearly. Nowadays for breakfast, I head to Best Sandwich, where the basic egg-and-cheddar option goes for $3.50; there’s also fresh orange juice and halfway decent hash browns. By noon the menu grows to include daily soups (matzo ball, tomato) and a lot more sandwiches. The latter are divided between hot (e.g., the Farmers Daughter, with seared Halloumi and roast peppers, and the Immortal, a meatball sub with San Marzano tomato sauce and mozzarella from Capella Cheese) and cold (the Sunset Blvd, with turkey, bacon, and avocado), and all are easy to enjoy in the cozy, tiny dining room.
An even bigger draw: the beer hall, which occupies the other, larger part of the building and pours Bavarian lagers by the liter and half liter. (The sandwich shop closes at 3; the beer hall opens at 5.) The Wurst Beer Hall specializes in hearty fare: currywurst and french fries, smoked pork chop with brown butter and sour cherries, and fish and chips, with sides like braised red cabbage and an unusual Ukrainian beet salad with kidney beans. Yes, you can order crowd-pleasers like chicken wings and humongous pretzels with cheese sauce—but I prefer bangers and mash or, if I can gather enough people, the giant sampler platter of four sausages, served with sauerkraut and German mustard. (Doty’s economizing extends to the dinner hour as well: He doesn’t buy the sausage from some local hotshot monetizing his meat trimmings, but rather from Patak Meat Products, an Austell-based old-world butcher that has truly mastered the trade.)
The Friday and Saturday special? A monumental pig knuckle, simmered in duck fat for 12 hours and served with kraut, pickles, and country bread, that the chef himself may be willing to carve tableside. Skip the Aperol spritz (good advice for any beer hall) and glory in the thoughtful selection of brews—mostly lagers, including my favorite, Ayinger Pils—and homey dining room, with several TV screens that may have a soccer game on. There’s outdoor patio seating too—a bona fide beer garden.
This article appears in our July 2023 issue.