Out of Atlanta

Food

Charlotte Restaurateurs Give Insight on 2 Highly Anticipated Openings

Chef Paul Verica’s new concept is coming soon. Photo by Peter Taylor.

ORTO
Owner: Paul Verica
You might know him from: The James Beard semifinalist is executive chef and owner of The Stanley.
The premise of Orto: Orto is Italian for “kitchen garden.” The casual Italian spot, located in the Novel NoDa project on 36th Street, focuses on handmade pizzas and pastas.
Original opening: June 2020
New grand opening: Verica is targeting mid-January for a soft opening.
When was it clear the pandemic would postpone your grand opening? (Fiancé) Jane and I were in Italy in late February, and we had to cut our trip short because of COVID. We woke up one morning in Genoa; we were getting ready to head to Milan, and they were shutting the city down. Jane is a doctor, so she started looking at emails and said, “We need to get the hell out of here.” Four hours later, we were at the Genoa airport. The day after we left, they stopped letting people back in the U.S. from Italy. We came home and quarantined for two weeks. We’d planned to start construction in March, but we kept holding off. Finally, in August, we started construction.
How did you keep Orto moving forward? I’ve made a lot of pizza dough in the last eight months (laughs). At one point, I talked about walking away and not doing it. But Jane pushed me to keep going.
What’s been the biggest hurdle? What’s going to happen when we open? That scares the living daylights out of me. Thankfully it will be a lot more delivery and to-go-friendly than The Stanley is. This food translates better to a to-go box.
Any adjustments you’ve made to Orto’s layout? We’ll have a huge covered patio, which we never realized would be so important before we started.
What’s a can’t-miss-dish we should order at Orto? The pizza. It’s based off my favorite pizza spot outside Philly, called Pica’s. We’ll have an upside-down square pie with cheese and toppings on the bottom and sauce on top, so kind of Detroit-style with a thicker crust.

Photo by Peter Taylor.

Supperland
Owners: Jamie Brown and Jeff Tonidandel
You might know them from: The spouses and business partners also own Haberdish, Crepe Cellar, Growler’s Pourhouse, and Reigning Doughnuts.
The premise of Supperland: The couple transformed a historic Plaza Midwood church into a restaurant and cocktail bar. The menu is a nod to a church potluck picnic.
Original opening: Summer 2020
New grand opening: January 2021.
When was it clear the pandemic would postpone your grand opening? “I was at Supperland scoping out a new stereo system—I’d spent a lot of money on speakers,” Jeff recalls. “I got a text that we would have to shut down our other restaurants, and I’d have to fire 90 people. At Supperland, things just slowed down naturally. Construction was still allowed, but it was harder to get people over there.”
How did you keep Supperland moving forward? “Jeff took over a lot of the construction work, so our garage became a woodshop, and he built the tables in our backyard,” Jamie says. “That would typically be done by a professional, so it was a nice cost savings and gave us work to do outside the restaurant to keep things moving.”
What’s been the biggest hurdle? “We’re cooking on live fire for the first time,” Jeff says. “We had a whole bunch of stages in New York set up for our chefs, but now we’re down to watching Zoom videos and cooking in our backyard on a Green Egg. It may take us awhile to get a handle on consistency.”
Any adjustments you’ve made to Supperland’s layout? “We will likely do Plexiglas like we did at Haberdish, at the bar and the chef’s counter,” Jamie says, “but for the most part, the design is what we originally intended. We designed it for the future.”
What’s a can’t-miss-dish we should order at Supperland? “The lobster made on the grill, served simply with butter,” Jamie says. “We’ll also have homemade breads and potluck-type dishes like mac and cheese and homemade Jell-O with natural ingredients.”

10 Must-Try Taco Spots in Charlotte: 2020

From the traditional to the unconventional

December 18, 2020

Tacos de Carne Asada at Three Amigos. Photo by PeterTaylor.
Tacos El NevadoMultiple locations (Plaza Midwood and South End)Tacos El Nevado doesn’t have a proper Taco Tuesday special. But most of its tacos are just $2 every day, so it’s always a solid deal. We recommend trying these four first: al pastor, asada, pollo, and lengua. (Vegetarians, fear not: Tacos El Nevado serves non-meat options.) The owners’ native Oaxaca, the capital city of the Mexican state that shares the name, inspires much of the menu here.
Taqueria Mal Pan4625 Piedmont Row Dr., Ste. 115 D, 980-298-6138Taqueria Mal Pan quietly opened in SouthPark’s Piedmont Row in November 2019 and gained steady momentum with the grab-and-go lunch crowd. Owner Andre Lomeli brings a Mexican and West Coast-inspired menu from his former restaurant in San Diego; his tacos, burritos, and enchiladas have the pizzazz of a food truck’s and the flavors of his native Yucatan Peninsula. The blue corn tortillas loaded with shredded chicken punch up a typical Taco Tuesday.
RuRu’s Tacos + Tequila715 Providence Rd.The “I’ll Have What She’s Having”  is one of the standouts here, with grilled mahi mahi, lettuce, avocado, cilantro, and pineapple salsa. But don’t pass over the Long Duck Dong, with Korean sweet-and-spicy steak, pickled cabbage, sesame seeds, and cilantro. The spot offers select $2 tacos on Tuesdays.

El Pulgarcito de America4816 Central Ave.Felix Godward, owner of Felix’s Empanadas, calls El Pulgarcito de America “the best Hispanic food I’ve had in Charlotte.” Among the options here for tacos are asada, pollo, chicharron, and chorizo options.
Three Amigos2917 Central Ave., Ste. A This loaded menu has many options, but you have to try the Tacos de Carne Asada: marinated steak with onion, cilantro, and lime, all on a corn tortilla. A family meal boxes right now offers 12 tacos (corn, flour, toastadas, or hard shell) with a slew of protein and filling options, all for $30.
Tin KitchenFood truckThere’s a slew of eclectic tacos here, and here’s one to put on your list of musts: Garam Masala, with stewed chick peas, tomatoes, coriander, and ginger and garlic over red cabbage-carrot slaw with a cucumber raita and grilled scallions.
Krazy Fish2501 Central Ave.There are fourteen tacos on the menu at Plaza Midwood dive Krazy Fish, including three vegetarian options. Don’t miss the Spicy Potato Cake Tacos, which are thick flour tortillas stuffed with savory chunks of fried potato and ladled with Krazy Fish’s signature—and addictive—blueberry tamarind chutney.
Paco’s Tacos & Tequila6401 Morrison Blvd., Ste. 8AAt this FS Food Group joint, you have to try the titular taco: a 10-hour slow roasted chili rubbed beef brisket with caramelized onions, queso fresco, and chipotle barbecue sauce. (They also own Midwood Smokehouse, so you know the barbecue will be on point.)

Cabo Fish Taco3201 N. Davidson St.Fans of fish tacos are already going to know about this NoDa favorite. A suggestion for newbies: Try the bearty chunks of fresh, flaky blackened tuna are rubbed with lemon, then drizzled with a kiwi-pineapple sauce and piled onto two grilled tortillas for the Tavarua Tuna Tacos at Cabo Fish Taco. The shells are then topped with chopped romaine lettuce, tomato, and a honey wasabi sauce for an extra little kick to this tangy treat.
Sabor Latin Street GrillMultiple locationsThe $1 Tacos Autenticos here are a Taco Tuesday favorite in Charlotte, in ground beef, shredded chicken, and veggie varieties. If you’re looking for a more complex taco, they recently added a tasty Pork Belly Taco to the menu, with Ranchero mayo, spice rosada slaw, and cilantro.

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A Winter Food Guide for Charlotteans

From chili to bread pudding

December 16, 2020

LOGAN CYRUS
Even if it doesn’t feel like winter outside, “fake it until you make it” is a popular phrase that carries over to dining. We have already started ordering some of our winter favorites in Charlotte, and we’re sharing that list below:
LUNCH/DINNER
GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH (top)The Workman’s FriendThe Workman’s Friend is intimate, warm, and cozy—just the kind of atmosphere that begs for a grilled cheese on sourdough, served alongside a tomato basil bisque. (Note to self: best enjoyed while sitting beside the crackling fireplace.) 1531 Central Ave.BURGERThe Diamond RestaurantWith two 1/3-lb. patties, the Big Block Burger is hearty. (There’s also a Full Blown Hemi option, with three patties for a full pound of beef.) You can get it “All the Way,” with the standard lettuce, tomatoes, onions, mayos, and pickles, or “Southern Style”: chili, mustard, onions, and coleslaw. 1901 Commonwealth Ave.
CHILILupie’s CafeLupie’s doesn’t mess around. Texas is the hottest, Southern style the mildest, Cincinnati all Skyline and cinnamon-infused, vegetarian the veggiest. All come with pintos, cheese, onions, and cornbread. Get it in a cup, bowl, atop spaghetti, or with mac and cheese. When the weather is cold and the sky overcast, you want nothing else. 2718 Monroe Rd.

(VEGETARIAN) MEATLOAFDishVegetarian meatloaf might sound like an oxymoron, and, mostly, it is. But the competition for who makes the best loaf of “meat” in Charlotte is surprisingly stiff. We give a slight edge to Dish for its Cajun-seasoned veggie loaf, which comes in three forms: sliders, sandwich, and regular loaf. Crafted from lentils, the spicy loaf comes with mashed potatoes and gravy and another side. Go with the vegan slaw or collard greens to complete the improper Southern meal. 1220 Thomas Ave. (Ed.: The meat meatloaf is also wonderful.)ALSO AT DISH: CHICKEN & DUMPLINGSLASAGNAPasta & ProvisionsWhen a friend has a baby or a new neighbor moves in down the street, the 16-layer lasagna from Pasta & Provisions is the easiest way to say, “I’ve got your dinner covered tonight.” A large order feeds nine to 12 people, and it’s flash frozen so they can pop it in the oven whenever they’re ready. It’s not homemade, but it certainly tastes like it. Multiple locations.

MEATBALLSOsteria LucaThe TRUE Meatballs, complete with marinara, parmesan cheese, and grilled bread, are a hefty option to scratch that wintry Italian itch. The casual spot opened this year in Park Road, from the team behind TRUE Crafted Pizza. As you can tell by the name of this dish, some of the favorites of the brand carried over. 4127 Park Rd.BREAD PUDDINGMama Ricotta’sWe had to get a dessert in there, too: The Warm Bread Pudding at Mama Ricotta’s is studded with marsala-soaked raisins and vanilla bean—and accompanied by housemade gelato with dulce de leche. 601 S. Kings Dr., AA.

BREAKFAST/BRUNCH
PANCAKESEddie’s PlaceEddie’s Place does so many breakfast favorites right, but its Big Fluffy Pancakes deserve the spotlight on this list. Add blueberries, cranberries, raisins, pecans, almonds, or chocolate chips to customize your rich breakfast. It comes with a choice of meat and side, for some extra joy to start the day. 617 S. Sharon Amity Rd.BACON, EGG, & CHEESE SANDWICHSunflour BakeryHere’s a brunch classic that rises above the rest with an integral choice of bread: the cheddar biscuit. The seasonal menu here also has peppermint swirl and red velvet treats, tiramisu, and sweet potato pie bars. Multiple locations.

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Restaurant Inspired by Indian Street Food Opens at Optimist Hall

Botiwalla comes from James Beard Award-nominee Meherwan Irani

December 15, 2020

Photo by Night Watch Crew

Botiwalla, a full-service restaurant serving Indian street food, opens this week at Optimist Hall. The first tenant in the hall’s upstairs restaurant wing, the spot comes from five-time James Beard Award-nominee Meherwan Irani. This is the third location for the concept, with prior locations in Atlanta’s Ponce City Market and Alpharetta City Center.

SPDP And Lamb Burgers. Photo by Night Watch Crew.

This 2,727-square-foot restaurant is currently in a soft open until Thursday’s grand opening. Per a release, the menu has “grilled chicken, lamb, and paneer wrapped in hot naan with fresh herbs, smoky Lamb Burgers, finger lickin’ chaat such as SPDP (Sev Potato Dahi Puri) and Masala Smashed Potatoes, and the cult-followed Desi Salad,” as well as “snacks and grilled meats, the restaurant features boozy slushies, afternoon high tea, and retail items including Irani’s own Spicewalla spices, roasted and packed by hand in Asheville, NC.”

Photo by Night Watch Crew

This is the first Indian restaurant for the hall, which has been building its roster of international options since opening last year. Soft opening hours for Botiwalla are 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; regular hours will be 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Chicken Tikka Roll. Photo by Night Watch Crew.

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Zafron Restaurant Sandy Springs

From the moment you walk in and see the lavish and gorgeous garden room adorned with a chandelier and notice the dynamic food, Zafron Restaurant turns out to be a true Persian gem in Sandy Springs that has style. From dips and starters for every taste, an extensive wine list, to tender sea bass, and the fantastic and unique experience of the Rhubarb Lamb Shank, we sipped and tasted our way around the menu. We can’t wait to share our experience any longer, let’s dive in.
The post Zafron Restaurant Sandy Springs appeared first on Adventures in Atlanta.

Top 11 Hotel Bars in Charleston

The stunning skyline views, cozy corners and crave-worthy cocktails at these bars will make leaving your hotel an uneasy task! While many cocktail bars are often pit-stops to your final destination, these unique hotel bars are destinations in themselves.

Fresh Take: A Visit to Mico at Grand Bohemian Hotel Charlotte

The spot merges spicy Argentinean flavors with Bohemian design inside uptown’s newest luxury hotel
The post Fresh Take: A Visit to Mico at Grand Bohemian Hotel Charlotte appeared first on Charlotte Magazine.

McCray’s Tavern East Cobb

Just as the sun sets in the sky, the lights start to glow inside McCray’s Tavern East Cobb, while the hustle and bustle of the guests, bartenders, and staff picks up. The energy permeates the air and entices you to enjoy a light appetizer, try the latest chef’s special, and maybe a cocktail or two. We also have to admit, McCray’s Tavern is more eatery than the Tavern name suggests with dynamic and diverse dishes that Chef Mo continues to knock out of the park. Yes, McCray’s Tavern East Cobb may have traditional tavern fare like wings and burgers, but when you see the extensive menu and specials, all you know is you’re in for a treat. From feisty, spicy tuna tartare, delectable duck, divine butternut squash agnolotti, hearty pork chop, to the lemony East Meets West cocktail, McCray’s Tavern East Cobb turns tavern into culinary adventure. Who’s ready to eat?

Woodward & Park Brunch

Posted by Liz and John Attaway, 11/19/20
Across from Oakland Cemetery in Grant Park, restaurants, bars, and housing are popping up like wildfire and adding to the appeal of the area.  Joining long standing staple Six Feet Under, Woodward & Park like newbies Full Commission and Firepit, have infiltrated and elevated Grant Park into a must-go destination in Atlanta for both food and site seeing. At Woodward & Park everything from the fabulous cocktails to the amazingly staple breakfast fare to the divine Croque Madame Burger to unique dishes like the Shakshuka and Grits, they have to have one of the best brunches in Atlanta right now. You’ll want to write this down and save it for later. Here we go.
Sipping on a few cocktails with brunch is one of the best ways to start your weekend and depending on what you like, you can either go classic Butterfly cocktail or brunchy Roc N Rec Shooter. Starting with the Butterfly, this one had a ton of sass with a melding of gin, tonic, elderflower, lime, and butterfly pea flower. She’s a floral based cocktail that balances between the sweet and tart of the ingredients. This one we’d argue is a great summer sipper for almost any occasion, not just brunch. On the other hand, the Roc N Rec Shooter is perfect for brunching because it reminds us of breakfast itself. You can just think of it as a PBJ milkshake or even reminiscent of the childhood sandwich with a glass of milk. One part peanut butter whiskey, one part blackberry, and a splash of cream, this drink is nutty, creamy, and sweet.  And since we love unique sips, this one is a must sample on our list.
Two of the brunch dishes we chose turned out to be so dynamic and delicious, we wanted to rave about them. The most unique had to be one that we’d never seen on another brunch menu, the Mediterranean inspired Shakshuka and grits. It has so many flavors and textures with the harissa spices, tender tomatoes, eggs, and grainy yet creamy grits. It’s a plethora of spicy, sweet, creamy, crunchy, and ends savory with the runny egg.  One simple, yet amazing bowl, but make sure to mix it up well and get all the ingredients in one bite. Perfect. Something even better than this is imaginable, but we found it, the Croque Madame Burger. Starting with tender and rich meat in the middle and expanding into crunchy and crusty toast and surrounded by tons of cheese and runny egg, this burger wasn’t much to look at really. One bite and you’re in love with the meatiness, richness of the bone marrow, creamy of the cheeses, and savory gooeyness of the egg. It begins with a crunch and ends with so much savor. Our tip is to get the egg all runny and let it sink in a little to the bread. Cannot stop thinking about it!
If you go with more traditional breakfast fare, say the English Muffin Sandwich, you have to get it with the fried chicken! The English muffin made in-house had the right amount of crunch on the outside and warm bread inside! Then, the fried chicken was tender and juicy, while the breading was crispy with a slight spice. You can get it plain or with cheese and eggs. Either way, you’re in for a treat. Why don’t we finishing this off a classic mimosa?
Remember when we said to write this down? If you could have anything at Woodward & Park, what would you have? Next time for us, brisket hash for brunch and at dinner, bone marrow!

Steak 48 Opens in South Park Next Month. Here’s a Look Inside

November 17, 2020

Steak 48, an upscale steakhouse with locations in Phoenix, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Houston, opens at Apex SouthPark on December 18. The 11,500-square-foot space has an in-house butcher shop, raw bar, and 6,000 bottle wine vault. Chief Brand Officer Oliver Badgio calls it a “very sexy steakhouse,” with multiple dining rooms, outdoor seating, and six private dining suites with a view of the open kitchen. “It’s an honest kitchen,” he says. “You get dinner and a show here.”

Executive chef Heather King comes from Bern’s Steakhouse in Tampa, and general manager Chad Tucker was previously at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. Steak is the main attraction, but other menu highlights include crispy shrimp deviled eggs, corn crème brule, and a seafood tower. Badgio calls the seafood tower a must-try dish for first-timers, and says the meatballs are unbelievable. “We butcher everything in-house,” he says. “You can get a traditional steak and baked potato, or top it with black truffle Maine lobster.” He says the Charlotte location will also introduce a new signature cocktail called the Botanist.
To allow for social distancing, tables are six feet apart, and unused tables are marked with flowers and candles. The restaurant will open at 50 percent capacity and reservations are required. “Come here to celebrate a special occasion, or come on a Tuesday night,” Badgio says. “It’s approachable and unpretentious, like a newer version of a great American steakhouse.”

Steak 48 is located at 4425 Sharon Road in SouthPark.

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