If you’re a food truckie, you’ve probably seen the Mix’d Up Burgers van around town, most reliably at 12th and Peachtree on Thursdays. I had no idea that the owner also operates two restaurants. One has been operating in my neighborhood, Grant Park, for five years, completely off my radar, in a tiny building I thought had long ago been abandoned (313 Boulevard, 404-963-2381, mixdupfoods.com) after repeated failures by earlier tenants.
The restaurant serves seven half-pound burgers (including black-bean and turkey alternatives for the delusionally healthy). I have only sampled one and I have literally been craving it daily since I first devoured it. It’s called the “Rockin’ Hero Bite” and it’s the best lamb burger I have eaten in Atlanta in memory. Besides its gigantic size and its perfect glossy bun, it features something amazingly unique: it actually tastes like lamb. The typical restaurant in Atlanta loads ground lamb with way too many spices to kill the meat’s slightly “gamy” taste. That’s really stupid. Mix’d Up’s version is also seasoned but comparatively lightly. It’s topped with the usual Greek tzatziki sauce and a bit of feta cheese, along with tomatoes and lettuce.
I am anxious to try the “Texan,” described thusly: “Angus burger, bacon, cheese, piled high with pulled pork, BBQ sauce and chipotle ranch slaw.” I will report my findings from the cardiac unit at Piedmont Hospital. Besides burgers, the Grant Park restaurant only serves fries —perfectly crisp piles of shoestrings, plain or topped with everything from cheesy chili to barbecued pork. I’ve only done the plain, which I sprinkled with malt vinegar.
The Boulevard restaurant is a dive, really. There are only a few tall bar tables and some outside picnic tables. Most of the business appears to be at the drive-through window — and if there are more than a couple of cars in line, you’re going to have to be inventive with parking. The other restaurant, located in East Lake (2371 Hosea Williams Dr., 404-343-0394, mixdupfoods.com) is full-service, has a bar, serves salads, and offers a brunch menu on Saturday and Sunday.
KOREAN CHICKEN: I’ve been bingeing on fried chicken lately, so I was anxious to try the relatively new Hello Chicken (5295 Buford Hwy., Doraville, 770-797-5153, hellochickenfood.com), which describes its menu as “Seoul Grub.” The brightly lit space is filled with an initially disorienting maze of gray booths that hide everyone in the restaurant. It’s weird.
Koreans are just about as obsessed with fried chicken as Southerners. They hack their birds into countless pieces and double-fry them to ramp up the crisp factor. Four of us ordered two plates of chicken — one served straight up with potato wedges and a tart soy-based dipping sauce and another coated with a sticky spicy-sweet sauce. In all honesty, the latter tasted candy-coated, needing a much higher amount of spicy heat. The other was fine but paled beside the version I recently ate at nearby Dish.
The menu is confusing, but the servers are a lot of help. There are trendy Korean-Mexican tacos and quesadillas. We also ordered a bland kimchi pancake, some half-hollow dumplings and some over-cooked, dry fried-pork-finger-things. I wish it had been better. I wish the bakery next door, Mozart, had been better too. A lavender macaron was lavender in color only and crackery almond cookies had virtually no flavor.
Get the burger.