Food & Drink

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How to eat like a queen on a peasant’s budget

Fierce Dishes explores cheap eats

There is one efficient way to save money and still eat at nice places. Take advantage of the specials during the week.

The Here to Serve Restaurant Group, known for its restaurants’ architecture, has some of the best during-the-week deals. For example, on Monday at Noche you can get really good $2 tacos which normally run $4-5.

We went to the Vinings location, which has a charming, darkly lit, cantina vibe. We ordered all the tacos, which consisted of shrimp with black beans and roasted corn; crispy fish with spicy slaw; grilled veggie with charred tomato salsa; and the grilled chicken with chunky house-made guacamole. My favorites were the pulled pork with fire roasted chilies and jack cheese, and the marinated steak with pepper-jack cheese.

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Delicious Italian options

I kept reading about Noni’s Deli on all the Best Of lists but had never been. “Noni” is a derivative from “Nonna,” which means grandmother in Italian, and many of the recipes were originated by the owner’s Sicilian grandmother.

We went late after our Atlanta Executive Network meeting and were starving. I’m not in college anymore and I can’t do late night Taco Bell. Noni’s is an excellent alternative to the typical greasy after-hours gut bombs you get on Ponce. The place was full of urban hipsters, GSU and Agnes Scott students, and maybe gay couples – you can’t always tell these days. If you live in Midtown, it’s worth the drive.

The place used to be an old school grocery store but has transformed into a very relevant downtown destination that stimulates your eyes with architectural nuisances. This is an excellent first date place. You know that awkward first 20 minutes where you want to ask “what’s wrong with you?” but instead you make small talk? Say, “ I love the shiny jagged slate floor and I’m a sucker for red exposed brick,” and you’ll impress your date or long time partner. It’s always a good idea to have subjects rehearsed when the conversation lags.

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Popular eatery fails health inspection, makes amends

Joe's on JuniperAfter failing a Food Service Inspection last month, gay-popular Midtown restaurant Joe's on Juniper is now making the grade.

The inspection was conducted by the Department of Community Health, Division of Public Health on March 16, 2011. Joe's scored a 63 out of a possible 100, earning the restaurant a “U” grade.

Click here for the full report.

Joe's has since held a re-inspection and received a 100 on March 28 according to managing partner Alice Masker.

Among the violations cited in the failed inspection were workers handling food items with bare hands when a glove or utensil was required, not having a handwash sink accessible for employee use and mold in the ice machine.

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The beer is great, but you don’t have to drink to enjoy these neighborhood hubs

Brick Store Pub in Decatur

You don’t have to drink to enjoy a good neighborhood bar experience. It’s like in Olde England where the pub was the heartbeat of the community. It’s nice to have a grassroots communal experience. These two taverns aren’t about raucous screaming drunks, but rather the convivial, connective atmosphere a good pub can deliver.

Open for over a decade, the Brick Store Pub is a vital, nostalgic stop in Decatur. Many Atlantans think of Manual’s Tavern first when looking for a quintessential pub experience, but that place is hyper straight. Brick Store’s owners know they are surrounded by Decatur’s culinary gems, so they had to up their game and not serve tired stock bar food.

The scene is mainly straight, but Decatur is the Berkley of the South, so no one cares what you are. It’s the kind of straight folks that like gays because they know we move in and increase property value. The décor is classic red exposed brick.

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Neighborhood favorite provides good food for good prices

Athens Pizza

My first partner lived around the Emory – Toco Hills area so we frequented the restaurants near us. Sadly, Mexico City Gourmet closed as did Anarkli, which was the place I first tasted Indian food, which soon became an obsession. Is there anything better than chicken tiki masala on fragrant basmanti rice? We’ll save that for another column.

I was recently in the neighborhood and passed by Athens Pizza. This place is a true anchor of the area as it’s been open since 1977, owned by John and Aseimoula Papadopoulos. You’ll see the authentic urban melting pot from the elderly patrons who have been going there for decades to young Emory students. We chatted with a lovely lesbian couple while their cute adopted Asian daughter laughed with my partner’s kids. How’s that for modern family.

The non-corporate restaurant is very Greek kitschy with Mediterranean murals and is staffed with congenial employees who’ve been there for years and actually seem to care if you have a great experience. Yes, food snobs, this is not the best Greek restaurant in Atlanta — it’s not Buckhead Life’s Kyma — but the point is you can have an affordable, relevant culinary experience.