The unseasonably warm weather may not be cooperating for roaring fires and snuggly sweaters, but winter is still the season that makes us crave comfort food — simple, hearty meals that both soothe and satisfy.
Don’t feel like cooking at home? Here are 10 of our favorite comfort food meals from LGBT-friendly local eateries. Some are praised by the foodies, some are mainstays of the gayborhood, but all will leave you ready to cuddle up.
“Is it spiiiicy?” a man at the second meeting of the Food Porn Supper Club whined to the server. They were at Stir It Up in Little Five Points and the whiner was determined to find the blandest thing on the menu.
“Jamaican food is by definition spicy,” someone at the table said. “But it’s not all spicy-hot.”
Robert, host of the club, wanted to tie the whiner up and torture him with Scotch Bonnet chili peppers, the world’s hottest. Nothing annoyed him as much as people’s aversion to spicy food. He’d given up taking most friends to ethnic restaurants along Buford Highway, for example.
Robert looked around the dining room of the new Watershed on Peachtree and marveled at how dark and woody it was compared to the original restaurant in Decatur. Indigo Girl Emily Saliers, the owner, had closed that one and reopened in this new south Buckhead location.
“I hear it looks very different,” said Robert’s date, Brandon.
Robert Lingston, a longtime resident of Midtown Atlanta, dipped his napkin in his water glass and rubbed a dribble of a garlic-laden sauce off his red polo shirt. He looked across the table at his friend Janet and sighed.
“I’m having a midlife crisis,” he said, looking around the room. He pushed each sleeve of his shirt up to better reveal his biceps. “I really am.”
“Isn’t this like your second or third midlife crisis?” Janet asked.
They were at Pura Vida in Poncey-Highland. Robert, a dedicated but gym-compulsive foodie, loved Chef Hector Santiago’s tapas. His favorite was the Puerto-Rican classic, mofongo – mashed plantains, carnitas and bits of pork cracklings.
What happened to spring? With temperatures soaring, we just had to get out of town, and the Atlantic coast is the perfect destination. If you’re single, on a budget and with friends, head to Savannah. But if you’re married, head to Saint Simons Island or Jacksonville, Fla. They aren’t that far, not that expensive and you can drive.
My parents live on Saint Simons Island so that’s where we vacationed. I am very lucky that my mother accepts and embraces my sexual orientation and my partner. If you want something gayer and more expensive, head further south to Fort Lauderdale or my favorite, Key West.
Longtime Atlanta residents might remember Indigo Coastal Grill and Partners, restaurants created by Alix Kenagy. Chef Kate Buchanan, Kenagy’s daughter, now has the most amazing, unique restaurant in downtown Brunswick, Ga. — Indigo Coastal Shanty.
I can’t believe I’m talking about patios again. Where did the year go? If you’ve had a long hard week then I suggest you reconnect with your partner or good friend at Anis Café & Bistro in Buckhead.
Anis has a long history and is a true Atlanta gem. It also has one of those rare patios in Atlanta that’s not on a busy street or parking lot and has no traffic noise. Sorry, I lived in Florida and Southern California and am an admitted patio snob.
The serene patio at Anis will transport you to the South of France. You’ll be surrounded by plants, greenery, and warm ambient lighting with French music to sound the scene. The good news is it’s not that expensive to have a transformative French experience and you’ll be at the Moulin Rouge doing the can can dance of flavor.
The servers are not very Parisian meaning there is no attitude. They are warm and congenial — so much so that when we told ours that we were celebrating our three-and-a-half year anniversary, she sent out two glasses of champagne and said we looked cute together.
I could eat Tex-Mex / Latin / Spanish food every day. There are so many derivatives and fusions of this type of cuisine so I don’t pretend to be an expert. All I know is that my years in San Diego showed me what authentic (and very bad) Latin fare can be.
I grew up in Atlanta with chain Tex-Mex (anybody remember Chi Chi’s?) and then in college spent years on the El Azteca patio on Ponce drinking those cheap pitchers of frozen margaritas that would make everyone hallucinate if you drank too much. Much older and wiser, my tastes have evolved.
With summer nearing, I can’t think of anything I want at the end of a long work week more than a big bowl of fresh chunky guacamole with cilantro and some warm salty corn chips; pair that with a good margarita made with white tequila, a breezy patio, chunky ruby-red salsa and you have a therapeutic experience.
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.