Best New Brewer
Brandon Hintz (Hop Alley Brew Pub)
25 South Main Street, Alpharetta, GA 30009
With the local craft beer explosion clearly underway, OTP has seen several new brewers and brewpubs open on the northside. Lots of new faces, but none better than Brandon Hintz owner/brewer of Hop Alley located in Alpharetta’s quickly changing downtown district. Hintz actually had real professional brewing experience before jumping into the brewpub business. Here’s to wishng more young local brewers would pay their dues elsewhere first, before blindly making the leap from homebrewer to pro-brewer at we-the-drinker’s expense. This valuable experience shows up in every pint glass and snifter up and down the young brewers jam-packed bar. His beers are polished, exude great balance, and make for easy drinking. He is without question THE young brewer to keep an eye on in the coming years.
Best New Chinese
11950 Jones Bridge Road #112, Johns Creek, GA 30005
The risky move from Buford Highway to Johns Creek appears to be a successful one, especially with the addition of chef Liu in the kitchen preparing those same insanely delicious Shanghai juicy steamed pork buns (xiaolungbao) and leek pies that brought her culinary fame at her Buford Highway namesake restaurant before selling it. It is uncertain how Liu ended up at Cafe 101 after a very brief retirement that went by in the blink of an eye, but the folks in Johns Creek surely aren’t complaining. The rest of the menu is as authentic as you’ll find anywhere on Buford Highwy, so this is a rare treat for the folks in this part of the burbs who have been traveling all the way to Chamblee to cure their hankering for traditional Chinese fare.
Akina Sushi and Grill
5815 Windward Parkway #209, Alpharetta, GA 30005
Sushi is everywhere these days, even in the suburbs. But really good sushi is hard to come by, especially in the burbs. Akina, however, stands head and shoulders above other suburban sushi destinations by serving fresher fish, and unique offerings otherwise only found at the very best intown sushi hot spots. Get on the email list to be notified when fresh uni arrives. Order twenty-four hours in advance to treat yourself to live lobster sashimi. And, there is no special task required for hamachi kama (collar) which is also served with hamachi sashimi — the sushi steal of the century priced at just $15.95 for both the collar and sashimi combo. In most restaurants, the collar alone is sold at that price, or even more.
Campania Pizzeria Napoletana
800 North Main Street Suite 100, Alpharetta, GA 30004
This Alpharetta pizza powerhouse took home the hardware for ‘Best Neapolitan Pizza” in part I published last month. Now, they are being recognized for their big beautiful balls. Get your mind out of the gutter. Sexy, velvety, veal meatballs arrive on a long stark white plate wearing nothing but lush San Marzano tomato sauce and thinly shaved cheese. Business and life partners Jennifer Simmons and Stewart Muller (owners) had a winner on their hands from day one, and with new additions like these balls and a new swanky craft beer list, I suspect they will be around a very long time.
Myzenes Indian Coastal Cuisine
3495 Peachtree Pkwy, Ste 101, Suwanee, GA 30024
This small family run restaurant has to be the first ever of its kind in the Atlanta area, possibly even the entire southeast. Goan fare is an unusual amalgamation of Indian and Portuguese cuisines. I can’t think of two totally different cooking styles clashing as one. The Portuguese are high on the pig, but in India pork is taboo. Indian fare is of the most flavorful in the world; Portuguese cuisine tends to be, well, under seasoned. So throw the two together and you’ve worked out all the kinks. You probably won’t see pork vindahlo on a menu anywhere else.
Best Rotisserie Chicken &
The Rotisserie Shop
2615 George Busbee Pkwy, Kennesaw, GA 30144
We don’t typically cover Kennesaw restaurants, only those rare cases that a restaurant in that area really blows us away. The Rotisserie Shop in Kennesaw did just that. This little eatery prides itself on well-sourced, chef driven food. Chicken is from Springer Mountain and is by far the best rotisserie chicken I’ve eaten in Atlanta. The pork poutine comes with a serious heaping of roasted pork atop gooey cheese curds and french fries, finished with a thick, rich gravy. This, too, might also be the best version of this Canadian dish I’ve ever eaten in the Atlanta area.
2790 Lawrenceville Suwanee Road, Suwanee, GA 30024
Not only does this hip little ramen-ya serve some of Atlanta’s best hand spun ramen noodles, it’s one of the coolest places to eat. Sit at the small counter looking into the open steamy kitchen to get an idea of where exactly those ramen noodles you are slurping come from. The rich, milky broth is offered at a variety of heat levels that range from one (being the mildest) to a tongue-blistering fifteen. Thin slivers of roasted pork perfectly complement the toothy ramen. For those who haven’t eaten real ramen, you can be sure this isn’t the dorm room variety we all got by on in college.
4915 Windward Pky #130, Alpharetta, GA 30004
We love Cuban sandwiches, we always crave a good ropa vieja and who can turn down a plate of citrusy deep fried pork cubes? But as well as this Cuban eatery preparesall of the above, the empanadas are the best dish in the house. Or, at least we think so. Priced at $7, the two football-shaped, beef-filled, perfectly spiced pastries are big enough to be a meal, so this appetizer is worth every single penny. This hot spot has only gotten better since the move from downtown Alpharetta to its new digs on Windward Parkway.
Best Kid-Friendly Rest.
Black Diamond Grill
1485 Peachtree Parkway,
Cumming, GA 30041
There are a lot of kid-friendly restaurants in suburbs, but none better than this one. We wouldn’t go as far to call this pub a gastropub, but the food is better than need be. Most is made from scratch and tastes far fresher than the pre-packed frozen quality one would expect from a kid palace like this in the burbs. The restaurant is broken out into three areas: bar, dining room and game room with three large tables. Most kids, regardless of where they sit, disappear into the game room and never willfuly return.
Best French & Desserts
Collet French Pastry
2225 Old Milton Parkway Suite 100, Alpharetta, GA 30009
This cozy bright little French cafe is named after co-owner Francois Collet, the pastry extraordinaire brought to Atlanta by Pano Karatassos Sr. to run all pastry operations at Buckhead Bread Company. After a long stint with Pano, Collet moved onto Joli Kobe where he really made a name for himself racking up all sorts of accolades and raving write-ups in Atlanta’s most prestigious magazines. The pastries and croissants, all glistening and shiny in the display case, are second to none. No surprise there. The big surprise to many so far is the savory stuff. Well seasoned lasagna wears a creamy bechamel sauce, hearty chicken pot pie actually has depth and the quiche is as good as you’ll find anywhere. And every meal should — the very best you’ll find in all of Atlanta.