There has never been a better time to live in the suburbs, from a restaurant standpoint anyway. The OTP (outside-the-perimeter) restaurant scene gets better and better with each passing week, and it should come as no surprise to anyone that Avalon is currently the buzz of the burbs.
While I believe the two Indigo Road restaurants (Oak Steakhouse and Colletta) are the best Avalon has to offer, the one I frequent most often is Ford Fry’s El Felix (1130 Avalon Blvd #1030, Alpharetta, Tel: 678.248.5239) because it is casual, and the fajitas, a mix of Springer Mountain chicken, hormone-free beef and White Oak Pastures pork belly, are easily the best bang-for-your-buck meal at this giant OTP hoity-toity retail and restaurant complex. This colossal meat skillet feeds my wife, my 7-year old and myself all for under $30.
After several trips to newly-opened Mondo Pizza Kitchen (14155 Hwy 9,Ste 500, Alpharetta, Tel: 770.680.4452) located in the space that was once Zola, I can safely say the food needs work. The pizza crust is tasteless and too doughy, the meatballs are a miss and the entree portions are too small. In fact, I’ve yet to try anything that warrants a return visit. This comes as a bit of a surprise to me as I have always enjoyed chef Greg DeMichiel’s cooking.
At first I thought my expectations were too high, but now I believe chef needs to hire a pizza maker so he can focus on the rest of the menu.
Whatever the disconnect, I hope chef DeMichiel and his crew find their footing, and fast.
Hop Alley Brew Pub (25 S Main St, Alpharetta, Tel: 770.696.2097) remains my favorite place to drink beer in the downtown Alpharetta area. Owner/brewer Brandon Hintz is one of the few local microbrewers with commercial brewing experience — and it shows in his beers.
The food isn’t too shabby either. Veal meatloaf arrives with sweet caramelized onions and spicy glaze. You can’t go wrong with 50/50 bacon burger — yes, 50% ground bacon and 50% beef. Bliss.
But my go-to beer nosh at Hop Alley is the gooey deep fried cheese curds. These are a must if you haven’t already. The best in town by a mile, served with a beer cheese sauce for dipping.
This has to be the tiniest brew pub in all of Georgia. It is so small that Hintz brews beer in the tanks behind the bar and ages some in barrels that lay in the dining room and at the hostess stand.