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New restaurant on highrise row brings a Mediterranean twist to chic in-town dining

By Mike Fleming

Some places just make you feel dressed up just by stepping into their environments. The best ones do it while simultaneously helping you feel relaxed and ready to enjoy their many splendored offerings. Welcome to Mulavi.

In the booming heart of a revitalized West Peachtree Street adjacent to the posh Alta Midtown highrise, the dining room’s clean lines, warm tones, full bar, and comfortable window view of the hustle and bustle outside make it a perfect urban escape. Mulavi is that rare breed of eatery where elegant is never stuffy, and where Old World inspiration meets your fabulously contemporary palate.

The best case in point is the restaurant’s most popular item. It’s not often a Mediterranean place features an out-of-this-world burger. The Mulavi Burger is spectacular, featuring eggplant, red pepper, roma tomato, Bulgarian cheese, spring mix and roasted red onion aioli. Don’t ask t substitute the handcut fries, because they help top this meal as one of the most satisfying you’ll try this month.

Digging deeper into Mulavi’s offerings, the menu also features kabobs and wraps of filet mignon, salmon and shrimp that will each surprise you with bold twists on traditional flavors. Vegetarian options, including falafel wraps and veggie skewers, are also available. For bigger meals, try a lamb shank so tender and perfectly cooked that will make you forget beef, at least temporarily.

In a city where side dishes can be an afterthought, Mulavi offers a smorgasbord that on its own might satisfy a table of culinary adventurers who want to share nibbles over drinks. Three kinds of rice – barberry and saffron, cranberry and shaved almond, and raisins and onions – appear on the menu alongside a perfect quinoa salad, hearty baba ganoush, turshi (pickled vegetables), and decadent “smashed” potatoes, which will immediately earn your self-forgiveness for the carb infusion.

Desserts are as creative and decadent as you can imagine in such an establishment. We tried the pomegranate cheesecake and the baklava cheesecake. They were so good, we actually entertained the fantasy of making room for a bonus round of bread pudding and saffron ice cream.

The service is high end-attentive, but never overbearing. A genuine excitement about the menu and its inspired twists made our server quick with suggestions and a readiness to answer questions. The price point is quite a bit higher than your average burger joint or falafel hut, but since this is anything you’re your average burger or wrap, the tab is nothing you suprising for this atmosphere and menu.

Whether in pairs with your man, in groups with your boys, or entertaining out-of-town guests, Mulavi is intown Atlanta at its up-and-coming best. Come in and enjoy a great menu filled with Mediterranean-inspired dishes guaranteed to delight your taste buds and provide a wonderful blend of flavors and spices. Live entertainment and cocktail specials on weekends, as well as a simply lovely patio for dining al fresco make it a great stop on your next Midtown adventure.

Want to Go?
Mulavi
Where: 915 West Peachtree St. NE
Hours: 7 Days, lunch and dinner
More info: mulavi.com
Follow the rainbows to Cactus House for easy eats, big tastes and authentic Mexican fare
By Mike Fleming

Almost as eye-catching as the rainbow crosswalks just steps away is a glossy new rainbow-painted bench in front of a new Midtown eatery. But don’t just stop for another rainbow selfie. Go inside to Cactus House Midtown. You’ll be glad you did.

Before this 1020 Piedmont space opened in July, our gay brethren had to venture over to Buford Highway for true taqueria taste treats, or brave the Beltline for a fancy-schmancy version. Now less adventurous Midtown diners can find out what they, and our neighbors further south in Florida and Texas, already knew about the easy-breezy vibe and the hearty deliciousness that comes with the taqueria style concept.

Start with welcoming and casual atmosphere. No pretense means that you’ll fit right in wearing shorts when walking over from Piedmont Park with friends, but you’re also at home in jeans and date shirt with that special man in your life. Park in the deck at Azure on the Park, and Cactus House validates

All that’s required is your appetite, and by the way, forget Taco Tuesday. This is the place for fresh, natural and slightly upscale street-style tacos every day of the week.

“Cactus House was born out of our love for tacos,” co-owners Dane and Emilio told diners when they officially hung out their open-for-business sign. “Family dinners and homemade recipes inspired this love, and our menu puts a modern twist on those family recipes.”

But it’s more than that.

“We believe in serving a responsibly sourced and sustainable meal, so we handcraft our tacos from only fresh, natural, and local ingredients,” they say. “Cactus House isn’t a restaurant; it’s an experience.

Craft tacos include yumminess, like the best veggie-avocado taco you’ll ever try. With standard options like steak, shrimp and chicken, each specialty comes with its own distinct ingredients and sauces that work perfectly with each taco. The Lamb Barbacoa is the bomb, and the Chicken Pastor taco alone is like a party in your mouth.

The portions are a little small, but go in knowing that ordering lots of options to try and share is part of the fun. Add the tortilla soup, and speaking of sharing, definitely do chips and dips to help complete the meal and leave fulfilled. On top of that, nearly two-dozen sodas, including exotic choices just like real taquerias, are an adventure in themselves.

One more thing that is a must-add to your meal is three words, and we want you to remember them: Mexican. Street. Corn. If you’ve had it before, you’re already in. If you haven’t, it may be the thing that keeps you coming back here for more. Traditional crumbled white cheese, and a layer of melted pepper jack sauce make this on-the-cob treat sweet, spicy and savory.

Beyond the menu, the staff is super friendly, the décor is contemporary and modern, and the outdoor area is going to continue as a draw well into the fall. This is the perfect spot to grab a bite or a drink with a great location, fun atmosphere, and Mexican street corn. Did we mention the street corn?

Cactus House Midtown is at 1020 Piedmont Ave. in the Azure building. cactushouse.com, and on both Facebook and Instagram @chtacos.

Do summer right with a fabulous patio party that won’t break the bank – or the host
By Mike Fleming

As the weather warms up, all you want to do is get out and enjoy it with friends. The solution could be as close as your own deck, but your first thought may be to avoid the work it entails. No worries. We have your back.

There’s a great outdoor event at your fingertips that puts you on the “Mostest” Host list without crossing off your sanity – or your foregoing enjoyment of your own party.

You need three things to make this party a success, and one of them isn’t a Martha Stewart serving platter woven of organically-grown Taiwanese grasses that you painstakingly grew yourself.

First, calm down. This is supposed to be fun, not a competition – though we’ll earn you a few points along the way. Second, plan. Get the food, alcohol and entertainment worked out, and let them take care of themselves on the big day.

Food

Chef
Who’s cooking? If it’s you, great, but plan to flip burgers only if it’s because you enjoy it. If no part of you wants those duties, hear this loud and clear: Don’t cook. Enlist a friend to man the grill, decide on protein and veggie options, and have guests bring sides.

No Cooking
Or take this tip: Cater. Yes, we said it, and we’re not taking it back. Sure, it’s more expensive, but no one worth caring about will complain or think less of you if you serve amazing food. Here’s a fun idea: Pre-order staples for pickup from Fat Matt’s, Fox Brothers and Daddy D’z, then call it done.

Prep
Plates, napkins and tableware should be on you. Lay them out and forget them. If you have a side item or signature dish you like to make, do it in advance and pull it out at party time.

Dessert
An inexpensive and easy way to please everybody and look like you tried is ice cream. You can buy several flavors in buckets, and have people serve themselves, or for even easier cleanup and more personalized timing, offer single-serve treats like ice cream sandwiches, popsicles and bars.

Alcohol

What to Drink
It’s nice to have beer and wine – both red and white – as well as vodka, gin and one brown liquor for summer parties, but it’s not a requirement. BYOB is often what happens anyway, because cocktail and beer preferences are so personal these days. Whatever your choice, announce your intentions and no one will bat an eye.

What to Have
What you want to drink should be on hand, and consider yourself responsible for ice, cups and quartered lemons and limes. Have corkscrews and other accoutrements laid out in open view. Non-alcoholic options for cocktail mixers, teetotalers and designated drivers are a good idea.

Hydrate
Drinkers and non-drinkers alike do better when hydrated. Bottled water is a good idea, or if you’re feeling fancy, it’s super easy to cut up lemons and keep pitchers of those in cold water to share. Cucumbers and basil are amazing additions, too.

Rules of Thumb
On the one hand, enough alcohol can be all a host needs to lubricate his party. On the other, he shouldn’t be the drunkest one there, nor forget to make sure the guy who is gets home safely.

Entertainment

Music
Depending on the crowd, the right tunes may be all the entertainment your deck party needs. Digital players are perfect for this: If you feel strong about your playlist, put it on and forget it. Or tell guests you trust that they are free to plug in their playlists.

Guy Games
Cornhole, bocce and croquet aren’t just great ways to check out guys’ forms. They’re fair for almost everybody, and guests can be as competitive, or not, as they like. You know your crowd, so if guests have favorite games, have them bring them along.

Take It Inside
You will likely have guests who want to chill inside. Board games and puzzles near the door to the deck can keep them part of the fun, or announce that there’s a movie marathon for those addicted to a/c. All of these are also good options for the one thing you can’t control: Rain.

This summer, craft your next happy hour so that your home is the place where everyone wants to be.

Photography: Russ Youngblood
Product Styling: William Duffee-Braun

TequilaHeated Midtown Marg
|¾ C. Tequila
½ C. Triple Sec
¼ C. Lime Juice
1 C. Jalapeno Infused Simple Syrup
Ice
Jalapeno Slices for Garnish
Lime Slices for Garnish
Salt for Glass Rim
Combine Tequila, Triple Sec, Lime juice, and Simple Syrup in Blender, Fill with ice, Blend until smooth, Pour in Salted Glass, Garnish with Jalapeno and Lime. Enjoy!

 

 

BourbonSouthern Sass
¾ C. Fresh Mint Leaves
1 Part Bourbon
3 Parts Sweet Iced Tea
Crushed Ice
Press Mint Leaves at Bottom of Glass, Fill with Crushed Ice, Pour Bourbon and Sweet Tea, Garnish with Mint Leaves. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

GinBitter Ex-Boyfriend
2 oz. Gin
3 oz. Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice
½ oz. Elderflower Liqueur
Club Soda
Crushed Ice
Grapefruit for Garnish
Fill Shaker with Gin, Grapefruit Juice, and Elderflower Liqueur. Shake Vigorously and Strain into Festive Glass. Top with Club Soda and Garnish with Grapefruit. Enjoy!

 

 

 

ProseccoBottomless Balencia
1 C. Simple Syrup
2 C. Fresh Blueberries
24 Oz. Chilled Prosecco
Mint for Garnish
Puree Simple Syrup and Blueberries Until Smooth. Pour Two Ounces of Blueberry Puree into Fancy Stem Glass. Top off with Prosecco and garnish with Blueberries and Mint. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

RumSunday PunchDay
½ G. Lemonade
1 Bottle Chardonnay
2/3 C. Light Rum
½ C. Fresh Raspberries
1 Orange Sliced
1 Granny Smith Apple Sliced
1 Red Delicious Apple Sliced
In a Large Pitcher Combine Liquids, add Fruit, Refrigerate for One Hour and Serve. Enjoy!

 

 

 

VodkaFruity 007
2 C. Simple Syrup
2 C. Fresh Blackberries
1 Lemon
1 C. Vodka
2 T. Triple Sec
1 T. Sugar
Puree Simple Syrup and Blackberries until smooth. Pour Puree, Vodka, Lemon Juice, and Triple Sec into Ice-Filled Shaker. Shake Vigorously and Pour into Sugar Rimmed Martini Glass. Garnish with Blackberries. Enjoy!

 

 

 

CMI_Survey_Digital_Male_300x250

Culinary fusion gets an upgrade with singular flavors and elegant ambiance nestled in the heart of Midtown. 

By Mike Fleming

Until now, you may have only heard the phrase ‘Jai Ho’ in the Bollywood-inspired theme from Slumdog Millionaire. Now with the opening of Jai Ho Kitchen & Bar steps from the Belt Line and Atlanta Botanical Garden, Atlanta has something new to sing about.

Translated roughly as ‘Hallelujah!’ or ‘Hail!’ the name is fitting for Midtown diners, who have plenty to celebrate based on our recent experience. That celebratory feeling starts the moment you step into the warm-tone décor contrasting a lush green view through the floor-to-ceiling windows.

CMI_Survey_Digital_Male_300x250Hot off a March opening of rave reviews, Jai Ho sits in the old Madre + Mason spot across from One Midtown Kitchen adjacent to Piedmont Park. If you already like the organic produce and other market-fresh foods from the local Savi Provisions chain, take heart that its owner Paul Nair, and his attention to quality, is in charge here as well.

With all the ingredients for excellence in place, the real excitement begins when you see what Chefs Anish Nair and Vijeesh Parayil have in store: Mash-ups of French and Indian foods for dishes you have to try to believe. From extremely vegetarian and vegan-friendly courses to meat dishes, the results are stellar.

I couldn’t decide on a starter and requested a super-sampler of my choosing, which the friendly staff graciously indulged for an upcharge. Each bite was better than the last and worth every penny. Try the pakora shoestring vegetables battered in chickpea flour and sinfully fried, and don’t miss the classic Samosa pastries filled with spiced lamb.

As good as the appetizers are, Jai Ho’s entrees are where the French-Indian fusion blossoms to its full potential. Take the classic French mother sauce Espagnole – rich, brown, velvety and almost heavenly enough to eat with a spoon. Jai Ho spikes it with coriander, cumin and cardamom for an all-new flavor that turns chicken – or lamb, or shrimp – nothing short of addictive.

Veggie lovers will find a welcome plethora of choices, including five entrees that are 100 percent vegan. I splurged on a full order of Vegetable Vindaloo that was delightfully tangy, but the restaurant’s menu for meat lovers shines brightest. Choose your chicken, lamb, shrimp or goat under a sauce to please fans of tomato-spice, ginger-herb, creamy cashew, or peppery onion. The Chicken Tikka is as flavorful and tender as I’ve ever had.

As the taste sensations begin to skyrocket, it’s not lost on me that cardamom, ginger, cinnamon and pepper – all featured heavily on this menu – are ancient male aphrodisiacs. Come to think of it, the male couples in my vicinity did seem to be enjoying date night.

With more than enough to eat, my inner fat kid allowed an order of biryani. You can judge an Indian restaurant on its ability to perfect this simple classic, so I justified my gluttony with a doggie bag and a chance to review the dish. The goat version at Jai Ho is sublime.

At this point, Indian food lovers are thinking, “What about the bread?” As a carb-o-holic who has been known to binge on evil starches, I’ve saved the best for last. Eight choices, including five kinds of naan, are worth the extra bread, pun intended. The garlic and rosemary versions were great with my meal, and I decided to try the one with nuts and raisins and call it dessert.

The temptations of this new Midtown gem may send you in a Midtown gym, but it’s worth the extra cardio. Everyone join me in saying Jai Ho! For Jai Ho.

Jai Ho Indian Kitchen & Bar
560 Dutch Valley Rd NE
jaihoatlanta.com

 

Get your warm weather groove back with a dozen patios, pubs and party places that make spring pop.
By James Parker Sheffield

With great weather comes great social-calendar responsibility. Gay Atlantans hit the streets in search of the perfect spot to soak up the sun, kick back cocktails, and enjoy the best in playful seasonal menus.

In that spirit, the following pages deliver a season’s worth of eateries to try or rediscover, whether you’re looking to laze away a few hours on a patio, gather your gay gaggle for a group meal, or upgrade your casual pub experience with elevated fare.

Perfect Patios

Discover offbeat patio places with Atlanta’s best alfresco dining

Patio and park culture reigns supreme this season, but not all outdoor dining adventures are created equal. Here are some of the best places in the city to breathe in spring, while indulging your biggest cravings.

VictoryBeltline Boys
You had us at “Jack & Coke Slushie.” The menu and atmosphere at Victory Sandwich Bar are everything our guys need on a warm, sunny weekend.
Between the high-quality affordable eats, playful drink list, and buzzing patio, the Inman Park location of this local favorite even makes it easy to grab carry-out for a hike around the Beltline.
Try the VICnic Basket, including a blanket, sandwiches, chips, sodas, side item, and some Victory swag.
913 Bernina Ave. NE
404-963-1742
vicsandwich.com

Small Packages
Le Petit Marché, or “The Little Market,” is a tiny powerhouse in the Kirkwood neighborhood, featuring an array of freshly prepared menu items and market-made pantry selections to take home.
This gem serves breakfast all day, plus savory selections for lunch. The patio’s stature is true to the “Petit” name and stands as a great reminder that size isn’t everything every time. Cozy up in this quaint spot for a nice cross breeze and a colorful Ahi Salad.
1984 Hosea L. Williams Drive
404-317-9888
lepetitmarche.net

Brunch Before Blooms
Less than a mile from Atlanta Botanical Gardens, The Lawrence is a great place to start an out-and-about day. They offer brunch, lunch, and dinner services on one of the hippest patios in the area, each with its own menu.
If you have more adventurous eaters along for the ride, the menu regularly features a variety of game meats that you won’t easily find in other restaurants.
905 Juniper Street
Reservations Recommended for groups: 404-961-7177
thelawrenceatlanta.com

Outdoor Upgrade
When you need a patio but are in the mood for a more refined dinner option, look no further than King + Duke’s. The outdoor seating here checks all your boxes, from décor and lighting to food and service.
The 24-foot open hearth delivers flavors you won’t find anywhere else in the city. Expect the highest quality in hearth-prepared meats and locally sourced produce, as well as unique craft cocktails. King + Duke promises to impress with a truly unique Atlanta experience.
3060 Peachtree Road NW
Reservations Recommended: 404-477-3500
kinganddukeatl.com

Pub Fare, Elevated

Ditch typical bar food and check out the surprisingly gourmet bites at these public houses.

When the sun is taunting you from the office window, and Friday can’t get here quickly enough, nothing caps off the work week like great beer options and a great scene.

And if you’re chasing the best of the best when it comes to drinks, plenty of Atlanta places make sure that you don’t have to settle in the food department, either.

What’s more? The onset of spring means the release of new and seasonal brews. Our selections offer more than your standard bar eats to go with it.

CMI_Survey_Digital_Male_300x250Stop & Stay
In keeping with its East Atlanta Village home, Midway Pub offers a casual vibe that lends itself to staying longer than you intended, and you won’t mind a bit. Drop in for a post-work beer, and happily find yourself knee-deep in small-batch brews and delicious foods hours later.
Gourmet takes on comfort foods like gumbo and corn dogs are treats that your trainer will definitely yell at you about. So worth it. Our only advice: Try everything. Twice.
552 Flat Shoals Ave. SE
404-584-0335
themidwaypub.com

Homemade Brews
The stone walls and dark wood at Wrecking Bar Brewpub create an old-world feel, while their menu offers an indulgent spin on classic fare as well as a full selection of house-brewed beers.
Venture below ground in this ante-bellum mansion for an expansive selection of food and drinks inspired by the Old South. Try the mac-n-cheese with crispy pig ears, and one (or more) of their beer flights. You’ll thank us later.
292 Moreland Ave NE
404-221-2600
wreckingbarbrewpub.com

European Excursion
Brick Store Pub whisks you all the way to Europe, where the food has always been as much a draw as the draft. What’s better is that all of it is reasonably priced and easy to share with the table.
And while the main dining room is always on point, the Belgian Bar tucked away upstairs is a definite must, with full kitchen service available in a small, cozy space with tons of ambiance.
After a couple high-gravity brews, try the warm salted pretzels and sausage plate so good you may actually believe you’re in Europe.
125 E. Court Square, Decatur
404-687-0990
brickstorepub.com

Relaxed, Refined
Nestled in walking distance from Colony Square and Woodruff Arts Center, TAP is ideal for pre- or post-culture bites. This upscale gastropub features a lighter touch and more fresh veggies than traditional bar spots.
Along side bacon-topped tots and wings, you’ll also find spectacular entrée salads perfect for spring.
1180 Peachtree Str. NE
Reservations Recommended: 404-347-2220
tapat1180.com

Gay Gatherings

Atlanta in full bloom means it’s time to pull your hungry boys out of hibernation and reconnect. Whether you’re headed to a festival, checking out seasonal markets, or playing host to your annual spring-break-college-reunion crew, food is definitely on the agenda.

Satisfying a group means finding the right locations with the right menu options for diverse palates and varying budgets. Here are some of our favorite spots that are sure to rise to the occasion.

Comfort & Cocktails
Gather your friends and check out our favorite “come as you are” neighborhood. And when hunger strikes, Argosy has you covered. The eclectic menu can accommodate everyone in your party.
What’s particularly special about Argosy is its ability to deliver an intimate, comfortable atmosphere, while also providing plenty of space for large groups.
470 Flat Shoals Ave SE
Reservations for Groups over 8: 404-577-0407
argosy-east.com

Central Gathering
There’s no place we’re more drawn to than the heart of Midtown. Smack in the middle of special events all season, Midtown W Hotel is an ideal spot for the troops.
In addition to convenient parking and a welcoming lobby, the W features TRACE on the second floor, with a simple, Southern-inspired dinner menu focusing on shared plates and a specialty spring cocktail list.
188 14th Street, NE, Atlanta 30361
Reservations Optional: 404-724-2550
watlantamidtown.com/trace

DiningBusiness & Pleasure
The luxurious patio at South City Kitchen Buckhead features great views of the cityscape. It’s the perfect spot for a “Treat Yourself Sunday” that begins with the upscale-Southern SCK Brunch and all your friends.
Word of advice: If it involves fried chicken, order it. SCK also offers gluten-free selections for brunch, lunch and dinner.
3350 Peachtree Road NE
Reservations Recommended: 404-815-6677
buckhead.southcitykitchen.com

Grown & Sexy
As West Midtown continues to carve its place as a foodie destination, Miller Union does its part bringing people to the area. Consistency has been the name of the game for this farmstead-inspired spot and favorite of food-icon Alton Brown.
From bar to kitchen, Miller Union is a reliable place for your group to celebrate a special occasion, especially if you’re looking to impress out-of-town guests. Vibrant produce and indulgent meat & cheese offerings dominate the menu, creating a rich dining experience that won’t leave you feeling guilty on the scale or at the gym the next day.
999 Brady Ave. NW
Reservations Recommended: 678-733-8550
millerunion.com

Atlanta serves up the freshest ingredients to quash your springtime cravings for lighter, satisfying fare.
By James Parker Sheffield

The onset of spring always sets gay Atlanta buzzing. When flowers are blooming and boys are playing outside, we need the right kind of fuel to keep us at the top of our game.

The junk food stashes we’ve been hoarding between Halloween and Valentine’s Day must go. It’s time to ramp up for healthier choices. Fortunately, Atlanta restaurants are prepared to deliver tasty treats that will make your body thank you instead of curse you.

Whether you’re looking to pair fresh greens with lighter meats like chicken and fish, or you’re interested in all-out veggie and gluten-free options, our town boasts a great selection of eateries ready to satisfy your cravings.

Here’s a look at some of Atlanta’s best spots to enjoy fresh eats that reflect the vibrancy of the spring.

Veggie Delights

Tassili’s Raw Reality in Atlanta’s historic West End is a great option for guys-for-guys for great vegan food. Tassili’s menu of wraps, salads, sides and smoothies features a wide variety of fresh uncooked, unprocessed fruits and vegetables. With several items coming in sharable portions, bring all your boys for a family-style meal to try it all.

For over 20 years, Café Sunflower has served up an internationally eclectic menu featuring the best vegan and vegetarian cuisine. From amazing fried avocado tacos to handmade ravioli in a swanky Buckhead atmosphere, this is a great spot for dates, as well as groups with varying palates. They offer lunch and dinner service, as well as Sunday brunch, and hungry boys have no need to worry: Café Sunflower crafts hearty choices certain to satisfy even the biggest appetites.

Café Sunflower
2140 Peachtree Road, Atlanta 30309
www.cafesunflower.com
Accepts Reservations: 404-352-8859

Tassili’s Raw Reality
1059 Ralph Abernathy Blvd, Atlanta 30310
www.tassilisrawreality.com

Show Me The Meat

If you’re in search of fresh, healthy salads and sides paired with outstanding meat offerings, True Food Kitchen and Takorea provide a great selection of fish, chicken, pork and beef dishes. On the lighter side, both also have bountiful veggie options for the lightest warm-weather eaters.

Located inside Lenox Square Mall, True Food boasts a “health-driven” take on seasonal selections with menu changes throughout the year so they can feature items at peak freshness. We can’t recommend their craft cocktails, made with a variety of in-house pressed juices, highly enough.

With multiple Metro-Atlanta locations, Takorea offers a taste all its own with wildly popular and totally trending Mexican-Korean fusion. If you’re looking for something spicy, this is the spot. The menu allows for trying multiple items a-la-cart, so consider giving something a go from each category.

True Food Kitchen
Lenox Mall 3393 Peachtree Rd NE. Atlanta 30308
www.truefoodkitchen.com
Accepts Reservations: 404-481-2980

Takorea
818 Juniper St NE, Atlanta
www.mytakorea.com
Accepts Reservations: 404-532-1944

Something Sweet

Spring might have us thinking from a more health-conscious perspective, but there’s no reason to deny yourself a treat when you’re being this good on your diet. Along with diverse seasonal options for the freshest savory entrees and sides, Alon’s Bakery & Market has some of Atlanta’s best cookies, pastries and breads. Grab an artisan salad and a handmade dessert to take home, or dine in and make the most of their European inspired atmosphere.

Alon’s Bakery & Market
1394 N Highland Ave NE, Atlanta 30306
www.alons.com  

Keep It Gay

Also on the market-fresh train to your springtime tummy are these tried-and-true gay-founded and gay-run in-town eateries to keep your dollars working within the community.

Ria’s Bluebird
Breakfast & Lunch Daily
421 Memorial Drive SE
riasbluebird.com

MetroFresh
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Mon-Sat, Brunch Sun
931 Monroe Drive
metrofreshatl.com

Radial Café: Breakfast & Lunch Daily, Dinner Thurs-Sat
1530 DeKalb Ave. NE
radial.us

Image: True Food Kitchen 

Real stories. Real people. Really blown attempts at gay seasonal gatherings in Atlanta serve as hosting lessons for the rest of us.

By Mike Fleming

Friends and family coming together for good cheer is such a warming thought this time of year. You’ll just invite some folks, you say. It will be rewarding, you tell yourself. It can be super low maintenance, you think.

Think again. Without some forethought and your head in the game as you make plans, your attempt at hosting the perfect holiday party could turn into one of the horror stories we discovered. These hosts ended up with tidings of anything but comfort and joy.

Never fear. We take a close look at the damage to create a list of lessons to learn as you head into your own cocktail or dinner party.

It’s Not About You
I attended an elegant affair at the home of a Morningside queen who had the house professionally decorated and staffed it from kitchen to bars to door. That’s fine, if impersonal, but he blew it when he stepped out an hour before start time so that he could arrive late in a grand entrance.”
Lesson Learned: If your event is about your glory and not your guests, don’t throw one. Ask how you can personally make each guest feel welcome.

Fool Me Once
This guy sends out engraved invitations every year to his ‘Stock My Bar’ holiday party. Not only does he want us to BYOB, but an extra bottle for him to keep. To make matters worse, he assigns liquors and brands and tells you what to bring. Adding insult to injury, there’s a “check in” at the door – because you are literally paying your entry with alcohol. I went one year to please a date. Neither of us left impressed, and I’ve never been back.”
Lesson Learned: You sate your guests, not the other way around.

Cheap Skate
One host is notorious for calling his event a ‘Tree Trimming Party’ but what he really wants is his friends to buy the decorations for the tree, bring a dish to share, provide the booze, serve as the bartenders, and stay to help clean up.”
Lesson Learned: If you want to throw a party, don’t call on friends to make it happen.

Hold Your Liquor
The worst holiday party I ever attended, the host didn’t pace himself. He started yelling half-inappropriate and half-incoherent rants pretty early, and was hurling in the bathroom by midnight. People were just drifting toward the door trying to figure out how to leave gracefully.”
Lesson Learned: You’re on duty at your own party, at least enough to temper your intake and help others have a good time.

Hands Free
When I was in my 20s, I went to the home of a retired local gay bigwig with a bunch of friends. We were honored to be invited, until the host used a ‘tour of the house’ ploy to put his hands all over me. When that didn’t work, he moved on to my next friend, and the next.”
Lesson Learned: “Your House, Your Rules” doesn’t apply to uninvited groping, Trumpy McGrabsalot.

High Martha
There was this party at a certain condo tower in Midtown where the host over-decorated in general, but specifically over decorated for every possible religion. Kitschy stereotypical tchotchkes in every nook and corner made people uncomfortable – especially when we figured out he didn’t mean it as a joke.”
Lesson Learned: If you want to seem inclusive, go neutral on the religion and keep decor simple. A few well-placed lights, candles and pretty colors go a long way.

Make New Year’s Eve memorable with these fabulous options for the year’s last meal with easy access to Atlanta’s Peach Drop.

By James Parker Sheffield

Here comes your last chance to treat yourself in 2016. It’s safe to say all the gays in the gayborhood earned a good meal and craft cocktails, at the very least.

We endured an election cycle that resembled our least favorite parts of the Hunger Games, plus we lost Prince and Bowie. Some festive self-care seems appropriate before we make our best run at 2017.

The best places in the city are known to fill up quickly, so don’t wait to make a reservation. To get you started, here’s our list of favorite restaurants to celebrate New Year’s Eve in style and comfort.

Go For a Spin
With a great 360-degree view of the city no matter where your table is, two rooftop venues are definite contenders for New Year’s Eve. Each of these local jewels is perched atop one of Atlanta’s most renowned hotels with a great view of the Peach Drop proceedings. All the while, you luxuriate in panoramic views, seasonal menus and designer cocktails.

Located inside the Westin Peachtree Plaza, The Sun Dial is one of the most iconic restaurants in the region. For New Year’s, plans are already underway for a prix fixe menu, and at 723 feet above Atlanta, you’ll get a spectacular view of NYE Fireworks.

Also check into Polaris at Hyatt Regency Atlanta. This recently restored city fixture has a long history of entertaining celebrity guests, and in addition to the rotating city views, Polaris has a great classic cocktails list and shared plate menu as fancy as you are.

The Sun Dial
210 Peachtree Street NE
404-589-7506
sundialrestaurant.com

Polaris
265 Peachtree Street
404-460-6425
hyatt.com

Shining Diamond
With a AAA Four Diamond award for 27 consecutive years, Nikolai’s Roof sits on the 30th floor of Hilton Atlanta and boasts a spectacular city view. Fully renovated in 2014, Nikolai’s serves Modern American cuisine with Russian influences. If you’re grown and sexy or just want to feel that way, start 2017 here.

Nikolai’s Roof
255 Courtland Street NE
404-221-6362
nikolaisroof.com

Escape From It All
Along with a southern-inspired contemporary dinner menu, Suite Food Lounge offers three bars and a boutique wine selection. The Miami-themed penthouse features a dance floor, live band and DJ, as well as an open-air sky deck with city views with plenty of flat screen televisions to catch Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin in their ball-dropping glory. The country’s highest-rated Black Owned Restaurant by BET, it’s the perfect location for groups of friends to get comfortable for the whole evening.

Suite Food Lounge
375 Luckie Street
404-577-2500
suiteatl.com

Fry It Up
Chef Ford Fry’s portfolio is the restaurant equivalent of your favorite firefighter calendar: Each offering is as good as the next. While not Peach Drop Adjacentt, two of our favorites are JCT Kitchen & Bar and No. 246. Both have great food and a notably gay and gay-friendly staff for those who like to avoid the downtown hubbub.

JCT offers a dynamic space with room for quiet conversation, plus a lively bar scene. Their New Year’s Eve plans include a farm-to-table prix-fixe menu, and the upstairs bar will offer a midnight toast.

If intown traffic isn’t your scene at all, check out No. 246 in downtown Decatur. Like JCT, the kitchen relies on local produce and meats for its Italian-inspired menu paired with a great wine selection. It’s definitely a romantic atmosphere for those looking to make a good impression on their 2017 love prospect.

JCT Kitchen & Bar
1198 Howell Mill Road
404-355-2252
jctkitchen.com

No. 246
129 E. Ponce De Leon Ave., Decatur
678-399-8246
no246.com

 

The chef-curated tastes of Out in the Kitchen return with Atlanta’s gay professionals mixing business with pleasure for the holidays.

By Matthew Holley

Let the holiday eating begin! Gay Atlanta’s December calendar kicks off the season of indulgent dining with the annual Out in the Kitchen soiree with Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. For the fifth year, the event features premier Atlanta chefs serving a tasting menu to celebrate the season and send off the year in style.

This year’s Out in the Kitchen: an AGLCC Holiday Affair is set for December 7 at the W Atlanta Midtown. Originally the brainchild of past president Andria Towne as a way to honor the organization’s community partners in the dining industry, as well as celebrate with members, OITK has evolved into a full night of entertainment, with full bars and tantalizing nibbles.

This year’s event will be a night to remember, packed with entertainment and food galore from more chefs than ever, as well as more inclusive options for various dietary restrictions, says Emma Foulkes, event co-chair and AGLCC past president.

“Guests will be delighted to partake in the new veggie options, with scrumptious, tasty gluten-free bites for people to sample, as well,” she says.

In a new spin with a theme, expect a wide variety of cuisine inspired by our technology infused lives in 2016: Representative restaurants, caterers, personal chefs, specialized coffee service and even cookies at the event are all available via internet.

Featured restaurants include Trace at W Midtown, the Four Seasons, Radial Café, Einstein’s, and Midtown favorite The Flying Biscuit. Chefs like Carlton Brown from Occasional Occasions and Bill Mitchell of Big Buckhead Caterer will serve as the host chefs for the evening. OITK will also serve as the introductions of Chef Vedam, a personal gluten free chef, and Chef Kev from KSquared Meals, who delivers daily meals to the health conscious.

Rounding out the roster is Bean in the Borough, which offers flavorsome coffee libations, and Chicago Chef Paul Wayne, whose enchanting treats are available for internet order just in time for holiday gifts for all those special friends, family, and business clients in your daily life.

For the final cherry on top of AGLCC’s holiday sundae, stocked cash bars are scheduled, with live holiday music serenading guests all night.

It’s too late for additional chefs to add their flavors to this year’s event, but Foulkes encourages all interested parties to throw their names in the hat for 2017. For those of you just offering your appetites to the mix, tickets are selling out fast for this year, so don’t delay making your plans to attend.

Want to go?
What: Out in the Kitchen Holiday Affair
Who: Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
When: December 7, 6 – 8 p.m.
Where: W Atlanta Midtown
188 14th St. NE
Info: atlantagaychamber.org

Photo Credit Matt Hennie

 

Look out, burrito cart. Atlanta is teaming with food truck options that put a gourmet spin on grabbing a quick, delicious bite.

By Mike Fleming

The closest most of us got to a food truck until recent years was probably at Atlanta Pride festival. If you’re lucky, maybe there was a tamale or sweet potato pie lady at the office. Now the Food Truck sensation is full blown, and Atlanta is all over it.

As city laws catch up to the phenomenon, diehards can follow favorites on social media to scout their next location. But even better, there are some sure-bet places to hit for a new experience almost every time you go.

But what is it exactly about food trucks that’s so appealing? We may actually be responding to our all-American DNA. The first vendor pushcarts in New York City date all the way back to1691, and horse-drawn chuckwagons in the 1800s delivered grub to hungry cowboys.

Taking shape as the hot-and-ready deliciousness we know and love, a Los Angeles vendor is credited with the first taco truck in 1974, and sandwich trucks on campuses were big in the ‘80s. Full-tilt zeitgeist came in 2004, when New York launched the Vendy Awards, and in 2006, Wikipedia added a Food Truck entry.

Of course, when Atlanta is all about a trend, its gays are leading the pack. We scoured our downtown businessmen, Midtown gadabouts and in-town foodies to find your best bet for awesome food truck dining.

Atlanta Food Truck Park & Market

One of the city’s must-try experiences, this off-the-highway gathering place is a one-stop shop for some of the city’s best food trucks. Upwards of 50 vendors peddle their wares here, with about a quarter of that parking and raising their awnings each weekend. There’s even live music Thursday through Sunday nights.

1850 Howell Mill Road
(Northeast Corner of Howell Mill at I-75)
atlantafoodtruckpark.com
facebook.com/AtlantaFoodTruckPark
Fridays, 5 p.m. – 10 p.m., Saturdays, Noon – 10 p.m. Sundays Noon – 8 p.m.

 

Food Truck Days

The convergence of business, arts and accommodations at the corner of 14th and Peachtree Streets made it the perfect spot for Colony Square. In turn, Colony Square became the perfect spot for Food Truck Wednesday, a weekly gathering of popular trucks. A block away is Woodruff Friday, with food trucks at High Museum of Art.

Colony Square Wednesdays
1197 Peachtree Street NE
colonysquaremidtown.com
11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Woodruff Fridays
1280 Peachtree Street NE
high.org
11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

 

Sean’s Harvest Market

For a food truck feel with a more permanent locale, step up to the window at this Amsterdam Walk eatery. The picnic tables fill up fast with gays and gals on weekends, plus everything from smoothies to sandwiches is house made and locally grown. Amber’s Sausage Biscuit is going to melt in your mouth.

500 Amsterdam Ave. NE
seansharvestmarket.com
Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sunday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

 

On the Move

The city’s best food trucks are, of course, mobile. Here are just a few suggestions to follow to their next mouth-watering spot, or jump at if you see them parked.

King of Pops: kingofpops.com
Sweet Auburn BBQ: sweetauburnbbq.com
Five Finger Philly: fivefingerphilly.com
Bollywood Zing: bollywoodzingtruck.com
Urban Taali: urbantaali.com
Nana G’s Chicken & Waffles: nanagchik-n-waffles.com
The Fry Guy: fryguyatlanta.com
The Blaxican: blaxicanfood.com

Our Specialty Cocktail Guide of Harvest Drinks to Pour All the Way Through Autumn
Photography by Russ Youngblood
Product Styling by William Duffee-Braun
A special thank you to Finlandia, Jack Daniels, Korbel, Herradura, and Woodford. Please enjoy responsibly.

gentlemenfizzGentleman’s Fizz
Bubbles tickle the brain, bourbon makes sure it’s working.

Ingredients:
1 Part Woodford Bourbon
3 Parts Ginger Beer
3 Dashes of Bitters

Directions:
Fill a festive cocktail glass with ice. Add Woodford Bourbon and top with ginger beer. Shake in bitters and stir gently.

piedmontpumpkinPumpkin Piedmont
Dump that Pumpkin Spice Latte for this autumnal martini

Ingredients:
2 Ounces Finlandia Vodka
1 1/2 tsp Half and Half
2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
3/4 tsp Pumpkin Spice
1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Tbsp Pumpkin Puree
2 Tbsp Sugar

Directions:
Combine sugar and 1/2 tsp of pumpkin spice on a flat plate. Rim two martini glasses with the spice-sugar.
Combine Finlandia Vodka, half and half, maple syrup, 1/4 tsp pumpkin spice, vanilla extract, and pumpkin puree in an ice-filled shaker. Shake thoroughly and strain into rimmed martini glass.

rubyredRuby Red
Bold, sassy, one-of-a-kind, and smacking of something special

Ingredients:
1 Ounce Korbel California Brandy
1/2 Ounce St. Germaine
1/2 Ounce Port Wine
2 Ounces Orange Juice
1 Dash of Bitters

Directions:
Fill glass with ice. Pour Korbel Brandy and other ingredients into glass over ice. Stir gently and garnish with orange slice.

atlantadreamAtlanta Dream
Southern style and urban sophistication with a sweet bite

Ingredients:
1 Ounce Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey
2 Ounces Orange Juice
4 Ounces Korbel Organic Champagne
Black Licorice

Directions:
Pour Jack Daniel’s and orange juice into a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into festive glass over ice. Top with Korbel Organic Champagne. Garnish with a stick of black licorice.

midnightfireMidnight Fire
Let this smooth talker keep you up at night

Ingredients:
2 Parts Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Whiskey
3/4 Parts Simple Syrup
Orange Slice
2 Dashes of Bitters

Directions:
Pour Jack Daniel’s and other ingredients into rocks glass. Muddle Orange. Add ice and stir.

sweetboySweet Boy
This margarita is the fruity little tart you just can’t resist

Ingredients:
2 Cups Herradura Reposado Tequila
1 1/3 Cups Cranberry Juice
1 Cup Grand Marnier
2/3 Cup Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice

Directions:
Combine Herradura, cranberry juice, Grand Marnier, lime juice and ice in a larger pitcher, stir. Pour into ice filled glasses and garnish with lime slice.

 

 

After you’ve done funnel cakes and turkey legs at Pride, put a few extra steps on your FitBit for a meal break from mayhem in the park.
By Mike Fleming

Atlanta Pride done right means different ways for different gays. Some plan their park days around the acts on stage. Others strategically position themselves for people-watching. And just about everyone will have a plan for food while out and about in Piedmont Park.

Festival organizers do a pretty good job offering options on festival fare. And while you may have your must-do menu item each year – the sausage dogs are amazing, beeteedubs – it won’t take long to get your fill. And take it from us: Pacing yourself on the food can also be a perfect opportunity to temper your prolonged exposure to throngs of people.

Stepping away from the park for a meal can offer the recharge you need. Luckily, there are tons of options within walking distance.

You’ve already considered Flying Biscuit, Willie’s, Park Tavern, The Nook, G’s, Campagnolo, 10th & Piedmont, Henry’s, and maybe a few others. They’re all great, but on Pride Weekend, you’ll have to walk a little bit further to momentarily escape the madding crowd. These destinations make the extra steps on your FitBit worth it.

Trace in the W

Rustic-chic reimagined. The W Atlanta Hotel is home to this elegant but approachable modern bistro with Southern-inspired meals created from farm-to-table ingredients.

188 14th Street NE
watlantamidtown.com/trace

Eclectic Bistro

Contemporary and international, this will make the good grub you had in the Pride park a distant memory. A true European-style bistro with club seating and pints, as well as tables for longer stays. Everything is made fresh daily.

1425 Piedmont Ave. NE

Empire State South

After you try Hugh Acheson’s chic Southern fare, you’ll be willing to walk three times as far to eat there again. It’s a 10-minute walk to die happy from flatbread pizzas to entrées to dessert. Get the awesome Georgia-grown iced coffee to go for the walk back.

999 Peachtree Street NE
empirestatesouth.com

Ecco

With an ever-changing menu in a slick spot, this is a welcome retreat. Do the patio, or escape completely inside. The drink menu is creative, and the staff is known for being as friendly as they are informed.

40 7th Street NE
ecco-atlanta.com

5Church

This fun, comfortable, cavernous space in Colony Square is getting a lot of buzz. Fried oysters, gazpacho, lump crab and whole fish are just the beginning. The Bloody Mary bar and non-alcoholc specialties are worth checking out.

1197 Peachtree Street NE
facebook.com/5ChurchAtlanta

Lure

This is the best fresh seafood in Midtown. “New American” means relaxed but nice, with inside and outside dining on fresh catches of the day. Don’t overlook the amazing little desserts here, just the right size after dinner.

1106 Crescent Avenue NE
lure-atlanta.com

The Lawrence

Known as much for its cocktails and lively atmosphere as its solid menu, come here for the food and the fun. The ambiance is upbeat like Pride itself, so stop by if not for a full meal maybe to do brunch or appetizers. You won’t be disappointed.

905 Juniper Street NE
thelawrenceatlanta.com

 

Gay Atlanta Chef Alexis Hernandez seduces us into autumn with warm, hearty recipes and homegrown flavors
By Mike Fleming

Don’t tell the intown-only loyalists, but several of their gay brethren are cheating on Midtown. We’re regularly venturing out, not quite OTP but brazenly close, to experience the culinary delights of Union Hill Kitchen and its head foodie Alexis Hernandez.

Far from repentant, we’re not sorry one bit. Taste the stick-to-your-ribs meals that Hernandez serves, and you’ll make the short trek to Chamblee a regular habit yourself.

Known for stints on The Next Food Network Star and Café CNN, Hernandez brings his Cuban-American heritage, culinary cred, and organic farming experience to the table at Union Hill. 

I feel passionate about understanding the compositional characteristics of ingredients and how they interact with each other when heat is applied to them in the kitchen,” Hernandez says.

His distinct combination of experiences and flavors creates fresh, hearty results that are home-cooking approachable. You can’t bring Hernandez home to cook it for you – sorry fellas, he’s already married – but you can bring some of his knowhow into your own kitchen.

“My goal is to educate and help people experience more confidence in the kitchen by making my cooking knowledge accessible to others, he says. 

With a few of Hernandez’s best recipes, here’s how you can make  a warm, gratifying dinner to wrap up a crisp fall day.

PorkPork Loin with Thyme & Onions 

If you don’t have anything to flavor your meat in your kitchen that you normally use, I invite you to try olive oil, salt and any herb you have in your kitchen. … This dish is very elegant if you cut it on a cutting board and set it on the table for people to enjoy family style.

1 ½ lb of pork tenderloin
½ tsp of kosher salt
½ tsp of freshly ground black pepper
Tbsp of dried thyme
Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
Granny Smith apples, chopped
3 cups red onions, chopped
Tbsp sugar

Preheat oven to 425 FMix salt, pepper and thyme in a bowl. Rub oil mixture over entire pork tenderloin. In a bowl, toss sugar, thyme and onions. In a casserole dish, layer apples then onion and place tenderloin on topSprinkle 1 tablespoon of salt/thyme/sugar mixture over pork. Bake 15 minutes, then lower heat to 325 F. Cook for 35-45 minutes to internal temp of 150 F. Remove from oven, cover with foil, and allow to rest before slicing.

SproutsBraised Brussels Sprouts with Bacon 

1/2 lb of brussels sprouts
6 strips of bacon
1 medium red onions chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper
8oz can of chicken stock

Chop bacon into cubes and saute over medium heat until crispy. Drain on paper towels. Leave 2 tablespoons bacon fat in pan, add olive oil and over medium high heat saute sprouts for 8-10 minutes allowing them to get crispy brown. Add stock, bring to boil, then simmer covered for 5-8 minutes until tender. Plate sprouts and sprinkle bacon bits. Serve immediately.

 

Cumin Scented Black Beans 

“Spice up your own from-dried black beans, or don’t be ashamed of the unseasoned canned variety.”

1 pound cooked or 2 cans unseasoned black beans
Tbsp olive oil
Tbsp dried oregano
chopped garlic cloves 
Tbsp cumin seeds
Tbsp soy sauce

Over medium-low heat, saute cumin seeds and olive oil for 2 minutes or until fragrant. Reduce heat, add oregano and garlic, cook 4 minutes. Add soy sauce and canned or cooked beans, bring to boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.

Want to go?
What: Union Hill Kitchen
Where5336 Peachtree Road, Chamblee
When: Tuesdays through Saturdays, lunch and dinner
Info: Unionhillkitchen.com

Latest Barcelona Wine Bar location rounds out Howell Mill’s newest re-use project with the right tapas, sangria and patio to get the gays through the dog days – and beyond.

By Mike Fleming

In case you’ve been living under a rock, the West Midtown revitalization that took a dip with the economy a few years ago is back at full stride. The fervor includes a flock of gay guys gathering in an old ironworks to claim it as the latest hot destination to eat, drink and Be Mary.

But don’t go for that reason. Head over to Barcelona Wine Bar Westside Ironworks because the menu, the staff and the surroundings are fantastic. Not to mention, oh-so-very gay.

A small group of gays headed over there on a recent weekend afternoon for one of the best Sunday Fundays I’ve had in a while. A few stragglers were still drifting out of the place after regular hours for the Food of Our People – brunch – officially ended, so we were able to snag a prime spot on Barcelona’s particularly fabulous garden-style patio.

This summer’s sweltering heat, which had me glistening forth with inner beauty earlier in the day, was tempered by one of July’s typical afternoon confluence of clouds and thunder without any actual rain. Pitchers of perfectly portioned red and white sangrias, plus a flight of three wines for one couple, took care of the rest.

A sister to the Barcelona Inman Park and cousin of Bartaco locations dotting the city, Westside brings its own flair to Atlanta’s dining landscape. It opened in April with the same devotion to great food that its parent company brings to eateries here, in Connecticut, and in the Boston and Washington, D.C., areas.

Before we get to the food, soak in the stellar location. Barcelona takes full advantage of the neighborhood’s latest adaptive redevelopment of its industrial past. It’s the last tenant in the Westside Ironworks building that really did once house an old metalworking factory. It joins O-Ku Sushi and Tom + Chee, as well as fashion retailer Villa Savannah, a Toni & Guy Salon, and design house Dixon Rye in a curated blend of businesses with an eye on high style.

The décor at Barcelona uses midcentury modern twists to capitalize on the original structure’s industrial feel. Natural wood and slate combine with sleek metals and glass. Glass “garage” doors with views of the Midtown skyline create an open-air atmosphere that epitomizes and elevates Atlanta intown living.

Executive Chef Benjamin Meyer heads a kitchen that seems to consistently crank out amazing food and an especially attentive staff. Remembering that we’re in a place named for the City of Dreams, I order an entrée portion from the Spanish paella menu to share. The seafood version is delicious, with generous chunks of prawns, clams, mussels and squid. Other options include chicken, vegetable, as well as a Southern iteration with crawfish, sausage, frogs legs and shrimp.

Now about those tapas. Not one passed my lips that I didn’t care for. Priced from $6.50 to $13.50 each, the bill does stack up, but it’s worth it. Rotating options on our lucky day included spinach-chickpea cazuela, Scallops a la Plancha, melt-in-your-mouth hangar steak, potato with aioli, Gambas al Ajillo (shrimp), goat cheese with mojo verde, and my favorite, spiced beef empanadas.

Desserts are also served as small plates, so try several. As one who limits carbs and sugar for sport, I deemed this a special occasion in order to sample churros y chocolate, crepes, chocolate hazelnut indulgence, and panna cotta. Worth every panting second of extra cardio.

Staying on the pulse of what’s hot and happening among the lads who lunch – and dinner, and brunch – has never been so delicious.

Want to go?
What: Barcelona Wine Bar Westside Ironworks
Where: 1085 Howell Mill Road NW
When: M-F 4 p.m. – 1 a.m., weekends 11 a.m. – midnight with brunch 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Info: barcelonawinebar.com

Anyone can fire up a grill and put out squirt-bottle condiments. Here’s how to up your outdoor party game.
By Mike Fleming

We don’t have to tell you that champagne and white tablecloths aren’t required to make a party fabulous. Here are our sure-fire tips to turn your backyard barbecue into something special, for a bangin’ Fourth of July or any time summer’s outdoor party fever hits.

a32Frozen Fruit
Replace cocktail ice with frozen berries from the bag, or really earn your gay card by dropping a berry or two in each cube of your ice trays before freezing.

Burger Bounty
Go beyond ground beef with shrimp, lamb, tuna and salmon patties that the gays will rave about long after you call them an Uber.

Cue Cards
Got mad grill skill? Show it off with place cards on the staging table for rare, medium and done meats, as well as ID cards for condiments and side dishes.

tumblr_inline_nl5s177hbN1skjzu4Toppings Station
Squirt-bottle condiments are so basic. Set up a wide assortment of mustards, cheeses, pickles, crumbled bacon, guacamole, fresh jalapeno slices, barbecue sauces and salsas.

Nice Buns
The difference between traditional buns and brioche is nominal in price, but long on fabulous.

Elevated Sides
Corn on the cob and asparagus are awesome on the grill. Kick them up with infused butters like parmesan and chili powder, or basil and garlic.

teaTea Time
Add hibiscus simple syrup to a pitcher of sweet tea for a great color and subtle floral note that leaves them just this side of jealous of your genius.

Grilled Pizza
Put chilled dough on the grill, flip it, add toppings and let them heat. Put pizza in rotation with your meats and hotdogs on the Fourth, and they’ll still be praising you at Christmas.

Better Chips
Replace traditional potato chips with baked zucchini, squash and carrot slices in a bowl with ranch. Instant fabulous upgrade.

s-l1000Beverage Bucket
Serve your bottles – yes red and white, it’s too hot for convention – in a bucket of ice with a couple of non-alcoholic options. Your boys will appreciate a great display that’s easy to access and manage. Later, add single-serving jars of ice cream and let everyone serve themselves.

Tablescape

You can’t overdo the table. Look like you gave it the old gay try, even though it’s way easy, by bringing indoor décor out. Fabric napkins, placemats and candles are easy, and splurge on the good disposable plates. Add cut flowers and boom!

Game Time
Early arrivals and the post-lunch slump are problems solved with a collection of no-skills lawn games like Frisbee, badminton and croquet.

640px-Pontes_Collection_hand_fansHand Fans
A collection of inexpensive hand-fans help beat the heat, and odds are they will create their own gay activity in no time.

Bug-free
Rather than plastic wrapping everything and spoiling your Martha moment, put individual-portion side dishes in lidded jars. You can set one at each place if you’re seating, or pass them out if you’re not.

Light It Up
Holiday lights strung across the patio, around trees and across banisters serve as sparklers when the sun goes down.

Source: The Kitchen, Outdoorsman, Fab

Photography by Russ Youngblood
Product Styling by William Duffee-Braun

A special thank you to Chambord, Finlandia, Gentleman Jack, Herradura, El Jimador, and Korbel. Please enjoy responsibly. 

 

ChambordBeltLine Royale
Give your plain ol’ PBR an upgrade with the liqueur of kings.

1 1/2 oz Chambord Liqueur
12 oz Cold Beer

Take a cold beer, top with Chambord, garnish with raspberries. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ElJimadorThinny Midtown Margarita
Sweet, lower calorie and just what your warm-weather heart desires.

1 1/2 oz el Jimador Silver
1 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
A Splash of Orange Juice

Take a shaker full of ice, add el Jimador, lime juice, simple syrup and a splash of OJ. Shake it up. Pour into a margarita glass rimmed with salt and garnish with lime wedge. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FinlandiaGoliath of a Martini
It’s big, it’s beautiful, and you’re going to love it.

1 1/2 oz Finlandia Classic Vodka
1 Dash Dry Vermouth

Take a shaker full of ice, add Finlandia, dash with dry vermouth. Shake it up. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a lemon twist. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GentlemanGeorgia Gentleman Tea
This dark and handsome gent can ease you into summer.

1 1/2 oz Gentleman Jack
2 1/2 oz Unsweetened Iced Tea
1 1/2 oz Simple Syrup
3 Lemon Wedges
6 Mint Leaves 

Steep four mint leaves and two lemon wedges in tea for 15 minutes. In a shaker muddle the remaining mint leaves, lemon wedge and simple syrup in the Gentleman Jack. Add ice and shake well. Pour into your favorite summer-time glass and top off with tea. Garnish with the remaining mint leaves and a lemon wedge. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HerraduraPiedmont Brisa
Let this cool breeze blow through your next cocktail party.

1 1/2 oz Herradura Silver
2 oz Fresh Lemonade
1 oz Pomegranate Juice

Take a shaker full of ice, add Herradura Silver, lemonade and pomegranate juice. Shake it up. Strain into ice filled glass and garnish with a lime slice. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KorbelAtlanta Fizz
The only thing bubbly and fruity enough to match your mood

4 oz Korbel Brut
3/4 oz Chambord Liqueur
2 oz Cranberry Juice

Pour Chambord and cranberry juice into a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a champagne flute. Top with Korbel Brut. Garnish with a strawberry and raspberry. Cheers!

Daydrinking, dining and downtime dovetail on the perfect patio for Atlanta’s gay urban explorers

By Mike Fleming

It’s hard to say what gets me going more. Warm weather? Weekends? Hanging with my gays? Sipping grown-up refreshments? Watching sexy joggers file by in short shorts? The best part about Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall in Old Fourth Ward is that I don’t have to choose. You don’t either.

Downtime and daydrinking collided on a recent Saturday that found the hip space two-deep at the bar with my lucky group at a sought-after table on the porch overlooking the bustling BeltLine. The lodge and travel motif – set off by a tree-bark bar, maps, communal tables, deer heads and a grizzly bear mural – is casual enough to handle my lively bunch, but just sophisticated enough to keep us in check if anyone really starts feeling his cocktails.

The libations themselves range from house takes on classic Bloody Marys and Old Fashioneds, to original fare with names like Fool in the Rain (with brandy, pear and thyme) and Tiger by the Tail (with chai gin).

But before you think there’s anything haughty going on, someone orders the Redneck Mimosa (Miller High Life and OJ), and someone else notices that the seasonal Patio Punch is served for parties of eight or 16, at $55 and $100 respectively.

A dozen local, artisanal drafts are on sale, but so are cans of Schlitz, Shiner and Jack’s. Wines come by the glass with a side jug for overage, and by the bottle. As a teetotaler, I had the seasonal lemonade, which was fantastic, and a refreshingly authentic ginger beer. What? Someone has to drive these queens.

FullSizeRender+(1)You may have noticed by now, as had I, that Ladybird has a sharp focus on its status as a hip, Old Fourth Ward bar created with off-the-clock urban explorers in mind. Definitely go there for a pre-dinner nip, but take heart that you can stay for the food and be glad you did.

Campfire-inspired offerings include a double-stack burger that’s greasy and cheesy just the way the good lord intended, with house pickle and aioli that tweak it into something special. A fried chicken bucket with three sides puts the colonel to shame, s’mores pie was the bomb, and a grilled spatchock chicken melt with avocado and Swiss was so good that a second was ordered by a neighboring foodie, but too late: They were out of key ingredients.

Therein lies the biggest rub about Ladybird. The enjoyment of your surroundings may mean that the service is slow, if friendly. And you may not always be able to get what sounds good on the menu. Owner Michael Lennox and his pedigreed kitchen either haven’t found the right groove, don’t have enough competition to thin out crowds of hungry BeltLine revelers clamoring for a seat, or maybe daily menu adjustments, surprise substitutions and ingredient-availability issues are just part of the charming flexibility that is life on Atlanta’s new urban landscape.

Ladybird takes no reservations, which is fitting of the atmosphere and location. To circumvent menu shortage issues and to secure one of the coveted lanai tables, get there a little early. The gay gaggle shenanigans, and the aforementioned shirtless joggers, make the extra effort well worth it.

Want to go?
Ladybird Lounge
Where: 684 John Wesley Dobbs Ave.
Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail, Mile Marker 9.25
When: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. weekdays, 11 p.m. weekends (Limited menu between 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Info: ladybirdatlanta.com

Food Halls keep Atlanta on trend with upgrades to everything Gayby You loved about food courts and College You loved about food trucks.

By Mike Fleming

If you’ve ever been in a group of picky guys trying to decide where to eat, you’re familiar with one of in-town’s irksome little realities: the gay dinner impasse. Thank goodness for Atlanta’s burgeoning crop of European-style food halls. They’re ushering in an era of dinner with food options to please everyone.

Places like Krog Street Market and Central Food Hall at Ponce City Market represent are a local turn in a national surge that started as part of mixed-use developments in New York and L.A. Food Halls are becoming an entrenched part of the culture and scene. Naturally, gay men are leading the way.

The phenomenon finds the leeway to take hold with diners because it offers something Southerners like – namely, lots of food in unending supply and variety – couched in our slow embrace of metropolitan sophistication. Like other facets of world class in-town living on which gay Atlanta leads the charge – take the BeltLine, home to both the aforementioned markets – food halls are an urban concept who’s time has come.

This time last year, the foodies at Eater “officially” declared a food hall boom in the U.S.  Atlanta’s versions follow notable openings in New York, L.A., Chicago and Seattle. Long a tradition in Europe, think of these gathering places as grown up versions of food court convenience with the fully realized potential of your favorite food truck craftsmen.

Like the best examples across the world, Central Food Hall at Ponce City Market is a showcase of unique offerings with a taste for both locally loved and nationally admired restaurateurs. Gay foodies of every ilk are covered, from sit-down to hang-out, and from coffee to cocktails. Cocktails? Yes, PCM has a premise license, so take your adult beverage along as you walk the property.

When you check out the rooftop carnival opening in April, be sure to head downstairs for a full serving of food hall fabulousness. You and your boys will find Mexican food by celebrity chef Sean Brock at Minero, H&F Burger from Linton Hopkins’ Holeman & Finch, continental cuisine by Jonathan Waxman at Brezza, and Justin Anthony’s Biltong Bar.

With 22 eateries open so far, be on the lookout for less-heralded food artisans as well as the big boys. Below are just a few of our favorite PCM food hall finds.

5 Favorite Foods (so far) at Central Food Hall

Honeysuckle Southern Inspired Gelato
Ye Olde Ice Cream Shoppe is all grown up. Run, do not walk, to get the Gelato Sandwich. Get the one with brownie crust, brown butter gelato and salted caramel topping. Thank us later.

WH Stiles Fish Camp
Clam chowder and seafood po-boys and the lobster roll are good, but under no circumstances can you pass up the Crab Beignets. Little bunches of herbed, fried perfection are even better than they sound.

Hops Chicken
Some of the longest lines in Central Food Hall are waiting to bite into these fried chicken wonders. The Chicken Biscuit with bread-and-butter pickles will make you forget about a certain Atlanta-based fast-food chain with anti-gay leanings.

Farm to Ladle
Whether you’re eating in or doing the “Grab N Go” menu, fresh ingredients are the draw. The Egg & Avocado Sandwich is a revelation, with a quart of any one of their house-made soups.

18.21 Bitters
We love the old-fashioned cocktail mixers named after the amendments that began and ended Prohibition. Let local lesbian mixologists Missy and Kristin Koefod fix you up with small-batch syrups or tinctures.

Want to go?
What: Central Food Hall
Where: Ponce City Market, 675 Ponce De Leon Ave NE
Info: poncecitymarket.com

Cape Dutch offers a sustenance shelter for gay Midtown foodies swept up in Atlanta’s eatery whirlwind of style over substance
By Mike Fleming

Not easily impressed by the prospect of another new restaurant, my date and I were more excited about the opportunity to catch up with each other than the off chance of being gastronomically wowed. Especially in Midtown on a random Thursday. Call us cynical gays, mostly because we are.

But give us a break. In a city full of four-star mainstays and celebrity cuisine, high-standard flash and “named” chefs can feel like a dime a dozen and leave a gay gourmand exhausted.

Enter the welcome port of Cape Dutch to the hit-or-miss squall lines of trendy-tables. It’s a fitting name since it translates loosely from Afrikaans to indicate western-coast port cities like Cape Town and the early European settlers that made a new home in those places. The restaurant is owned by South African native Justin Anthony, who also brings his native fare to Yebo, 10 Degrees South and Biltong Bar.

Cape Dutch delivers the region’s braai (rhymes with guy, and it means barbecue if you speak Georgian). A raging fire becomes a centerpiece of the restaurant’s soaring ceilings and a contemporary, subliminally nautical décor. At first, Cape Dutch may be most notable for bringing Buckhead’s hip restaurant vibe to Midtown in the former Woodfire Grill spot, but that feeling of something expected is temporary.

Turns out, braai is the grilled food experience that two cynical Southern queens raised on meat and potatoes didn’t know we were missing. One smell of select beef, seafood and exotic meats like elk, rabbit or lamb, and you’ll forget that a completely different set of gays are whooping it up just two doors down at Roxx.

And the menu isn’t afraid to leave South Africa and veer into ports all over the world. Anthony’s penchant for heritage combines with the European epicure of Belgian-born Chef Philippe Haddad, who elevates every dish for global flavors that converted this gay dining doubter.

Shaved asparagus and carrot get a lift with basil pesto. Spinach and arugula get goat cheese sorbet. Seared sea scallops appear over quinoa tabouli. At the risk of gushing, the braai turns same-old ribeye into a revelation.

I also tasted my dinner companion’s fall-off-the bone braai’d lamb shank, which was only improved by a buttery cauliflower puree. Other amazingness from the braai includes a whole fish, Maine Lobster, and 30-ounch Porterhouse, each with your choice of inspired sauces like Peri-Peri, Bernaise, and Red Wine Shallot Reduction.

We didn’t stop there. The gruyere gratin was pretty standard, but butternut squash steaks, lemongrass mussels in coconut milk, and caramelized Brussels sprouts were exceptional. House-made desserts from macaroons to chocolate soup with house-made raisin bread dipping sticks and almond brittle – we forced ourselves – may have permanently melted our icy hearts.

The restaurant didn’t know we were reviewing, making handshakes from general manager Mitch Flowers, expediting by Haddad himself, and the best service I’ve ever experienced in Atlanta even more remarkable. Ask for Andrew’s section for menu tips, wine pairings, inspired cocktail suggestions, and even a well-placed tidbit of appropriate conversation.

Quibbles go to the sometimes-noisy acoustics and a steep price point. If passing out stars and dollar signs, Cape Dutch easily earns five of each, but it’s worth it. Make it your hip dining respite for special occasions, or for picky gays you want to impress.

Want to go?
WHAT: Cape Dutch
WHERE: 1782 Cheshire Bridge Road NE, capedutchrestaurant.com
WHEN: Dinner Tuesday through Saturday, 5 p.m.
HOW: $30-$50 per person before alcohol, sides and dessert

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