Manly Restaurants – March Madness

Every Friday, Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series I like to call Foodie Friday.

Let’s get ready to rumble! March Madness is approaching so how about a tournament-style restaurant review contest? I’ll pit restaurants in head-to-head match ups to see who moves on. Don’t expect a full review, but do expect a straight up comparison. The theme… manly food! Here’s how it will shape up and how you can help.

I expect to have a field of 16 restaurants. Sorry, 64 isn’t realistic. Initially the field will be divided into four groups; barbecue, pub food, burgers and pizza. That’s pretty much my four main food groups, right? Each group will have four restaurants seeded based on Urban Spoon rating. A post will be dedicated to each group, pitting restaurants against each other to see who advances in the bracket. At the end, the winners of each bracket will square off for the title of Most Manly Restaurant in Alpharetta.

How can you help? Next week will be our selection show. I need my readers’ help selecting four restaurants in each group. They should all be located roughly in my geographic area; Alpharetta, Milton, Johns Creek and south Forsyth. I know, there are tons of great eats in Roswell, I just don’t get down that way much. Sometimes I even don’t hit the boundaries of my own area (for example, I almost never get over to Crabapple).

We all have personal favorites in each category, so I want to hear about yours. And being a March Madness theme, I’d like to have a few Cinderella stories thrown in. You never know what’ll happen, right? Let’s go through the categories.


Last summer I published a series of Q reviews. My readers kinda know where I stand on this. But please feel free to suggest something not on this list. The field includes:

  • Slopes
  • Woody’s
  • ‘Cue
  • Smokejack
  • Jim ‘N Nicks
  • Dickey’s
  • Shane’s

Yes, I threw Shane’s in there. Perhaps they are the Cinderella story? I’m sure Duke Smokejack will slaughter them in the opening round.

Pub Food

I’m overall disappointed in this category but we’ll include it. First of all, I’m going to rule out¬† English/Irish joints and gastropubs. Sorry Tifosi’s.

I expect these joints to make a mean chicken wing, know how to fry up some appetizers and have a decent beer selection. I will rate food here only, not atmosphere, games, number of TVs, nightlife, etc. Some suggestions might be:

  • Miller’s Ale House
  • Taco Mac (various locations)
  • Wild Wing
  • Buffalo’s Wild Wing
  • Montana’s
  • Hudson’s
  • Mulligan’s
  • TJ’s Sports Bar
  • Loco’s Deli
  • Jeffery’s


Everyone has a burger on their menu, but they all can’t make this list. I’m looking for joints where the burger is king on their menu. Here’s the field…

  • Cheeseburger Bobby’s
  • The Spot
  • Scratch Fresh
  • BB’s Best Burgers
  • The Counter
  • Five Guys (various locations)
  • Ted’s Montana Grill
  • Flippin’ Out

I put Flippin’ Out here to make a statement. Had they not closed last month, I’m pretty sure they would have easily won this part of the tournament (and perhaps the whole shebang).


This is a crowded field, I can’t mention them all. I’d like to see pizzerias that crank out some seriously awesome pies. I know my favorites, what are yours?

Here’s the schedule of posts you can expect:

  • Selection Show – Friday March 4
  • Barbecue – Friday March 11
  • Pizza – Friday March 18
  • Burgers – Friday March 18
  • Pubs – Friday March 25
  • Final Four – Friday April 1

So next week I’ll announce the field of 16. I’m sure there will be disappointments. Everyone questions the selection committee, right? Let me know who you think should be included and why. Let the big dance begin!

16 Responses to “Manly Restaurants – March Madness”

  1. Baconwrappedrob February 25, 2011 at 9:45 am #

    What a great concept for a tournament!! You should put Durty Kelly’s on the Pub Bracket, they have a great prime rib sandwich. Can’t wait for the selection show!

  2. dustin February 25, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

    ooo, this is going to be good!

  3. jimgilvin February 25, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

    Too bad the Tilted Kilt isn’t open yet.

  4. Lee February 25, 2011 at 4:26 pm #

    Rob – Durty Kelly’s is pretty good, I just think comparing Irish pubs to a wings and beer joint might not be fair.

    Jim – I don’t see a lot of progress being made on Windward’s Tilted Kilt. I’m guessing they are still months away from opening, whatcha think?

  5. Mike February 25, 2011 at 4:43 pm #

    BBQ – What about Dreamland? Is that more Roswell? Also for burgers – Construct A Burger. Best I’ve had in the area.

  6. Greg February 25, 2011 at 4:57 pm #

    For BBQ, I’d put in votes for Smokejack and Jim n Nicks (yes, it’s a chain, but it’s excellent food – get over it!). I have to admit, though, I’ve never been to ‘Cue, but I was never a fan of Swallow in the Hollow’s food. And honestly, I’ve never been able to figure out why Slopes stays open.

    I’d put a vote in for Cheeseburger Bobby’s, but I’ve never met a hamburger that just left me in awe.

    For pizza, I’d put in votes for Z Pizza and, yes, Mellow Mushroom. Again, I know it’s a chain, but remember that there are reasons places become chain, and they’re not all evil.

  7. Greg February 25, 2011 at 5:07 pm #

    By the way, in honor of the nature of this contest, if you go to Mellow Mushroom, you should get the Buffalo Chicken pizza.

  8. Chris R February 25, 2011 at 7:02 pm #

    Burger: The Spot (just had it today and loved it) and Scratch and Fuddrucker’s as an honorable mention. I’ve mostly ruled 5 Guys out of my rotation because it’s always too crowded and really greasy.

    Pizza: So far my selection in the Alpharetta area goes to Brooklyn Joe’s on Highway 9 but I had pizza from a place on exit 18 over the weekend that was really good but way out of your range for this.

    BBQ: Definitely Slopes on this one. Smokejack was decent but it hasn’t lured me back other than the one time I’ve been. Jim ‘n’ Nick’s is good and so is Shane’s if you want something fairly quick. ‘Que left me a bit underwhelmed. It felt too clean for a BBQ place.

  9. jimgilvin February 26, 2011 at 8:47 am #

    Lee- The work at Tilted Kilt does seem to have slowed down so you’re probably right but I don’t have any inside scoop

  10. Lee February 26, 2011 at 3:02 pm #

    Thanks for the suggestions everyone. That’s exactly what I’m looking for. I need to consider Construct-a-burger. I’ve only been once and think a return visit is in order. Has anyone tried BB’s Burgers in Johns Creek?

    Chris, I think Brooklyn Joe’s is in.

    I drove by the Tilted Kilt location today. They were clearly working inside the place, filling dumpsters with stuff.

  11. Mike March 2, 2011 at 11:19 pm #

    For burgers, how about Rheas II on Hwy 9 at Hembree Rd? Plain jane burgers cash only and oh so good. Reminds me of the now defunct Hamburger Hut.

  12. Lee March 3, 2011 at 6:31 am #

    Thanks Mike! How did this place slip past me? I was a fan of Hamburger Hut. Burgers made with grilled Texas toast… delicious.


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