What to eat on opening day at Avalon

Every Friday Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series called Foodie Friday.

I stopped following the Avalon restaurant lineup a few years ago. It became tough to keep up as the lineup changed. Their PR machine would often blur the lines between a new restaurant announcement with rumor and hype. And I’ll admit, at times the back story of how Avalon itself came to fruition turned me off.

Nevertheless the lineup is complete for phase one and praise is most certainly due to this fine collection of eateries. And with an opening date of October 30th, these restaurants will open sooner than some on my restaurant news coming soon list.

Before I get into my first choices, let’s say a little about the October 30th opening date. I’ve seen how hard it is for a single restaurant to hit a promised opening date. There’s a lot to get right, from the construction to permits, inspections, etc. Then there’s the liquor licenses, something I’ve yet to see for many Avalon restaurants. It’s crazy ambitious to schedule a single opening date for this many restaurants and shops, a logistical challenge many don’t comprehend. Serious props are due to Avalon if they can pull it off!

Bocado logoHere are the joints I’d like to try first. We’ll also comment on their location within the project, something very important to the success of a restaurant in a mixed-use development.

Bocado Burger – We spend a lot of time talking burgers here. Bocado’s restaurant in the Westside area of Atlanta isn’t a burger joint, yet their burger is often mentioned as one of the best in all of Atlanta. So they want to open a burger-only joint in Alpharetta? Count me in. I’ll probably make a beeline here on opening day. And their outparcel location makes it easier for car lovers like me to get to as well.

I’m surprised no one has tried a ramen noodle concept in the burbs. Bantu at Avalon will be the first and I can’t wait to try. This is a fast-casual Asian concept that’ll be a bit tucked away in the site plan. But you should seek it out.

If the kids are with me I’m likely to try Bantam+Biddy. Their menu features a meat and two veggie style as well as having rotisserie chicken. And I see duck fat fries on the menu. Oh my.

Restaurants located near the movie theater will always be successful. That formula has proven to be true at The Collection Forsyth as even mediocre joints thrive when movie goers can walk there. I love Antico’s location and the idea that I can get a fast, delicious pizza and not miss the opening trailers. Kona Grill, the chain’s first location in Georgia, will also benefit from this proximity. Marlow’s Tavern is also in a great location as well but we in Alpharetta are certainly used to this joint. And we expect Goldberg’s to benefit from overflow restaurant crowds by the theater.

Frozen yogurt seller Pinkberry will be in a street median. I’m not a fan of fro-yo but their offerings are usually considered a notch above the competition. It’s worth a try. Also in the median will be Cru Wine Bar.

My first date night visit might include dinner at The El Felix, a Tex-Mex concept from Ford Fry. It’s around the corner from just about everything else. I might consider Oak Steakhouse even though their location seems almost like an afterthought. They’ll be practically in the townhomes on the west side of Avalon.

And finally, how will a mass opening of several very good restaurants effect Alpharetta’s current restaurant scene? I won’t say who but several restauranteurs have quietly expressed to me their concern for the increased competition Avalon will create. There’s no doubt that in the short term, say three months, business will suffer for these guys. Yet in the long run, rising tides will lift all boats. Between Avalon and a budding new downtown restaurant scene, Alpharetta is finally becoming a restaurant destination. Everyone will benefit.

19 Responses to “What to eat on opening day at Avalon”

  1. Cool Papa Bell August 1, 2014 at 9:34 am #

    The only major change I recall from early buzz was that Yeah Burger! was replaced by Bocado. I think for the most part, what they promised are all coming. Johns Creek and Suwanee jumped into the ramen noodle craze with Umaido being the one that gets the most ink.

    Marlow’s is pretty good but a bit out of place among some superstars. They may be the one and only example among the restaurant line-up of what a persistent Avalon critic would call, “Nothing unique to offer.”

    Counting desserts, sure Pinkberry may qualify as well, but they are supposed to be better than almost all the cookie cutter froyo places.

  2. Greg August 1, 2014 at 9:53 am #

    Speaking of the restaurant scene in downtown Alpharetta, I have to admit I don’t think of them when I think of date night. We usually head to Canton Street. Maybe the new development near City Hall will change that. Have any restaurants been announced for the new development there?

  3. S Lee Guy August 1, 2014 at 10:47 am #

    @CPB – The promised Sedgwick restaurant, Savor Boulanger, is not there.

    @Greg – No. We’re still a ways off from talking about city center restaurants. The city still hasn’t picked a developer. However I’m hearing rumors of other newly created restaurant spaces in the works for downtown Alpharetta.

  4. Travis Allen August 1, 2014 at 10:47 am #

    I’m looking forward to Bocado Burger and Antico.

    I’ll have to issue you a demerit for not getting to the theatre in time for the credits…makes you one of “those people” ;)

    Other than these two places, the theatre, and a closer Marlows, there really isn’t much that makes me want to visit Avalon.

  5. gnd August 1, 2014 at 11:32 am #

    Cool Papa- Also Yard House was also mentioned at first. I’m looking forward to trying Bocado, as long as it is a decent price point. Of course you will not even be able to get into any of these places for about a month or so after opening. Just out of curiosity, what is the parking situation going to be at Avalon? lot of street parking close to the stores, or multi level garages?

  6. S Lee Guy August 1, 2014 at 11:48 am #

    There will be some street parking but it’ll be few and far between I think. Otherwise it is parking decks and surface lots depending on which part of the project you’re in.

  7. Cool Papa Bell August 1, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

    I want to know if Bocado Burger will have their famed lobster roll. Betcha by golly wow, we have eight million good burger places, but the lobster roll options are very thin. Bocado is said to be among the best.

    Pure is the only good Americanized Mexican place around, so Ford Fry’s place has me curious. Good Tex-Mex borders on an oxymoron but FF has the ability to change my mind.

  8. Travis Allen August 1, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

    CPB, if you get a chance, try the lobster roll from the Tasting Maine food-truck. Good stuff, but finding them nearby can be a challenge.

  9. Cool Papa Bell August 1, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

    Travis, I saw you mention them on the Alpharetta Foot Truck FB feed. I’ve been to many food truck events, but have never seen them. Will keep an eye open. Ibiza Bits has an interesting one. More veggies and chopped up more than most I’ve had. Will hope to see T-Maine.

  10. Mala August 1, 2014 at 5:28 pm #

    I’m more of a mom and pop restaurant fan. I hope some good local entrepreneurs like the ladies at Mugs are given opportunities to open up restaurants downtown. I’d love to see collet French pastery and Decouer de France open up downtown.

  11. Cool Papa Bell August 1, 2014 at 8:55 pm #

    I’d hardly call Francois Collet, “mom and pop” but like Giovanni Di Palma and Ford Fry he started out that way. Each built on their popularity. Perhaps Collet at a slower rate than the other guys, but a similar path. Fry and his family live in Roswell. I believe “mom and pop” Collet is a big city boy. I’ll ask next trip, but I hardly doubt the owner steps foot in Collets for more than a few hours a week.

    But alas, that is what I love about Avalon. Yes it’s high rent district, but Google Fiber can allow businesses that graduated from their garage to compete internationally with much larger businesses because of the fastest speed in the world.

    Believe me I know. For small internet entrepreneurs the unprecedented speed is a game-changer. Perhaps in a few years, it will be widely available. But you rent one of those $1,800 a month studios, work from home and you have a big head start (as in years probably) on the competition working with 12-50 mbps.

    I believe it was MoveTo did an article that said Johns Creek and Alpharetta were two of the top five cities in the country as far as percentage of people working from home. Toro knows this. Small businessmen—mom and pop if you will–all over the world would salivate having access to that speed. So I am buying it there is a long waiting list. Not saying it won’t get shorter with those sticker prices, but it’s a rare opportunity.

  12. Sue August 1, 2014 at 11:45 pm #

    CPB: I think you need to note punctuation. I referred to mom and pop like mugs downtown. I just like collet and Decouer de France because I like French food and pastries. Easy their cowboy/cowgirl. Just wondering if you work for the Avalon developers?

  13. Sue August 1, 2014 at 11:48 pm #

    Also, I was talking about restaurant in the new downtown (not Avalon). Not sure why you’re so hot on Avalon. And I never mentioned internet speed (I was talking about food).

  14. A August 5, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

    Agree with other posters on the overall look and feel of Avalon. It doesn’t look very upscale or inviting to me. And why all the stucco when there is a huge stigma against it in our area? Why not brick or stone for a classier look?

    Some of the restaurants sound interesting, but considering how backed up traffic is going to be on Old Milton and GA 400, I don’t think I’ll be going to Avalon anytime soon. I’ve always been skeptical about this development (ever since it was left in a sorry eyesore of a dirt pile for years), and nothing I’ve seen so far has changed my opinion.

  15. Alpharetta Bob August 11, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

    Wow, Alpharetta is full of a bunch of whiny, food-snobs. Good grief can you find something positive in anything? Our gas stations are too big. Chain restaurants are terrible. People that bring kids to restaurants should be lynched… I can’t believe I live among some of the people that post comments.

    Development brings jobs, traffic…and …shudder…apartments!

    People want to live here, and that is a good thing. So what if you have to deal with a Chili’s on every corner? Who does that hurt?

  16. Mark Toro August 12, 2014 at 3:44 am #

    Thanks for your post and for your interest in Avalon, Lee.

    It is worthy of note that whereas the Yard House deal was a victim of their acquisition by Darden, there was never a “promise” of a Sedgwick concept or any other that we did not deliver, so your comment “Their PR machine would often blur the lines between a new restaurant announcement with rumor and hype.” seems a bit harsh.

    Nevertheless, we are very proud of our offering and happy to bring it to the residents of Alpharetta and North Fulton.

    Bon appetit,
    Mark Toro
    Managing Partner
    North American Properties

  17. S Lee Guy August 12, 2014 at 9:33 am #

    That’s exactly what I’m talking about, Mark. In early 2013 there were articles in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, Revue & News, the Wall Street Journal and many others that mentioned a leasing commitment from a Sedgwick restaurant called Savor Boulanger. I suppose that’s not a “promise” but it’s an example of the media hype over the last few years that I speak of. Obviously your PR guys placed this story with multiple media outlets at the time.

  18. Stung October 31, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

    BOCADO has ambience but the fried burger and prices leave much to be desired. The Coca-Cola and fries however are great!

    Don’t chefs at least take hints from Gordon Ramsey? Seasoning accentuates meat flavor, heck even a little salt would help!

    Effectively a cover for another bar with outdoor seating, which will keep them open!

    Marlow’s has better burgers but they didn’t get open in time…nor did Anticos which I am eagerly anticipating!

  19. Rob V November 17, 2014 at 7:52 pm #

    $59 for a 12oz filet… A la carte…at the Oak…is a joke

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