Archive - June, 2015

Top 10 Alpharetta restaurants that aren’t in Alpharetta

I’m a stickler for geography. You’ve gotta be when there’s geography in your blog name.

It took only one instance of a blog reader busting my chops to be this way. I think I said the Windward Chipotle was in Alpharetta. That was enough for a resident of the new city of Milton to correct me of my error. As cities sprout everywhere people are proud of new identities and ready to claim cool restaurants as their own. I don’t blame them and fully anticipate doing the same thing when Sharon Springs comes into being.

So it always cracks me up when these “Top 10 Alpharetta restaurants” lists pop up. They’re usually clickbait articles no doubt written by someone who’s never set foot in town. Armed with google skills they find a handful of joints with high ratings and piece together a list. Pretty soon the restaurants listed or maybe the CVB will have fallen for it and have the article on social media even though many of the restaurants are actually out of town. The last article I found had four of ten restaurants outside of Alpharetta. Doh!

I can help writers of future clickbait articles! So without further adieu I present my top ten list of Alpharetta restaurants that are not in Alpharetta.

Bombay Flames
With a burgeoning south Asian population, the number of Indian restaurants is growing to keep pace. Bombay Flames has been around for a while on Mansell Road and is one of the best in town. Oh, and that town would be Roswell.

Milton’s Cuisine and Cocktails
Fine dining that’s very approachable, Milton’s has been around for a generation now and continues to be as popular as ever. It deservedly makes many best of lists. But as the name suggests, Milton’s is in Milton not Alpharetta. Shocker but it’s true.

Sushi Nami
Easily the best sushi around, Windward’s Sushi Nami doesn’t disappoint. Notice I said “Windward.” If you want to write about west Windward restaurants then drop the city name and use the street to designate location. That’s the safe way to go as a geography-conscious restaurant writer. The Alpharetta/Milton border skips all over the place here and your favorite place for California rolls is on the Milton side.

Rosa Mia
This mom and pop Italian restaurant is really popular. Their fish sandwich made my best of list in that category earlier this year. It’s crave worthy. If you’ve not been, you’re missing out. So head over to Johns Creek!

BB’s Bagels
One of the best bagels south of the Mason Dixon line is right here – in south Forsyth. Alpharetta addresses swallow a lot of land north of the county line including McFarland Parkway. That’s enough to fool most writers who have spilled a lot of ink about BB’s in “Alpharetta”. There isn’t much to say about these guys that hasn’t been said. My favorite is the everything bagel, toasted with butter.

Pampas Steakhouse
Meat, glorious meat. At Pampas big hunks of bovine are cooked over a flame, Argentinean-style. They’ve been serving those with deep pockets and their expense account guests for a while now. But remember, they’re in Johns Creek.

Scratch Fresh
They’re not going to win any best burger awards, or at least they shouldn’t these days. And those jugs of milkshake concentrate don’t exactly instill confidence in the notion of fresh or scratch-made. Nevertheless, no other restaurant in town is as genuinely friendly as the folks at Scratch. They’ve built a loyal following behind it. They’re also on the Milton side of the tracks.

850 F Barpizza
We’re back in Crabapple for Neapolitan-style pizza. With three of these restaurants in town (about to be four), it’s hard to keep up. But 850 is arguably the best. Oh, and it’s in Milton. I’m a broken record now. As a matter of fact, nearly every restaurant in Crabapple is in Milton with the exception of Alpine Bakery. They’re in Alpharetta. Confused yet?

Nahm Thai Cuisine
They made the clickbait list I linked to above. I like this little pocket of international restaurants on Windward. There’s a little something for everyone here including Sushi Name from above. And again, it’s Milton.

Kozmo Gastro Pub
The most geographically confusing restaurant in town, whatever that town is. Before this article I wasn’t exactly sure what town they were in. The nerd that I am pulled property tax and business license records to get it right. Kozmo is in Johns Creek, literally by a few feet.  They introduced most of us in suburbia to the gastro pub. Their fried chicken and hamburger are among the best around.

Keeping up with the Shumachers

We closely watch restaurant broker Shumacher Group. Their niche seems to be representing restaurant owners who want completely out of the business. Their listings and sales offer a crystal ball into changes we’re likely to see months out. It doesn’t hurt that a good bit of their business is right here in the northern burbs.

They’ve had a flurry of new business that is very timely to those following the restaurant scene in Alpharetta.

First is Durango Woodfire Grill. They’ve secured space in the Medlock Crossing shopping center in Johns Creek where Tilted Kilt used to be. One can assume that this is the same concept that closed last year in downtown Atlanta.

The former Chadwick’s Tap Room space on Old Alabama Connector has been listed. This is an enormous restaurant that lacks good road visibility. Frankly I forget this shopping center even exists when I’m in the area.

Shumacher helped to broker a contract for the Champps Americana building to indoor skydiving firm iFly. The listing is back on the market after Alpharetta’s City Council again rejected iFly’s plans to build here. I suspect we’ll see iFly open elsewhere in metro Atlanta. In the meantime, Alpharetta’s biggest and longest-running restaurant vacancy is again available.

And finally, we love when brokers obfuscate their listings. We take it as a challenge to unmask the mystery restaurant. Check out this listing near North Point Mall and let me know who you think it is?

Alpharetta Restaurant News – June 2015

The pace of new restaurant announcements is slowing in Alpharetta. I’m having fewer restaurants to report in this monthly column. Either I’m slipping up and missing stuff or perhaps we’re reaching some kind of saturation point. Who knows. Let’s get to it.

One of last year’s failure to launch restaurants has reemerged. We reported last summer on Anabelle’s Table and their plans to open on Peachtree Parkway in south Forsyth. Unfortunately plans for this French-inspired mom and pop joint fell through. They hinted a few months back that a lease might be signed for space on Windward. Turns out that space is the former Cosmic Deli location. They’ve targeted a fall opening but a more realistic guess is near the end of the year. While the location is a bit hidden from the street, this place has potential to attract cubicle dwellers on foot. And a well-run independent concept is sorely needed on this stretch of road.

Windward Tavern coming soonSpeaking of Windward, look out for Windward Tavern. They won’t be on Windward proper but rather the  former Cinco’s space at 5206 McGinnis Ferry near Publix. This banner sign over the space is all that’s known about the concept at this point.

A business called Flavor Juicery will open in the Kimball Crossing shopping center near Bagel Boys and Bite. They feature a wide array of cold pressed juices sold in mason jars.

I’ve been completely derelict in my duty in this column to not have mentioned Delightful Donuts. They’ve been building out a new doughnut shop at 12872 Highway 9 in Milton in the original Scratch Fresh location. As with any new entrant in this field, comparisons to Dutch Monkey, Da Vinci’s and Sweet Apple will be in order.

Closing since last month is longtime Alpharetta favorite Satay House. It sucks to see these guys close but I’m going to speculate that it was because of Amana Academy. They purchased the entire shopping center a few years ago for the expansion of their school. Perhaps they needed the space.

A lot is coming off our list from below. Chai Thai Urban Asian Kitchen of course is open and worth a visit. The Bowl has opened on Old Milton Parkway as has CamiCakes on North Point Parkway.

Cafe at Pharr finally opened about three weeks ago in the practically invisible space on Windward behind CVS. They are in the old Pig N Chick location but have a slightly smaller dining doom than you might remember. This isn’t a franchise but is managed by an Alpharetta family who I know from church. They’ve got a decent chicken salad sandwich and a lot of healthly options. But I can’t see any restaurant doing well in this space without really hitting it out of the park. Time will tell.

Restaurants Coming Soon

Ceviche Taqueria & Margarita Bar – Opening on Milton Avenue in downtown Alpharetta next to 2B Whole Bakery.
Starbucks – Tiny new free-standing location coming to Haynes Bridge near the mall.
Bawarchi Biryani Point Indian Cuisine – Replacing Mayuri in the old Pizza Hut near the mall.
Mugs on Milton – Second location for this indy coffee joint to open in Crabapple, former Scoops location.
Varasano’s Pizzeria - Coming to the back entrance of North Point Mall.
Salsarita’s Fresh CantinaComing to the former Uncle Madio’s space on Windward. Buildout has not started.
The Real Chow Baby – Stir fry joint coming soon to downtown Alpharetta.

Chad Thai Urban Asian Kitchen – Milton

What we have here is a mom-n-pop joint masquerading as a chain fast-casual restaurant. Two things jump out and give that impression when walking in the door at Chad Thai.

chad thai logoFirst, it’s that polished look. They’ve done a great job remodeling the former Pretzel Factory space in Milton. The feel is modern but comfortable. Contemporary photography of Asian cities beguiles what piped-in 90′s music confirms – this place is run by American Gen-Xers.

Second, the menu is straight out of that fast-casual playbook. Pick an entree grouped in categories of noodles, fried rice, stir fry or curry. Next you’ll choose a protein followed by a selection of veggies. Finish it off with your heat level of up to five stars.

But don’t let the seemingly boring and predictable trappings of the fast-casual world turn you off to Chad Thai. This joint has potential and is worthy of your ten dollar lunch business. Here’s why.

Proteins. They’ve sourced them carefully. The chicken is from Springer Mountain. Beef and pork are locally sourced. Shrimp is wild caught from the Gulf of Mexico. You can taste the difference. Strips of braised brisket are amazingly tender, the shrimp sweet and delicious.

The rest of the menu is loaded with curious options that warrant repeat trips. Bao buns make an appearance including one with brisket. Or pair up a few small plate choices to make a meal. Chad’s deep fried brussel sprouts are a winner. Tossed in a sweet glaze, these delicious morsels are devoured in no time.

Yet Chad Thai still needs a bit of time to mature into its menu. Spice and flavor levels were a bit subdued on a few visits. The massaman curry, while supposed to be on the mild side, was much too mild and lacked depth. The Boom Boom shrimp small plate was hush hush on the heat, something that should have smacked the taste buds around a bit.

The beer menu features local brews. Jekyll Brewing is there as is Red Hare from Marietta. Monday Night’s Fu Manbrew is on-tap. With a hint of ginger it’s a great complement to this menu.

And extra props are due to Chad Thai’s kids’ menu. Their coconut chicken fingers are excellent and find their way into other parts of the menu. Sweet and sour chicken is another good choice for junior. Some might find it overly sweet with huge chunks of pineapple, but it was a creative twist on a traditional favorite.

There’s no shortage of Thai options along Highway 9 and Windward. Yet with a broad menu, quality ingredients and some talent in the kitchen, Chad Thai will be competitive here. Don’t let the chain-ish appearance of this place fool you, Chad is a worthy contender.

Chad Thai is located at 13087 Highway 9, Suite 910 near the Milton Target. Visit them online at www.chadthai.com

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