Welcome to the Eater Atlanta food crawl, a series in which Eater’s editor and contributors take readers on a tour of various restaurants and food around metro Atlanta. When Eater dines out, it’s often done as a team with a specific dish, drink, style of cuisine, or neighborhood in mind with multiple stops. These crawls are meant to be relatively walkable or easily driven, and the amount of food manageable enough for the average appetite of roughly two people. In other words, bring friends.
For this crawl edition, Atlanta-based food and beverage writer Laura Scholz explored a handful of restaurants along Cheshire Bridge Road in the Lindridge-Martin Manor neighborhood, east of Buckhead.
Email Eater Atlanta if there’s a particular food crawl theme, dish, drink, or neighborhood needing coverage in a future installment.
Bordered by the Morningside neighborhood to its south and the international food thoroughfare of Buford Highway to the north, Cheshire Bridge Road, with its sex shops and active nightlife scene (as well as its restaurants,) has remained largely untouched by mixed-use complexes and over-development, which seem to be stripping the city of its character over the last decade.
Starting with $2 tacos at the back of a Mexican market and ending with belly dancing and baklava at a traditional Greek tavern, here’s how one could spend a day crawling the restaurants along this classic Atlanta strip.
Tacos at Mercado Acapulco Y Taqueria
No need to drive to Buford Highway for a taco fix thanks to a small Mexican market located at 2179 Cheshire Bridge, just south of the intersection of Woodland Avenue. Walk to the counter at the back of the store and place an order for carne asada, al pastor, and other assorted tacos, all served on fresh corn tortillas garnished with cilantro, onion, and lime and choice of red or green salsa (or both). There are a few tables for dining in, too. Head in on weekends for a bowl of spicy menudo, which can be made hotter by adding the market’s fiery red salsa to the mix. Open daily at 9 a.m.
Tip: Call ahead to have food waiting upon arrival.
Ginger Tea and Lunch at Embilta Cafe & Restaurant
Head a quarter mile down the street to this tiny, all-day Ethiopian cafe for kitfo (beef tartare with clarified butter and spices), lamb wot (a hearty stew), and the can’t-miss veggie special — spicy split lentils, yellow peas, greens, cabbage, and chickpeas. It’s served with four to five pieces of injera, a fermented sourdough flatbread. Finish with a digestif — the house ginger tea, served warm with a touch of honey before heading to the next stop.
Tip: The restaurant is open from 9 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. so, visit on off hours to avoid the lunch and dinner crowds.
Martinis with a Side of Fried Chicken at The Colonnade
No Cheshire Bridge food tour would be complete without this next iconic Atlanta restaurant on the list. Drive a half mile down the road from Embilta Cafe and step back in time at this classic “meat and three” serving generous platters of chicken fried chicken (yes, it’s a thing), pot roast, and Southern sides like macaroni and cheese and collards. Need to save room for the next part of the crawl? Skip the heavy entrees and opt for shrimp cocktail instead. Wash it down with one of the restaurant’s ice cold martinis. Like its fried chicken, the martinis at the Colonnade are legendary and also generously poured.
Tip: At $13, the early bird special (available Monday - Thursday, 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.) includes an entree plus two sides, a drink, and dessert. It’s one of the best bargains in town.
Old School Italian Dinner at Nino’s Cucina Italiana
Atlanta doesn’t have a “Little Italy” but, it does have Nino’s; a charming, family-owned and operated classic red sauce restaurant that opened in 1968. It’s just a short walk from the Colonnade, too. As the city’s longest operating Italian restaurant, the vibe is warm, the portions generous, and the pasta fresh. The order? Start with the baked clams oreganata or hearty minestrone soup, both holdovers from the original menu, then move on to the gnocchi (pillowy potato dumplings served in classic bolognese sauce), followed by the veal parmesan, butchered on site, sautéed, and swimming in marinara and mozzarella.
Tip: Ask for an appetizer-sized order of the pasta dishes, some of which are also available gluten free. Reservations may be necessary on Friday and Saturday nights.
Dessert and Dancing at Taverna Plaka
Finish up the evening at Taverna Plaka, a Greek tavern a half mile up the road from Nino’s. Split a traditional Greek dessert like baklava or karithopita (walnut cake), down a glass or two of ouzo (anise-flavored aperitif), and prepare to dance the night away. The DJ starts spinning Mediterranean tunes at 10 p.m., when guests are invited to join the belly dancers, staff, and other patrons on the dance floor, and even on the tables.
Tip: Bringing a group? Make a reservation in advance for larger parties.