Running northeast of Atlanta for over 20 miles, Buford Highway has long been known to locals for its vast range of eating options. Nearly two dozen countries from around the world are represented in the restaurants and markets up and down Buford Highway, making it the most diverse and dynamic dining scene found anywhere in the metro Atlanta area. And nowhere is that fact more apparent than at the food stalls found inside Plaza Fiesta in Chamblee.
Spanning nearly 350,000 square feet, Plaza Fiesta is a marketplace filled with over 200 shops, a farmers market, bakeries, and a food court with stalls serving dishes from countries throughout Latin America. Cruising down Buford Highway, it’s difficult to miss Plaza Fiesta’s characteristic blue and orange mosaic sun logo and parking lot bustling with activity no matter the day of the week.
First built back in 1967 as the Buford-Clairmont Mall, the current incarnation Atlantans know today as Plaza Fiesta opened in 2000, billed as a shopping, entertainment, and dining destination for metro Atlanta’s growing Latin American population. The slogan for the indoor mall is “el rinconcito de nuestra pueblo” or “the little corner of our town”. Plaza Fiesta is indeed like walking into a busy town square bursting with businesses and people shopping, eating, and wandering through the sprawling marketplace.
Plaza Fiesta has changed hands a couple of times since opening in 2000, but the ethos behind this little corner of town always remained its cornerstone. Now Plaza Fiesta is owned by Asana Partners, one of the Charlotte-based real estate development company’s most recent acquisitions in Atlanta. Asana also owns Krog Street Market in Inman Park and the Brickworks on Atlanta’s west side. It’s unclear how this latest change in ownership affects the future of Plaza Fiesta and its shops and restaurant stalls, if at all. It’s simply business as usual at Plaza Fiesta, including feeding hundreds of people who come to eat here each day.
Eater Atlanta compiled a quick guide to some of the best dishes to try right now at the restaurant stalls inside Plaza Fiesta. Use this interactive map and the store numbers listed below each dish to help navigate the food stalls throughout the shopping mall.
Pelua arepas at Arepa Grill — $7.99
Store number: N4
Claudia and Pedro Cardenas opened Arepa Grill inside Plaza Fiesta in 2019. The response to their Venezuelan food menu has been so positive, they opened a second location just up the road on Buford Highway in Doraville. Try an order of the poppable, mini-cheese-filled tequeños or a cup of chicha, a sweet Venezuelan drink made with rice, milk, and cinnamon. However, the real menu draw is the arepas. There’s no wrong order at Arepa Grill — even from the vegan and vegetarian options — but the pelua arepa with delicious shredded beef and melty gouda is a must for meat eaters.
Chicken flautas at La Norteña Restaurant — $8.41
Store number: 1141
Before opening Arepa Grill, the Cardenas bought La Norteña Restaurant in 2009. There, they offer classic taqueria staples like tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and nachos. One dish worth trying that might not be such an obvious choice to order at a taqueria is the milanesa de pollo, which is beautifully breaded and oh-so filling. The chicken flautas, however, are the menu heroes. The crunchy, cigar-like tortillas are rolled around flavorful shredded chicken, fried, and served with rice, beans, lettuce, cheese, and sour cream.
Limon con chia y pepino aguas frescas at La Michoacana Niña Pop — $4
Store number: D2 – D2A – D4- E1 – E2 – E3 – E4 – F1 – F3
You’re bound to get thirsty while on a tasting tour of Plaza Fiesta, so what better way to hydrate than with an aguas frescas. La Michoacana Niña Pop, which includes a location in Norcross, touts some of the best aguas fescas in the Atlanta area. Try the limon con chia y pepina (lime with chia seeds and cucumber), a seriously refreshing drink for replenishing and resetting the palate. The stall also offers a colorful feast for the eyes with an array of gourmet popsicles. Find flavors like Ferrero Rocher, tequila with almonds, and tamarind.
Taco al pastor at Carnitas Michoacán — $3.24
Store number: N6 – N9 – N11 – M10
Everything at Carnitas Michoacan is mouthwatering and satisfying because each dish starts with perfectly seasoned and expertly prepared meat. Here, people can order birria, carne asada, pollo, pastor, and carnitas surtida by the pound to create a feast at home. You just can’t go wrong with any of the choices on the menu. Conduct a taco taste test, if you must, starting with the carnitas — a dish originated in the state of Michoacán — and ending with the al pastor. No matter the meat choice, these are some of the best tacos in Plaza Fiesta.
Quesabirria tacos at Las Recetas y Antojitos de la Abuela — $10.99
Store number: 1031
Las Recetas y Antojitos de la Abuela translates to “Grandma’s Recipes and Snacks” in English. And like the name suggests, dishes at this stall carry an especially tasty homemade quality. Order the quesabirria tacos for a cheese pull that’s unrivaled at Plaza Fiesta. The crispy fried tortilla is filled with gooey cheese and juicy shredded beef served with a super savory consomme for dipping, leveling up the beautiful rich flavor of these tacos.
Elote preparado at El Rey de Elote y sus Botanas — $5
Store number: K16
Elote — aka Mexican street corn — is a solid portable snack to have in hand while browsing the shops at Plaza Fiesta. And El Rey de Elote y sus Botanas takes the corn’s portability to the next level by offering the grilled corn in a cup mixed with all the classic toppings, which typically sees corn tossed in garlic, chili powder, and cilantro and dressed with mayo and Cotija cheese and a squeeze of lime. The stall also serves corn on the cob. Just order elote preparado. Be sure to ask for Valentina hot sauce to add a vinegary tang and punch of heat to the street corn.
Sope de pollo at Pollos Mi Tierra — $7.99
Store number: N8 – N10
The smells wafting from this stall are utterly intoxicating, even to those who are just walking by with no intention of stopping to order and eat. Definitely explore the section of the menu devoted to mariscos (seafood), with three different types of seafood cocktails. But don’t skip the chicken sope. Grab a seat at the bar, or a table nearby, and a knife and fork to dig into a symphony of textures and tastes. This is a dish you’ll definitely want to be seated for to really enjoy.
Gordita chorizo con queso at Yami’s Pizza — $3.99
Store number: 1032
For anyone seeking pizza, Plaza Fiesta has that too. Head straight to Yami’s Pizza next door to Las Recetas y Antojitos de la Abuela to order pies topped with jamon, pineapple, and avocado or pepperoni and Mexican salami. The stall also features tacos and gorditas, and are the real standouts on the menu. Try the gordita chorizo con queso, an especially delicious and messy dish. A side of pickled jalapeños, carrots, and cabbage lends an acidic element to this gordita that cuts through and complements the richness of the meat and cheese. Dress the tacos and gorditas from Yami’s Pizza further by hitting up the salsa bar.
Chocolate-filled churro at Churros Mi Tierra — $4
Store number: K17
Is there any better way to wander a mall than with a handheld dessert? The clear choice for the job is a chocolate-filled churro from Churros Mi Tierra. Choose from caramel, peach, strawberry, vanilla, apple, guava, or pineapple sauces to be squeezed inside the doughy fried tube. Or stick to filling that churro with melted chocolate, which creates an unbeatable flavor combination paired with cinnamon and sugar.
Polvoron at Esquisito Bakery — $1.69
Store number: 1010A – 1010C – 1023A – K1
You’ll be drawn into Esquitito Bakery by its many colorfully decorated cakes, but stick around for its selection of pan dulce. Load up a basket with conchas, nutty magdalenas, and more. The bakery’s pink, brown, and beige sugar cookies, known as polvorón, are a must. This buttery, sugary bite is somehow both big enough to share and the ideal size for for anyone grazing with a sweet tooth at Plaza Fiesta.