New menu items from Bar Mercado after shifting from traditional Spanish tapas to a Latin American menu. COURTESY OF BAR MERCADO

Bar Mercado shifts course with new chef and more metro Atlanta dining news from the week

These are the stories that created a buzz on the metro Atlanta dining scene this week:

Bar Mercado, the Krog Street Market tapas restaurant that is part of the Castellucci Hospitality Group, has promoted Raul Dominguez to executive chef. Formerly the restaurant’s executive sous chef, Dominguez will be joined in the kitchen by Luis Guevara, the sous chef at the Iberian Pig’s new Buckhead location - another property of Castellucci Hospitality Group. Together, the pair will shift Bar Mercado’s tapas menu from Spanish cuisine towards the Latin American cuisine of their upbringings and heritage.

Executive chef Raul Dominguez of Bar Mercado was recently promoted from his sous chef position in the same kitchen. COURTESY OF BAR MERCADO

The change in culinary direction will be complemented by “significant changes to the interior space,” according Federico Castellucci, president and CEO of the restaurant group. Interior updates to the main dining room are almost complete, with changes to the patio coming soon. The restaurant will continue with its regular hours and updated menu, and the team expects minimal impact on service. 

  • Vietvana owners Dinh Tran and Khanh Dang will open a second location of their Vietnamese pho house in Midtown on Monday, Feb. 17, and they’re offering free sandwiches to their new customers. Located at 848 Spring Street N.W., the Midtown Vietvana will be open Monday-Sunday, 11:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m. During its first wek, Feb. 17-21, the new location will give away barbecue sandwiches to the first 50 customers who come in each day. Tran and Dang opened Vietvana’s first location in Avondale Estates in Aug. 2019, and the restaurant was included in the AJC’s list of best-reviewed restaurants of the year. The couple are planning to open a third location of the restaurant in Duluth later this year. 
  • Chef Jarret Stieber will soon make his long-awaited brick-and-mortar restaurant debut with Little Bear on Feb. 26. Stieber made the announcement on Instagram Feb. 7. After running the highly-touted Eat Me Speak Me pop-up for six years the restaurant, which was announced more than a year ago, will begin service in the Summerhill development later this month. The menu will consist of small plates that can be ordered a la carte or in multiple tasting menu configurations, as reported by the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Reservations can be made by emailing the restaurant or calling 404-500-5396.
  • Chef Darius Williams closed all three of his restaurants, including Greens & Gravy and Soul Crab in Atlanta. The chef has a popular YouTube channel about cooking and his first restaurant, Greens & Gravy, was well-received. However, the restaurants shuttered after another company that he owned, Above 701, Inc., settled a law suit with the Georgia Department of Law Consumer Protection Division over allegations of illegal credit repair.
  • Decatur is getting a new ramen shop. Hiro Ramen & Tea Bar is coming soon to the Villaggio Gastro Italian strip mall complex that also houses Community Q, the Po’Boy Shop and Ms. Icey’s. Permits to renovate the space were filed in DeKalb County last fall, and a “coming soon” sign has been spotted on the storefront. 
  • The owners of Saba are returning to the restaurant’s former Oakhurst space with plans to open a similar concept called Paolino. After closing Saba on Feb. 8, owner Shane Mixon said that Paolino could open as soon as this weekend, as reported by the Emory Wheel. The new restaurant will feature some of the same menu items as Saba, but with less focus on fusion and more specials, as reported by Decaturish. It will also serve gelato, coffee and espresso in the future. 
  • Atlanta-based chef and cookbook author Asha Gomez’s forthcoming cookbook is now available for preorder. ‘I Cook in Color: Bright Flavors from My Kitchen, and Around the World’ will be released Oct. 6, 2020. 
  • Bon Appetit’s recent taco-themed issue includes numerous Atlanta influences. Old 4th Ward restaurant 8ARM is featured, as is Plaza Fiesta. Even former Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez is included in a collection of quotes called ‘The Taco that Changed Me.’
  • A large portion of a ceiling collapsed inside Cat Cora’s Kitchen at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport restaurant Thursday morning and fell on diners. Two diners were injured when the ceiling came down about 8 a.m., according to Tom Nissalke, Hartsfield-Jackson’s assistant general manager of planning and development. Emergency crews responded and took one person to a hospital. The other was assessed at the scene and continued on their travels, Nissalke said. The cause of the collapse is still under investigation.
  • Tennessee coffee franchise Just Love Coffee Cafe is coming to Sandy Springs, as first reported by Tomorrow’s News Today. The new shop is currently undergoing renovations in the Arabelle Perimeter development. No opening date has been announced. 
  • Originally announced in 2019, Land of a Thousand Hills coffee shop will open at Halcyon this Saturday, Feb. 15. The new location of the coffeehouse will be the company’s largest and include a 24-tap draught beer wall where customers can pour their own pints, as reported by the Atlanta Business Chronicle
  • Ding Tea Shop will replace Bubble Cafe and Bakery at the Arium Westside development on Northside Drive in West Midtown, as reported by What Now Atlanta. The new tea house plans to open this summer. 

Read the AJC Fall Dining Guide: The Noodle Edition

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