Fried Avocado Taco with Crispy Cotija, Roasted Tomato, Poblano Pesto, and Epazote
Photo: Antoinette Bruno/Antoinette Bruno
Photo: Antoinette Bruno/Antoinette Bruno

Fifth Group Restaurants bringing Alma Cocina to Buckhead in December 

Chinese concept Yum Chao to open next door in 2020

A popular Mexican restaurant is expanding with a second location in December.

Alma Cocina Buckhead, which will be located at the corner of Peachtree Street and Piedmont Avenue in the Terminus building, will serve as the second outpost of the modern Mexican concept. Alma Cocina Downtown opened in 2012 at 191 Peachtree St.

Plans for a second location were announced in Janaury 2018

It’s the latest venture from Fifth Group Restaurants, the hospitality company behind metro Atlanta restaurants South City Kitchen Vinings, Midtown, Avalon and Buckhead, La Tavola Trattoria, The Original El Taco, Lure, Ecco in Buckhead and Midtown and Bold Catering and Design.

Fifth Group founding partner Robby Kukler, who said the new location will open in late December, “hopefully before Christmas,” added that when the opportunity to expand to Buckhead arose, it was a no-brainer.

The realty company behind Terminus “wanted something people in the neighborhood could engage with and have fun with,” Kukler said. “And my first thought was, ‘What’s more fun than Mexican food?’” 

Leading the kitchen at Alma Cocina Buckhead will be executive chef Chad Clevenger, who has served as the executive chef at Alma Cocina Downtown since its opening. Clevenger, who has worked in the hospitality industry for more than 20 years and has a win on the Food Network show “Beat Bobby Flay” under his belt, will be replaced at the downtown location by executive chef Robert Rambo, a former sous chef who has trained under Clevenger for nearly four years.

Chad Clevenger will serve as executive chef at Alma Cocina Buckhead.
Photo: Handout

Serving as general manager will be David Bridges, who previously served as general manager of La Tavola and manager of South City Kitchen locations in Midtown and Buckhead.

Though the menu for the Buckhead restaurant will be similar to that of the downtown location, Kukler said that each chef brings their own “look and feel” to their seasonal menus, which feature a selection of first bites, small plates, large plates, signature and street tacos and for-the-table options.

In Buckhead, look for signature items from the downtown menu including Fried Chihuahua Cheese with salsa verde and corn tortillas; Roasted Chicken Mole with mashed plantains, grilled chambray onions and mole negro; and Huitlacoche Empanada with ranchero sauce and epazote. 

Roasted Chicken Mole Oaxaca from Alma Cocina.
Photo: Handout

Alma Cocina Buckhead’s beverage program will highlight Spanish spirits including pisco, mezcal and rum. Drink options will include the Cantaritos, a tequila cocktail with orange, grapefruit and lime juice;  a Sangria made with imported Spanish wine; and the Amatitán, a margarita made with Herradura “Double Reposado” tequila, orange curacao and citrus juices.

One major difference between the two locations will be the addition of daily lunch and weekend brunch in Buckhead (Alma Downtown only serves lunch Monday-Friday). Kukler said downtown pulls much of its clientele from convention crowds and major events, while Buckhead’s neighborhood vibe lends itself more to expanded lunch and brunch hours.  

Rendering of the exterior of Alma Cocina Buckhead
Photo: Handout

The new restaurant’s design is being overseen by Atlanta’s ASD|SKY, and will feature contrasting greenery and iron-like metalwork in the dining room and around the restaurant’s perimeter. 

A large, low-ceiling bar in the center of the restaurant, flanked by a floating rebar cage and industrial lights. Other design elements include lightly distressed millwork, hand-formed brick, Mexican tile, stone and concrete.

An outdoor patio will feature wood, concrete and steel slats offset by plants and corten planters. 

Alma Cocina Buckhead is one of two Fifth Group concepts slated to open in the Terminus development. By next summer, Chinese eatery Yum Chao is set to open next door. Kukler, who said he’s been wanting to open a Chinese restaurant since his teens, said the menu is still being developed, but will likely feature stir frys, dumplings and noodle dishes, with a more casual environment at lunch and a full-service dinner.  

Fifth Group founding partner Robby Kukler
Photo: Heidi Geldhauser

Kukler said the smaller 100-seat space “is a good place for us to do what we’re talking about doing,” especially because Fifth Group is tackling Chinese cuisine for the first time.

Yum Chao will be the first entirely new concept for Fifth Group since Lure opened in Midtown in 2012.

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