Many dishes on the menu at Barleygarden Kitchen & Craft Bar feature meats from executive chef Kevin Ouzts’ butcher shop, the Spotted Trotter, including the Butchers Bun (shown). CONTRIBUTED BY GREEN OLIVE MEDIA
Barleygarden Kitchen & Craft Bar
The team behind Hop City Craft Beer & Wine at Krog Street Market intown has debuted Barleygarden Kitchen & Craft Bar, which rocks garage doors on one wall of the space that can be opened up to a dog-friendly patio. Add to that a convenient to-go window, interior bar seating with 64 rotating beers on tap, an open-air rooftop highlighting Belgian, German, English and other European finds, and a full chef-driven menu, and Barleygarden is poised to attract OTP crowds. With pairings and portability in mind, executive chef Kevin Ouzts designed the menu using locally sourced ingredients, with many dishes like the Charcuterie Grilled Cheese, Butchers Bun, Big Braut Burger and Chicken Cheddarwurst featuring meats from his butcher shop, the Spotted Trotter.
900 Avalon Blvd., Alpharetta. 678-266-6218, barleygardenkitchen.com.
Branch & Barrel
Craft cocktails and craveable dishes are the name of the game at Branch & Barrel. With chef Todd Hogan at the helm, the restaurant churns out delectable sandwiches, including a BLT made with a fried green tomato and the corn fried lobster sandwich filled with succulent lobster and served on a soft bun with a smoked tomato tartar sauce for some tang. A side of skinny hand-cut fries served with house-made ketchup (a mixture of five different spices that will convert Heinz devotees) accompanies all sandwiches. Hefty salads and generously portioned entrees are also available, but that shouldn’t keep you from trying appetizers like the jalapeno candied bacon and sweet potato fries with maple aioli or crispy salt and vinegar Brussels sprouts. Be sure to sample one of the creatively assembled cocktails. For a fresh sip, order the Cucumber + Lime.
4100 Avalon Blvd., Alpharetta. 678-436-5655, Facebook: Branch and Barrel.
Tiki-style cocktails (like the Rupert’s Revenge shown here) and boat drinks are poured alongside classic and contemporary seafood on the Santa Monica-meets-Cape Cod menu at Brine Seafood Shack. CONTRIBUTED BY JESSIE DOWD
Brine Seafood Shack
With an enviable rooftop bar (under a retractable roof), Brine Seafood Shack features a menu of classic and contemporary seafood, served up in a coastal/industrial chic space that's brimming with SoCal vibes. The menu, largely inspired by owner and executive chef Marc Taft's travels across the country, has an emphasis on sustainably sourced fish (much of which is geo-tagged, so Brine chefs know exactly where the fish was caught, down to the captain's name and boat). Dishes range from shareable starters to salads, sandwiches, fry baskets and medium- to large-sized plates. Try the clam roll on toasted-just-right brioche with lemon-caper tartar or some uber-fresh tuna poke with avocado, yuzu and sesame seeds. Upstairs, the bar mixes Tiki-style cocktails (we recommend "Rupert's Revenge" — a twist on a pina colada that's not for the faint of heart), as well as classic boat drinks downstairs, plus beer and wine. A walk-up window inspired by New England clam shacks makes it easy to grab takeout, soft-serve ice cream, milkshakes or a drink to go.
700 Avalon Blvd., Alpharetta. 470-226-2190, brineseafood.com.
Modern Italian restaurant Colletta cooks up cuisine influenced by Northern Italy using locally sourced ingredients. The sleek interior features exposed ductwork, butcher-block tables and white brick, with an open kitchen for an inviting ambience whether for date night or lunch with co-workers. Diners can choose from a communal, family-style experience or order a la carte from a full menu. A simple but delicious margherita pizza cooked in the wood-burning oven will quickly disappear, while the burrata and meatballs are crowd-pleasing selections of antipasti. Small and full pasta dishes are also good choices — the farfalle with house-made fresh pasta and lump crab and shrimp is always a satisfying choice. An extensive list of Italian wines is sure to impress oenophiles.
900 Third St., Alpharetta. 678-722-8335, collettarestaurant.com.
MF Bar offers hot and cold plates, as well as sushi rolls and nigiri — like this kampachi with lime zest. CONTRIBUTED BY JESSIE DOWD
District III and MF Bar
MF Sushi’s Alex Kinjo has launched spinoff MF Bar as well as District III at Avalon. Inspired by his parents’ hometown in Vietnam — an area called District III, once under French-colonial rule — the restaurant by the same name features modern, yet authentic, Vietnamese fare in a casual and stylish space. Pork spring rolls and a clay pot dish are bright yet homey, while a mango cabbage salad with grilled shrimp is a spicy and flavorful tribute to Vietnamese cuisine. Meanwhile, MF Bar centers on hot and cold plates, including sushi rolls and nigiri, and a wide selection of sake. Chilean sea bass sprinkled with Japanese chili powder is a must-try, as well as the melt-in-your-mouth snapper nigiri and the kampachi with lime zest.
MF Bar, 7135 Avalon Blvd., Alpharetta. 404-977-1207.
District III, 7140 Avalon Blvd., Alpharetta. 404-977-1779.
The El Felix is a casual and festive restaurant serving a “Mex-Tex” menu influenced by chef Ford Fry and chef Kevin Maxey’s east Texas roots. CONTRIBUTED BY ANDREW THOMAS LEE
The El Felix
Southwestern eats with a twist are cooked up at the El Felix, a casual and festive restaurant serving Mex-Tex influenced by chef Ford Fry and chef Kevin Maxey’s east Texas roots. Their version includes using a wood-burning grill for fajitas, and making their own tortillas, in addition to classic dishes such as hot tamales, pollo con mole, chiles rellenos, sopa de tortilla and puffy tacos — made from deep-fried masa de maiz (finely ground hominy) for crisp and light little clouds. To start, order some flautas or nachos, then drink a margarita (keep it old-school with the Perfect Margarita or order the Texas Star, which gets sass from St. Germain), before moving on to the entrees. The shrimp tacos, enchiladas and puffy taco dinner are solid go-tos.
1130 Avalon Blvd., Alpharetta. 678-248-5239, theelfelix.com.
From the same owners as Colletta, Oak Steakhouse offers an updated take on the traditional steakhouse experience with a seasonal menu that showcases ingredients from local farmers. Traditional Prime Certified Angus Beef steak cuts are featured along with small plates, salads and entrees. Start things off with the pan-seared scallops or jumbo lump crabcake before digging into signature steaks and chops. Their sides, designed for sharing, are worth a try — we can never say no to the truffle frites, baked three-cheese mac or jalapeno cheddar cornbread. A robust wine list shows off California cabs and old-world reds, as well as a selection of Italian, Spanish and artisan domestic wines.
950 Third St., Alpharetta. 678-722-8333, oaksteakhouseatlanta.com.