The core west of Midtown is a destination of hip coffeehouses, restaurants and drinking establishments. While this cluster of intown neighborhoods west of I-75/85 is thriving and seemingly “new,” recent additions to the Westside dining scene also recall traces of the past.
Revitalized Westside arteries like Howell Mill Road, Chattahoochee Avenue, Marietta Street and Huff Road have been around for nearly a century and a half, the product of neighborhoods and workplaces established after the Civil War.
Until the 1940s, livestock covered much of the landscape. Where music now blasts from Compound nightclub and MARTA buses refuel at the Brady Facility, cattle once stepped off trains. You could bid on a bull or purchase a horse and ride him past barns to a saddle shop. James Beard Award-winning chef Steven Satterfield’s Miller Union (999 Brady Ave. NW, Atlanta. 678-733-8550, millerunion.com) takes its name from the former stockyard that occupied the space. Here, you’ll find reliably wonderful vegetable-focused dishes and a renowned wine list.
After the livestock era ended, the area became largely industrial, occupied by metal fabricators and factories that manufactured farming equipment and shipping containers, until falling in decline in the 1960s.
As the area continues to evolve, with eating and drinking spots springing up seemingly daily, there is something for every taste and budget. Take a glimpse at some of these new arrivals, all of which honor traces from the past.
Aix and Tin Tin (938 and 956 Brady Ave. NW, Atlanta. 770-838-3501, aixatl.com), a duo of Provencal concepts by chef-owner Nick Leahy, opened a year ago just across the street from Miller Union in the former loading dock for the stockyard. Leahy transports diners from the Westside to the French countryside with dishes like crispy duck confit. The meaty richness of this soulful duck finds its way into salads mixed with fennel and local greens, tucked inside crepes, or drizzled with fig jus. The wine lists for both the restaurant (Aix) and adjacent wine bar (Tin Tin) lean French with plenty of unusual bottles and a large selection of fortified wines. A cozy patio is outfitted with a sleek fireplace. It beckons for lingering with a glass of Jo Landron Atmospheres brut from Loire and rosé oysters with bay leaf mignonette. Don’t miss bread service, available at both Aix and Tin Tin. House-made cultured butter accompanies crusty sourdough and epi bread.
Westside Provisions District was the site of White Provisions meatpacking plant and the United Butchers Abattoir. Now it is a creative cluster for eating, shopping and drinking. Newest to the scene is Forza Storico (1198 Howell Mill Road NW, Atlanta. 404-464-8096, forzastorico.com). The founders of Buckhead’s Storico Fresco give primacy to Rome in an enoteca-inspired setting on the courtyard level. It’s high energy with floor-to-ceiling windows, seating in the dining room, on the spacious patio, in the bar, and a row of seats next to the train. The energy is also on the plate. The menu is a journey of various textures, flavors and stories of Old World Italy. Begin with fried artichokes — humble yet polished with a savory smack of lemon. Cacio e pepe, a quintessential Roman classic, is exacting and simple with thick house-made tonnarelli pasta coated in an emulsion of cheese and pepper. A large list of mostly Italian wines offers 30 by the glass and an astounding 30 Italian beers.
Last August, business partners chef Zeb Stevenson and Ross Jones opened Redbird (1198 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta. 404-900-5172, redbirdatl.com). The restaurant bears little resemblance to the space’s former occupant, Bacchanalia. The space is ultra-chic. Light streams through windows across natural wood and splashes of turquoise. The kitchen is like a stage where diners can watch all the action. At the eight-seat chef’s counter, the tweezering of local produce is even more up close and personal. Dishes are made to be shared, complex but not overdone. Expect beautiful vegetable-centric starters. Mix and match with chicken liver mousse on house-made black bread or crispy cacio e pepe fritters. A recent order of red trout was expertly cooked with crisp skin and moist flesh dressed up with “sizzling scallion condiment,” one of many extra sauces offered. The wine list is focused on small, family-owned wineries. Cocktails, like the refreshing mezcal-fueled Siesta Time, are destination-worthy themselves.
Cross the footbridge over the Norfolk Southern railway — the tracks that Gen. William T. Sherman used as a lifeline during his siege of Atlanta — to Aziza (1170 Howell Mill Road NW, Atlanta. 404-968-9437, aziza-restaurant.com) and its sister spot Falafel Nation. Owner Tal Baum (Bellina Alimentari) pays homage to her Israeli childhood in a warm, welcoming space. It’s golden hued and understated with handmade lighting and muted green and brown tones throughout. Subtle smoke wafts from a wood-burning oven in the open kitchen helmed by chef Brandon Hughes (Aria, Bacchanalia). Try his hummus with Turkish coffee braised short ribs as well as pastry chef Zibaa Sammander’s kubaneh, pull-apart Yemeni bread served with herb-zinged schug. Akko prawns in a sweet and spicy tomato sauce served on falafel toast and kibbeh nayyeh (lamb tartare) are excellent choices that share well. Cocktails are exotic and spice forward, complementing Hughes’ food. Loved the hummus and wish the menu included falafel or fries? Stop by Falafel Nation for the bright flavors grab-and-go style.
This past summer, the team behind Wagaya opened Chirori (349 14th St. NW, Atlanta. 470-427-3171, chiroriatlanta.com) in the former Better Half space in Home Park. The neighborhood dates back to 1901, when it was built as housing for employees of Atlantic Steel (which closed in 1998). Chirori is a robatayaki, cooking Japanese-style barbecue over binchotan charcoal. The space is small but bright with an interior of blond wood and matcha green accents. The menu recommends sake pairings for every dish, categorized into sections labeled Green, Raw, Fried, Steamed and Rice. A skewer of two black tiger shrimp is in harmony with clean and dry Ogre Killer sake. The same sipper would match with Chirori’s truffle crab chawanmushi (savory steamed egg custard), to which you can (and should) add uni for an upcharge.
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