On March 1, 2019, owner Kraig Torres and the team behind Hop City in Atlanta and Barleygarden Kitchen in Alpharetta opened Boxcar on White Street in West End, only to close it after a little over a year, in response to the growing pandemic.
Located along the Atlanta Beltline Westside Trail, and steps from Monday Night Garage, ASW Exchange, Wild Heaven Beer and Best End Brewing, Boxcar is part of a food and beverage district — dubbed “Malt Disney” — where it’s legal to carry beverages from place to place. But, while the often giddy movable feasts were quelled by closings over the past few months, most businesses in the Lee + White development slowly have been reopening, with limited service.
For Boxcar, that’s meant shorter hours, an abbreviated menu, and a choice of takeout or on-premises dining, but no table service.
Before the reopening, chef Brian Carson and his team opened an on-site market called Cut Shop, offering local meat and produce.
“We opened what amounts to a butcher shop and a produce stand,” Torres said in a phone interview. “And, we’re still doing that every Saturday, so you can come by and get fresh, in-house butchered pork and beef from Stone Mountain Cattle Co., as well vegetables from all our farmers.”
Torres said the current restaurant menu was designed for “COVID times.”
“You don’t necessarily want a fancy three-course meal, so we definitely simplified our menu,” he said. “And we’re going to give people what they want, with something that tastes fantastic. Everything is locally sourced and fresh, but it’s not exactly a fine-dining experience.”
Located in the basement below Boxcar, the Hop City retail beverage store also opened last March, and still is selling a substantial selection of craft beer and small-production wines, and offering a tasting bar for sipping while you shop.
“We’re really here to be of service to our neighbors, first and foremost,” Torres said. “That’s our number one goal, to help our neighbors in a time of need. That includes the farmers market, that includes the simplified menu, and that includes having a beer and wine store open seven days a week. Sales at Hop City are actually up. Sales at Boxcar are still slow, but we’re here.”
Looking ahead, Torres said the Boxcar menu will grow and change, while other things will remain the same.
“We’re going to continue with the Saturday farmers market,” he said. “That’s a core part of our business now. We are anxiously working on an expanded menu that will see some lower price points coming for our guests. But, it will still be the same quality of food from our same farmers. We are hoping to launch the new menu in mid-July, so that will be something to look forward to.”
Menu: abbreviated menu, with appetizers and small plates, a Cobb salad, burger, and several sandwiches, including an oyster po’boy and a vegan patty melt, served with choice of one side
Alcohol: beer, wine and cocktails to go, full bar in the dining room; Hop City package store downstairs with beer and wine, and a tasting bar
What I ordered: eggplant caponata, with garlic crostini; Butchers Bun, with shaved rib-eye, Swiss cheese, horseradish aioli, fried onions and sesame parkerhouse roll; Boxcar Classic burger, with American cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, shaved onion, special sauce, pickles and sesame parkerhouse roll. The caponata was both chunky and silky, with plenty of eggplant and tomatoes, and the sweet and sour flavors went well with the herbed crostini. The Butchers Bun was hefty, with plenty of smoky beef, and traveled surprisingly well. I’ve had the burger before, and really liked it as a fun, elevated take on a Big Mac, but, sadly, it didn’t travel nearly as well. As for sides, servings of sweet potato fries and Old Bay chips both were generous, but I preferred the crispy chips.
Service options: order online via website or by phone for pickup; order on-site at counter for takeaway, or on-premises dining inside or on the patio; no table service
Safety protocols: following standard guidelines; all employees wear face coverings, use sanitizer and social distancing, and undergo temperature checks; hand sanitizer and disposable menus available for guests; QR codes for phone menus
Address, phone: 1000 White St., Atlanta; 470-788-8171
Hours: 3-10 p.m. Wednesdays-Thursdays; noon-10 p.m. Fridays-Sundays; closed Mondays and Tuesdays
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