Atlanta Orders In: Kirkwood’s Dish Dive is keeping it quirky, doing OK

Hanger Steak with green beans, smashed potatoes and pickled onions.
Bob Townsend for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Hanger Steak with green beans, smashed potatoes and pickled onions. Bob Townsend for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

Purposefully minimalist and perennially appreciated by dining critics for its bang-for-the-buck BYOB approach, Dish Dive in Kirkwood remains one of the quirkiest comfort food spots in Atlanta.

Jeff Myers, the “DJ restaurateur” and co-founder of Top Flr and the Sound Table, opened his vision for a neighborhood restaurant in late 2014, in a tiny cottage space on College Avenue, next door to an old-school community barbershop.

Nearly six years on, it’s continued to serve a greatest hits of menu items that might be called generous small plates. There’s always been a dedication to seasonal fruit and vegetables, including the signature Dive Salad. But meat and cheese appear in many guises, too.

Crispy pork belly is accompanied by creamy grits and wedges of deep-fried French toast dotted with berries. A grilled hunk of hanger steak comes with green beans, smashed potatoes, and pickled or confit vegetables. Mac of Cheese is a rich, adult version of the kid’s favorite, baked with sharp cheddar, smoked Gouda, and herbed crumb topping.

Pork belly with grits, French toast, and berries.
Bob Townsend for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Pork belly with grits, French toast, and berries. Bob Townsend for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

ExploreMore Atlanta Orders In

While Dish Dive has been known for its pleasant front porch and patio seating, those perches have proved even more welcoming during the pandemic. Right now, though, the tight dining room retains only one table, and it sometimes becomes a station for staging takeout orders.

Myers said Dish Dive has managed to survive for nearly six years, largely through word-of-mouth, and repeat customers who understand and embrace its offbeat style.

“The ambiance has always been a big part of what we do,” he said. "We used to have a dining room that fit 16-24 people. It was sort of New York-style. Everyone was on top of each other, and that was a lot of fun.

Dish Dive Mac of Cheese with sharp cheddar, smoked Gouda, herbed crumb.
Bob Townsend for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Dish Dive Mac of Cheese with sharp cheddar, smoked Gouda, herbed crumb. Bob Townsend for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Obviously, we’re not in that world anymore, but people have still chosen to get food to go. We’ve had such great neighborhood support through the years, and the last few months, they’ve really been good to us, and kept us busy.”

ExploreIntown Atlanta dining news

The biggest changes came in March, when Myers lost most of his employees. Since then, he’s operated with a minimal staff that includes his wife, K.C. Myers. And nightly, he’s the one cooking on the line.

“I just couldn’t find anyone who was passionate in the kitchen,” he explained. “Two years ago, I decided it was time for me to get in the kitchen and really start exploring the one side of the restaurant that I hadn’t explored up to then. I found that’s my favorite place to be. I absolutely love cooking now.”

Like everyone, Myers is anxiously anticipating what comes next for the restaurant business.

“I see us approaching another transition, and having to adapt, again,” he said. "I’m always conscious about price point. I try to keep my prices as low as possible. But Dish Dive was created to have a low overhead.

“In that regard, Dish Dive is doing OK. The experiment that I created is working, because it’s still sustainable. People still want to eat. That’s a good thing. And we’re still having fun.”

Dive Salad with apples, aged Parmesan and balsamic dressing. (Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Dive Salad with apples, aged Parmesan and balsamic dressing. (Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

DISH DIVE

Menu: cool comfort food

Alcohol: no, but always BYOB

What I ordered: Dive Salad with mixed greens, sliced apples, aged Parmesan and balsamic dressing; Mac of Cheese with sharp cheddar, smoked Gouda, and herbed crumb topping; hanger steak with pickled onions, French green beans and smashed potatoes; pork belly with grits, French toast and berries. It was all very satisfying. But the pork belly is an unlikely combo you could eat for breakfast, brunch or dinner. And the Mac of Cheese doubles as a savory side or main dish.

Service options: limited indoor or outdoor dining; takeout; call or text for current menu, or to place an order

Outdoor space: a small porch and a larger sidewalk patio

Mask policy: employees wear masks

Address, phone: 2233 College Ave. NE, Atlanta; 404-957-7918

Hours: 5-9 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays

Website: dishdivekitchen.com

Read more stories like this by liking Atlanta Restaurant Scene on Facebook, following @ATLDiningNews on Twitter and @ajcdining on Instagram.

About the Author

In Other News