Atlanta Orders In: Lean Draft House tweaks menu, outdoor amenities for Beltline crowd

Takeout from Lean Draft House in southwest Atlanta: Top: chorizo fries and empanadas stuffed with carnitas. Bottom: a baleada (a Honduran specialty similar to a quesadilla; this one is stuffed with fried grouper); and guacamole and chips.
Wendell Brock for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Takeout from Lean Draft House in southwest Atlanta: Top: chorizo fries and empanadas stuffed with carnitas. Bottom: a baleada (a Honduran specialty similar to a quesadilla; this one is stuffed with fried grouper); and guacamole and chips. Wendell Brock for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

Leo Inestroza always has been a bit of a dabbler. You can see that in the way he utilizes the property he owns near the Atlanta Beltline in southwest Atlanta. When he bought the parcel, it had a car wash. He added a beer-and-taco parlor, and used the room to showcase a collection of vintage European motorcycles that he bought, restored and flipped.

Now, the entrepreneurial 40-year-old is tinkering with the star attraction of his trio of Westside businesses, to accommodate the pandemic. At Lean Draft House, he’s tweaked the menu, added outdoor creature comforts, and put away the motorcycle display, freeing up space for safely distanced seating when the restaurant reopens its interior space — next week, if all goes as planned.

Meanwhile, the newly tented front patio, which stretches across the front of the building, has been a beacon to Beltline users in want of local craft beer, margaritas and Latin-inspired bar food. Sometimes, the crowds are so lively that Inestroza has to play traffic cop, getting on the loudspeaker to remind guests to stay 6 feet apart. He joked that he’s thought about locking the door when he reinstates dine-in service, with only those wearing a mask being buzzed in.

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Lean Draft House offers lots of good beer-drinking food: nachos, wings and these loaded chorizo fries.
Wendell Brock for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Lean Draft House offers lots of good beer-drinking food: nachos, wings and these loaded chorizo fries. Wendell Brock for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

Back in the carefree days before COVID-19, the 3-year-old draft house’s taco menu offered about 20 choices. That’s harder to pull off than it sounds. Everybody thinks tacos are easy, Inestroza said, but imagine a posse of indecisive diners hemming and hawing about their taco order. With a smaller staff, and the demand for quick food to go, that had to change.

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Lean Draft House chef Pedro Suastegui makes terrific fried empanadas in wonderfully flaky shells; these are stuffed with carnitas. Wendell Brock for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Lean Draft House chef Pedro Suastegui makes terrific fried empanadas in wonderfully flaky shells; these are stuffed with carnitas. Wendell Brock for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

Inestroza has adapted the taco program to feature plates (pick three of one kind); $23 kits (10 corn tortillas plus one protein and all the fixings: rice and beans, guacamole, queso dip, chips, crema, red and green salsas, pico, limes and lettuce ); and $65 feasts for six to eight people (20 tortillas, plus all the above).

There’s still a good variety of fillings: fajita chicken, chicken barbacoa, al pastor, carnitas, steak, shrimp, soy chorizo, and a unique vegan option: sriracha jackfruit. Chef Pedro Suastegui encases a good many of these proteins inside flaky, house-made empanadas. And, as a nod to the most popular street food of Inestroza’s homeland of Honduras, the kitchen now serves baleadas, which are quesadilla-like tortillas spread with refried black beans, crema, queso and a protein of choice.

When I reviewed the restaurant in 2017, I was impressed with the way Inestroza had adapted his spot to suit the Westview neighborhood. It fits right in, even more so now.

Lean Draft House owner Leo Inestroza has made a lot of improvements to the patio, and hopes to reinstate dine-in service the first week of November. Courtesy of Lean Draft House
Lean Draft House owner Leo Inestroza has made a lot of improvements to the patio, and hopes to reinstate dine-in service the first week of November. Courtesy of Lean Draft House

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Along with the newly gussied up patio, Inestroza has installed a “sidecar garden,” with fresh landscaping and intimate tables for two. If you happen to stop by, check out the car wash murals. Inestroza is proud of the project that invited 13 local artists to create work in the car wash bays. “It’s very Instagram-able,” he said.

And, if you are in the mood to purchase a motorcycle, just ask. He still has 33 for sale.

Is there a restaurant you want to see featured? Send your suggestions to ligaya.figueras@ajc.com.

LEAN DRAFT HOUSE

Menu: pub grub, including wings, burgers, tacos and other “local Latin” bites to pair with a selection of 20 draft beers

Alcohol: beer and wine to go

What I ordered: guacamole and chips, chorizo fries, a super empanadas plate with carnitas filling, a baleada stuffed with fried grouper. The guacamole was fresh and chunky. The loaded waffle fries with chorizo were just the thing to go with cold beer. And, I now can say I’ve tried my first baleada. I liked the grouper, but probably would go with a straightforward meat filling next time, perhaps steak or al pastor. The super empanadas lived up to their name — fried to order and impeccably crispy.

Service options: takeout only; no delivery; dining room reopening soon (when it’s raining, guests are allowed inside, with social distancing enforced)

Outdoor dining: large and inviting patio in front of the building, plus a more intimate private garden on one side, with tables for two

Mask policy: patrons are asked to wear masks

Address, phone: 600 Hopkins St. SW, Atlanta; 404-254-0987

Hours: 5-10 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, 5 p.m. “until late" Fridays, 2 p.m. “until late” Saturdays

Website: leandrafthouse.com

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