Our beloved Buford Highway is a passageway to dozens of cuisines; a strip of pavement lined with endless pho joints and taquerias; a hallowed place for many an adventurous Atlanta chowhound in search of a perfect dumpling, burrito or bibimbap. But State Route 13 isn't the only culinary thoroughfare in this melting pot of a town. For anyone ready to graduate beyond BuHi or anyone simply looking for a new kind of savory safari, we've rounded up a few of our favorite eats on Atlanta's other international corridors:
NORTH HIGHLAND AVENUE (VIRGINIA HIGHLAND)
Panita Thai Kitchen
Amidst VaHi’s brewhouses is a tiny, magical rainforest. Many passersby assume that a mystical shaman lives within, or, perhaps, a cat lady with a serious green thumb. But in reality, they’re just looking at Panita’s patio (magical properties withstanding). This place delivers on the “wow” factor you want when getting out of your comfort zone, as you all but have to machete your way to the incredible Thai eats that lie inside. And even then, each dish, a jungle. Fish cakes served in coconuts, green curry resting in watermelons…. The exotic island tastes will keep you coming back to Panita, but your fascination will never be satiated.
Toscano & Sons Italian Market
We at Scoutmob shed a collective tear when our beloved panini-providers (and former neighbors) had to leave their Westside location, but after many visits to their new shop in the Highlands, we have to admit, it’s greener pastures. Their authentic Italian market vibe is in full effect, and their Panini are as delicious as ever. Fight the urge to pretend Italiano while you gawk at the huge selection of hard meats and cheeses, waiting for your caprese or porchetta to finish pressing. Pick up some fresh pasta for dinner and make a whole Roman day of it. Molto bene! (It’s really hard to not do that.)
EDGEWOOD AVENUE (OLD FOURTH WARD)
Original Jamaican Restaurant
The name is quite literally original. Better known as “that place with the patties”, this over-the-counter spot is all about consistent Jamaican staples. Oxtail, jerk chicken, plantains ¬– all given the authentic treatment. Translation: those that are used to “jerk lite” need not apply. The star of the show? Their patties, meats or veggies stuffed in a flaky, golden pastry that make a perfect quick lunch that’s wallet-friendly. Their low-price point makes them all the more addictive though, so be warned. One meal will make you a regular.
A new and welcome addition to the Sweet Auburn Market family, this Venezuelan joint will be the first true arepa experience for most visitors. Each scrumptious sandwiched is stuffed with whatever you like: slow cooked pork, plantains, or even (excuse our drooling) scrambled eggs. With a huge amount of homemade hot sauces and salsas to choose from, the Arepa Mia menu has countless combinations, and you’ll want to try each and every one.
Fresh fruit in the ATL is a rarity. Sure, a quick hop up 85 will reveal plenty of roadside vendors willing to barter away their peaches, but most proper restaurateurs avoid the naturally sweet stuff. Enter Lottafrutta, a Latin staple well known to any 4th Warders looking for a citrus boost. Fresh fruit cups and smoothies and treated with the vibrant passion that only a devoted owner can deliver. Their pressed sanduches are hearty and affordable, and in the winter season, Lottafrutta serves up traditional South American soups and stews that can melt the deepest hues of wintry blues. A great (and legal!) way to escape to breezy Cuba.
JIMMY CARTER BOULEVARD (NORCROSS)
Global Mall Food Court
If Bollywood music, colorful decor and delicious dosas is your scene, look no further. With over 60 stores, this bustling mall is a cultural epicenter for the Indian population around Atlanta, and a culinary epicenter for anyone who appreciates a little extra spice in their life. Hit one of the stands in the mall's food court: we love the authentic Indian street food snacks at Mumbai Masala and the interesting Chinese-Indian fusion at Chinese Dhaba, but you'll almost always catch us beelining it to Sri Krishna and their fiery South Indian fare. Try the No. 1 Masala Dosa combo, which comes with a giant, stuffed dosa (a thin crepe made from black lentils and rice), two chutneys (rich side sauces that enhance the flavor of a curry), a sambar (vegetable stew made from tamarind and lentils), a vada (chickpea-flour donut) and an idli (spongy round bread made perfect for soaking up flavor). Yup, you too can have that feast on a styrofoam tray for next to nothing.
Slurped your way through a couple bowls of pho and ready to take your Vietnamese culinary prowess to the next level? Nam Phuong's noodle soup is delicious and rich, but it's just the tip of the iceberg. Housed inside the Hong Kong Supermarket shopping center among a slew of other international eateries, Nam Phuong is beloved for their fresh summer rolls, fiery papaya salad, caramelized catfish filets, and other legit dishes are the kind you might actually find on many a family dinner table in Vietnam.
PLEASANT HILL ROAD (DULUTH)
Nak Won Rice Cake
Tucked inside the Super H Mart, Nak Won specializes in one thing: the Korean rice cake. And they do it very well. Worlds apart from the nearby Korean bakeries with dozens and dozens of pastries on the menu, Nak Won carefully presents their selection of tteok each day alongside an array of teas and coffees. What's that? You were looking for yet another carb addiction? Have at it, friends.
Gom Shabu Shabu
A word to the wise: wear stretchy pants. Shabu shabu is a Japanese hot pot dish that allows you to unleash your culinary creativity (in the form of thinly sliced meat, spicy sauce, and a cornucopia of veggies) upon the steaming bowl of broth in front of you. Here, the quality of meats and veggies is top-notch, and they'll customize the sauce to your liking. Just be sure to save room for jook, the rice porridge made with your leftover broth and veggies. And seriously, don't forget the stretchy pants.
Well Bean Tofu House
We have it on good authority from tofu connoisseurs that this might just be the best Korean tofu house in the area. Sizzling, spicy bowls of silky tofu soups (soon dubu) are served alongside hot stone bowls of purple grain rice, plentiful banchan, barley tea, and zero MSG. The seafood soon dubu and galbi (Korean barbecued beef) are two favorites among the tofu house's fans, though we have a feeling you can't go wrong here.
LAWRENCEVILLE HIGHWAY (DECATUR)
This hole-in-the-strip mall specializes in South Indian cuisine, starring more rice, more spice, and more tropical flavors like coconut and mango. An export from Tamil Nadu, Saravana serves headily seasoned South Indian dishes with not a scrap of meat in the whole place—it's all veggies (and rice) all the time, all made to order and all exhilarating adventures for your taste buds. Keep an eye on the man working on the dosas, because you might learn a thing or two. He's been doing it for nearly 30 years.
The disciples of Royal Sweets will wax poetic about the bakery's crispy, spicy samosas (preferably dipped in sweet tamarind sauce and/or cilantro chutney) for hours if you let them. While you're there picking up a dozen or three from the Desai family, expand your sweet tooth's horizons with the rosewater syrup-soaked gulab jamun, psychedelic-looking pinwheels, or one of the many unlabeled mystery delicacies for a suh-weet surprise.
And you thought the DeKalb Farmer's Market blew your mind. This Indian grocery has cheap produce, ingredients you'll have a hard time digging up anywhere else (like curry leaves), tools for Indian cooking (with an idli steamer, you too can create your very own steamed rice cakes!) and a wide range of snacks you've most likely never tasted. (See: the Lay's Spanish Tomato Tango, a ketchup-flavored potato chip made for the Indian market.) Play a round of candy bar roulette with the various Indian sweets lining the shelves, or step right up to the front cafe for a glass of fresh-made sugar cane juice.
Local Scout Travis Broyles once stared at the internet until it made sense. He's been writing and eating in Atlanta for five years, and even forced down 5.2 pounds of pizza just for Scoutmob. (The goal was 5.5, but we appreciate the gesture.) If you need him, he will be at Park Grounds with his dog, steadily transitioning from coffee to beer, and writing weird tweets under the ineffective pseudonym @TravisBroyles.