Marietta, on the outskirts of Atlanta, is known for two things: the Gone with the Wind Museum, and Main Square. But things are changing. Award-winning chefs have moved here, and this unassuming suburb is fast becoming a foodie heaven. Here’s our pick of local restaurants for fine food, southern style.
Image courtesy of Seed Kitchen and Bar
Kiosco is consistently described as one of the best restaurants in town and its owners are dedicated to providing high-quality Colombian food at extraordinarily reasonable prices. If you’re a fan of plantain bananas, you may just have found your personal heaven. Start with a sangria, follow it up by the grilled steak served with sweet plantains and avocado, the half roasted chicken with raspberry sauce, or the salmon in mango sauce. Save some space (portions are huge) to try the coconut cobbler for dessert.
The Butcher The Baker, Marietta | Image courtesy of The Butcher The Baker
This fairly new addition to the square presents an innovation in the sort of southern cuisine that’s getting more and more popular in the area: farm-to-table food. Beloved by the locals, The Butcher, The Baker only uses locally sourced products, thereby ensuring a good selection of seasonal dishes. The menu is printed out daily to present the freshest ingredients in original arrangements. In spring, start with an entree of scallop, couscous, and lemon marmalade, follow with a Bramlett Farm trout served with green garlic risotto, fava beans, and pickled clementine, and finish off with a fried strawberry pie, pickled strawberries, and vanilla ice cream. Delicious, original and healthy, The Butcher, The Baker represents the best of contemporary Southern dining.
Seed Kitchen & Bar, Marietta | Image courtesy of Seed Kitchen and Bar
Doug Turbush, the talented chef and owner of the Seed Kitchen & Bar, has incorporated Thai flavours into some of his traditional American recipes. The result is, for example, the spicy Asian fish sandwich, made with ciabatta, ginger onion marmalade, sriracha, cilantro, and dill. Try the Thai grilled skirt steak salad with tamarind vinaigrette, or the roasted baby beets and arugula soup with whipped goat’s cheese, for a gluten-free option. The products are sourced locally, and the menu changes with the seasons, adding an extra perk to the excellent presentation, streamlined, well-lit setting, and relaxed vibe. Stay long enough to sample a few of their amazing cocktails.
Chicken and the Egg was recently included in a list of the 100 best places to have brunch in the US. The chefs source their products locally, and everything from the choice of ingredients to the modern yet casual farm-ware setting embodies their eco-conscious philosophy. Try the hangar steak with chimichurri, truffle and parmesan smash-fried potatoes for sophistication; the fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, southern goulash, and roasted banana pudding all deserve a special mention as well. Chefs will accommodate those allergic to gluten, and vegans.
With its glass and steel exterior, pink and turquoise neon lighting, all-hours service and international cuisine, Marietta Diner is the perfect embodiment of the American diner. The menu reads like an encyclopedia, and includes Italian fettucine and ‘kabobs’ on pilaf rice. For lunch, try the Reuben sandwich, with a choice of either corned beef or pastrami, melted cheese and sauerkraut on rye bread; on a date, order the Land & Sea, a gigantic platter comprising a filet of flounder with feta and spinach stuffing, a chicken breast stuffed with seafood stuffing, and two stuffed jumbo shrimps.
At first glance, The Fish Market comes across as a giant Seaworld adventure theme park sort of place. There is a large cardboard cut-out of the Cape Elizabeth lighthouse in Maine, and hand-painted murals depicting life on the Aegean Sea. The marine influence is easily explained: the owner, Gus Tselios, hails from Greece and many of his dishes are inspired by his native cuisine. With generous portions, fresh ingredients and a convivial atmosphere, The Fish Market is perfect for a laid-back meal. Try the Mediterranean seafood paella, definitely a stand-out dish, as well as the shrimp and cheese grits, which are typical of the region. The clam chowder and fried flounder are also highly recommended.
Restaurant, Spanish, South American, Vegetarian, $$$
Half shop, half restaurant, La Carreta specialises in Mexican, Colombian, and Guatemalan food. Although all the recipes are traditional, local products are added to the mix, creating fresh, new and interesting flavours. Feast on a fish taco, try the town’s best chicken soup or gorge on the guacamole. Don’t forget to sample a margarita before you go, and if you chance upon a live music night, make it two. The service is friendly, and the prices reasonable at this laid-back joint.
Located just a few steps from the square, Thaicoon is your best bet if you’re in the mood for excellent Thai or Japanese fare. Offering a consistently impressive service coupled with exquisite food, the restaurant is raved about by locals and newcomers in equal measure. Reserve in advance, and enjoy sushi specials on Monday and Tuesday nights.
The Cuban Diner is run by a Cuban couple whose varied menu is filled with authentic recipes and ingredients. Be original and try the guava and cream cheese empanadas, or the imperial rice: yellow rice casserole with pulled chicken in sofrito sauce in the centre, topped with a thin layer of mayo and melted Swiss cheese. The ropa vieja,shredded beef brisket simmered in tomato sauce, onions, green peppers, olives and spices, comes highly recommended. And, of course, don’t cheat yourself of a drink; the mojitos alone will have you coming back.
Located on the Square, Taqueria Tsunami artfully marries Latin and Far Eastern cuisines in a harmonious symbiosis. Start with a cucumber salad, or a shrimp de fuego, crispy tempura fried shrimp with jalapenos and Thai sauce. Graduate to the asada zing taco, which contains nothing less than bulgogi-marinated steak, topped with shiitake mushrooms, lettuce, and a soy-sesame vinaigrette. Or opt for a tsunami trio, including a choice of two tacos, and one side, served al fresco on the Square if the weather permits. A portion of the proceeds goes towards tsunami and natural disaster relief efforts around the world.