Just as Atlanta was established at the intersection of 2 railroad lines, the popular dining and exclusive boutiqueries location of Virginia Highland was so named for its location at the cross street of Virginia Avenue and North Highland Avenue. People come for the restaurants but stay for the amazing cross section of ethnicity and diversity in the area. Just kidding, they come for the food… And, our intrepid team of Environs Team Real Estate professionals have been testing out the fare to show you why its still one of the most popular neighborhoods in the City of Atlanta:
By Patrick Benton
Located at the corner of North Highland and Amsterdam is my favorite Thai restaurant—Ma Li. Ma Li is the perfect blend of authentic Thai cuisine and delicious sushi served in a quaint yet progressive space with a great vibe and beautiful modern Thai décor. The wait staff are friendly and efficient, the restaurant operates smoothly, and the food is delicious.
Ma Li is extremely consistent in their quality of all of their dishes including staples such as Tom-Yum Soup, Larb Chicken, Basil Rolls, Pad-Thai, and traditional seafood dishes. The menu is extensive and covers all the main branches of Thai cuisine including tasty appetizers, noodle or rice dishes, delicious seafood dishes and vegetarian items. Spiciness levels are noted but can be altered to suit your comfort level.
At night, a chef’s special menu is presented with a signature cocktail, a special appetizer, a special sushi roll and a featured entrée of the evening. Ma Li is reasonably priced and a great place to impress a first time date.
My personal go-to dinner is a cup of Tom Yum soup, a chicken lard appetizer to share with the table and Grilled Salmon with Green Curry. A complete dessert menu is also available to round out the meal (don’t forget to leave room!). Ma Li has several dining levels including an enclosed patio but I prefer to dine in the upper dining room with a beautiful full bar, windows to the street and wonderful contemporary Thai accent pieces.
Ma Li accepts reservations and they are recommended for weekends and prime dining hours on weekdays. Check out the Ma Li Restaurant website.
If you aren’t interested in food from the “Far East”, How about something from the “Near South”? Directly behind (and sharing the same parking lot) you will find DBA Barbecue:
By Patrick Benton
Just as Ma Li is my favorite Thai restaurant, DBA Barbecue is my favorite Barbecue restaurant. How convenient!!
DBA is a no-nonsense, flavor intense, excellent quality barbecue “joint”. The décor is beautifully rustic and low key and is actually “Billy Dee Williams Approved” (look for the sign ) Even if you don’t think you are hungry, when you walk in the door the heavenly scent of smoked meats will immediately change your mind.
Whether you like your ‘cue pork, chicken or turkey and pulled, sliced or still on the rib, DBA has you covered. If you can’t decide, the huge 2 or 3 meat sampler plates are your answer. You can choose your favorite combo and try them all. I’m a pulled pork guy myself and I love their pulled sandwiches with a layer of homemade coleslaw piled on top with a side of delicious baked beans. Angus Beef brisket burgers are also on the menu for those in a burger mood and huge salads are also available.
While the focus is obviously on all kinds of mouth-watering smoked meats, DBA is almost as well known for their delicious side dishes and specialty cocktails. Try an order of fried jalapenos or fried pickles and battered bacon served with ranch dressing as an appetizer. Don’t miss the Brunswick stew or the homemade grilled Texas cream corn as your side dishes. Quench your thirst with a tasty Bourbon and Ginger or Moscow Mule cocktail. There is also a pickled moonshine martini to satisfy that bit of hillbilly in you (and me ).
Prices at DBA are very reasonable and a new brunch menu is available on Saturdays and Sundays. The restaurant gets busy during peak dining hours but tables turn over quickly so your wait will probably be a short one. Happy eating y’all! Check out the menu and other information on the DBA website.
By Paige Stills
Who loves El Taco? I love El Taco! I really do, I’m not just saying that for this article. Located in Virginia Highland, this is not your average taqueria. With its wall-sized mural featuring Frida Kahlo and vibrant décor, it gives the place a fun vibe.
My friend Todd and I started with a couple of margaritas and El Taco’s el delicioso guacamole, but I also recommend their homemade salsa. I indulged in the fried chicken tacos with not just any corn, but Mexico City grilled corn, chili mayo, cotija cheese, cilantro, as well as a pork carnita with pineapple, slaw and corn. Yummy.
Playing Wheel Of Taco is an added bonus. Three wooden chips are given to each person and if your number is called you win a trip for one to the bar to claim your new car…nita! Sorry guys, no Vanna White here.
As I mention in all of my articles, the outdoor seating on the covered patio is awesome, too. It’s the perfect place to meet friends or take your kids…not that I have any, but I could take your kids, I guess. El Taco is worth a visit! Hasta luego!
Get menus and directions and other good stuff at the El Taco Website.
By Briana Holmes
If you haven’t been able to tell by now, I have a thing for burgers. This time around, I decided to head to YEAH! BURGER to see what all the talk was about. Now, before you get all judgey you should know that this burger spot specializes in food without harmful chemicals and heavy processing, food from farmers we know, and food that respects the environment and the humane treatment of animals. I got the organic bison burger (that’s char-grilled pasture-raised, organic bison). YEAH! BURGER also let’s you choose exactly what you want on your burger, from the bun to the sauce to the toppings and it is all amazing! I tried out their house sauce and a ton of toppings and one word: yum. If burgers aren’t your thing don’t worry, they’re menu is pretty diverse. (Editor note: The salads are all amazing and you can add “happy” chicken or other toppings)
By Dawn Landau
Well, we loved the Dessert Place (now selling Cream Cheese Brownies online at thedessertplace.com) and Noche so we thought it was time to check out TomTom – Tom Catherall’s newly re-opened concept in Virginia Highland where beloved Noche lived for years.
The menu is heavy in tapas with an Asian and Southwestern focus. A bit odd but it works. We tried a LOT of stuff at prime bar seats with a charming bartender. She whipped up some yummy cocktails while we perused the menu and placed our order. The Watermelon/Feta salad was our least favorite but still nice. A bit too much under-ripe melon that could have been tossed with some arugula.
Next up Pork Belly Char Sui. Wow! Crazy flavors and the belly was not blubbery. The fat was rendered into the dish making the seaweed and yummy grain (quinoa maybe) even better. Served with a poached egg topper, this dish is worth a try even for the timid. My picky husband loved it We each tried a taco…I can’t resist a Crispy Fried Fish taco and Terry had a Pork Carnitas. Both were lovely.
Last but not least was the grilled corn. So much of it we couldn’t finish but it will be there for the next visit I’m sure!
Visit the TomTom website for the menu and a beautiful food gallery!
By John Powell
It’s a little bit of a reach to be in VaHi technically, but its very close!!
Dawn & Terry accompanied Leslie and I on a recent trip to one of our neighborhood staples – One Midtown Kitchen. We ordered everyone’s favorite: the Parmesan and garlic Truffled Frites for the table which lasted about a minute! Dawn enjoyed the Roasted Carrots (Dates, Carrot top pesto, Hazelnuts and Feta) and a few nibbles off of Terry’s Burger with pecan smoked bacon and cheddar while Leslie and I shared a delicious Margherita pizza (beautiful, fresh, San Marzaon tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil!).
What a wonderful space and fantastic meal. After we walked to the Botanical Garden for the Lyle Lovett show – great night!
Here’s their menu list – plus check out what’s also happening on their website too!
You can learn about Atlanta Neighborhoods on our main website and use our neighborhood map.