So OTP or ITP??? If you live in Atlanta, this is probably apart of some sort of conversation throughout your week when it comes to work, living, and (to the point of this blog) food.ITP dwellers are convinced everything that's worth doing is here, in Buckhead, Midtown, Virginia Highlands, and Decatur...While OTP out lookers insist that branching out and away from Atlanta's congestion makes the trip worth it to Sandy Springs and Dunwoody, Norcross, Marietta, Alpharetta, and Suwanee. <--Words from real people, not just my opinion.
*And then there’s Buford Highway, which lets be honest: is its own special place*
To clarify for the non ATLiens: ITP stands for Inside the Perimeter while OTP means just the opposite; outside. Downtown Atlanta differs in set-up to cities such as New York and its burrows due to its “circular” designed lay out. We get all the horrible traffic of a city such as New York, but with public transportation being slim to none in the OTP area.
If you’ve been driving in traffic for 1-2hrs in the morning to go into the city for work, and 2-3hrs (depending on the day) to get home, there’s sometimes little motivation to refresh, recharge, and go back out later on that night.
I've been living in the OTP area six out of the eight years I've lived in Atlanta. During my third year of college, student housing to decided to do us a “favor” by taking us out of the downtown, loft style, apartments of what is now known as West Mar, to apartments that were 10min away from our Sandy Springs campus. (Shout out to everyone who lived in Metro Point prior to it becoming West Mar!).
This sucked to say the least, and sort-of unconsciously ingrained in me that: OTP is good for affordable, spacious living for sleep only. ITP is where I work, and spend my time hanging out. No reason to mix the two. I was 22 with no car, with no real money at the time when I made this rational. <-- Insert “irony” here.
Fast-forward five years, to a car, way better paychecks, and a better understanding of the industry, I find myself curious to see what some of these OTP places have to offer.
Atlanta has also branched out tremendously to create interesting concepts in the OTP area. The Avalon in Alpharetta, numerous eclectic restaurants in Norcross, Marietta welcoming in the Atlanta Braves with the construction of The Battery with its neighbors Symrna and Vinings reminding locals that a creative foods concepts are within walking distance of your home.
My discovery is a work in progress. There are several OTP restaurants that have made it to my EatList. Here are a few restaurants that I have ventured to recently:
*also check out all pictures here.
Il Gaillo Osteria and Bar: Going here was a complete accident. Per usual, I couldn’t make up mind for dinner so I decide to go for “ole faithful”, Chipotle. Instead of turning right into a parking space, I took the opportunity to explore the surrounding shopping center. Toward the back, I noticed a blocked off area for sectioned off for valet. From there, I followed with my eyes to where the group who recently relieved their keys was going, and realized that there was a restaurant back here among the Brazilian waxing and Tuesday Morning’s! Did a quick scan of the menu online, and decided that this is where we were having dinner. We came on a Thursday around 6pm, and got a seat no problem. We were advised by our server later on in the evening; however, if we came back on a Friday or Saturday to definitely have a reservation; ‘this place gets packed!We were given seats in the center of the room where we could see the open kitchen with a bonus view of the line cook charged with rolling out home made pasta stationed not to far from the Expeditor. The room was pleasantly well lit in comparison to a lot of darkened Italian spots. There was also what looked to be a hand drawn sketch on the back wall of Italy with additional caricature’s inside denoting what ingredients came from where. I do have to note the excellent customer service. When our server learned that it was our first time, and that we lived 10minutes away, we were given a surprise of not just one complimentary, dessert but four! ß I’m a sucker for great customer service!
Menu Suggestion: Bomboloni
Bishoku: This is in the same shopping center as Il Giallo; practical right next door. I made a mental note to myself when going to Il Giallo, to come back to Bishoku the following week, and I am really glad that we did. I haven’t made my way to Japan yet, but I felt as if this must be what typical Japanese hospitality feels like in a restaurant. The front of the house staff are all women, with the Manager being just as gracious as the servers themselves. “Yes Ma’am and Sir” were echoed throughout the dining room. The sushi bar sits at the focal point of the small restaurant with the Itamae (sushi chef) at the helm working in silence among the chatter of the patrons. Coming back for Sushi is a must. This time around I kept it simple trying other traditional staples.
Menu Suggestion: Udon Noodles.
Noble Fin: My boyfriend is a simple guy. When it comes to food and his willingness to try different things: I’m down for whatever; he’s a server’s nightmare! With that being said, he has up’d his experimentation of various food and wines through my encouragement. He does, however, indulge in seafood of all types. So the goal became to find a birthday spot without doing a double back to his favorite restaurant The Optimist. GOOGLE searching “Best seafood restaurants in Atlanta” lead me to Noble Fin Norcross. In case you were wandering where Chef Jay Swift landed after the sudden closing of 4th and Swift last summer, here he is! With son Jeb Aldrich as Chef de Cuisine you definitely get the same vibe as any trendy restaurant parked in midtown.
Menu Suggestion: Yellow Fin Crudo.
Under the Cork Tree: I have been meaning to come here for a while for at least the last 8months. I’ve been hearing great feedback on the both the menu, and the wine list design from various industry friends. For the longest time; however, I didn’t realize that it was located in the Prado at Sandy Springs. No idea where I thought it was, but in lies the whole point of this post right?
I have to say; this has definitely been added to my mental rolodex of “where to take friends coming in town”. A scrollable wine list housed on iPads, two Craft bars, and a food menu centered on various countries surrounding the Mediterranean. Spain, Italy and Morocco were all well represented on this menu with staples such as Organic Chicken Tagine, Jamon Serrano and Iberico, and made to order Woodfire Pizza. There is also a smaller room that seems to be great for large parties (another mental note). I can easily see myself coming back here to enjoy a drink and tapas. Great location to wait out the heavy traffic on Roswell.
Menu Suggestion: Crispy Lamb Rib.