Saturday, June 24, 2017

La Costilla Grill - Buford Hwy - Atlanta Georgia

You can find La Costilla Grill at 3979 Buford Hwy St 109, Atlanta, GA 30345 - this is a strip mall that also used to be the home of Havana Grill (it's recently either closed or changed names). The shopping center is behind and slightly north of the Buford Hwy Aldi slightly north of the Clairment intersection. There's tons of parking but there are also several restaurants in this center so be prepared to walk a bit.

I'm a bit hesitant to review La Costilla Grill as I consider it a hidden gem - it's also one of the finest Mexican restaurants we've come across in our Buford Highway Restaurant Crawl featuring great food and awesome drinks - this became a favorite after nearby visits due to the alcohol (most of the near-area restaurants serve no alcohol or only beer). My hesitation is rather selfish - I don't want it to become so popular that it's hard to get a seat - I've now had this food about a dozen times and it's been very consistent. During sporting events the place is already packed, but fortunately there's a small patio that is usually open so we gringos can still be seated and served during busy nights. 

This restaurant is extremely popular among local Latinos for good reason - there's a full bar, the prices are reasonable and the quality of the food is way above average. The restaurant I think is more of a sports bar than a restaurant so expect a dark dining room, lots of stuff on the TVs and blaring music (another reason to sit outside if it's not too hot). The only negative is that the food delivery is a bit slow so be prepared to enjoy your time here. 

The menu is extensive - let's start with the drinks:

Margarita - I thought their mix and alcohol ratio quite good. The frozen is surprisingly good and strong and at $5 quite the bargain.

Caipirinha - this fresh lemon drink is very tart and quite good

Michelada - this is an amazing drink - similar to a Bloody Mary only made with beer so it has an effervescence and lightness you don't receive from a bloody. This is a huge drink served in a styrofoam cup covered in chunks of cucumber and seasoned salt - there's also a fruit-roll-up stick stuck in there for good measure.

Pina Colada - typical recipe but if you want something special have it served in a pineapple

For food, our server Carelis recommended any of the beef items (Castilla are beef short-ribs, a bit like Korean Galbi) but especially the Parrilladas.

The chips served here are thick corn tortilla - they also come with a trio of salsas, all are quite good but I love the green - something like an avocado-and-jalapeno puree. It's cool and creamy. The cheese sauce was your typical melted Mex cheese but the quac was quite good. They also brought out a special "hot" salsa when they understood we liked heat - this was served in a stone vessel.

Tacos - these are simple and traditional bits of meat and veg served doubled-up in corn tortillas - quite authentic. I thought the meat slightly dry but that's typical.

Taquito Plate - Paul F thought this quite good and mentioned that they were hard to find.

Chicken Quesadilla - Laura C said this was quite good and filling.

Ribeye Steak - my friend John F ordered this and said it was quite good but to beware of the sizzling plate - the food continues to cook so you should order it one temperature down (if you like medium, order medium-rare).

Parrilladas - to me this is the star of their menu - outside skirt steak grilled with salchicha Nortena, onions and jalapenos primos. Comes with beans, quac and tortillas. These bits of meat are delicious and quite filling. The beans are interesting with bits of hot dog.

The service here is quite good - most recently I hit it for Cinco de Mayo and while most of the TexMex places were packed there was still seating here. Other than being served the margaritas in plastic cups the food quality was still great and the service quite good, if a bit slow.

-- John

Also published to Yelp
La Costilla Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, May 29, 2017

5 de Mayo Mexican Restaurant and Pupuseria - Buford Hwy - Atlanta Georgia

You can find 5 de Mayo Mexican Restaurant and Pupuseria at 4300 Buford Hwy NE Ste 201, Atlanta, GA 30345. This is at the southern end of the shopping center better known for the now closed Chateau Saigon. Parking is out front or anywhere in the parking lot.

This was one of Daniel B's Yelp Buford Hwy UYEs (Number 67) and there was a group of about about 14 people. 5 de Mayo is a Mexican/ Salvadoran restaurant with Pupus (small plates) and Taqueria tacos and the like. I think it's fairly authentic and seems to attract local Latinos. This is a family owned business and we met the owner, Robert and I believe his wife? who helped serve the food. This is a small restaurant very simply arranged with tables out front and a counter in the back.

The menu is broken up into fairly simple items: Tacos, Tortas, Carne Asada, Pollo en Mole, Pollo Frito, Flautas de Pollo, Fajitas (Mixtas and Camarones), Enchiladas, Super Burritos, Quesadillas, Alitas de Pollo, Ricos Platillos, Ricos Caldos (soups), Mariscos (seafood) and Ricos Antojitos (pupus or other appetizers). The table ended up ordering most of the menu but especially the empanadas and pupusas. The platanos fritos were much like the tostones you find in Colombian or Cuban restaurants.

I liked the salsa they served here - it's the runny not-chunky style that give you a bit of a bite without loading you up with tomatoes and the like (the green is spicier than the red) - the chips were on the thicker side (not sure if I liked them or not, but they had a good corn flavor). Of the food I loved the pupus and like the embanadas quite a bit - especially the chicken.

For my dinner I went with a chicken soup - Ricos Caldos de Pollo on the menu. It was very inexpensive at $7.50 - it was also very basic and traditional. A couple of pieces of chicken, course chopped carrots and chicken broth. I think it works better when it's colder than when its hotter. In all I wish the soup had a bit more heft to it but that's one thing when you try a dish that's authentic you might not get what you think you're getting. I was also interested in the mole but have had back luck with what's typically served on BufHwy so deferred. It looked very good and Claudia A who was sitting next to me told me she thought it very authentic and good (I'll try it next time). 

In all the service was exceptional, all the food came out hot (if a bit sporadically) and the portions were quite hearty. I could see myself dropping in quite often if this were closer to my house (it's on the extends of BufHwy for me and there are so many fantastic restaurants nearby that it's difficult to justify the extra couple of miles to make it here).

-- John

(also posted by Yelp)
5 De Mayo Mexican Restaurant and Pupuseria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato