My Favorite Take-out

As much as I love dining out, I love cooking even more. However, with a new job, new girlfriend, and my normal busy schedule of sports leagues that I continue every night, I haven’t had much time to cook. So, I have discovered the wonderful world of take-out and especially food delivery apps. This led me to discover three fantastic new restaurants.

Hong Kong Star Chinese

Hong Kong Star Chinese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Food: A

I got curry chicken and jalapeno pepper diced chicken. There were so many things that impressed me about this place. First of all, food delivery normally takes 45 min to an hour. I got this in 30 minutes. Second, I noticed they used all fresh ingredients. Chicken wasn’t some frozen and thin junk you find with normal Chinese restaurants. My dish was the jalapeno chicken and the jalapenos were crisp and fresh with hotness. The flavors here were very bold. It wasn’t just heated food with factory made sauce poured over it. This was all cooked to order and you can definitely tell the difference. This may be my favorite Chinese take-out place now.
Lemon Grass

Lemon Grass Thai on Urbanspoon
Food: A-

I would say this is the best curry in Atlanta. Everything else just fine. I had some coconut soup and the main come with rice and chicken. Everything was cooked right and tasted fine but what made it an outstanding meal was the curry. It wasn’t overly bold with flavor, but what flavor they did put in it made it so delicious, I wish I had gotten two orders. You should definitely come here for a great tasting meal.

Baldinos

Baldinos Giant Jersey Subs on Urbanspoon
Food: A-
My mistake was thinking the subs were going to be similar to Subway. I normally get a footlong at subway so I ordered a 13” sub here. My mistake as I almost had to ask for help to carry that thing out the door. It was huge! The good thing is that it tasted amazing too. The bread was extremely soft which I personally love. All the ingredients were top notch as well. What really impressed me was that it was put together perfectly. Ingredients were very even throughout and packed in a way that the sandwich held together with every bite. It was great and definitely on my regular list of lunch places now.

Marietta Diner

OVERALL GRADE: B-

Food – B-
Ambiance – C
Service – B
Price/Quality – B-
Uniqueness – B-

Marietta Diner on Urbanspoon

I understand why they are open 24 hours. It’s because it would take you that long to read the menu. It’s incredibly massive. I couldn’t possibly imagine even trying to read every item on the menu. You’d be there for a very very long time. Maybe some people like over 300 items to choose from but as for me it was an incredible turn off. Give me a dozen varied options and I’m as happy as can be.

The amount of food you get here too is just very overwhelming as well. I don’t think I saw a single person leave the restaurant without a to go box. They could probably save hundreds of thousands if they just gave normal portions instead of piling it all on. In addition to each entrée being massive, you also get served an entire loaf of bread and spinach baklava before your meal even arrives.

I enjoyed the food here. I’d say it edges out most diners. However, overall I just felt like the entire experience is just gimmicky. The bright lights, ungodly portions, and overwhelming menu was just off putting to me. All that being said, I most likely won’t be back here for dinner. However, if I found myself drunk at 3:00 am looking for a Waffle House alternative, you would find me back here.

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Cypress Street Pint & Plate

OVERALL GRADE: C+

Food – B-
Ambiance – B
Service – D
Price/Quality – B
Uniqueness – C+

Cypress Street Pint & Plate on Urbanspoon

So, after a concert in Midtown, my date and I was looking for a place to grab a night cap and perhaps a snack as well. This seemed like a great spot. They had a large and pretty outdoor patio we sat at. It was ridiculously crowded. The tables were so close together that my chair was touching the persons behind me and the people sat another group at the table we had. So, it ended up being more like a communal night cap place.

We had arrived here pretty late so all we got was the late night menu. We decided to order some fried truffle mushrooms, black bean hummus, and the bbq egg rolls. They were out of the egg rolls so we just got the other two. The hummus was pretty good and was a nice healthy option among the large list of fried items. The truffle mushrooms were good too, but they gave us such a huge pile. We probably needed at least two more people to finish those. I felt bad leaving over half the basket there.

Overall I thought everything was just meh. I enjoyed my time there but nothing from the space to the food impressed me. The only really negative thing was the service. Our server was kind of a jerk if you could say he had any emotion at all. Also, he would disappear for long periods of time. It took us over 30 minutes to get out of there once we decided to get our check and leave.

Thai Chili

OVERALL GRADE: B

Food – A
Ambiance – C+
Service – B
Price/Quality – B
Uniqueness – B-

Thai Chili on Urbanspoon

The food was really amazing here. I had been on a Thai kick lately and have visited well over a dozen Thai places in the last 5-6 weeks. It all seemed relatively the same until this place delivered a unique and delicious plate to me. I got the mixed seafood with butter curry sauce. It had shrimp, scallops, salmon, mussels, and squid. It was fixed in a buttery red curry sauce. I had never had a buttery curry sauce but it made it really rich. I am sure my arteries didn’t thank me, but at the moment, my taste buds loved me. All the seafood had been cooked perfectly as well. I just thought the whole thing was unique and delicious.

I do have to say, that was about the best part of the meal. Everything was fine but nothing to write home about. Ambiance was about the same as it was in the 80’s. The restaurant had maroon carpet throughout that was relatively worn out, wood paneling and minimal decorations around. The service was fine. I got everything I needed but no overabundance of friendliness here, and finally even though my lunch was delicious, It’s hard to regularly cough up $14 for lunch.

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St Cecilia

OVERALL GRADE: B+

Food – B
Ambiance – A+
Service – A+
Price/Quality – C
Uniqueness – B+

St. Cecilia on Urbanspoon

Everything was fine, but overall I was really disappointed in my meal. This was actually the first Ford Fry restaurant I have eaten in. I have been an admirer of his success for a long time. So, I couldn’t contain my excitement when I arrived here. After my meal, I felt disappointed because I thought that everything was average tasting and nothing was truly unique or outstanding to me.

For the first course we tried some crudo which included crab and tuna. Now I’m not the most knowledgeable fine diner so I am not sure how it is supposed to be served. However, I know it was served so cold that it was almost frozen. That was tough to eat, especially when it was drowned in black truffle which gave it a slight dirt taste anyways. Oh well, maybe that isn’t my taste so on to round two.

Round two included risotto quail and apple ravioli. By far the best thing we had was the apple ravioli. Now this dish was what I was expecting! So unique and inventive, and the taste was phenomenal. I could have just gotten 3 orders of that and given this place a perfect rating. Anyways, the quail came with this too. This exemplifies my meal the most. Perfect risotto, perfectly cooked and seasoned quail, and a well presented dish. However, the taste didn’t blow me away. It seemed average. It seemed like the risotto any chef could easily replicate and same with the quail. There was nothing bold or new or even inventive about this dish. It was just a normal dish that tasted good. That’s fine for most restaurants but when my expectations were for a phenomenal new and inventive meal, I just left disappointed. I expected more out of such a talked about chef.

Anyways, we continued on with three more dishes and dessert which again all tasted good but seemed simple in their design. I liked my meal, but for the price I am not sure I would return. Executing basic dishes well is just not my cup of tea at this price. I think many will love this restaurant and I can see why. I just think my tastes don’t align with what is presented here.

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J Buffalo Wings – Roswell

MY GRADE: C+

Food: B+
Ambiance: C
Service: C-
Price/Quality: B
Uniqueness: B-

J Buffalo Wings on Urbanspoon

I just wanted a quick lunch and had heard good things about this place. I was pretty skeptical at first from the looks of it. It looked like a cheap takeout place where the food wouldn’t be so great. I ended up ordering a Philly steak sandwich with fried rice. Yes, I just said fried rice. A pretty unique factor about this place is that everything they offer can come with fried rice as your side. Normally these types of places have fries and that is about your only option.

The wait was unbearably long before my meal arrived. I am unsure about the system they have here. Even though a POS is at the front, all tickets are hand written and doubled with a receipt from the register. If you are confused by that statement then you understand how ridiculous this seems to be. I was order #36. In this order I heard these orders called: 33,41,38,34,35,40,44, and then my number. So, my food arrives nearly 18 minutes after I order it and frustration had set in.

I was calmed once I tasted the food. Maybe the fact that my last Philly was very awful helped me love this one, but honestly I think it was just a very good and tasty Philly. Meat was tender and cooked perfectly, bread was soft, and all the peppers and cheese was placed in the perfect amount. Combine that with fact that the fried rice had shrimp in it, and you received a huge portion of it, I very much enjoyed my meal. I got it all for under $10 too.

As long as I am not in a hurry, I would definitely consider coming back here. I love the fact that I can get some fried rice with my meal and that the food I had was great. Combine that with the fact that everything was under $10, and I have a new quality lunch option on my list.

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Tijuana Joe’s Cantina – Marietta

OVERALL GRADE: C+

Food: C
Ambiance: B-
Service: B-
Price/Quality:C
Uniqueness: C+

Tijuana Joe's Cantina on Urbanspoon

This is a great place to grab drinks and just an ok place to get a bite to eat. I came and sat at the bar here for trivia night. It was pretty lively. The majority of the crowd was in their 40’s to 50’s but they were definitely there to party. My group ordered two rounds of drinks before we touched the menu. The drinks were made perfectly. It was some of the best we had around.

When we got to the menu finally, there seemed to be some pretty unique options. It definitely wasn’t one of those plaves where you open the menu and see a bunch of number combinations. We all ordered and when it came, it looked great, it was unique but I found it to be rather bland. There just wasn’t a ton of flavor to it. I wouldn’t say there was no flavor because it was there; it was just very timid.

I usually like a lot of spice and heat in my Mexican food. I am sure there are some items like that but overall I felt it was imitation Mexican flavors to satisfy a more East Cobb crowd if you know what I mean. I’d only return here because drinks are amazing and trivia was a blast, but I would only eat if I was just starving.

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