By Logan C. Ritchie and Zoe Seiler, contributors
Tucker, GA — Last spring, the food and beverage industry took a hard hit when COVID-19 forced the closing of restaurants and bars. While Tucker saw the unfortunate closing of Greater Good BBQ and Fig. 1 Taps and Food in 2020, the community stayed true to comfort food restaurants and sprawling patios.
From Feb. 24-28, Tucker Restaurant Week promises to showcase food from around the world. Eat a meatloaf burger at Blue Ribbon Grill one day, try sushi lunch at Kobe Steakhouse the next. With 18 restaurants and four days, you might not have time to try it all — but you can certainly taste something new.
Every restaurant we spoke with is following strict COVID-19 protocols, including distancing of tables, masks for all employees, and sanitization measures.
Restaurant Week Deal: Breakfast burritos served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dine in, take out, delivery and catering.
Tucker native Matt Hinton says Bell Street Burritos is like a reverse mullet – party in the front, business in the back.
“When you walk in, the vibe seems independent and non-corporate. In the kitchen, we want everything running smoothly and professionally,” said Hinton.
Bell Street Burritos is perfectly suited for a pandemic, Hinton said, because the food is made fresh and wrapped to go. The restaurant was an early adopter of COVID-19 protocols, using blue painter’s tape to mark six feet of distance from the register. Last spring, when Hinton realized he had an “in” with a corporate supplier of paper products, the restaurant gave away toilet paper with each burrito.
During Restaurant Week, breakfast is extended to 2 p.m., so Hinton suggests trying the TexiCali-style breakfast burritos stuffed with fluffy scrambled eggs, crumbled sausage and grated cheese. Come back the next morning for a big bowl of grilled shrimp over jalapeno cheese grits topped with salsa fresca. And don’t miss his favorite combination – an off-menu creation – the smoked brisket burrito and added shrimp.
“It will leave you speechless,” said Hinton.
Blue Ribbon Grill, 4006 LaVista Road, Tucker 30084
Restaurant Week Deal: Try the Famous Fish Sandwich or Jalapeno Cheeseburger with a Tucker Brewing Georgia Red Lager. Dine in and take out.
New owners Jennifer and Eric Greene promise to keep the old neighborhood feel of Blue Ribbon Grill, known for comfort food like meatloaf burger, pot roast and prime rib. Sunday brunch with a full bar is also on the menu. If you can’t make it for Restaurant Week, Blue Ribbon Grill will offer a special St. Patrick’s Day menu in March with Irish dishes including corned beef and cabbage, an Irish stew, a corned beef sandwich and the reuben sandwich. They will also serve Bud Light green beer, Yuengling black and tan, Guinness and whiskey shots.
The Corner Cup Coffee, 2380 Main Street, Tucker 30084
Restaurant Week Deal: $5 for a medium drink— The Vermont or Chai Tea Latte— and any treat. Dine in, take out and small scale catering and curbside delivery if you call.
Come for the coffee, stay for the community at The Corner Cup Coffee Tucker location, right in the thick of Main Street. Opened in 2016, owner Michael Vorndran says his neighborhood spot is where friendships are made and business relationships flourish. Enjoy drinks like The Vermont (maple, honey, cinnamon, espresso and milk) or seasonal Mc’Fluffin (peanut butter, marshmallow fluff, espresso and milk). All products are local, from the coffee beans to the dog treats.
Farmed Kitchen and Bar, 1927 Lakeside Parkway, Tucker 30084
Restaurant Week: $10 for any burger or chicken sandwich with one side, or any pizza, both with choice of beverage. Dine in, take out and catering.
Owner and chef Daryl Shular created a culinary and educational experience when he opened Farmed in 2020. Using local and regional ingredients, Farmed focuses on seasonal food in a spacious dining room – open to a kitchen run by students from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, as well as professional staff.
“We believe in that Southern flair,” said Shular, who moved to DeKalb County from Florida in 1992.
Farmed offers plant-based, healthy options, including vegan and gluten-free meals. Shular is currently working on a Meatless Monday menu. But make no mistake, meat lovers. The first item on the menu is a smoked bacon burger with gouda cheese, caramelized onions, house made pickles, and bourbon red pepper BBQ sauce.
Ford’s BBQ, 2337 Main Street, Tucker 30084
Restaurant Week Deal: $40 Pitmaster Platter with all five meats and four side items. Dine in, take out and catering.
Ford’s BBQ excels at simply seasoned meats, cooked low and slow over pecan and oak wood in a 9-foot smoker. Inside, high-backed booths and charming brick accents make for a family friendly vibe. Grab a beer at the bar and head to Ford’s BBQ heated, covered porch for ribs that will knock your socks off. Unless it’s Friday. In that case, you must try the Smoked Salmon, which is offered only one day a week.
Grecian Gyro, 3989 Lawrenceville Highway, Tucker 30084
Restaurant Week: $10 meal deal with a gyro wrap, side, dessert and drink. Drive thru, dine in, take out and catering.
The Koulouris brothers, George and Pano, stopped everything a few years ago to take over and expand the family business, Grecian Gyro. Realizing their father’s immigrant dream is a concept that still excites George Kourlouris and his employees.
“Forty years ago, it was one little guy with a couple bucks in his pocket,” said Koulouris about his father Nick, whose original diner in Hapeville still acts as a destination for famous athletes and musicians.
Now with seven locations across the metro Atlanta area, Grecian Gyro’s Tucker location may be the only drive-thru in the state to buy hummus, joked Koulouris. While they’re obviously famous for the gyro, which is topped with a house made, tangy, cream sauce, order a souvlaki, too. They take marinated, grilled pork tenderloin and build a “killer” sandwich. The restaurant has used the same meat and bread vendors for 40 years.
Baklava is the Grecian Gyro’s signature dessert, imported from the Greek community in Tarpon Springs, Fla. This spring, the Tucker location will launch Izzy’s Ice Cream, a Greek fro-yo brand created by the company. Koulouris recommends the banana split with baklava, Nutella, and cherry syrup toppings.
Hot Betty’s Breakfast Bar, 2316 Main Street, Tucker 30084
Restaurant Week Deal: Fried Green Tomatoes, Fried Chicken Biscuit or NY Strip. Dine in and take out.
It’s not just breakfast food in the morning, despite the name. Hot Betty’s serves breakfast all day including gluten free, vegan, vegetarian and the heartiest of meat dishes like a bacon cheeseburger topped with a fried egg. Owners Shea Powell and Wes McNeil got the keys to the restaurant just days before COVID-19 shut down the service industry, but it hasn’t stopped a warm, Tucker reception of this fun spot with a scrumptious fried chicken biscuit.
Kobe Steakhouse, 2080 Henderson Mill Road, Atlanta 30345
Restaurant Week Deal: $35 Hibachi Sunrise special or $75 Sushi Sunrise combo for two. Dine in, take out and delivery.
Nestled into an unsuspecting commercial strip, Kobe Steakhouse serves a full sushi menu, Teppan grilled meats and seafood in a fun atmosphere with music and dancing into the night. Communal tables surround an open grill, guaranteeing that every guest in your party can witness the skillful techniques of master chefs slicing, dicing and serving delicacies. Sushi and seafood is also available at the sushi bar, or as an appetizer.
Las Colinas, 2327 Main Street, Tucker 30084
Restaurant Week Deal: $6 for three street tacos. Dine in, take out and delivery.
Tex-Mex and Mexican dishes abound at this casual, neighborhood joint. It was hard for Jose Aylala, owner of nine-year-old Las Colinas, to recommend just one menu item. His mouth watering descriptions include tableside guacamole to campechana steak and chorizo tacos. Ayala found the location years ago while taking a shortcut through Main Street Tucker, and he hasn’t looked back ever since. He said he misses the days of gathering the community for car shows, Tucker Day and Taste of Tucker, but he’s looking forward to Restaurant Week.
The Local 7, 2316 Main Street, Tucker 30084
Restaurant Week Deal: $14 meal deal with a Little Jon Burger— two pieces of bacon, cheddar cheese and a fried egg— plus any side. Dine in, take out and delivery.
Open again after recent repairs, The Local 7 has been a mainstay in Tucker for nearly 10 years. The building is shared with High Card Brewery and Blue Tarp Brewing Co., right on the corner of Railroad Avenue and Main Street. Owner Luis Finley says when naming the restaurant he read a book on the history of Tucker, and found significance in the number seven. Bar food and whiskey drinks are the speciality here, so stick with burgers and bourbon.
Magnolia Room, 4450 Hugh Howell Road, Tucker 30084
Restaurant Week Deal: Free cobbler with any Magnolia Plate deal. Dine in, take out, delivery.
During S&S Caefeteria’s 43 year tenure, Louis Squires was a regular patron who had developed relationships with the staff. So when the restaurant was on the verge of closing a few years ago, Squires stepped in to help. Many of the employees had worked there for years, some as long as 40 years, and Squires couldn’t bear to see it end.
Without any restaurant experience, he opened Magnolia Room Cafeteria four years ago in an effort to retain the S&S Cafeteria staff. The restaurant, now located in Tucker, uses the same S&S recipes just with fresh, high-quality ingredients.
“We’re soul food, we’re comfort food, but we are definitely what you’d expect at a family gathering where your grandmother and your aunts are doing the cooking,” Squires said.
The fried catfish is Magnolia Room’s most popular dish, Squires said. He added that the fried chicken, North Carolina rainbow trout and vegetables are also hard to beat.
“We’ve got so many that are regulars, for them to come up and tell us how much they enjoy it and how much they appreciate us keeping this old tradition alive, I think, it makes it all worthwhile,” Squires said.
Matthews Cafeteria, 2299 Main Street, Tucker 30084
Restaurant Week Deal: 10 percent off daily specials. Dine in and take out.
Matthews Cafeteria prides itself on serving quality, made-from-scratch Southern food that sparks memories of grandma’s cooking.
“We love taking recipes from home that we all grew up eating as kids and my wife grew up eating as a kid, and then turn it into something big here at the restaurant,” owner Michael Greene said. “I started doing a chicken and rice casserole that my wife started making for me after we got married.”
The restaurant has been located on Main Street since 1955. Greene is the third generation owner, inheriting the restaurant from his dad and maternal grandfather.
“I was born into the business, there’s no way around that, but I chose this business,” Greene said, who started washing dishes in the kitchen at 11 years old.
“This is it, this is kind of all I’ve ever known. I’ve never known my father or mother to have another job,” he said. “Never known anything but Matthews, every summer, every Thanksgiving, Christmas break and now I sit here today.”
The restaurant is nestled inside an old house that probably wasn’t meant to be a restaurant. The staff uses an electric dumbwaiter to carry dishes and food up from the basement kitchen.
Known for traditional Southern, cafeteria style food, Greene said the most popular items are the fried chicken, turkey and dressing and the vegetables.
Old Hickory House, 2202 Northlake Pkwy, Tucker 30084
Restaurant Week Deal: free cobbler or banana pudding with purchase of any entree. Dine in, take out and delivery.
Recipes were handed down from generation to generation at Old Hickory House through owner George Jackson, who has been tickling taste buds since 1955. Customer favorite’s include Brunswick stew, BBQ sauce, house-made banana pudding and fruit cobblers.
The restaurant has seen some famous faces. Elvis Presley frequented the restaurant in the Atlanta area. A scene from “Smokey and the Bandit” was filmed at an Old Hickory House location, and the Tucker restaurant still serves the sandwich from the movie, called the Diablo.
Shorty’s, 3701 Lawrenceville Highway, Tucker 30084
Restaurant Week Deal: Col. Bruce Hampton Pizza: $13 for a small and $20 for a large. Dine in and take out.
That giant red barn in Tucker, often mistaken for a barbecue restaurant, is known for their wood-fired pizza and stonefire oven.
When walking in, the first thing customers see is the oven. The decor is also a little eccentric and psychedelic, definitely not a sleek, modern design, general manager Austin Phillips said. But the decor is all made from local artists, some are even employees or customers of Shorty’s, who sell their art.
Shorty’s also offers a “Cheers” atmosphere, Phillips said. When several regular customers come in, the employees scream their name in the way the Cheers characters would shout “Norm” when he arrived at the bar.
“I would say that through the pandemic the only thing that has kept us standing would be our group of dedicated regulars for sure,” Phillips said.
Phillips has worked at Shorty’s for six years and is also the chef. He inherited the tradition of naming pizzas after musicians from the old owner. He is introducing a new pizza during restaurant week named after local musician and Shorty’s regular, Col. Bruce Hampton.
Hampton, often regarded as the creator of the jam-band scene, came to Shorty’s three or four times a week and, ironically, ordered the smoked turkey club all the time, Phillips said.
Hampton died in 2017 and Phillips promised Hampton’s family that he would create a tribute pizza for him. Now felt an appropriate time, so Phillips turned the beloved sandwich into a pizza.
The Col. Bruce Hampton Pizza is a red sauce pizza topped with smoked turkey, house cured bacon, avocado, provolone cheese and sweet pickled red onions.
Tucker Brewing Company, 2003 South Bibb Drive, Tucker 30084
Restaurant Week Deal: $40 pre-fixe menu includes choice of appetizer, entree and dessert. Dine in and take out.
A passion for light lagers was born out of a study abroad experience in Germany for siblings Ryan Chapman and Ashley Chapman Hubbard. They established Tucker Brewing Company in 2017 to represent German style beer in the South.
From the brewery’s flagship beer, TKR Pilsner, to executive chef Nicole Fey’s global flavors, Tucker Brewing Company takes an unique spin on German beer and cuisine.
Tucker Meat Market, 2187 Brockett Road, Tucker 30084
Restaurant Week Deal: $11.99 meal deal includes a mammoth jr. burger with fries and a drink. Dine in and take out.
Andrea Woolf never set out to run a business, but her love of cooking and creating recipes led her to help revamp Tucker Meat Market when she bought the restaurant in 2014.
Tucker Meat Market is a full scale butcher and meat market that also serves specialty foods, mainly burgers and wings. With an old country feel, the restaurant offers high quality, fresh cut meats, everything from steak to chicken to pork chops.
Stop by and grab one of Woolf’s most popular, award winning burgers, the Mammoth burger — a bacon burger blend patty with cheese, grilled onions, grilled jalapenos, mayo, barbecue sauce and smoked brisket on top. She’ll be offering a junior version of the burger during restaurant week.
Village Burger, 2329 Main Street, Tucker 30084
Restaurant Week Deal: $11.49 loaded Village Burger meal deal or $9.29 fries up meal deal. Dine in, take out and delivery.
Village Burger strives to be a community center, a place where customers can come in, build their own burgers, and enjoy time with others. Born out of the idea from a group of friends in Dunwoody, the owners wanted to offer great food and an upbeat family-friendly environment.
Incoming General Manager Carlos Cacicedo has been impressed with the quality of food and the friendliness of the employees. The restaurant focuses on cooking delicious food that customers want to come back for, and making sure they feel at home while dining.
Village Burger usually offers a build-your-own experience where customers can choose their meat and pick from 18 different toppings. During Tucker Restaurant Week, Cacicedo will offer two pre-built specials: the fries up special and a loaded Village Burger, which is like an introduction to the restaurant.
Restaurant Week Deal: $16 blackened salmon. Dine in, take out and delivery.
Vista Vibes takes southern comfort to new limits with its soul food and jazz music that fuses ambiance and tasty cuisine. Owner Zoubir Mesbahi has previously said that he wanted to create a place that offers good food and good vibes closer to home.
The restaurant serves a variety of Southern staples including fried chicken, shrimp and grits and lamb chops. It also offers a brunch menu with delicious options like chicken and waffles and French toast.
Meshbahi was happy to see Tucker start restaurant week since so many restaurants are in survival mode. He’s said before that events like this help owners showcase their establishments and introduce them to the community.
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