The hardworking southside doesn’t play when it comes to, well, anything, and that includes dining. It’s still an ATL vibe but more straightforward, with less glitz and more swagger, and a dash of celebrity now that a few key players have expanded their hot spots to these parts.
El Pulgarcito de Centro America (6600 Highway 85, Riverdale Plaza Shopping Center, Riverdale, 678-216-0515). At this modest Salvadoran restaurant, authentic pupusas are the must-have. These hefty, stuffed corn tortillas come with your choice of filling: cheese, pork, beans, squash, or loroco (flower). Top with spicy slaw and house salsa. Deliciosa.
Escobar Restaurant and Tapas Southside (1140 Mount Zion Road, Morrow, 678-489-2561). Atlanta trap rapper 2 Chainz is your host, along with his partner Mychel ‘Snoop’ Dillard, at this trendy restaurant lounge. The draw: creative cocktails, lush interior, and soul-stirring eats (catfish over smoked gouda stone ground grits with andouille sausage cream gravy). Weekend brunch, too. Lobster Tails and Grits or Peach Cobbler French Toast? Both, please.
Pho Dai Loi (4061 Jonesboro Road, Forest Park, 404-363-2423). A welcome oasis just up the road from the grounds of Scott Antique Markets. Heady bowls of Vietnamese pho, crazy-fresh spring rolls, and savory rice and noodle dishes bring legions of fans back on the regular.
Slutty Vegan (164 N. McDonough Street, Jonesboro, 855-439-7588). There’s a line, always. Get over it and get in it alongside other devotees waiting for the wildly popular plant-based burgers, fries, and sweet treats. Owner Aisha ‘Pinky’ Cole also offers ‘slutty’ merch, natch.
Taqueria La Oaxaqueña (605 Mount Zion Road, Jonesboro, 770-960-3010). Named best Mexican restaurant by Atlanta Magazine, the menu at this casual establishment is long and winning, whether you go with traditional Oaxacan food like the iconic tlayuda (a Mexican pizza – kinda sorta – with a crackly flatbread foundation) or other Mexican and Mexican-American favorites. There are soft or crunchy tacos and traditional combo plates aplenty, plus ranchero-style breakfasts, weekend menudo and pozole, and tamales, including chicken mole tamales in banana leaf. As for the beans and rice, your abuela couldn’t do better.
Taste of Thailand (121 Jonesboro Road, near the Exxon at North Avenue, Jonesboro 678-961-5986,). For nearly thirty years, owner Sida Cordoba has dedicated herself to keeping Southside foodies happy with Thai noodle and rice dishes, seafood specialties, and curries. Enough said.
Envegan (1626 Lake Harbin Road, Morrow, 678-545-4242). Bright and upbeat takeout spot for satisfying apps (spicy buffalo cauliflower, tempura oceania), bowls, salads, wraps, burritos, and sandwiches. The E-Clair (in a cup) is a standout among several yummy desserts.