Wednesday, February 24, 2010

full circle

About twenty years ago Stacey and I started some strange dinning practices. One thing we started doing was every Friday we would go home from work have a beer and go to sleep. We would wake up around 1:30a.m. and go to Sam's Chinese Seafood Gourmet. We also started eating at the worst looking place we could find. Long ago we had learned some of the best food one could ever find was hiding behind a really rough looking building. So nothing stood between us and a good hot dog. Didn't matter what the place looked like, if we thought it was right or had heard good things, we were there. I can remember countless restaurants that are no longer open, hell the buildings they occupied are even gone. That's Atlanta for you. Since we have been living here for the last 25 years or so, much has changed. Property is worth so much that small old buildings are razed and replaced by huge office/condo buildings. Of course you can't have a hot dog stand in a shiny new overbuilt, overbearing building. No, you have to have a very expensive, high end specialty restaurant. So we played along. We bought into all the hype. The bigger the better. The more it cost the better it had to be, right? Wrong.
We traded in the hole-in-the-wall joint for the beautifully appointed, overbuilt, overbearing stupid, stupid building. Don't get me wrong, I know you can't just sit on valuable space that is not built to meet the demands of a neighborhood. So as those cool little food shops disappeared Stacey and I started to learn about the high end restaurant business. One of the first things we learned is that it cost us anywhere from $75 to $125 to eat at these type places. The food may have been of a better quality. Like Berkshire Pork instead of Bubbas Pork. Instead of vegetables we were now served "Heirloom Vegetables". Instead of beer there was now a wine list. Instead of self serve there were waitrons who expected a tip. A 20% tip thank you very much.
So we played and ate along. For years we have eaten this way. Not exclusive mind you, but more times then not our dinners out cost $75 or more for the two of us. That's with the 20% tip thank you very much.
So lately we have regrouped and adjusted our "business" plan. We have left the neighborhoods that demand the high dollar rents which lead to high dollar meals. We returned to Buford Highway where for mile after mile there is one great spot after another to eat. Cheap. Everyone in Atlanta knows of Buford Highway and knows it the place to go for good eats. Cheap.
But, lately, Stacey and I have been looking south. We are spending more time on Jonesboro Road, more time in Forest Park or Riverdale. We are eating great meals at all kinds of Latin and Asian restaurants. Shopping at huge supermarkets, like the Super H on Hwy. 85. At the Super H you can get all kinds of exotic produce and seafood and prepared foods. Cheap. And good.
So now Stacey and I are on a new mission. Well it's kind of new, we have been leaning toward the cheap eats for a while now. We will still enjoy the occasional over priced dinner in the over priced shiny building, but mostly your gonna find us on the South side eating on the Cheap.
Soon I will write about some of the places we have found.

Oh, the photo above? A roasted duck plate from Mings Chinese Barbecue at the Super H Market in Riverdale.

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