By Brian Benefield [This is the latest in of a series of Second Helpings columns by Brian Benefield]
Do you ever have dreams about thick-cut crispy bacon or a juicy burger or a flaky, gooey pot pie or the perfectly cooked pizza? Well, if you do, then you are my kind of person. This list isn’t a ranking, but I wanted to share some of my favorite go-to places that we frequent in Cobb/Marietta. And these spots will make all your dreams come true.
7. Sugar Cakes Patisserie
In my humble bacon connoisseur’s opinion, this quaint little eatery serves the absolute best bacon I have ever eaten. It is thick and crispy and salty, and, well, you get the idea. The owner, Ted Apron, is a classically trained French pastry chef, and their dessert selection shows his talents. Taste a lemon meringue tart or the tropical coconut cake, and you will understand that Ted’s culinary skills are extraordinary. The lunch menu has many great options, and they’re well known for chicken salad with sliced almonds and grapes, served on a buttery croissant. If you opt for breakfast, the seafood omelet is massive, and we sometimes share it. Chock full of shrimp, scallops, crab meat, and a rich, creamy bechamel sauce on the side makes for a decadent way to begin the day. I have tried many menu items here and have never been disappointed with any choice.
6. Drift Fish House & Oyster Bar
Don’t miss this East Cobb gem with fresh, coastal seafood cooked with traditional and wood fire techniques. We sat at the bar while waiting on a table and had wood-roasted octopus and sampled some oysters from many different locales. The chefs know how to cook fish here; we ordered the Salmon and Swordfish for an entree. They were cooked perfectly, moist and flaky. The vibe is upscale but casual here, and the servers are well versed in their menu knowledge and can guide you if you can’t decide on an entree. Finish your meal with coconut creme brulee, and you will not regret that decision. http://www.driftoysterbar.com/index.html
5. Paul’s Pot Pies
Although not a sit-down restaurant, Paul’s has been around Marietta Square for over 35 years, so he must be doing it right, and we couldn’t agree more. He offers over 12 different “flavors” of pot pies for pick up and cooks in only 45-60 minutes with the flakiest puff pastry crust you will ever taste! Some of our favorites are the classic chicken, Italian sausage, and turkey, a big seller around Thanksgiving. Take an insider tip and call ahead, and Paul will bake a pie for you to pick it up, fully cooked and ready for your dinner table. He can also make a half or full sheet pan of pot pie for a large party. http://www.paulspotpies.com/
4. WR Social House
Eat, drink and be Social is the motto here, and it shows in their fresh, locally sourced menu items. Our go-to choices are the Pimento Cheese Burger, complete with a fried green tomato. Fish tacos with jalapeno tartar sauce and salsa verde are delish! Start your brunch the right way, served Saturday and Sunday with Bloody Mary’s and Mimosas accompanying your meal. Try the bacon/potato hash with a poached egg, hollandaise sauce, and a side of dressed greens. If raw oysters are your thing, you’re in luck because they’re half price on Friday/Saturday from 3-6 pm. http://wrsocialhouse.com/
3 Canvas Cafe and Bakery
We have been eating here for many years and most recently for breakfast on Saturday as my reward for going to spin class at the gym. I am a traditional breakfast guy, so I get the American. It has an ample portion of soft scrambled eggs (or any way you like), legit Southern grits, crispy bacon that you must crumble some into the aforementioned grits, and a flaky, buttery biscuit which usually gets eaten later. My wife enjoys their Southwest omelet prepared with pepper jack cheese, turkey, jalapeno, pico de gallo, avocado, and sour cream. It comes with a choice of grits or crispy potatoes. Fresh baked goods are always a good idea at Canvas, with chocolate banana bread and several cookie options to tempt your taste buds. The sizable, sun-filled space is inviting, and friendly service will quickly make you feel right at home.
2. Two Birds Taphouse
This hot spot has quickly become known as the Cheers of Marietta Square, and for a good reason. They feature a shared plate, elevated menu with local, Southern ingredients. A rustic environment and friendly, knowledgeable servers will suggest seasonal cocktails or sip one of the many local craft beer offerings. We enjoy the smoked/flash fried wings with spicy teriyaki sauce and fancy ranch. Get a pizza from the wood-fired oven with the perfect amount of char, and you will love their whimsical play-on-words, like Sweet Cheesus or my favorite, You Are my Everything. http://www.twobirdstaphouse.com/
1. Kouzina Christos
If you like Pizza and delicious Gyros, this new location in East Cobb is your neighborhood place. I plan to interview Christos soon for a future article, and of the many things I want to inquire about is how he gets his pizza dough so perfectly crispy yet soft and delicate at the same time. It’s as if a biscuit and a savory pie crust had a baby, and then his beautiful dough was born, and the world is a better place because of this. We have been visiting our friend and owner Christos Giannes for over 20 years, and the food is always consistently high quality. They’re known quite well for the pizza and gyros, but they also have fantastic seafood specials, including a salmon salad and HUGE grinder sandwiches to satisfy any appetite. Christos uses the best, locally sourced produce and the tomatoes he gets are the best! This place feels like home for us, and the friendly servers will make you feel that way. Opa, as they say! http://www.kouzinachristos.com/