For some reason, Northwoods Plaza is just not appealing to me. I’ll occasionally visit a restaurant here, but I just don’t feel – comfortable – here. Maybe it’s the wierd, angled intersection with Shallowford Rd., perhaps it’s the depressing, late 70’s, low-rent strip mall façade. There is/has been good food here: Little Szechuan – pretty much the only Szechuan restaurant I know about in Atlanta (though I haven’t been in years, and Chinese restaurants, especially successful ones, have a nasty habit of losing chefs and changing owners – look at Honto, Pung Mie, Shin Dong Yang, etc.). Rincon Latino at the corner is the place in Atlanta for pupusas, and this was the location of the critically acclaimed (and notoriously expensive and inconsistent) and now closed, Bien Thuy (Vietnamese).
For years I’ve wanted to try El Pastor; the trompo (rotisserie) spinning in the window was difficult to resist, but somehow I managed. Today I finally ventured in. Of course, as is typically with Buford Highway, the owners changed a few years ago (the current ower is Asian…). The menu is small, and pretty much typical among the more authentic Mexican restaurants: tortas, sopas, huevos… The al pastor on the spit had been the draw, so I went with the torta al pastor. If you’re unfamiliar with al pastor, it’s closest relative is shawarma (we’ll save that dicussion for the retun trip to the Mediterranean Bakery).
torta al pastor
Candidly, I was surprised. This was one of the better (and bigger) tortas I’ve had in a long time. The bolillo (bread) had a crispy crust and was overstuffed with pork, onions, avocado, cheese, jalapeños and even the requisite pineapple. While I don’t like pineapple, but it was nice to see al pastor done correctly and include it. At most of the places I’ve tried al pastor around Atlanta they just don’t use it for some reason. Traditionally, the meat is layered on the trompo with a chile marinade, and a peeled pineapple is placed on top. The juice from the pineapple moistens and gives a tang to the pork slowly cooking below.
aguas frescas (horchata)