El Pastor

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).

El Pastor

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

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)

El Pastor
5091-D Buford Highway
Doraville, GA 30340
El Pastor on Urbanspoon


  1. just discovered your blog. thank you so much! this is great – i’ve eaten up & down buford highway for years, and it’s mostly trial & error. Passed the site to my pals who are also digging this.


  2. Thanks for the comment Matt and welcome to the blog! As I’ve mentioned here, everything here is my opinion, take it for what it’s worth. The great thing about this area is that there is pretty much something for everyone.

    Any particular favorites you’ve discovered? Always looking for something new to try.

  3. Seeing your Twitter about lunching at El Pastor, and being a lover of tortas–especially al pastor style, I stopped in for lunch today. I saw no spit in the window or elsewhere. The menu I was handed had only a few types of tortas: chicken, potato, and something else. The lunch menu was solidly gringo fare, with few Mexican treats in sight. I got a bad vibe, as in “this is not the kind of place that specializes in tortas.” No al pastor? No carne asada? For sure no lengua, cabeza or other delicacies. Sort of stunned, I said to the women who had handed me the menu, “Those are all the tortas you have?” She seemed to understand my English (though I could have spoken Spanish if she hadn’t) and seemed to indicate that indeed that was the (lame) torta selection. I apologized to her and left to eat somewhere else. Ugh.

  4. I feel your pain. Very dissappointed when I went for lunch. No trompo. And my torta al pastor was horrible. This is even more dissappointing as I was just there for dinner a few weeks ago with a pretty large group and the food was spectacular(borrego, al pastor and lengua were all well executed). There is a small taco menu (orange sign near the front) that I thought was always available.

    I’m afraid El Pastor is just as vulnerable to the inconsistencies that plague much of Buford Highway. There are a lot of places to get similar food – I’m sure it’s a challenge to keep up quality, but the effort can pay off. Hopefully the owners of El Pastor will realize that.

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