Thursday, December 23, 2010


To create one’s world in any of the arts takes courage” Georgia O’Keeffe

Before Facebook, Google, or even the World Wide Web, Karen Hilliard packed her bags and left her West Texas eatery, Peach’s, to come home and open a “new concept” restaurant in Atlanta- southwestern cuisine; this was 1990. Somewhat hidden in a corner of a strip mall in the Peachtree Hill neighborhood is the Georgia Grille. Leaving the hustle of Peachtree Street behind, one feels immediately immersed in a cozy, warm surrounding with lots of good vibes- it is southern hospitality at its best. During its 20 years, Atlanta has seen many restaurants with big name chefs open with a splash and likewise close but somehow Karen’s formula of creating distinctive foods with amazing flavors has kept her tables full with regulars and soon to be regulars.

Named after Georgia O’Keeffe who serves as the inspiration for Karen’s approach to foods, which are influenced by American Indian, Cowboy, and Mexican cultures. But like an O’Keeffe painting these creations display brilliant color and amazing flavors that are both dynamic and captivating. Adding to the Georgia Grille’s charm are prints and artifacts from the southwest scattered throughout, and an old wormwood bar that was acquired from a cantina in Mexico, which houses top shelf spirits, and is home to bar master extraordinaire, Brandon Moose.

After kicking off the boots, settle into either a Dan’s or Key Lime margarita both made with an ultra-smooth Sauza tequila. Neither is your coy over-the-top margarita, but instead quite similar to those served South of the Border. While sipping on either of these lively beverages munch on the housemade tortilla chips with a mild salsa that integrates cilantro and jalapeños, the chunky guacamole, or a zesty queso dip that’s made with Monterrey Jack cheese. In addition to these classic margaritas, do not overlook the well-crafted wine list that highlights wines of outstanding quality and personality. The Easton Amador County Zinfandel is offered by the glass; it’s full of black cherry aromas with big sumptuous juicy flavors that are complex and goes so well with these foods.

A festive parade of flavors is evident in every bite. The somewhat earthy Black Bean Pancakes are graced with large succulent grilled Georgia shrimp and a smoked poblano pepper cream sauce, absolutely divine. The atypical Fish Taco is a filet of moist Tilapia that’s dusted in flour and flash fried, then dressed with a nicely prepared chipotle cream sauce and a jalapeño-jicama slaw. But, the one where you can’t restrain from drooling after each bite is the Monterrey Jack and White Cheddar cheese stuffed Anaheim pepper, that’s deep fried, then drizzled with an amazing tomatillo sauce and roasted sweet corn, this is truly an OMG experience.

Of the entrees, which are large enough to share, the medium rare Angus Flat Iron Steak is fork tender, but the oh-so juicy flavors are enhanced by a heavenly smoked red pepper jus and a not-to-be-missed spicy Mac-n-cheese that’s stuffed in a fire roasted poblano pepper. One could be totally satisfied stopping here, but it would be sinful not to taste Karen’s creation that won her the 1992 Georgia Seafood Challenge- the otherworldly Lobster Enchilada- 8 ounces of Maine lobster tail meat, that’s cooked to perfection in a roasted sweet red bell pepper reduction then rolled in a flour tortilla and topped with a rich tomato salsa, Monterrey jack cheese, and a dab of sour cream is to die for. This has become the Georgia Grille’s signature dish and has diners coming back regularly to get their fix, this will include me as well; I’m hooked!!!

After this frenzy of unique Southwest cuisine, one can never forget the sweet tooth. There are a few to satisfy the desire, but there’s one that one cannot say enough words to describe- the richly textured decadent triple chocolate mousse is simply pure bliss to the soul. So can you help keep it a secret??? This top-drawer café is Southwestern cooking at its best and serves as the perfect place to kick back with friends and enjoy the simpler aspects of life.

LGTG FRIENDLY ***** (Fantastic Staff)

FOOD ***** (Check Out Amazing Specials)

PRICE **** (It’s All About Quality)

AMBIENCE ***** (Like You’re At Karen’s Home)

DRINKS ***** (Outstanding Margaritas/ Wines)


Georgia Grille on Urbanspoon

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