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Atlanta. Two good finds in Norcross. Gaucho's Grill, Zapata's

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Atlanta. Two good finds in Norcross. Gaucho's Grill, Zapata's

steve drucker | Jan 18, 2003 12:16 PM

Gaucho's Grill.
Very good Argentine menu: grilled thin sliced cross-cut short ribs, flank steak, liver, sausage, morcilla (blood sausage) comprise the mixed grill, served with choice of green salad (good, not a throwaway, with Romaine and onions if you ask and olive oil and vinegar or other dressings), 'russian' potato salad (very good indeed, mild, simple garnished with peas and carrots), rice or frozen french fries. Also served are strip steaks and other cuts of beef, pizza and pasta (haven't tried), but the pastas looked damn good as they went by, as did several appetizer plates. The beef empanadas, made with a good quality frozen puff pastry and highlighted with green olives, are the star among the 3 varietes of empanadas served: beef, chicken and ham and cheese. Flan is terrific, served with choice of whipped cream of Dulce de Tres Leches. Also a complete bakery, with several very exciting looking pastries. No liquor license yet, but its coming. Have been once for lunch and once for dinner on a friday night, when the place was really hopping. Pretty busy for a lousy location only open two months. I have a feeling this place is going to really pop come the spring and the local press starts their reviews. The owners, Jorge and Ricardo (maybe others, too) are truly hospitable, real restaurant pro's. There's also pasta primavera and several chicken dishes and grilled chicken for non-red meat eaters. Unlike many close to the earth places we frequent in hispanic Atlanta, napkins are laundered cloth, steak knives are provided automatically, and silverware routinely replace between courses.

Gaucho Grill is located in a reviving former Cub/Circuit City Shopping Center, where an International Farmer's Market has taken over the former Cub Foods location. Exit I-85 North Jimmy Carter, turn right, and its in the far end of the big strip center across the road on your left.

Zapata's
Located in outer Norcross on Peachtree Pkwy next to a Walgreens and a Starbucks, its almost impossible to conceive that this 'new cuisine' Mexican restaurant isn't in trend-worthy Buckhead or VA-Highlands.

This is not the place for chips and salsa or heaps of rice and beans, but rather for sophisticated big-city real Mexican / Mexican-yuppie oriented cuisine. Terrific chicken soup, sopa azteca, beef, chicken and shrimp entrees too complex to describe served in heated volcanic rock formed into serving ware with small garnishes of flavorful refried black beans, unbelievable modern decor and artwork, a full bar crammed in upfront, contemporary lighting.

I do not do it justice. Try it. Very clean cooking, quality ingredients, neither large portions nor expensive.

And again, very engaging owners, no language barriers whatsoever (my spanish should be so fluent as the well-educated staff's english). The evening clientele seems mostly the same clientele this restaurant would attract were it in Monterrey or Guadalajara--mexican professionals and their families who live in the area. And like Gaucho's, an excellent flan.

From I-285, exit north on P'tree Industrial. Where P'tree Industrial splits, bear left onto P'tree Pkwy, then go several lights until you see the Walgreens on the left. Turn left towards Walgreens, turn right into Walgreens, continue towards the Starbucks in the next building, and Zapata's is just to the right of Starbucks.

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