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Flash Eats:

March 24, 2013

ATL Dining Chatter:  Week of March 25, 2013

The latest news bites from the dining scene and eats beats

By James Oxendine

Hector Santiago hatches post-Pura Vida plans for ATL (think burritos); Hugh Acheson’s next spot will not be in Atlanta; upscale fast food comes to A-Town via ZinBurger and Shake Shack; and the team from La Grotta will bring eclectic small plates to Saltyard this spring

Chef Hector Santiago and some of his dishes Chef Hector Santiago and some of his dishes


The Atlanta food scene was rocked last December when star chef Hector Santiago announced that he was closing his iconic Poncy Highland tapas spot, Pura Vida, after 12 years as one of the most critically acclaimed restos in Atlanta.

The San Juan, Puerto Rico native has garnered countless awards, including a "Rising Star Chef" nod by in 2007, and three James Beard nominees for "Best Chef, Southeast.” Santiago also put the final touches on his culinary finesse by doing stages with an impressive array of internationally recognized chefs, including José Andrés, Wylie Dufresne and Andoni Luis Aduriz.

Over the last couple of months, blog chatter has speculated about what the dynamic Santiago was up to and when or if he would return to Atlanta to deliver his unique spin on ethnic cuisine.

Well, fear not faithful food fans. Since closing the acclaimed Pura Vida, Santiago has been busy plotting his return to the ATL dining scene with some exciting new concepts (burritos anyone?) as well as collaborations with some local top talents.

Santiago chatted with LuxeCrush's James Oxendine recently about his plans for new concepts in the ATL; the real scoop about Pura Vida’s closing, and some of his upcoming food events.


Q:  What have you been up to since you closed Pura Vida?

HS:  I’ve actually been quite busy. First I spent a few weeks doing cooking demos on a cruise ship, traveling along the coast of Peru & Chile.

Since returning to the US, I’ve been spending time developing my business plan for my burrito concept, and looking at potential locations. I’ve also been working on developing other restaurant concepts that I want to do after the burrito concept is up and running.

Q:  Can you provide some more details on why you closed Pura Vida?

HS:  We were at the end of our lease, and although we thought we were going to be able to make a deal on a new lease that we and our landlord could both be happy with, in the end it did not work out that way, and we did not renew.


Q:  What are you planning to do for your next project(s)?

HS:  Other than the burritos, I’ve got some other Latino concepts I’m working on, but the burrito concept is what I’m focused on currently.


Q:Are you planning to do more collaborations with local/national chefs in the near future?

HS:  Yes, I am doing a charity event for CARE at Joli Kobe on Tues. March 26 at 6:30PM along with Chefs Mihoko Obunai, Cooper Miller and Todd Richards.

 [The four-course meal, plus dessert, will include Sake and Shochu pairings, for $50 per person. For reservations: 404.843.3257or for more info:  ]


The week after that I’m off to Puerto Rico to do an appearance at Saborea (The Food & Rum Festival of Puerto Rico). I’ll be cooking on stage alongside my first mentor, Giovanna Huyke (Mio Restaurant, Washington, DC).


I’m also cooking a dish for “The New South Family Supper” to benefit the Southern Foodways Alliance, along with Anne Quatrano, Linton Hopkins, Steven Satterfield and many more chefs from Atlanta and the Southeast on April 14.For more info:


Q:  What do you see trending for Atlanta's dining scene in 2013, such as a particular cuisine or neighborhood?

HS:  I think Atlanta will continue to embrace more ethnic foods. As for neighborhoods, I think that the neighborhoods just south of I-20 ---East Atlanta and Glenwood Park will see more restaurants opening.





Edna Lewis Foundation Dinner: April 13

On Saturday, April 13, 6PM at the City Club of Buckhead, The Edna Lewis Foundation will host its second annual birthday fundraiser with hosts Art Smith andClay Livingston, to celebrate the birth of Edna Lewis.The celebration dinner will feature a number of prominent African American chefs including Joe Randall of Chef Joe Randal’s Cooking School, Todd Richards of The Shed at Glenwood (2013 James Beard Foundation Best Chef Southeast Award Nominee), Darryl Evans of the City Club of Buckhead and more This year’s reception will also highlight a “Bourbon Tasting” provided by mixologists from Livingston and Southern Art and Bourbon Bar.  Net proceeds from the birthday celebration will benefit The Edna Lewis Foundation and its programs. For additional information please visit


Shake Shack burgers Shake Shack burgers

Shake Shack and Donald Link Coming to ATL?

Atlanta bureau chief for The New York Times, Kim Severson, recently tweeted “Heard last night that Shake Shack and even Donald Link [James Beard wining New Orleans chef of Link, Herbsaint, Cohcon, etc.] might be headed to Atlanta when that old Sears building gets rehabilitated. #2014.” Well, rumor has it that in addition to Ponce City Market, a certain other ATL development slated to open in 2013 has also inked a deal with Shack Shack. So... look for two potential Atlanta locations for Danny Meyer’s cult NYC burger stand of 100% Angus beef burgers, hot dogs, crinkly fries, shakes and frozen custard “concretes” in the future!



Hugh Acheson’s Rumored Next Project

We hear from a very,very good authority that James Beard-award-winning chef, Hugh Acheson's newest project will NOT be in Atlanta. It appears that the still-secret project, which will be more bar than restaurant, will be located in a Georgia city far south of Atlanta. ( No, it’s not Athens).



The Saltyard owners; Ricotta gnocchi with wild mushrooms from Saltyard The Saltyard owners; Ricotta gnocchi with wild mushrooms from Saltyard

Saltyard, the eclectic small plates concept from Christian Favalli and Kristi Favalli-Jones ( of La Grotta), is slated to open in May next to Watershed on Peachtree. This just in: the team has hired Nick Leahy as its top toque. Leahy, whose CV includes stints at Food Studio, Two Urban Licks, Stats, and Parish, will craft a menu of globally influenced small plates. According to their facebook page, sample menu items might include: Georgia sweet corn and crawfish bisque with crawfish beignets; roasted beet carpaccio, with sherry gastrique; pan-seared diver scallops with tomato and smoked bacon puree; orecchiette pasta with 8-hour duck ragu, parmesan, sage, farm egg; tempura fried sardines with spinach and arugula; grilled baby octopus with barlotti beans; ricotta gnocchi with wild mushrooms, shaved parmeggiano.


According to Tomorrow’s News Today, the recently announced renovation of Lenox Square Mall will bring at least two new restos to Atlanta: Zinburger, acasual "better burger" and wine bar eatery from restaurateur Sam Fox of Scottsdale, Arizona-based Fox Restaurant Concepts (, and True Food Kitchen (, a globally-influence healthy eatery collaboration between Fox Restaurant Concepts andhealth advocate and author Andrew Weil. For the latter think: apple carrot ginger tonic; Thai shrimp dumplings; market salads; butternut squash, walnut, smoked mozzarella pizza; tuna sliders, Teriyaki brown rice bowl, grass-fed bison burger on flax seen bun.




The AAA/ Four-Diamond Award winner for 24 consecutive years, Nikolai’s Roof, has promoted 27-year-old Stephanie Alderete to executive chef, replacing Olivier De Busschere.


Charlot's Creole Café, featuring Gumbo, Po’ Boys and Jambalaya has opened at 235 Mitchell Street, around the corner from Lunacy Black Market.




Inman Park:

Oyster crudo with watermelon, basil, smoked trout roe, lemon from One-Eared Stag Oyster crudo with watermelon, basil, smoked trout roe, lemon from One-Eared Stag

One Eared Stag has earned a spot on Gayot’s "40 Hottest Restaurants for 2013" list:




Glenwood Park:

Beginning the week of April 24th, The Shed at Genwood will shed its Wednesday Slider specials and Chef Todd Richards will begin serving a weekly fried chicken dinner instead. Diners will get two pieces of chicken and two vegetable dishes "for $14 or $15.”

Speaking of the James Beard nominated Chef, Richards has expanded his portfolio to include a wine venture. He is now the owner of 3 Parks, a sleek wine store located at 880 Glenwood Avenue, close to his day-job at The Shed. and



Cucina Asellina has appointed Andrea Montobbio as Chef de Cuisine.Montobbio, a native of Capriata d'Orba, in Northern Italy, has previously worked at Pricci and Taverna Fiorentia  


Fig Jam Kitchen & Bar is reopening and moving to the 77 12thStreet Apartments in the 12th & Midtown development this fall. is reporting that Olivier Gaupin, top toque at Loews Atlanta hotel, has been inducted into the prestigious Maître Cuisiniers de France, a 60-year-old society that celebrates the Master Chefs of France.



Old Fourth Ward:

Beep Beep Gallery's Mark Basehore and James McConnell are bringing a bit of Brooklyn to the ATL with Mother, a new gastropub, that is slated to open by the end of March at 447 Edgewood Ave. Working with a couple of Brooklyn guys, artist Matt Relkin and The Woods restaurateur Jason Radich, Basehore and McConnell have transformed a 130-year-old brownstone, down the street from Sister Louisa's Church, into a spacious bar and restaurant complete with patio seating. On their facebook page they posted sample menu items including fried catfish, a chicken sausage hoagie, and brisket tacos.




Pastry from H&F Bread Co. Pastry from H&F Bread Co.

Robyn Mayo has been named Head Baker at H&F Bread Co.  Mayo has been a leader on the H& F team for nearly 5 years. Her dedication has earned her a mention as a "Top 10 Bread Baker in America" by Dessert Professional Magazine, as well as accolades for H&F Bread Co. in general, including "Top 10 Bakery in the U.S." by Bon Appé[Censored] magazine



Bacchanalia has been named to the Gayot “2013 Best 40 Restaurants in America” list, joining such legends as Jean-Georges, The French Laundry and Alinea. Gayot says this elite group is characterized by “a faultless alchemy of culinary imagination, unwavering technique, and exemplary execution.”


Good news! Carver's Country Kitchen will not close at the end of the month after all, according to Creative Loafing.  Owner Sharon Carver plans to ressurect her Southern meat-and-two one block from Carver's current location in October.