Food, drink and my un­healthy lust

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“[El Azteca] is no frills, noth­ing fancy and will never win a James Beard Award, but it’s a great neigh­bor­hood spot and one of the waiters sounds like a char­ac­ter from ‘Toy Story.’”

Putting this is­sue to­gether made me hun­gry. Why? It’s our an­nual Food and Drink is­sue of course.

It got me think­ing about my own culi­nary pref­er­ences, and for me that be­gins and ends with Mex­i­can food, for which I have an un­healthy lust for. The cheese dip, the salsa, the mar­garita, all of it, the en­tire ex­pe­ri­ence.

The ad­dic­tion started when I was a boy and my par­ents would take my broth­ers and I to El Azteca in Sandy Springs. The El Azteca love con­tin­ued into adult­hood as I moved closer in­town and checked out the one on Ponce, which was not good and is now called El Ponce (which is Span­ish for “The Ponce”). Much bet­ter was the one on Peachtree Street near Col­lier Road, which I fre­quent to this day. It’s no frills, noth­ing fancy and will never win a James Beard Award, but it’s a great neigh­bor­hood spot and one of the waiters sounds like a char­ac­ter from “Toy Story.”

I have branched out to other Mex­i­can restau­rants though, and Nuevo Laredo in West At­lanta is def­i­nitely of the city’s best. Su­per long lines on week­ends but worth the wait.

If closer into Mid­town, Senor Pa­tron in the Spire build­ing is al­ways a safe bet. Their cheese dip in par­tic­u­lar is among the best if you like it with a kick. Al­though, I just read that they failed a health in­spec­tion on Nov. 1; how­ever they re­ceived an “A” on rein­spec­tion later that month.

Mez­cal­ito’s in Grant Park was a some­what re­cent find for me. Get the chicken en­chi­ladas with mon­terey jack cheese, tomatillo and red salsa — you will thank me.

For tacos, Bar­taco and Ta­que­ria del Sol get most of the lo­cal no­tice (and for good rea­son), but ven­tur­ing out far­ther has its re­wards, as I found out when I went to Tacos el Don in Acworth. If you’re feel­ing ad­ven­tur­ous, you’ll be re­warded when you or­der up the tongue tacos. And now I’m hun­gry again. But enough about my spe­cific tastes and let’s look at what we have go­ing on in this spe­cial is­sue.

If there was one At­lanta food topic we kept com­ing back to and kept hear­ing from peo­ple about when brain­storm­ing for this is­sue, it was food halls. You have your main­stays like Sweet Auburn Curb Mar­ket to the new(ish) kids on the block in Krog Street Mar­ket and Ponce City Mar­ket, and we fill you in on those but also give you a sneak peek at what’s com­ing — and it’s gonna be good.

Dal­las Dun­can is al­ways on point with food trends, so she tells you about rolled ice cream, meal kits and more to keep an eye out for as we en­ter 2018.

And food trucks was an­other big topic. We got to think­ing, what if some­one had food truck meals (and snacks) all day, from morn­ing to mid­night? That’s what El­iz­a­beth Friedly did, and she sur­vived to tell the tale.

Our food critic Cliff Bo­s­tock def­i­nitely wasn’t go­ing to be left out of the fun. In this is­sue, Cliff of­fers up his picks for the best restau­rants in a num­ber of neigh­bor­hoods around the city.

And do you have an am­a­teur chef in the house? Check out our page of the hottest kitchen­ware and ap­pli­ances to snatch up this sea­son.

It’s the hol­i­days, so peruse the is­sue and al­low your­self to in­dulge a bit on what stands out for you. Happy hunt­ing!

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