Two Favorite Atlanta Restaurants: Serpas and Wahoo

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Serpas restaurant, Atlanta
The cotton blossom mural at Serpas, where I’m already planning a return visit.

Maybe it’s because one of my favorite topics is food, people know I write about food, or I always have that where-is-my-next-meal-coming-from look about me, but I am often asked about my favorite restaurants in Atlanta. That’s a tough question, kind of like ‘which is your favorite child?’ and us moms all know that just depends on the day or which one unloaded the dishwasher last without the usual eye-rolling, exasperated-sigh accompaniment.

And with new restaurants opening just about every week, despite the tubing economy, it just gets harder.

This past week, I was one lucky girl, as I got to add two favorites to my list: one I’d always meant to go to, and one that has just hit the scene.

Let’s start with Wahoo!. We’d always meant to go, but as it’s in Decatur we’d always lazied out, and stayed closer to home. We met up with my high school buddy Bruce, who lives down close by and had invited us. First he gave us a tour around the ever-expanding space, which included a charming patio and a tent for weddings and parties. As the weather was frigid, we headed back inside.

We started with calamari, which honestly was the best I’ve ever had. I’m thinking that Bruce and my husband Chris didn’t notice that I ate  87% of the plate, trying to distract them from the heaping mounds I was continually taking by my  conversational techniques. “Wow, look at that naked guy on the MARTA train” was just one of the more effective ones.

The rest of the meal, which included the fish special and a N.Y. strip, was just as delightful. Wahoo is definitely worth the drive, and I’d particularly love to return when the weather is suitable for sitting on the romantic patio.

This week was an opening party at Serpas, the new venture from Scott Serpas, formerly of Two Urban Licks. His menu “encompasses Louisiana roots with Asian and Southwestern accents,” which the menu refers to as true food, a description I can appreciate having tasted what I’ve felt was fairly fake food before.

Located in a former cotton storage facility in Studioplex on Auburn Avenue, Serpas pays tribute to its past with a large cotton blossom mural. The bar is inlaid with oyster shells from Serpas home state of Louisiana and the chairs are a gorgeous shade of sky blue.

As this was a stand-up party, we situated ourselves in our usual spot near the exit point for the food. But there was no need for aggressive maneuvering gyrations we’ve had to employ at restaurant openings in the past, when food was mysteriously sometimes as scarce as oysters in the Chattahoochee. We went to one years ago where there was plenty of alcohol but literally no food, and after desperate peeks in the kitchen revealed staff hanging out in spotless white coats with nary a crumb in site, none seemed forthcoming so we bagged it and went to the drive-through at Burger King.

That was not the case at Serpas where friendly waitstaff kept it coming, and coming, and coming. The not-so-mini beef pattis melted in our mouths, and we seriously debated exceeding our comfort level to experience another. We also tried the Texas crab toast, tenderloin tips with crisp portabella mushrooms and eggplant hushpuppies, which is definitely a twist, but a yummy one.

A look at the menu features plenty more delightful items for diners, including catfish chips, chopped Caesar onion ring tower, beef shortribs and cream collard greens. The wine list is short and simple, a blessing for people like me who don’t really like to flip through a 27-page menu of wines. My palate is not that discriminating and my attention span not that long.  All glasses are $6.50 and bottles are $25. For beer, you’ve got a choice of four draft beers and four bottles. And just four choices for dessert as well, including white chocolate cranberry bread pudding or fried apple pie.

Out of the aforementioned laziness, we often don’t venture outside our hood to dine, but these Wahoo! and Serpas make it worth the drive.

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