Monday, March 25, 2013

Calle Latina - More Street Food hits Decatur

I was able to stop into Decatur's newly opened Calle Latina this weekend. The concept is Latin street food with many bocadillos, tacos and arepas. Essentially, most of the items on the menu are available in all three of these forms. The space is quite small, but welcoming and the staff friendly.
Overall, the food was OK but nothing to get too excited about. The empanadas had a nice, crispy shell but the interior barbacoa pork was diced, under-seasoned and fatty. The menu promised of barbeque sauce but I found none. Would have much preferred some goat for texture and flavor but if the meat is trimmed better and sauced, it'd certainly be enjoyable. The black bean and goat cheese empanada is a drastic and delicious step up from the barbacoa.
Egg & Chorizo tacos
 The chorizo and egg taco was pretty good, but that soft flour tortilla just got lost. Throw a corn one on there and they've got a winner. The green mole chicken arepa was actually quite good. This crispy, tender arepa was on point with moist shredded chicken and accompanying avocado and tomato for flavorful additions.

My absolute favorite part of the meal is the accompanying coleslaw/salad complimentary side that comes with each order. This acid heavy delight was a welcome addition to the meal. There's also a grilled pepper or two in the mix.

Overall, Calle Latina is a nice option for the area but by no means a standout for Decatur. What Sapori di Napoli is for Neopolitan pizza, Calle is for Latin Street Food.

Calle Latina on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 18, 2013

Chai Pani - New Indian Concept hits Decatur

Decatur (neo-food capital of Atlanta) is now home to yet another new restaurant. Asheville based chain, Chai Pani, is serving up Indian street food which comes off as a great concept. It's slightly more approachable Indian than Atlanta's other Indian options and the quality seems to be fresher as well. It's nice that this place is already popular without dumbing down Indian food entirely (like Korean tacos or any other ethnic food being turned into a sandwich/wrap).

Okra Fries

There are some really nice flavors flying around at Chai Pani, but I can't see myself ever having a major hankering to go back. The chicken pakora (more or less Indian chicken nuggets) was tasty with some subtle spice, but they aren't nearly as crave worthy as some good southern-fried chicken. The okra fries are also enjoyable but no different than any other quick fried vegetable. Ever had fried Brussels sprouts or fried green beans? Same thing here. You can pretty much fry a toenail, and it's going to taste good. The best dish I sampled was Dahi Puri. These stuffed, crispy dumplings please with great texture and flavor layered at each strata.

The portions are similar to small plate servings around town and I actually prefer this as it makes sharing and trying much easier. You may feel like you're getting less food for the money, but I think the slightly elevated quality makes up for that. However, I just don't think the food is delicious enough to keep me coming back as a regular.

Chai Pani on Urbanspoon