By Hope S. Philbrick
Justin Anthony, the restaurateur behind Atlanta, Georgia’s hit South African restaurants 10 Degrees South, Yebo Beach Haus, and Cape Dutch, has now opened Biltong Bar in the Central Food Hall of Ponce City Market. Originally from South Africa, Anthony was a former professional soccer player before becoming a restaurateur who brings authentic South African flavors to Atlanta—and we are lucky to have him because South African food is awesome!
South African cuisine is a fusion of the cuisines found across the African continent with French, Indian, Portuguese, Dutch, German and Malaysian influences. Dishes feature native game meats, fish from the Atlantic and Indian oceans, seasonal produce and intoxicating spices. It is fresh, flavorful and addictively yummy.
Biltong Bar is the first concept of its kind in the U.S. It offers a counter-service menu and sit-down service.
What is biltong? Arguably my favorite food discovery while in South Africa, biltong is a cured meat—similar to beef jerky but more tender—that can be made of beef or game meats like kudu and springbok.
For me, biting into biltong brings back memories of being on safari; it was always served during evening safaris at the sunset snack break. Biltong Bar’s version has a fancier presentation but the texture is exactly right: toothsome but not tough. It lives up to memory, even though it’s made with beef and bison not venison or antelope which would be a closer match. The great news is that in the future, Biltong Bar plans to offer biltong made with venison, ostrich, elk and other meats, according to manager Jaime Genovese.
The biltong and other specialty meats at Biltong Bar are organic, all-natural, house-cured. Currently, the menu offers fat-on and fat-off options (do you prefer ribeye or filet?) as well as traditional, garlic and peri-peri (South African hot sauce) flavors. Even if you’ve never been to South Africa, if you like meat and especially beef jerky, you’re sure to become a fan.
Depending on your mood, level of hunger and current cravings, you could belly up to the Biltong Bar and munch solely on biltong. But then you’d miss out on some other great tastes.
…like boerewors, a lean beef sausage, which is available fresh or dried as droewores. Chili bites are similar to but chewier than biltong. Assorted hand pies include bobotie (sweet ground beef curry with raisins), chicken pot pie, chicken curry and vegetable curry—Biltong Bar’s hand pies are made in partnership with H&F Bread Company (which makes the perfect, flaky dough). There’s also a boerewors sausage roll, red bean hummus, peri-peri popcorn, salt and vinegar chips (which are perfectly crunchy), plus two salads: Lekker Salad (spinach, arugula, mixed berries, peaches, pears, peppadew, almonds, blue cheese and citrus dressing) and spinach salad (goat cheese, caper berries, figs, house-made bourbon pecans—which are perfection!—and red wine vinaigrette), each with the option of adding biltong on top. There’s also a decadent grilled cheese and biltong pita sandwich that is made even tastier with the addition of chili chutney.
The bar menu offers well-balanced high-quality cocktails with classics like the Old Fashioned and Manhattan as well as creations like “The Dark Side” (rum, sherry, imperial stout reduction, amargo valet, and blackstrap bitters) and “Camps Bay” (gin, china china, lime and tiki bitters). South African wines, including pinotage, are also poured, as are local beers—“We can’t import South African beer, so we decided to focus on local brewers instead,” says Genovese.
“Biltong Bar is unlike anything we’ve done before, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to debut the concept,” Anthony was quoted in a press release. “The opening allows us the opportunity to draw inspiration from traditional South African cuisine, enhancing the ‘grab-and-go’ experience, but with a sit-down component. In South Africa, it is common place to see people strolling around the streets and eating biltong from paper bags. I’m hoping to provide the same unique street-market experience to our guests.”
With its authentic flavors and upbeat vibe, Biltong Bar is sure to be a hit.
Open Sunday from Noon to 9 p.m., Monday through Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
675 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE @ Ponce City Market
Ponce City Market is a historic mixed-use community hub focused on artisanal food, fashion, residential lofts and tech office that connects directly to Atlanta’s popular BeltLine trails. Walking around the new Ponce City Market—which you should definitely do before and/or after your stop at Biltong Bar—is like strolling through a who’s who among Atlanta’s top restaurateurs. It’s urban-cool relevant revitalization.
– Photos by Heidi Geldhauser
Featured products, services and/or travel arrangements may have been complimentary in part or in full; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion.