Destination dining in Alpharetta, Georgia.
By Hope S. Philbrick
Alpharetta, Georgia, is approximately 27 miles north of Atlanta, plus or minus depending on where you start the drive. Given Atlanta’s reputation for horrendous traffic, it’s the sort of place that you might decide to skip. Don’t. The opening of South Main Kitchen makes that drive OTP (outside the perimeter) worth your time. (Still, it’s great to avoid rush hour if you can.)
Located in the heart of Alpharetta’s Historic Downtown District, South Main Kitchen offers a taste-forward dining experience in a casual atmosphere with upscale service.
The restaurant, which opened in August 2014, is housed in an historic building (circa 1906). The interior features an open kitchen, a dining room with a communal chef’s table plus additional tables and banquet seating, a back-lit and well-stocked bar. Wood rules the décor, but you’ll also spot original brick on the walls and floors, exposed ceilings and vintage lighting. It feels welcoming more than fussy.
Start with a cocktail. This is no place to skip that grownup indulgence. The drinks here are fantastic—creative, balanced, fully-flavored treats. The cocktail menu, like the food menu, changes with the seasons. Juices are fresh and Farmers’ Market ingredients are sourced from local purveyors. Spirits are handcrafted. Current offerings ($12/each) include a black walnut old fashioned, a spin on a margarita with spiced pear and cinnamon flavors, a bourbon concoction with pumpkin, chai and apple flavors, and more, all as lip-smacking good as they sound. (There are local beers and artisanal wines, too, but trust us and get a cocktail here; you can get wine and beer anywhere.)
The cuisine at South Main Kitchen is billed as “a healthy take on modern American comfort food.” Everything on the menu is cooked from the freshest local ingredients and thus is “hyper-seasonal”—a new menu is printed daily, offering a variety of bar bites, small plates, soups, salads, and entrées.
One bite is all you need to fall for Executive Chef Christy Stone. Her food is fantastic—inspired creations, balanced flavors, masterfully prepared, artful presentations. This is no place to skimp: Order whatever sounds tasty, you won’t regret leftovers.
Butternut ravioli ($9) pairs pillows of squash with pecorino, sage browned butter, cranberry puree and pickled mushrooms. Brisket tacos ($12) tuck tender meat into corn shells alongside chili aioli, cabbage slaw, feta and pickled jalapeno. Pumpkin bisque ($7) is reminiscent of pumpkin pie with the added crunch of pumpkin seeds. The grilled chicken sandwich ($13), arguably one of the world’s best chicken sandwiches, gets sophisticated with flavors of caramelized onion, persimmon jam, pecan, arugula and goat cheese. Roast chicken ($19) is served atop heavenly sweet potato puree and butternut hash with pickled baby beets. Salmon ($23) is paired with an addictive garlic sage pesto and white bean puree. All equally impressive, we cannot name a favorite among every dish we tried.
“We want the focus to be on the artistry of food and how it sparks conversation, bringing people closer to one another,” said General Manager Louis Soon in a press release.
Mission accomplished. Our meal here was one of the best we’ve enjoyed in recent memory.
South Main Kitchen
9 South Main Street
Alpharetta, Georgia 30009
Open for lunch and dinner starting at 11:00 a.m. Monday through Saturday and for brunch at 12:00 p.m. on Sunday.
Odds of Encountering Children: Varies. For the best odds, avoid weekends, early dining hours and/or sit at the bar.
– Photo Credits: restaurant interior Christina DeVictor Photography; food and drink © HSP Media LLC
Thanks to South Main Kitchen for hosting our recent visit; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion.