Restaurant: Alma Cocina, Atlanta, Georgia
So, here I was in Atlanta, Georgia…having completed a marathon earlier that morning. I spent the afternoon doing the tourist thing…scoping out the CNN Studios and just walking around and enjoying the city. Trust me…after a marathon, it’s best to keep moving. That being said…another important thing to do after running is to begin proper recovery. And part of that is nutrition.
A big part of that is nutrition, actually.
Prior to the race, my roomie and I had thought that we’d simply return to Max’s Coal Oven Pizzeria for dinner. Then we ate there…and were not impressed. At all. So, this meant new plans had to be made. And, after watching some Food Network and seeing guacamole…I was craving. Mexican. Mmmm…guacamole. Yum yum! So, I got onto my Find Me Gluten Free app and discovered that not far from the hotel was a nice Mexican joint called Alma Cocina. I pulled up the Web site, glanced at the gluten-free menu and thought…this might be a great place to try. I passed the laptop to my roommate so she could take a gander, and she agreed that Mexican sounded good. So, we made 6 p.m. reservations…and called it a night.
I marathoned. I did the tourist thing. I walked…a lot. I discovered that I was hungry…and still had an hour to go before dinner reservations. Cathy decided that we should start ambling that way because she wouldn’t feel bad walking in at 5:30 p.m. I liked her logic, so that’s what we did…killing off a bit of spare time by wandering around the block and checking out the Dragon*Con hotels. Because…why not? Around 5:30 p.m., we strolled into Alma Cocina for dinner.
We were greeted immediately upon entering. I told them that we had reservations at 6, but we were here early. They said it wasn’t a problem, and took us right to the table. We were seated and they went to check off our reservation, returning a moment later with some menus, including the gluten-free menu for me. AH! They read the reservation. YAY! I was feeling good about this already.
As we looked over the menu, our server came over to get our drink orders. I was recovering…so water for me. Cathy did the same…because she’s a copy-cat. Just kidding. But…she did also get water. When he returned, I inquired as to how big the sides were. He said they were relatively big…so I pondered for a moment, but we went ahead and ordered the Gluten-Free Guacamole ($6.00) as a starter.
After leaving to put in the order, our server returned and asked me if the gluten-free was a food allergy or just a dietary choice. I told him I was a Celiac and he nodded and said, “Okay…so cross-contamination is not okay.” He hurried off. I might have arched an eyebrow at Cathy. They really do pay attention.
Our appetizer of gluten-free guacamole came out a few minutes later. It was this little bowl of gorgeous, creamy…yet chunky, mashed avocado with all the right seasonings and additions. But…no chips. The server said that to prevent cross-contamination, the tortilla chips were replaced with chayote. I was intrigued! He then asked if we were ready to order…and at this point we were.
Cathy went ahead and ordered the Fried Avocado Tacos ($14.00), which consisted of crispy queso cotija, poblano pesto (which she says I need to make!), roasted tomato…and yes…fried avocado.
I went for the sides…because the only other option on the gluten-free menu for me would have been the Vegetarian Platter and that just sounded like too much. So, I opted for ordering the Mexican Chopped Salad ($4.00), which was a mix of jicama, chayote, red onion, ancho chile powder, and cilantro. I also ordered the Black Beans and Poblano Chili Rice ($4.00) which came with pico de gallo. Orders in…we were left to our appetizer.
The guacamole was amazing!! Seriously. It had red onion, serrano pepper, red onion, lime, cilantro…everything that I make mine with at home. And it tasted fantastic. Cathy told the waiter when he came back to see how it was that was amazing…almost as good as mine. Hee! But…what really made this a standout, believe it or not, was the chayote. No lie! The sweetness of the chayote (which, in case you haven’t googled it yet…is an edible plant that is pear shaped with a thin, green, wrinkly skin and white flesh. It is sort of like a squash…but sweet. And it can be eaten raw, cooked, mashed, baked, boiled, fried, etc.) was just what the guacamole was needing. Now, at home I eat my guacamole with tortilla chips. If I can find chayote in one of the numerous stores I shop in…that won’t happen ever again. This is above and beyond tortilla chips. This plant was made for guacamole! Between the two of us, Cathy and I made short work of the guacamole. In fact, we were just polishing it off when our entrees arrived.
Now, the chef got a little creative with my Mexican Chopped Salad. Seemed they were out of it, so he went ahead and pretty much sliced up all the components and made a version of the salad for me. It looked delicious and fresh as it was settled down in front of me. And I was beyond intrigued by my green rice and super-delicious looking black beans. Oh yeah…I was one happy marathoner.
We were left to enjoy our dinner and Cathy dove into her tacos…declaring them one of the best things she has ever eaten. And praised that poblano pesto to the roof.
I started with the Mexican Chopped Salad. It was an amazing array of textures and flavors. I loved the jicama and how it tasted when mixed with the chayote. The red onion brought a bit of bite to what, otherwise, would have been way too sweet. As it was…I got about 3/4 of the way through before calling it quits. It was delicious…but with the chayote with the guacamole…I needed some spice and some heat.
I turned my attention to the Black Beans and Pobalno Chili Rice. Oh my gluten-free gods…this was delicious. It is so simple. So basic. And yet…the flavors were awesome. I loved to scoop up some of the beans and rice together. I loved the little bit of heat that the beans had with them. I loved the sweet, with a hint of heat, rice…and how it was green. Pablano chili rice…for the total win. I was enamored with this side. I sort of wished I had ordered two of them. But, I was getting full fast. Rice and beans will definitely get that tummy full. Carbs, fiber, and protein, baby! But it was what I needed. And I polished that plate clean.
And I was full. The waiter came to take away the dishes and asked if we were interested in dessert. We passed because both of us were now quite full.
Wow…what an amazing restaurant. The atmosphere. The service. The overall experience…I would go back in a heartbeat to Alma Cocina. I felt like they were very mindful of my food allergies and took great care when it came to preparing and serving my food. LOVED every moment of our time there.