Al Fresco Lunch
I work in Buckhead, and I'm constantly trying to find new lunch spots where I can grab great food, no lines AND not bust the budget. Although I've had success finding many combinations of those three criteria, it's tough to find all three at once. However, this spring I've re-discovered a old favorite that's a short walk from my office: Portofino. If you click on the website above, you'll see pictures of a white linen dining room that conveys more fussiness than you really feel. The restaurant is set in an old house, so the setting feels warm and comfortable. However, I think the best part of Portofino is the large outdoor seating area. During warm spring or mild summer days, it's difficult to find patio dining that also meets the food/wait/budget demands, but Portofino does just that. I took the picture below at precisely noon and while the patio DID fill up before leaving, there were still a few smattering of tables.
Of course, if the day is hot or you're otherwise not feeling the patio vibe, the real reason to check out this spot is the food. The regular lunch menu has dishes I love (The chopped salad is solid and the sun-dried tomato pesto on angel hair pasta is divine!), but the reason I keep coming back to the spot is for their "Pranzo Trio." This menu option allows you to pick three dishes for $12 (that's what Souper Jenny is charging these days for the wait in line experience!). I LOVE sampling food, so this great for me. I am a sucker for the tomato and mozzarella salad, but that may be because of the pesto! The gazpacho is also delicious with the dollop of creme fraiche on top. The corn salad is billed as "corn and edamame" and if you're looking for much edamame, you'll be disappointed. Still, I LOVE the flavor of this salad as it combines shallots, basil, red peppers, and a citrus dressing. I'll be experimenting in the kitchen to see if I can replicate the flavors. (Stay tuned)
For years my friend Cathy worked a block away from me, so she has her favorites too. In addition to the tomato and mozzarella, she loves the cucumber and feta dish (what's not to like?!) and the shrimp and avocado salad (a tad too much mayo for my taste).
That's just the start of your selections. I also recommend the tarragon chicken salad or the cole slaw, but there are lots of great options.
Just remember to bring your shades!