Friday, July 16, 2010
602 N. Highland Ave., Atlanta, GA www.manuelstavern.com
Some know it as the legendary Liberal's hangout, but some know it simply as a good place to grab a beer and a bit of lunch or dinner. Yes, it's Manuel's Tavern.
Manuel's Tavern has been in business since 1956, when it was opened by Manuel Maloof, former CEO of Dekalb County and staunch Democrat. Though Manuel passed away in 2004, the restaurant is still owned by his family. It strives to appeal to people of all races, classes and backgrounds, so you'll see everyone under the sun here when you're having dinner.
I had the fish and chips appetizer as my dinner entree ($7.95). The fish aren't fillets, and they aren't sticks, they're in between. A good size comparison would be the chicken strips at Chik-Fil-A. They're served very, very hot. The hoki in its golden beer batter is great, I wouldn't change anything about it. The tartar sauce is homemade and tastes like it. The fries alongside it weren't so great. They were a little mushy and limp, and I prefer straight and crisp fries.
My friend Heidi, who has eaten at Manuel's far more often than I, recommends the hummus, The chef salad is nice and fresh, but has an oversized portion of diced red onions.
Almost every dish at Manuel's is under $10, so you won't blow your paycheck here. They have a few cheap and loveable options, like the "Dogzilla," a 1/2 pound all-beef hotdog with fries, for $6.25. With prices like that you can still afford a beer or two, and you'll find a good beer selection which includes gems like Bell's Two-Hearted Ale, Founder's Dirty Bastard and Piraat Triple on draft. There's also some local Sweetwater and Highland Gaelic Ale from NC. In the bottle you can find other great beers like Old Rasputin Imperial Stout Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier, still my favorite wheat beer after a decade of taste-testing.
One thing about Manuel's that I underestimated was the size. Be aware that Manuel's is crowded some nights, particularly ones that would appeal to Democrats. Apparently it was a complete madhouse on election night in 2008.
Late diners will be happy to know that Manuel's closes at midnight on Sunday and Monday and at 2am Tuesday through Saturday.
Another great thing is the parking. Unlike most dining venues in Inman Park/Highlands/Little 5 there is lots of free parking, in two actual lots, not on the street. If you ever saw me try to parallel park you'd know why I got so excited about this.
Verdict: Good honest food and nice beer selection in a historic, locally-owned establishment.