Alpharetta: Good Food, Bad Driving
I've complained more than once on this blog about the general blandness of food offering across the United States. Having traveled weekly for a couple of years now it's my fairly well-informed opinion that its hard to find interesting restaurants outside of big cities. There are vast swaths of the United States that have nothing more than Applebee's to offer, and sometimes you're lucky if you can get that.
One stunning exception to this general observation is Alpharetta, GA. The first time someone told me I was going to Alpharetta my response was "I'm going where?". "Alpharetta" sounded like some small town of no great interest.
It turned out that Alpharetta was actually a suburb of Atlanta with a solid tech economy all of its own. But the thing which most struck me on visiting was how many really good restaurants there are packed into a fairly small area. They've got their fair share of some of the nicer chains, places like P.F. Chang's and Pappadeux's, but on top of that they've got a bucket of really fantastic independent restaurants as well.
The first time I visited I ended up at Modavi out of sheer change and was really blown away by the quality of the food. My first visit was over a year ago but I still remember what I ordered: a prosciutto-wrapped pork chop (bonus points for pork-on-pork) with a caramelized apple sauce, a fantastic potato gratin, and well executed grilled asparagus. Technically the restaurant is in Duluth, which appears to be a commuter suburb of Alpharetta, but whatever...
I just returned from my second visit and was also pleasantly surprised. I was working off of a different highway exit than my previous visit and was exposed to an entirely different set of great restaurants. The Atlantic Seafood Company had some of the best sushi I've experience in who knows how long. My only complaint is that they put avocado in too many of their rolls, but that's a nit-picky pet peeve more than anything else.
Now on to the bad news: the traffic sucks. Alpharetta has the feeling of a town that's grown too fast. There's too many people trying to get in and out on a daily basis for the road system that they have right now. I noticed is the first time I was there and I noticed it again on my most recent visit. I suspect that homes are probably pretty expensive as well, but that's more just gut instinct.