When I first moved up to Lawrenceville, I was pleasantly surprised and thoroughly impressed with the variety of cool places to eat and hang out even way, way up here in the ‘burbs. Here’s my first love note to North Gwinnett. I am happy to say that since first writing this, I continue to be impressed with my hood. Here are five more awesome places I have discovered up here for gettin’ my grub on!
I chose Umaido in eastern Suwanee for my birthday dinner, and I was not disappointed. They have the best ramen I’ve ever tasted hands down. My dining companions included 1) those skeptical of authentic Asian food, as well as 2) those skeptical of any restaurants outside of the perimeter. But on my birthday, I didn’t care. Luckily, I didn’t have to because everyone was blown away.
Unlike some of the other ramen establishments in town, which can be a bit run down, Umaido is new, hip and fresh. This can be good and bad. Good because it’s super clean and has creative menu options as well as yummy drinks. Bad because a very young and somewhat clueless wait staff can cause some chaos.
Yes, this was the situation at Umaido. We waited 45 minutes for a table for 5 people. After that we were told we would need to wait another 20, but after protesting, we were led to a table right away. I was also told upon first ordering a plum wine that they didn’t have any left, but then our waitress appeared from the back with a glass of it for me about 10 minutes later.
Despite these kinks, the noodle soup was divine, as were the other bites we ordered including dumplings and sesame cucumbers. The sake made everyone happy as well. I will gladly return – but not on a Saturday night, and preferably not with five people. It’s quite small in there, but parties of two had no problem getting seated right away.
Fusion Asian Café
Oh how I love this place! Situated just a few miles north of my home on Braselton Hwy., I honestly didn’t expect much from Fusion Asian Café – especially since the menu runs the gamut from Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese to Japanese and Malaysian. The menu goes on forever and seems too ambitious to do it all right. But somehow, they manage to!
Everything I have tried at this place is top notch. When we go on a Friday or Saturday night, the traffic is fairly light around 7pm or so, but by the time we leave later in the evening it’s always packed. Considering its location in the middle of nowhere, I have no idea where all of these people come from, but still they come, and in droves!
I am beyond obsessed with the Thai Beef Salad at Fusion Asian Café, and it’s hard to bring myself to try other things when I go there because it’s so amazing. However, all the other dishes my husband and I have tried there have also been great – special shout out to the spring rolls, pho, coconut soup and crispy tofu salad! If you like tea, order the house special “Chau’s Tea,” and you’ll get your own pot of this flowery, sweet beverage for $5. They also offer beer, wine and sake. I could not be more impressed with how they pull all of this off, and the more I write about it, the more I want to go back there this evening!
At first I wasn’t sure what to make of McCray’s Tavern in historic Lawrenceville Square. It’s really big, kind of loud, and can be a bit smoky outside. Luckily, their crowd-pleasing food trumps all of that. McCray’s menu goes above and beyond typical pub food, with creative, fresh fare and a huge variety of beers and other beverages. I tried my first Moscow Mule there, and it was delicious. I also highly recommend their homemade potato chips.
With fun appetizers like fried macaroni & cheese, as well as a wide variety of salads, tacos, wings, sandwiches, burgers and more traditional entrees, there’s really something for everyone on the menu – even my super healthy friend loves it. The upstairs patio also offers up great views of the square!
McCray’s is really the perfect place for anything – a fun date night, meeting up with friends, or even entertaining visitors. And best of all, unlike some of the other restaurants on the square, McCray’s is large enough so that there’s never really a long wait. Oh, and be sure to check out their dessert menu too. I once had a bread pudding there that was to die for!!!
Tom + Chee
I first heard about the grilled cheese and tomato soup joint, Tom + Chee, on Shark Tank. My fave shark, Barbara Corcoran, invested in it, so I was thrilled to see the “Coming Soon” sign for Tom + Chee right in my lil ol’ neighborhood. Since its opening about a month ago, I have been there a couple of times. The menu consists of both make-your-own options with a variety of cheeses, breads and other toppings, as well as some specialty concoctions.
While some of their more adventurous sandwich ingredients like blueberry compote, mac & cheese and salt-and-vinegar chips sound amazing, I have yet to pull the trigger on those. I have played it pretty safe – one time ordering the pesto + turkey grilled cheese, and another time building my own sandwich also featuring pesto, as well as tomatoes, mozzarella and garlic seasoning. Both sandwiches were tasty, but OH SO GREASY!!! (Might be that pesto.)
Still, I would return. As far as soups, we have ordered the chunky tomato soup both times, which is more like a marinara sauce for dipping than an actual soup. The dipping is fun. Definitely do the dipping. In addition to grilled cheese and tomato soup, Tom + Chee also offers salads – buy why? – as well as grilled cheese donuts – but ewww. I would definitely recommend checking it out, but maybe look at the menu first online because it can be overwhelming.
Food Trucks at Gwinnett Braves Stadium
I love me a good food truck, especially when I don’t have to travel all the way into the big city to enjoy one. That’s why I squealed with delight when I first saw that there was a respectable gathering of food trucks at the Gwinnett Braves stadium (aka Coolray Field) on Buford Drive. When the Gwinnett Braves are not in season, the food trucks take over their parking lot every Sunday afternoon. Some of my fave Gwinnett trucks include Mac the Cheese (OMG the spinach artichoke mac!) and Tex’s Tacos (for their super addictive lime fries).
If you have a favorite spot in Gwinnett, please hit me up so I can try it out!Tags: Asian food, Atlanta, food trucks, Georgia, Gwinnett, Lawrenceville, ramen, Tom + Chee