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An assortment of starters at Tip Top.

Since 1981, Atlantans in the know have made the trek to a barren access road off of 285 for cheesesteaks at the Mad Italian. It’s not a place you expect to be a food destination, those who know, know. And that same area has yet another interesting culinary destination if you don’t mind eating in the back of an Israeli market.

Israelis David Malka and Yehonatan Hazot opened Tip Top Kosher Market last August. Tip Top sells hard-to-find treats such as crunchy Bamba, a peanut-flavored bagged snack, and fun items like kosher Doritos. The real treasure is in the back of the store, where there’s a kosher restaurant you might mistake for a stockroom if you didn’t know was there.

Click here to read the rest on Atlanta Magazine…

PHOTO COURTESY OF SHAY LAVI.

Chef Shay Lavi’s food, which includes Turkish, Libyan, Moroccan, Persian, and Israeli accents, is as diverse as his heritage. Half-Libyan and half-Turkish, Lavi grew up in Israel in Or Yehuda, a city in the Tel Aviv district. His paternal grandmother, one of his most significant cooking mentors, often prepared meals for large groups, and that inclination for hospitality got under Lavi’s skin at a young age. “I grew up in a house where food was everything. There was always food, for better or worse, making people happier,” Lavi says. Click here to read the rest…

Huarache de whipped queso fresco, kale, watercress, pasilla beans, and butterkase cheese

When I first met Maricela Vega of Chicomecóatl, she was selling late-night tamales outside of MJQ during a Cholateca night (the best Latin dancing in Atlanta, by the way). Since then, trying to keep up with her on Instagram has been dizzying. “I’ve been in a sea of ideas. I feel like I’m navigating them now,” she told me. Vega’s food has since been cropping up all over—she’s hosted a tamale pop-up at the Creature Comforts brewery in Athens and she regularly serves creative, complex dishes at the Spindle in Old Fourth Ward that produce swoon-worthy Instagram photos. (One recent example: A bright purple sope that incorporated hibiscus, coriander sour cream, onion, and squash blossom.) With her pop-ups, Vega brings a unique perspective to cooking in Atlanta.

“I want to create food spaces where there is a deliciously beautiful, living interpretation of modern Mexican cuisine,” she says. Her recipes are inspired by the cuisine of her Mexican ancestors—traditions she hopes to keep alive—but most of her dishes are entirely plant-based. “I modernize my food by creating relationships with Atlanta-based growers,” she explains. “This allows room for constant creativity, and it intersects with my own roots: Southern agriculture with Mexican heritage.” Click here to read the rest…

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