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First impression: Bone Garden Cantina: West Side

posted on June 26, 2008 at 4:43 am
Update (6/26/08): Just got back from a light lunch here. When I did my first impression, I did find some dishes that were decent (something I try to do at any place I go) but this visit was not very good at all. Both my dishes, the pozole and shrimp sope were very over salted. We tried a couple of desserts which were fine but nothing memorable. IMG_8494.JPG
RESTAURANT REVIEW
We are a town that loves our Mexican food. But, sometimes a drive to Buford Highway or Jonesboro is just not in the cards–especially with the current gas prices. I have never understood why people love Nuevo Laredo and Taqueria de Sol so much. The places just don’t appeal to me. Maybe I am too picky because of my Mexican roots. Maybe not. There is a new competitor on the West Side Mexican scene, the Bone Garden Cantina, which is owned by the Vortex folks. I went to the restaurant with high hopes about the food since they allegedly have an all-Mexican kitchen staff for authenticity’s sake. I was immediately floored by the decor which is all done by an amazing artist (I believe she is local) in a El Día de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead) theme. Really fun and well done space.
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The menu is pretty extensive and has a variety of authentic-sounding items–like elote (corn covered in cream and chile pepper) and freshly made aguas frescas.
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I grabbed an agua de jamaica (hibiscus tea) which was really, really good. Sometimes places make this way to sugary but the Bone Garden’s version had the perfect amount of tartness and just lightly sweetened. I sipped on this while nibbling on some average chips and salsa–I really don’t mind getting chips and salsa, but why are they always white corn? Grr. Real chips–yes, we do eat them in Mexico with certain dishes–should be darker in color and much thicker than the anemic specimens we see around these days.
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Pozole blanco: My hands down favorite dish of the meal. A heart-warming fresh chicken broth with juicy chunks of chicken, plump hominy and ripe avocado. I can see myself going back again and again for this dish alone. Just very good.
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Ceviche de mahi mahi: Another good dish. Fresh fish, good acidity. Ceviche is just the perfect summer food.
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Sope: This was pretty good. Big chunks of avocado, cabbage, really nicely done black beans and some cheese. I could not tell if the sopes were freshly made or from a package, but they were still good. 
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The tacos: Tortillas are advertised as being fresh but these were not handmade. Fillings were just okay–better than you are going to find at closer spots–and the assortment was nice. However, I was not wowed.
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Assortment of salsas: I found the salsa to be beautifully colored but lacking any real flavor. I did not find one spicy–even those advertised as such. They need some work but it could have been an off day. You have to pay extra if you want more than you are served with your tacos.
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Mole with chicken: This one had potential, but the sauce was just too watery. I detected some really interesting flavors and depth but it need to be punched up a bit. It is so hard to find a good mole outside of someone’s house–even in Mexico.

Verdict: I would go back. I’d say it is worth the visit if you keep your expectations low. Moon said, “gringos, like me, will like it.” It is a cute spot with some potential but it seems like they need some time to work out the kinks in the kitchen. I would still go back in a heartbeat for the jamaica, ceviche and pozole. They were already doing a brisk business for having been open 2 weeks and everyone seemed to be having fun. That is the point of dining out after all.

RESTAURANT INFORMATION:
Address: 1425 Ellsworth Industrial Blvd., Ste 6, 30318 (near Restaurant depot, look for the skeleton sculpture)
Phone: (404) 418-9072
Website

Bone Garden Cantina on Urbanspoon

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25 comments

  • Re: First impression: Bone Garden Cantina: West Side
    posted by: A. Sunshine · June 16, 2008  7:55 AM

    I’ve been wondering about this place in the old Ambra location. The decor is beautiful. They aren’t opened on Mondays though people so don’t bother trying it out tonight!

  • Re: First impression: Bone Garden Cantina: West Side
    posted by: Leslie · June 16, 2008  6:26 PM

    The decor alone looks like it would be worth the trip.

  • Re: First impression: Bone Garden Cantina: West Side
    posted by: Anonymous · June 16, 2008  7:11 PM

    I agree that though GREAT mexican restaurants are in Buford, it’s just sometimes a hassle taking the trip there not just because of bad traffic, also because of the escalating gas price. Anyway, one desperate night for tacos, we gave Buckhead a chance (since we live right in the heart of the city), gathered our balls and went to Taco Stand. IT WAS A HORRIBLE MISTAKE!! I still want to puke every time I think about the food we consumed that night. It was NASTY! Tasted like boiled then charbroiled meat! It’s not an exaggeration! The service was bad and the food was expensive! The place is a disgrace!! The chef should burn his hat and leave the food industry alone and the owner should shut that place down or maybe he should just stick to an American Menu.

    JC

  • Re: First impression: Bone Garden Cantina: West Side
    posted by: Brad · June 17, 2008  5:11 AM

    The beef brisket meat had a great flavor and was very juicy. I agree with the jamaica, it was deliscious and not too sweet. Also the banana empanada was good for a light dessert and the dough tasted quite fresh.

  • Re: First impression: Bone Garden Cantina: West Side
    posted by: Sudhir · June 17, 2008  6:07 AM

    Hey BG, just out of curiousity, what are your top 3 places in the city for a delicious and authentic Mexican experience?

  • Re: First impression: Bone Garden Cantina: West Side
    posted by: The Blissful Glutton · June 17, 2008  6:10 AM

    Well, I go different places for different dishes. However, my faves are:

    La Oaxaquena Taqueria in Jonesboro

    El Rey de Taco on BuHi

    Chicago Supermarket

    and, believe it or not, I actually do like certain dishes at Rosa Mexicano when I want to go more upscale.

  • Re: First impression: Bone Garden Cantina: West Side
    posted by: weremonkey · June 17, 2008  10:19 AM

    Since their menu is not published on their website yet, does anyone know if they have any vegetarian-friendly entrees?

  • Re: First impression: Bone Garden Cantina: West Side
    posted by: Broderick · June 17, 2008  7:37 PM

    Love the decor and food photos. I’ll have to check this place out

  • Re: First impression: Bone Garden Cantina: West Side
    posted by: Sudhir · June 18, 2008  6:16 AM

    in Jonesboro

    Hey, hey, hey, hey! Leave OTP out of this! I said “top 3 places in the city“!

    I’ll have to give those places a look. I just enjoy Taqueria del Sol’s fusion so much.

  • Re: First impression: Bone Garden Cantina: West Side
    posted by: Anonymous · June 18, 2008  6:52 AM

    more like CONfusion

  • Re: First impression: Bone Garden Cantina: West Side
    posted by: Sally Parrott Ashbrook · June 18, 2008  7:01 AM

    We really enjoyed Bone Garden Cantina last night. I loved the mix-and-match menu that let me choose exactly what I wanted. And I was thrilled that there were a lot of options that were naturally free of gluten and dairy. It wasn’t the best Mexican I’ve ever eaten, but it was really good, and we’ll definitely go back–possibly even this weekend!

    However, the tamarindo margarita tasted like it was about 2/3 tequila. Everyone at my table was shocked how liquored up it was. I appreciate not being shorted on my alcohol in a drink, but it was a bit overwhelming.

  • Re: First impression: Bone Garden Cantina: West Side
    posted by: The Blissful Glutton · June 18, 2008  10:50 AM

    Weremonkey:
    Here are some (not all) of their veggie offerings:
    Guac
    Queso dip
    Grilled veg. tacos
    Veg. empanadas
    Cheese enhiladas
    Quesadillas
    Sopes de Abichuelas: beans, salsa, cilantro, etc. (pictured above)
    Plenty for you to choose from…
    Jennifer

  • Re: First impression: Bone Garden Cantina: West Side
    posted by: Meagan · June 20, 2008  8:23 AM

    Hey Bliss,

    Sorry to have to ask, but I’m on a budget. What are prices like here?

  • Re: First impression: Bone Garden Cantina: West Side
    posted by: The Blissful Glutton · June 23, 2008  7:09 AM

    Not bad. Most items are under $6. Soup was $3.50 and a meal in itself.

  • Re: First impression: Bone Garden Cantina: West Side
    posted by: Meagan · June 23, 2008  7:51 AM

    I made it over there for dinner on Friday night. The place was half-empty, but it’s a new restaurant, so that’s to be expected. My favorite items on the menu were definitely the pozole blanco and the agua de jamaica.

  • Re: First impression: Bone Garden Cantina: West Side
    posted by: Anonymous · June 24, 2008  11:01 AM

    In this economy, “half empty” is a laudable feat.

    Many of the places I have visited lately were plain empty.

  • Re: First impression: Bone Garden Cantina: West Side
    posted by: Anonymous · June 25, 2008  5:46 AM

    had a mixed experience. went with large group, service was very slow (as a former server, I am generally quite understanding) and overall inattentive. The place was not that busy. At the end of the meail, we had a nightmare trying to settle the bill as we were told there was NO way to throw in a number of cards for a certain amount. NO way to treat patrons. This was handled very poorly by management. Food was fine.

  • Re: First impression: Bone Garden Cantina: West Side
    posted by: Anonymous · June 26, 2008  1:21 PM

    Have you tried Pozole in the Highlands? Other than being stingy with the salsa, it’s pretty good. If you go, don’t forget to try their churros and housemade lime-cello.

  • Re: First impression: Bone Garden Cantina: West Side
    posted by: Broderick · June 27, 2008  7:57 PM

    So I checked it out tonight, love the art. I had a little bit of everything..I’d definitely go back for drinks — had a tamarind margarita & Mexican Blanco — which was like a white russian w/ horchata2 and an empanada & ceviche — everything else…meh.

  • Re: First impression: Bone Garden Cantina: West Side
    posted by: ETK · June 28, 2008  7:14 PM

    hey! we checked it out as well (with Broderick, in fact) based on your review. Thanks for keeping us up to date on food in the ATL. I love reading your blog. Thanks!

  • Re: First impression: Bone Garden Cantina: West Side
    posted by: David · June 29, 2008  8:19 AM

    I thought this place was horrible.

    The food was either bland or too salty, across the board.

    I, too, really don’t like Nuevo or Taqueria, add this to the list of “never agains”. Bring back Ambra.

  • Re: First impression: Bone Garden Cantina: West Side
    posted by: A. Sunshine · July 2, 2008  1:36 PM

    Bliss,

    I’m interested on your thoughts on Mi Barrio on Memorial Drive. To me, it is the best Mexican in town. I’m not authority on Mexican cuisine though.

  • Re: First impression: Bone Garden Cantina: West Side
    posted by: Anonymous · July 15, 2008  5:51 AM

    I am so relieved to hear a food critic also question the appeal of Nuevo Laredo and Taqueria del Sol. I have never understood the popularity of those places at all. Nuevo Laredo is beat around the track by every Buford Hwy Mexican joint.

    Maybe I’m spoiled bc I work on Buford Hwy… but I do live over near Bone Garden and look forward to trying it. I hope they have enough on their menu for a vegan to make a meal.

    Lime Taqueria is another Westside place that is pretty great. I don’t see a review for it. It’s more upscale (read: expensive) but the dishes are authentic and the Mexican chef takes a lot of pride in them.

    Lindsay

  • Re: First impression: Bone Garden Cantina: West Side
    posted by: The Blissful Glutton · July 15, 2008  7:20 AM

    I don’t mind Nuevo Laredo for nachos and a margarita, but I go elsewhere for authentic Mexican.

    Mi Barrio is a nice intown option when you don’t feel like driving. I like that they have handmade huaraches, gorditas and sopes.

  • Re: First impression: Bone Garden Cantina: West Side
    posted by: Scarab · July 17, 2008  6:41 PM

    Thanks so much for your blog about this place! Based on this and comments over on Yelp, I hipped my co-workers to it and we went there for lunch for the first time today. The food was delicious. I’d been looking for a place to get a good horchata and elote without having the make the haul to Buford Hwy. They were delicious! As were my sope and the pozole blanco! Wow! Thanks again.

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