Lick It Up!

Second in a series…

So, as you could well imagine, I get told about great places to eat all the time.  Well, I am told about places to eat all the time, not all of them are great.  Friends suggest places to me that they think I would like, and sometimes strangers are offended that I liked something.  It happens.  Comes with the territory.  That said, a recommendation came along a while back that I thought, “Well, sounds interesting.  Maybe we’ll try it”. 

“The next time you are in Atlanta” he said “you have got to go to Two Urban Licks.”  Full disclosure, I have spent plenty of time in Atlanta, eating plenty of places, but had never heard of it.

“That good, huh?” I asked.  “Very good, and very much your speed”.

Ok.  THAT intrigued me more so than the good food part.  What exactly is my “speed” and why would I enjoy this so much?  So, on a recent roadie to Atlanta, it was on the must try list.   We stopped at nine different places over two days.  Hit and run, eat, drink, repeat.  Mostly an appetizer here or there.  Half a beer, maybe a specialty cocktail if they had one.

You make the drive to Two Urban Licks and you had better know where you are going. Fair warning.  In the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood.  A very nice residential neighborhood with a good bit of upscale apartments.  The neighborhood feels trendy.   You come up on a warehouse and you think, “Ok, this used to be some factory or something,”  and you turn for two reasons.  First, SIRI said so.  Second, you see a tiny three foot sandwich board type sign after you turn into the parking lot.   You make your way all the way around to the back of this warehouse, seeing another small sign, then another.  This is not a drive to make for the first time while you are on your phone or talking to anyone for that matter.  Focus is required.

Then you drive your car up onto a loading dock.    Huh?

Yes, valet parking is on a loading dock.  You drive your car up onto a ramp and leave it there while you stand on a very plain “where in the world am I” type of warehouse/dock area.  I ask the parking attendant, “Ok, where am I going”?   He points at a door.  “Right through there”.   Seriously?  There’s nothing here.  What could possibly be on the other side of this plain gray door…

Boom.  Cue the harps.

You would never imagine what is on the other side of that door.  It’s a warehouse alright, but it is huge.  Huger than huge.  I don’t know how high the ceilings are, but they are waaay up there.  It’s many things, this space is…Big.  Yes, we got that part.  It’s industrial looking.  At the end of the day it is still a converted warehouse.  Most of all, though, it is drop dead gorgeous.  This space immediately became one of the top five most beautiful restaurants I have ever had the pleasure of walking in to, and I’ve seen quite a few.  It’s dark.  It’s red.  It’s softly, but impeccably lit.  Open kitchen, flames not only in there, but on the walls.  I walk in, look around and think, “My goodness, this IS my speed”.  Don’t get me wrong, plenty of nights you’ll find me in sandals on a dock somewhere sippin’ a Corona with my hat on backwards, but when I get dressed up for a night out?  Two Urban Licks is what I had in mind.

And I haven’t even tried the food yet.  HA!

thumb_600 (2)So, like I said this was a two day, nine stop extravaganza.  We weren’t “dining” that night.  Merely trying a few things here and there.  It was early, about 6:00pm so there wasn’t much of a crowd.  Fine by me, actually.  It made it easier to enjoy the scenery.  Again, the space was gorgeous.  We sit at the bar, ask the cocky bartender for a few recommendations (Yeah, that was the only draw back to the entire experience.  Bartender was there on his day off, so was a little flippant about…uh….working?).  We go with the “most popular” in his opinion. Salmon Chips.  Beef Brisket Empanadas –porque yo soy Cubano –and the Tuna Tartare appetizer.

SalmonQuite obviously, a place like this that went through the expense they did to make it visually appealing isn’t going to pile stuff up on a plate, ring a bell and yell “pick up”!  Before we taste, we eat with our eyes.  I was full before I took a bite.  Sexy, sexy, sexy.  The salmon chips came out on a wooden place propped up by iron legs.  Housemade potato chips sprinkled with short smoked salmon, chipotle cream cheese, capers and red onions.  Wonderfully done.  If you know the difference a homemade potato chip can make, then you know.  Very rarely do I eat salmon, but this was great.  The empanadas were equally as good.  Reminded me of my childhood when you’d bite through all this dough to get to a little pocket of meat.  Only those were ground beef.  This was a beautiful, tender brisket. Topped with pico de gallo, feta and garlic aioli.  My least favorite (if I could say that) was the tuna app.   It was mixed with diced mango, avocado and ginger sauce.  Served on a their homemade chips.  Very light and refreshing.

A couple of cocktails later and we were on our way.  So badly did I want more, did I want to take this place in, but we had two other stops that night.  Miller Union and the ever popular Holeman and Finch, so we had to save room.  Besides, now we have a reason to go back.  Oh, and I will.  Too bad I live four hours away.  Then again, maybe that’s a good thing. 

TWO Urban Licks has been around since 2004, so it isn’t exactly a new kid on the hidden warehouse where-in-the-heck-am-I block, but if you haven’t tried it, next time in Atlanta, you really should.  Take your time, pay attention to where you are going, and give it a lick.

See you on TV.

Jesse

 

Eat It and Like It launched in Savannah, Georgia with television personality Jesse Blanco as the host. His passion for food and travel has made Eat It and Like It a two-time EMMY nominated program about contemporary and traditional Southern food.