Al fresco dining is in.
I was to meet a friend on Sunday, for brunch preferably, and not lunch. And since downtown Alpharetta has been beckoning with it’s downtown improvements, I talked her into going that direction.
We met early – 11:00 a.m. – because I was starving and in the mood for brunch. Shrimp and grits at the Hop Alley Brew Pub was ample and satisfying. Sadly, we were unable to have Mimosas or Bloody Marys thanks to the maternal hand of government which makes our drinking decisions for us on Sundays and forbids such indecencies until 12:30 p.m. But, I enjoyed the irony of eating in a brew pub while being forbidden to have alcohol.
When we emerged from the cool, dark, but Sunday-lazy and friendly Hop Alley into the zero humidity, glorious 70 degree sunshine I wondered why we had eaten indoors, for all around downtown Alpharetta were al fresco diners. Even Hop Alley Brew Pub offers it out the back door, which I had forgotten.
Although I think Canton Street in Roswell wins the prize for the most scenic al fresco dining in the north Fulton area, let me just say: Alpharetta is the place to be if you’re not in Roswell.
First, there’s Salt Factory, which, incidentally, has locations on Canton Street in Roswell and in Woodstock. Their Alpharetta location will remind you of a former fast food restaurant, because it was. But, the menu in Alpharetta is as good as the other locations. The al fresco dining here is not recommended unless you have kids and they’re loud. More landscaping could go a long way here; trees, vining things, anything to block the view of Highway 9 and the Publix parking lot – both of which kill any great mood you might have driving up in say, a brand new Tesla.
I already mentioned the Hop Alley Brew Pub. It has a fine deck in the back facing Roswell Street that even includes a tree. Good old trees.
Of course, Smokejack offers al fresco dining as well and has for years. It’s not particularly scenic, but when you love Smokejack barbecue and mac and cheese as much as I do, who cares?
South Main Kitchen offers a Sunday brunch and that makes them special in my book even though I’m sick and tired of kale and brussels sprouts (Get Over It Restaurants! Enough Already!) and what better place to have brunch than on their 2 story deck? And South Main has the benefit of being directly adjacent to the Jones Street “alley” turned pedestrian-only alley that offers some extra seating. Sure, you’ll fry there at 1:00 in the afternoon in the summer, but during all other seasons, this is a great spot.
We couldn’t talk about al fresco dining and not mention the Corner Deli at the corner of Roswell Street and Milton Avenue. This is hands down the best lazy Saturday lunch spot in all of Alpharetta; especially since they have water bowls for dogs.
The slightly still new Ceviche does not offer brunch, per se, but offers lunch and dinner indoors and al fresco. The great thing about their al fresco dining is that it is both in front of their restaurant, on Milton Avenue, and along the side, with access to the city parking lot off Old Roswell Street. And for this reason, it wins the prize for best al fresco dining in downtown Alpharetta. It’s quaint, kinda scenic and not too bothered by the noise of traffic. But most of all, it’s shady, making this a fantastic al fresco dining experience 4 seasons out of the year.