The point is, it's incredibly easy to use and hassle-free... not to mention that the deals are for local, awesome, diamond-in-the-rough (or not so rough) type places. The deliciously well designed graphics and quirky write-ups don't hurt, either. It's mostly restaurants, but I've seen a few boutiques and salons as well.
Needless to say that the inspirational list of restaurants and the allure of half off bills has tempted Collin and I to stray from our kitchen more than ever. We're weak willed people when it comes to food... and Scout Mob is accomplishing their destiny with us! Since we've been hitting the town on a bi-weekly... or tri-weekly... basis, I thought I'd shed some light on some of our most recent finds. Some of the coupons have expired at this point, but that doesn't mean you can't still show up and support a small business! I've used the coupon pictures for each location - just for a splash of Scout Mob personality!
Murphy's, Virginia Highland
After what I affectionately like to call "The Ice Puke of 2011," mine and Collin's first venture back onto the treacherous streets of Atlanta was for one purpose: to use the Scout Mob coupon for Murphy's before it expired that night. We risked at least half an hour of imminent death and fiery driving arguments in order to show up for dinner at Murphy's sweet little corner of the Virginia Highland. Our server, Thaddeus, was a veteran waiter armed with detailed suggestions - don't you hate it when you ask for the best thing on the menu and the server says, "Wellllll, I think everything is good." Liar. Some stuff on the menu isn't good, it can't all be. Anyway, back to Thad. By the end of the night we had given him a little wedding planning advice and he had steered us toward the Guinness Braised Beef Brisket and the Ashley Farms Half Chicken. Any time you're offered beef braised in beer, take it. Tender and juicy, filled with rich beef flavor and accompanied with the classic mashed potatoes and carrots. My chicken was perfect, savory, and the swiss chard and gnocchi on the side almost stole the show. Collin noted that "if all swiss chard tastes like this, I'll eat it every day!" I reassured him that he was just sharing an exceptional bit of cooking. We topped the night off with the Dessert Trio: something they like to call a Bonzo, a vanilla bean panna cotta, and Tollhouse Pie. The panna cotta sent me straight to heaven: black vanilla flecks, pure vanilla flavor, topped with macerated mango chunks. Oh, Lord. Ah, and the house olive oil - fantastic, crisp, fruity - pick up a bottle at their wine shop!
Parish, Inman Park
We decided to make Parish a double date night with some friends who had just gotten engaged - neither of us had been, and using a Scout Mob deal ensures that even if the food is half as good as you expected, you get what you pay for. Although Parish is impressive in decor, personality, potential - I can't say I was altogether impressed with the food. I don't know if I was swayed by the performance of our server, who kept forgetting to bring us things but would never acknowledge that we had already asked for them? The down-home theme (i.e. drink menus printed on brown paper sacks) was amusing, but the entire production was lacking some gestalt. Collin ordered the Crispy Pork on red cabbage, I got the Sweet Potato Ravioli. Both of our plates were a little too small. I had four very sad, limp ravioli lying pathetically in the bottom of a rather large bowl with fingerprints all over. The Dixie Burger, however, was gigantic and came surrounded by a mass of potato hash. The one time I wish I'd gone for a cheap burger at the trendy restaurant. But, when I went downstairs to use the restroom I found the true merit of Parish - their little country market stocked with sandwiches, fresh bread, flowers, and so many goodies I couldn't count! That's when I made my final decision about Parish - don't eat in for dinner, drop by and take out for lunch!
Farmstead 303, Decatur
My sister in law, Eryn, and I went to Farmstead for a girl date on an ordinary Monday afternoon. Farmstead is set up in an old train station, half is a bar setup and the other half is a dining room. Where Parish attempts to glorify the Southern charm idea with mixed success, Farmstead dives head-first into a real farm style with humility and wins. It's not half as quaffed and bedazzled as Parish, but maybe that's not my personality. The food is your classic fare: some sort of fried or barbecued meat with daily Southern veggies like collards, lima beans, and the unexpected deep-fried cauliflower. Someone informed all of Atlanta that burgers should now come standard with pimento cheese, and Farmstead has followed suit (it works). The N. Carolina BBQ plate is authentically tart and tender, and the bite-size biscuits are fresh from the oven. Maybe I was wholly satisfied because I wasn't pumped up to expect the coolest food ever, but I did go back for lunch again the next day... make of that what you will.
Salsa Havana, Collier Hills
This little place just re-opened right next door to us, at Collier Road and Howell Mill, near the Fellini's. I invited my world traveling friend Nick, from my last post, to sample the food and give me his verdict. The inside is small and simple, our snarky-in-an-endearing-way waiter settled us down and we took to the menu. Collin ordered the Seafood Paella, I got the Argentinian Churrasco con Fritas (or grilled skirt steak, topped with chimichurri, on a bed of fries). My friend Whitney ordered the tuna tacos, Nick requested Arroz con Pollo. I'm not sure what I thought at first, but everyone's meals surpassed expectations. All I know is that we were face down to our plates, chomping and muttering unintelligible praises until the food was gone. I was afraid I would get a mound of chunky fries with a glimpse of steak, but it was just the opposite - the thin cut fries were soaked in juices and chimichurri, I had enough beef to save for a second meal the next day! The chef came out while we waited and asked Whitney if he could experiment two new sauces on her tacos - feeling like a part of the family is a surefire way to create raving fans! Nick and the chef engaged in a conversation entirely in Spanish on the joys of Columbia. It was a great time, to say the least.
Harry and Sons, Virginia Highland
Another rainy Thursday night in Atlanta, and I'm looking for a place to meet a friend who's in town on business. Smart, quick, and comfortable (but not to the jeans and hoodie degree) - Harry and Sons. This place is made for couples and close friends, small tables and cozy booths feel like you've found a warm nook in a cold, rainy city. The Thai food is a great option, but the sushi menu is where I hunt. The combinations are a great deal - a rainbow roll and a california roll is 14 pieces for $14 - dollar sushi, and not the warm sloppy kind like RuSan's. The pickled ginger is crisp, the wasabi is kicking... what more can you ask for? And afterward, you can take a quick stroll north or south to stop in at one of the Highland's bustling bars! It's the perfect date night - good enough to impress, but also fast enough to get out of a sinking ship!
Pure Taqueria, Inman Park
If you're like me, you're probably becoming wary of the taquerias that seem to be sprouting like weeds all around Atlanta. It's a good business plan: everyone loves tacos, you can put basically anything inside a tortilla, they're cheap and easy to make. I myself have had dreams of opening a quesadilla stand called The Two Tortillas (don't steal my idea!). Collin and I were working at Octane one day and decided to spend a Scout Mob deal on lunch... why not Pure Taqueria? I'm happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised. The menu is full of other authentically Mexican choices, which led Collin to the Quesadillas de Pollo and I to the special of the day, Tamales de Puerco. I was incredibly impressed - the masa for my tamales was rich and moist and the shredded pork inside was flavorful... which shouldn't be impressive, but lots of people interpret tamale to mean bland and starchy. The salsa verde was crunchy and didn't over-do the sour tomatillo. Since it was lunch, we didn't go for any margaritas but word on the street is that they're A+.
Sauced, Inman Park
I've only ever been to Sauced late at night, right when the kitchen is closing. So, I can't say I've sampled their amazingly meaty menu, but I've worked on the "Bites" for sure. Snap Cracklin' Pork Rinds? This is the kind of thing you swear you'll never eat... and then you're grasping for crumbs at the bottom of the basket before you know it. The organic lavender chocolate ganache bar is a tiny slice of pure luxury. The canapé du jour, the bluebird bacon peanut brittle... you know what? Just go ahead and visit. You won't get a giant plate overflowing with carbs, enough to feed you twice. Chances are you'll get a little bowl or plate of just enough food to overwhelm your senses and satisfy your craving for something completely different. Maybe eat a few slices of bread before you go if you're really hungry. Get a cocktail, go with friends. Enjoy the fun and colorful decor, feel a hundred times cooler than you did grabbing lunch at Subway. You have arrived.
Spoon, Midtown West
Spoon is the kind of place I always go with my girlfriends. Maybe because my girls like Thai food and my husband really doesn't. Maybe because Spoon is cool and modern without being loud and crowded. Probably because I love curry and the Panang is zooming with spicy flavor and perfectly still-crisp veggies. Sometimes Thai can go too thick and creamy, sometimes too thin and spicy. Spoon's food is always perfectly balanced - and the specials are unique and creative (Thai lamb? Yes please!). I've never had a server there who wasn't perfectly delightful, and since it's just down the street from our apartment I probably think about going there four times a week. Not that I do, but Spoon is the kind of place that's always on my mind. It's the perfect place for a date, especially if it's with your best friend!
Big Easy Grille, Collier Hills
Collin and I live about four steps from Big Easy Grille. Every night the parking lot is packed to overflowing - forget about going if there's a Saints game on that night, I don't know if you'd make it through the door. I have avoided it like the plague because I'm admittedly afraid of places that feel too much like sports bars, where loud fat men will slosh beer on me while yelling at a football game on TV. I stand corrected though, when it comes to Big Easy. After four months I finally caved and found it to be comfortably quiet, cozy - a little cluttered, but in an unobtrusive way. The waitress promptly informed us that they were "out of gator," and I noted that it was probably the first time someone had told me that. Collin chose the Cajun Jambalaya, I picked out the fried shrimp Po' Boy. Now, my whole life has changed. I live four steps from the best Po' Boy I have ever eaten. Good thing we're moving in a month, or I'd be spending my life savings on Alligator Bites! And since the food is so good, I think I could even enjoy myself during a Saints game, getting beer sloshed on me by a loud fat guy! Just part of the experience, right?
Since this post is now about forty pages long, I'll save some other Scout Mob finds for another day. If you live in Nashville, D.C., Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Austin, Denver, Springfield, Los Angeles, or Seattle - keep your eyes peeled for Scout Mob's pending debut in your city! And remember, always tip on your FIRST bill, not the discounted one!