When I joined the LOCAL team, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that each Thursday the company treats all the Localitos (our nickname coined by Director of Strategy Kathya Acuña) to lunch. My first week coincided with the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, so I suggested we order from Latinx-owned establishments for the month. At another company, I might have felt self-conscious about making a suggestion so early in my tenure, but I already had a sense that the LOCAL team would jump on my proposal. And they did.
“We decided to explore Latin cultures through food and cooking during Hispanic Heritage Month as a way to celebrate and support our Hispanic neighbors and entrepreneurs in the restaurant industry,” reflects Kate Pedrick, LOCAL’s Executive Assistant. “Having food from several different Latin regions one after another highlighted how varied the cuisines are from each other. From Venezuelan Arepas to Cuban sandwiches, this was a delicious way to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.”
Week 1: Mi Barrio
571 Memorial Dr SE
Since it was my first week, Kate let me pick the spot. I opted for Mi Barrio, a family-owned business that serves hearty portions of delicious Mexican food at a super reasonable price. The corn tortillas are made to order! Stop by on weekends for some of Matha’s specialties.
“As a native Texan (by way of Dallas) a decade removed, I had all but resigned myself to the southernification of Latin-inspired cuisine by the likes of Taco Mac and something called 'cheese sauce' until the fateful day that my Chimichanga from Mi Barrio showed up,” says Nick Roth, our Director of Employee Experience. “Dare I say, hope was restored anew both in my soul and in my stomach that mere blocks away from my current residence lay an incubator of culinary magic ready to quiet my restive longing for a taste of home. If anyone should claim to you a dearth of quality Latin cuisine in this fair burg, I have two words for the blasphemer: Mi Barrio.”
Week 2: Papi's Cuban and Caribbean Grill
216 Ponce De Leon Ave NE
While it’s hard to pass up a Cuban or a Medianoche sandwich, it’s worth exploring the entrees at Papi’s. Lunch specials like the Lechon Asado (pork marinated for 24 hours in Papi’s signature seasoning before being slow-roasted overnight) or Ropa Vieja (this dish, which translate to “old clothes,” features beef in a Creole tomato sauce with peppers, onions, and Papi’s signature spices) are served with yellow or white rice, black beans, and plantains.
"Papi's is three blocks away from my house, so you can only imagine the immense feeling of disappointment in myself I felt once I realized I had been denying my tastebuds the opportunity to enjoy such Cuban deliciousness for far too long,” laments Account Manager Taylor Hogan. “I can't wait to make up for lost time by adding Papi's to my weekly takeout rotation. Here's to working my way through their entire menu!"
Week 3: Arepa Mia
10 N Clarendon Ave, Avondale Estates
A Venezuelan staple, arepas are cornmeal flour grilled patties, sliced in half and stuffed with savory meat, cheese, veggies, or sweets. And they’re gluten-free! They also serve up Cachapas (think pancakes, but with a fresh corn dough) and Empanadas (stuffed turnovers made with corn flour).
“That was my first time at Arepa Mia and will certainly not be my last,” says Account Manager Lauren Schorr. “A new favorite for Localitos, I don’t think we came up for a single breath for the entire meal. Fresh, simple ingredients, incredible flavors, and an ideal selection of sauces!! 5 stars.”
Week 4: Buteco
1039 Grant St SE
Brazilian espresso, coffee, and tea? Check. Brazilian street food and cachaça-based cocktails? Well, Buteco’s got that too. The Grant Park restaurant is known for serving authentic South American drinks and cuisine, but it also has a penchant for incorporating the arts and music of Brazil into its dining experience as well.
"I've had Brazilian food a handful of times in my time in Atlanta, but after trying the Salsicha sandwich from Buteco, it will become a staple," says Strategist Harry Mitchell. He adored the crispy smoked sausage sliced thin and tossed in farofa (toasted cassava flour) topped with pepper and onion vinaigrette and habañero aioli.
More Nearby Latinx-owned restaurants:
590 Auburn Ave
Is there anything sadder than a bland fruit cup? You know what I’m talking about… a tasteless mixture of cantaloupe, honeydew, and limp blueberries. In these Frutta Frescas (fresh cut fruit cups) you’ll find papaya, mango, pineapple, kiwi, and fresh cut coconut. Why isn’t the line moving? It’s me — I can’t decide between the Wanna Guanabana Smoothie (guanabana, pineapple, and banana) or the Pura Pasion (passionfruit, mango, banana). Not technically on our street, but just around the corner!
659 Auburn Ave
For the most authentic Puerto Rican cuisine in Atlanta, be sure to stop by My Abeula’s Food. Luis pays homage to his grandma by recreating her recipes, like Mofongo Con Mojo (balls of mashed green plantain) and La Tripleta de Mr.Pig (Pernil, Pastrami, and Pollo, Magia, Cabbage, and Crispy Onions). And don’t forget a side of Tostones (fried green plantains)!