Two new restaurants are now open in the burgeoning dining districts along Howell Mill Road and the Marietta Street Artery on Atlanta’s west side.
Virgil’s Gullah Kitchen and Bar opened in the former 4 Rivers Smokehouse space on Marietta Street near Georgia Tech, while UK-based Japanese restaurant Wagamama opened for takeout and delivery at the Star Metals complex on Howell Mill Road.
Virgil’s Gullah Kitchen and Bar — Marietta Street
The opening on Marietta Street marks the second location of the popular College Park restaurant. Co-owned by Juan and Gee Smalls, Virgil’s serves soul food takes on Gullah Geechee cuisine, including crab rice, red rice, and shrimp and crab gravy.
Gee Smalls, who named the restaurant for his late father, was born and raised on James Island, north of Charleston. Many of the dishes served at Virgil’s are based on his family’s recipes.
“Opening a second location of Virgil’s Gullah Kitchen & Bar means so much more than just opening another restaurant. It is not only strengthening a legacy that started in honor of my father, but it is also helping to spread awareness about the oldest Black culture in America,” Gee Smalls told Eater in November. “As Gullah Geechee people, we were not always celebrated in the way that we are starting to see hit mainstream right now.”
Virgil’s on Marietta Street features seating inside as well as on two patios, one of which is located on the second floor of the century-old former firehouse. The restaurant is currently awaiting its liquor license, but is serving dinner, with hopes of expanding into lunch and weekend brunch in the coming weeks. Takeout is also available.
Wagamama — Star Metals on Howell Mill Road
This is the first location of the Japanese restaurant to open in Georgia, and to open in the South. Located at the corner of 11th Street and Howell Mill Road at the emerging Star Metals complex, Wagamama is currently open for takeout and delivery while construction is completed in the dining room.
Wagamama opened 30 years ago, bringing its communal-style dining and open kitchen layout first to London. Sporting its signature open kitchen and communal seating combination and a patio flanking Howell Mill, Wagamama is known for its ramen, including grilled duck and shirodashi pork. Expect other dishes like donburi rice bowls, curries, and teppanyaki paired with wine, sake, and a selection of Asian beers.
The restaurant joins coffee shop and roastery Prevail Roasters and Sweetgreen, already open at the complex. Beer and wine bar SMR Tap and dart bar and restaurant Fight Club should open by the end of the year. Chef Atsushi “Art” Hayakawa is also relocating his eponymous restaurant Sushi Hayakawa to Star Metals, transforming the establishment there into an eight-seat omakase experience.