Radial Cafe — hidden away over in Candler Park, near the Edgewood MARTA station — serves fresh, environmentally (and, often, vegetarian- and vegan-) friendly dishes for breakfast and lunch (seven days a week) and dinner (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday). The entire joint has an urban farmhouse vibe, with everything from the bar to the walls tastefully decorated with reclaimed materials.
Though there are some persistent signature dishes on the menu (including — hands down — Atlanta’s best pancakes), each week’s specials reflect what’s fresh and locally available. These specials are a constant source of delight for me. Weeks after the fact, I’m still going on and on about the Peanut Butter Captain Crunch French Toast I gobbled down more than two months back. Was it last year they had Praline Crunch Pecan Pancakes? Probably — and I’m still raving about that, too.
Long story short: there’s something on Radial’s menu for everyone. When I’m low-carbing it, I get a platter piled high with applewood smoked bacon. When I’m avoiding animal protein, I’m all about the vegan roasted herb potatoes, sweet potato hash, or vegan buckwheat pancakes. When I’m eating light, there’s a Radial multi-grain bagel. When I’m feeling decadent, it’s French toast time (thick challah bread, baked locally, battered with vanilla and served with organic maple syrup).
Dinner is just as much an adventure, with my personal favorites being the Brasstown Beef Burger (when you bite into it, angels sing) and the makes-me-run-around-in-circles-and-scream-with-pleasure BBQ Tofu Satay, which is absolutely the best thing anyone has ever done with tofu since it was invented in northern China in 164 BC. And when they ask for your dinner drink order, whatever you would usually drink, just say, “Pom Ginger.” (Trust me on this. You can thank me later.)
Clyde and I wind up at Radial at least once a week, and think of Radial as our go-to breakfast joint. Weekend visitors always get taken there — no exceptions. This is, in part, because of the restaurant’s philosophy and, in part, because of the consistently delicious food … but it is mostly because of the consistent hospitality of Frank Bragg (the owner) and his amazing staff.
One wonders if Frank Bragg ever goes home. We see him there in the mornings — like today, serving tiny pancakes to an army of delighted soccer-playing little girls. We see him there at lunch, chatting up the regulars. We see him there at night, striking up conversations and making sure things are done right. We see him online: on Twitter, on Facebook. We see him supporting community events and groups, like the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus. I don’t know of another owner who is so involved, so present, and so approachable.
When most owners and managers ask, “Everything good?”, they’re just spouting the restaurant version of “How’s it going?” (That is, they don’t really expect an answer.) Frank cares. When we’ve ordered new items, he’s actually taken notes on our feedback. He tweaks recipes. He *listens.*
His staff — particularly the folks who have been there forever — are equally remarkable. I wish I knew more names. For now, suffice it to say that the people who work here really seem to care about the place, and do a great job of taking care of customers. They are also — how to say this? — all very easy on the eyes.
Now, as you’ll see on Yelp, Radial isn’t perfect. Service levels can vary, and, in our experience, the quality of service depends mostly on your server’s length of tenure (the old-timers are the best, while the new folks can be embarrassingly green). And, even after eating there almost every week since 2010, I have never successfully ordered the cinnamon roll. (Once, not yet ready. The next time, after forty-five minutes, they said the batter didn’t work out. The third — and last — time I tried, it arrived after we finished breakfast … and was too dry and floury to eat.)
But these little gaffes pale in comparison to the long-term vibe, attitude, friendliness, and quality of the joint. Your friends aren’t always at their best … but you still love them, don’t you?
So: if you haven’t been there yet, go try Radial. Like, now. This weekend, they’re all about the strawberries: as in strawberry pancakes and strawberry cream cheese cake. So: follow them on the Twitters, like them on the Facebooks, get yourself to Candler Park, and say hi to Frank and crew for me.
Radial Cafe: Fast Facts
Category: Fresh Food Movement, Breakfasts
– ReMARKable – Awarded “Best Breakfast in Atlanta” by MadeByMark.com
– Score: 89/100
Vibe: Casual, comfortable, friendly urban farmhouse
Crowd: Broad appeal
Service: Generally very good, but variable based on tenure of server
Decibel Level: 85 (Average Automobile/Loud Singing)
Can’t Go Wrong Orders:
– Breakfast: Pancakes, Special French Toast, Applewood Bacon, Coffee
– Dinner: BBQ Tofu Satay, Brasstown Beef Burger
About this Review: Reviews on MadeByMark.com are unbiased and honest. My opinions aren’t for sale. I haven’t received compensation of any kind for this material, unless you count the notes of thanks I get from MadeByMark.com readers who depend on me for great leads on local, affordable, “eat there anytime” joints in our neck of the woods.