Food & DrinkGrub Notes

Doughnuts Downtown, Ice Cream at the Mall and Changes at Five & Ten

SUGARTOWN: In a lot of ways, Zombie Coffee and Donuts (350 E. Broad St., 706-850-2526) is a business made for the social-media age. The name is cute, the product photographable, the concept easily understandable and the lines driven by FOMO. The question is whether the doughnuts and coffee themselves live up to the hype, and… I don’t know if I’m the right person to judge! Other than the basic glazed from Krispy Kreme, I am generally very unimpressed by doughnuts. The ones at Zombie are big and puffy and made fresh right in front of you, cake doughnuts of a pretty light variety (but still no cloud of yeast and sugar).

The deal is that you get to pick your toppings and your glaze, using a paper order form sort of like at a sushi bar: strawberry, chocolate, powdered sugar, vanilla, maple, lemon, cinnamon sugar and plain, peanuts, coconut, bacon, M&M’s, Fruity Pebbles, rainbow or chocolate sprinkles, crushed Oreos and pecans. You can go crazy, especially if you are a small child with a sugar habit, and pile on the toppings, but the better move is to simplify and pick one. The flavors are subtler than you might expect, and they show off their charms better when not under a mound of Fruity Pebbles.

There are raw and gluten-free options, but they are not doughnuts. A few jars of raw balls in flavors like ginger, pistachio and dark chocolate are fairly unappealing (although maybe not if that is your thing?). The interior is appealing, with lots of gleaming white tile and a gigantic light fixture painted like the logo, a heavy-lidded red eye. The staff is young and cheerful, more well-scrubbed college kids than grouchy artisanally focused hipsters. And there are nice details, like the fact that the iced coffee is made with coffee ice cubes, meaning it doesn’t get diluted as the ice melts.

Zombie Coffee and Donuts is open Monday–Friday from 7 a.m.–10 p.m. and weekends 8 a.m.–10 p.m. It also delivers and does catering.

SUGARTOWN, PT. 2: If you enjoyed the write-up on La Michoacana, the wonderful ice cream store in Hull, but thought to yourself, “I don’t know if I’m willing to drive that far, even for excellent ice cream,” you should know that there is also a La Michoacana at the Georgia Square Mall, as part of the food court. La Michoacana del Tio Tino (3700 Atlanta Hwy., 706-380-9698) is, like the Hull location, part of the same loose association of family-owned businesses that tend to go by the same name (perhaps part of a small chain with locations in Atlanta and Duluth).

It is a little smaller than the Hull version of the same, without the paletas that store makes in a rainbow of colors and flavors, but it does still offer the array of Mexican street food snacks like Dorilocos and chamoyadas. The ice cream is still fresh and tasty, available in familiar flavors like bubblegum (bright blue, tongue-staining) and chocolate as well as less familiar ones, including many Latin American fruits. It is an excellent addition to the food court, and you can also get a big, delicious agua fresca to quench your thirst.

OLD FAVORITES: Instead of hiring a flashy name, Hugh Acheson has let Michael Farr take the reins at Five & Ten, promoting from within and not making a big to-do about it. So what’s the restaurant like these days? It’s changed a little. I don’t know if the menu is actually shorter or if it just feels that way. There are fewer weird ingredients on display, although still plenty of interesting choices. Ex-chef Jason Zygmont’s compositions were wild but refined displays of color and flavor, with surprises around every turn. Farr’s style is simpler, more straightforward, but he has a fine ability to transcend a description that doesn’t sound very exciting.

The lamb-cremini mushroom burger (part of the James Beard Foundation’s Blended Burger project, which recommends combining meat and mushrooms for a healthier and more environmentally sustainable meal) is topped with a slice of beefsteak tomato, Boursin cheese, crinkle-cut pieces of dill pickle and greens on a potato bun. It’s not a trendy or a sexy sell, but it’s also not deliberately retro. The result, however, is a tasty burger that doesn’t taste of mushrooms but is lighter and far less fatty than the usual made with just lamb. Peach gazpacho, which also includes cucumber, ground pecans, yogurt and wonderful little bursts of pickled blueberries, is not too sweet and shows a great respect for beautiful, seasonal produce.

Octopus may be on the menu of every vaguely hip restaurant everywhere, but that is because, prepared correctly, it is meaty and delicious. The braised tentacle here comes with crème fraîche, orange, chives and pretty hot pickled jalapeños, a nice zigzag among bitter, umami, salty and sweet. Old favorites remain on the menu, rotating with the season, but they make up less of it now than they have at other times. Service is still uniformly excellent and desserts on point.