Grub Notes

Skillfully-Crafted Bar Eats and More Food News

Paloma Park

PALOMA PARK (235 W. Washington St., 706-850-7356): When Paloma Park opened in the spring of 2021, I didn’t give it a proper review. If you knew the number of “restaurants” I’ve gone to that turn out to be bars serving fried whatnot from Sysco and that smell like stale beer in the middle of the day, you’d understand. The owner’s having been involved in college bars like Buddha Bar, Centro, Double Barrel, Sandbar and more didn’t exactly inspire culinary confidence. So imagine my surprise to find the menu far more than tolerable and the atmosphere kind of… nice? 

Don’t get me wrong: Paloma Park is a bar. There’s a guy at the entrance checking IDs even at non-peak times. But it’s also a good brunch spot or a place to get some early snacks before the bass starts thumping and the giant TV starts blaring. There’s a cute mural about the process of making tequila and a couple of disco balls with a six-foot diameter. 

Whoever’s in the kitchen has some skills, because the eats, while not totally consistent, are vastly better and more creative than they need to be. Prices are a little high ($5 a pop for tacos, $12 for six wings), even considering the current economic situation, but if you’ve had a few drinks, your tolerance for spending money might be loosened up. You also might not notice the automatic fees for using a credit card (4%) and for counter service (14%), given that there’s a line for “additional tip” on the receipt. 

Those tacos might be pricey and not huge, but they are fun and creative, with the fried chicken one incorporating pimento cheese and the catfish taco seasoned with orange and gochujang. The wings are good stuff and come in flavors like truffle agave (pleasant and not overwhelming) or peach bourbon barbecue, with avocado ranch on the side rather than blue cheese. Go on a Sunday and they’re 99 cents. Generally, if something sounds snackier and stronger flavored, it’s better. The elote corn ribs, curled sections of corn cut off the cob, fried and sprinkled heavily withTaijin, cotija and cilantro, easily top the big ol’ burrito, which ends up being mushy and bland. The birriaquilles, a Sunday hangover concoction that cooks tortilla chips in salsa roja before topping them with fried eggs, birria and cotija, are in between, a huge platter that wears a bit thin by the time you make a dent in it, but pretty good at the start. Cocktails, ordered at a different place from the food, are mostly tequila based and don’t have prices listed; anything can be made non-alcoholic if you prefer. Give them a little more acidity (both the Park Paloma and the Blackberry Smash are $12 and too sweet) and they would improve a lot. Would I go on a Friday night? Heck no. I’m too old for that. But would I go back for smoke-fried wings and beers on a Sunday? I might! 

Paloma Park is open 11 a.m.–4 p.m. for Sunday brunch, 5–11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 3 p.m. to whenever on Friday and 11 a.m.–11 p.m. on Saturday.

TREATHOUSE (585 Barber St., 706-850-8226): Here’s a similar situation: Treehouse Kid and Craft, the magical toy store that moved from Broad Street to Barber Street recently, opened a candy and ice cream shop by its roll-up door. After one attempted visit that was thwarted by the ice creamery keeping different hours from the store and another by the ice cream maker being on the fritz, I forgot about it for a while. But I’m glad I went back. The oat milk-based vegan product isn’t quite as good as a cow-originating one would be; I tend to find oat milk a little thin and slightly too sweet, but the toppings make up for it. More than one person looked at me with skepticism when I recommended the Salt n Pepa (salted blue corn cone, vanilla soft serve, spicy salsa macha dripped around it, a big strip of salty dried mango), but if you like a savory dessert, it’s made for you. Who woulda thunk hot sauce and ice cream make such a great team? The EVOO-OOOH, a sundae topped with olive oil, Condor Chocolate magic shell, sea salt and absolutely killer slices of dried orange, could use a little more savory oomph but is still lovely. Kids are more likely to go for the Party Animal (birthday cone, sprinkles, frosted animal crackers, a lit birthday candle), which is more visual than taste-based delight. Don’t skip the fruit fluff, a dairy-free strawberry soft serve, and enjoy the Astroturfed, brightly colored patio. It’s a good bit pricier than Hodgson’s, but you can’t get chili crisp, edible flowers or black sesame seeds on your ice cream there. The ice cream is available 12–6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 12–4 p.m. on Sunday, the soft-serve gods willing.