First Look: Mar Coastal Mexican Fare

Our contributor reviews one of Atlanta's newest spots

Atlanta's Mar Coastal serves a light and bright Sunday brunch.

The well-traveled and reasonably studied American sees the word "mar" and immediately begins to savor the flavors of the sea. So, when Mar Coastal Mexican Fare recently opened its doors in land-locked Atlanta’s next door neighbor, Decatur, Ga., all eyes and palates were on it.

At the helm, or shall we say in the kitchen, is chef Joey Zelinka, a 30-year-old who grew up immersed in the Latin flavor of the American Caribbean, also known as Miami. Although he is only 30 years old, he brings quite a sense of imagination to Mar’s exotically Mexican-themed menu. Having spent time under a few of Atlanta’s finest chefs at Rathbun’s and 4th and Swift though, he’s been prepped well to do the job!

A first look at Mar Coastal began with a recent Sunday brunch. Here’s the menu, reviewed:

Lobster Rosarito Benedict: Allepo chile hollandaise with a poached egg and frisee pickled shallots was perhaps the brightest star shining on the plate. The lobster was formed into a shape of Canadian bacon, fried crisp on the outside, yet moist inside. The hollandaise came with a kick, and an accompanying lift from the pickled shallot.

Huevos Divorciados: Two fried eggs on top of a flour tortilla, refried azuki beans with a smoked red sauce, roasted serrano, and salsa verde. This was a totally creative twist in which chef Zelinka completely deconstructed the classic huevos rancheros.

Pork Confit Tacos (Carnitas): Two pork confit carnitas, house flour tortillas, guacamole, beans, fresh cilantro, and onions is a classic on any Mexican themed menu — seafood house or not. Although not as heavy as we sometimes expect eating pork to be, the dish in totality showcased a clean, yet flavorful feeling that was perfect for brunch (and especially with a margarita).

Chilaquiles: Signature house-made chips with chicken, crema serrano, green sauce, chihuahua cheese, onions, and refried beans. If you want this dish, you should arrive early to be sure it’s still available! It’s a popular, and limited, menu item.

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Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho: The chef’s method of whipping the combination of this tomato-based classic gives it a creamy texture. But with one bite, it was pure summer fun, lifted by the sweetness of refreshing bits of diced watermelon.