If you come from California, Texas, or the Southwest (or even Chicago or Raleigh-Durham, increasingly known for their authentic Mexican restaurants) traveling to other parts of the country can be pretty dispiriting when you have a taste for good Mexican food — that is, until you try Mi Cocina.
Located in the heart of Midtown Atlanta on legendary Peachtree Street, Mi Cocina combines a smart, upscale contemporary setting with an array of Tex-Mex classics and culinary creations, at fair prices.
Inside and out, Mi Cocina makes an arresting and stylish statement. From the outside, the two-story dramatic glass curved façade is alluring. Inside, off-white dominates with splashes of tropical colors and a bright, bold mural of branches, leaves, and fruit. The downstairs main dining area has dark wood tabletops, off-white leather-like chairs, and an off-white banquette that snakes through the room. Upstairs provides nice views of Midtown Atlanta, the pedestrian-friendly hot spot in the city.
Mi Cocina boasts "hand-crafted and made fresh daily" cuisine using authentic Mexican cooking techniques. It all starts at the bar. The drink menu offers 13 specialties, including intriguing variations of margaritas, as well as sangria and three different mojitos. I went for the Perfect "Handmade" Margarita, which is a concoction of Patrón Silver tequila and Patrón Citrónge liqueur. Served on the rocks, it was perfectly sweet and pungent. My dining companion chose the Mambo Taxi, a classic frozen margarita featuring Sauza Blanco tequila with house-made sangria. It’s a visually appealing drink with a red swirl of sangria combined with the soft green frozen margarita. It refreshed my palate as well.
Warm chips and chilled salsa arrived minutes after we took our seats. We also ordered queso blanco, which was velvety and warm with a bit of a kick.
Making dinner selections was a bit of challenge as the menu offered so much to choose from: tacos "de brisket," pork tamale dinner, carne asada, spinach enchiladas, or fajitas (beef, chicken, "Latin" stir-fry, 50/50, or rib-eye).
We ended up choosing the shrimp with chile and garlic ("camarones chili y ajo") and the chicken with lime and chile ("pollo en limon y chile"). The grilled chicken arrived sizzling on a platter on a mound of stir-fried mushrooms, carrots, cabbage, and onions with a side bowl of white rice with bits of red and green peppers. The hint of lime gave the dish a flavorful and bright lift. The shrimp dish was equally as mouthwatering, loaded with the savory plump shrimp and a bounty of zucchini, green peppers, and onions.
Dessert options were limited to flan or pecan praline. Clearly the flan is a popular seller, which means that it can run out by the end of your meal. The pecan praline comes is served plastic wrapped, as in takeout order ready.
If, by chance, you're the type who refuses the valet parking option, which Mi Cocina offers free of charge, you should know in advance that parking in this Midtown Atlanta neighborhood can be a nightmare, or a blessing — depending on how you see the opportunity to walk off a great meal.
Gale Horton Gay is a seasoned lifestyle writer and longtime lifestyle editor at the Dekalb Champion Newspaper.