A version of this story originally appeared in the July/August 2017 issue of Living Intown magazine.
From “secret menus” at fast food cult destinations like In-N-Out Burger to “off-menu” items for regulars at fine dining restaurants, the idea of ordering a dish or a hack that’s unavailable unless you’re in the know holds an almost mystical allure.
For fast food chains, secret items can create buzz in social media, as witnessed by the number of sites and even apps that track them, such as hackthemenu.com. At higher-end restaurants, such items give chefs the chance to experiment and have fun, while regular customers can taste something new.
Little-known eats and drinks remain hidden in plain sight around town.
Here are our sure-fire favorites with a list of more to search out.
400 Wooddale Drive, Suite 217. 404-467-8950.
At Seven Lamps in Buckhead, chef Drew Van Leuvan offers the 50/50 Burger as a secret menu item every day. Made with a half-and-half blend of grass-fed brisket and top round from Brasstown Beef, it’s served on a house-made brioche bun with melted cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, bread-and-butter pickles, crispy pancetta and house-made Thousand Island dressing. And it comes with a side of crispy cottage fries powdered with espelette pepper and kosher salt.
125 E. Court Square, Decatur. 404-687-0990.
Decatur’s Brick Store Pub is well known as one of the best craft beer bars in the world, but its whiskey list is none too shabby, either. And though it’s only officially on the menu on St. Patrick’s Day, regulars know a really great Irish coffee is always available for the asking. The BSP version, based on the recipe San Francisco’s Buena Vista Cafe perfected in 1952, is built in an iconic glass mug, with house brown sugar syrup, Jameson and fresh brewed coffee topped with a float of lightly whipped cream.
3060 Peachtree Road. 404-477-3500.
At King + Duke in Buckhead, chef EJ Hodgkinson presents a meaty array of dishes prepared over a 24-foot open-fire hearth. And though it hasn’t appeared on the menu in over two years, the decadently delicious bone marrow is still on offer nightly by request. It comes garnished with smoky caramelized onions, chimichurri, torn herbs and grilled sourdough bread.
Here’s a few more Atlanta restaurants with available off-menu options:
The burger hacks at this national fast food chain are the stuff of secret menu legend. At the Buckhead location, you might try your luck by requesting the Peanut Butter and Bacon ShackBurger, which oozes with a crazy mix of peanut butter sauce and melty American cheese on a potato roll.
675 Ponce De Leon Ave. 404-600-2465. Chef Hector Santiago offers mofongo with pork belly as a secret menu item at Ponce City Market. The classic Puerto Rican delicacy is made with fried and mashed green plantains seasoned with garlic and cilantro and served with crispy rendered pork belly.
Regulars order several off-menu items at this Poncey-Highland barbecue spot, including such favorites as Hot Bacon Wings with bacon fat hot sauce and the Gangsta’s Paradise “cocktail shot” made with R. Jelinek Fernet, coconut rum and lime juice.
1029 Edgewood Ave. 404-525-4479.
The Meatstick at One Eared Stag in Inman Park is an off-menu burger that can be ordered based on the whims of the kitchen and ingredient availability. The double-stack with American cheese is topped with bacon, house pickles, shaved white onion, American cheese and a house brioche bun.