Stop eating at chain restaurants, Alpharetta

Alpharetta used to be known as the land of the chain restaurants. Over the past five years the city's dining scene has seen resurgence of a locally owned restaurants.

If you want to eat barbecue, head for downtown Alpharetta where you'll find Smokejack (29 S. Main St). A staple of downtown dining for over a decade, Smokejack offers traditional barbecue, including wings, pork, chicken, sausage, turkey and brisket in an atmosphere where comfortable meets family-friendly dining. If you want to eat like a local when you go, be sure to order their fried pickles as a starter and the Mojo Smoke Combo as your entree.

Just up the street from Smokejack, you'll find South Main Kitchen (9 South Main St.). Whether you dine during lunch or dinner, you'll find a menu full of flavor combinations with an upmarket twist. Locals love the restaurant's large steak sandwich with bibb lettuce, tomato, caramelized onion, pickled mushroom, and blue cheese as well as the confit duck leg with mushroom risotto, acorn squash, pecorino chip and brandied cherry jus.

Inside Avalon you'll find The El Felix (1130 Avalon Blvd. No. 1030), the sister restaurant to Ford Fry's Krog Street Market eatery Superica. If you're in the mood for spicy, order the Tacos de Camarones featuring spicy shrimp, smoked jalapeño, Monterey Jack, cilantro and cabbage or the Camarones Brochetas, which feature chili spiced Gulf shrimp, stuffed with jack cheese and jalapeño, wrapped in bacon. For a more savory and succulent dish, go with the Tacos de Carnitas with crispy pork belly, hot & sweet guava glaze, cilantro and onions. On a good weather day, be sure to ask to be seated on one of the restaurant's patios.

On a decidedly different note, Seven Seas Mediterranean Café sits tucked into a small diner space off the beaten culinary path (124 Devore Road). Serving up a menu featuring Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine Executive Chef and Owner Ali Moradi gives eaters traditional dishes to choose from, including kabobs, soulvaki, falafel, shawarma and spinach leaves.

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Not to be left out of the gourmet pizza trend ITP, Alpharetta offers diners two restaurants where they can get their fix: Antico (2200 Avalon Blvd.) and Campania (800 N. Main St.). While Antico's bare bones approach to dining matches their limited menu, Campania offers the full restaurant experience, including appetizers, salads, pasta and desserts.

If you prefer your meal washed down with a pint of beer, don't miss dining at 5 Seasons North (3655 Old Milton Parkway), the most northern of the 5 Seasons family of restaurants where they're passionate about, "making great food and brewing great beer." In downtown Alpharetta you'll find Hop Alley Brew Pub (25 S Main St.) serving house-made brews alongside a rotating list of draught and bottle offerings. Don't just go for the beer. The eatery offers a tasty selection of food that pairs well with the pints that isn't your typical bar fare including Wisconsin cheese curds, frog legs, bacon in a jar and the meatloaf melt.

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