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The dining room at Del Frisco’s Grille; photography by Caroline Petters
Meat Me in Buckheadby Wendell Brock | Men's Book Atlanta magazine | November 9, 2012
My date is flush pink—luxuriating in the afterglow of a dirty martini, an expertly grilled, medium-rare filet and a tall tulip of cabernet. We are dining out at Del Frisco’s Grille on a Saturday night, our arteries pumping with full-bodied, unctuous food, hot music and booze.
Seems like a good moment to pop the big question.
“So what do you think of this place?” I ask meekly. About this time, I realize a thirsty-looking woman lurching over one end of the bar has removed the turban I thought was a religious requirement to reveal tousled, Marilyn Monroe-style hair. Gesturing to a boob job in the booth behind us, my date—a very pretty 31-year-old well versed in the city’s singles scene—observes succinctly: “Feels like a place where women come to look for rich men.”
If only I could detach my snout from my steak sandwich and my Fat Tire, I could see she’s right. Inside this pitch-black contemporary room—which strikes me as part sports bar, part steakhouse, part cruise joint—sexy staffers strut by in tight black mini-skirts and lacy hosiery. Outside of this Buckhead property, former home to Craft Atlanta and Craftbar, customer-dudes in designer duds step out of Porsches, Bentleys and Mercedes under the phallic shadow of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Handing keys to valet attendants, they slink up the stairs to this club-like, double-level meat vault, where a bevy of beauties in short skirts and long suit jackets fling open the doors and enthuse, “Welcome to Del Frisco’s!”
Such pomp and theater are par for the course at the Atlanta location of Del Frisco’s Grille, a Dallas-based restaurant group with a menu of steaks, chops, salads, and lots of rich, calorie-laden sides that riff on American classics. (I’m told that many of these Southern-flavored dishes—like the Brunswick Shrimp and Grits, Pimento-Country Ham Mac & Cheese, and Savannah Blue Crab toast—are Peachtree exclusives, courtesy of Executive Chef Michael Fuller.) The food here is big, bold, flavorful and conducive to sharing. The cocktail list is not exhaustive or over-the-top creative, but you can spend a lot of time poring over the Texas-size wine tome, which lists 500 bottles.
In what shakes out to be a night of role swapping, we start with the aforementioned dirty ’tini for the lady (perfect!) and a sweet girly drink for me (the lovely and delicious Georgia Peach, a slurpful concoction of Jack Daniels, honey, lime, fresh peaches and peach bitters). Some other fun-sounding sippers are the Hotlanta Cooler (made with tequila), the Buckhead Betty (rum) and—the Skirt Chaser (gin).
Our server told us more than once that the edamame (with Korean barbecue sauce and lime salt) is the best such soy snack she’s ever had. She was also big on the ahi tacos, but we were more in the mood for the pimento cheese fritters (pretty tasty) and the crab toast, which were gooey with cheese, seasoned with Old Bay and lemon, and quite yummy. We also felt compelled to try a signature flatbread, which comes rigged out with a fancy presentation involving a wooden serving board and a crane—I mean, metal display stand. (The mushroom flatbread with arugula, caramelized onions and fontina really did its job, so one of these signature almost-pizzas might be the ticket if you plan on ordering some of the gut-busting a la carte sides and a steak or other entrée.)
The kitchen salts with a heavy hand. In the case of my friend’s copiously seasoned, 8-ounce filet, that was a good thing. That’s how I cook steak, so how come mine never turns out like buttah? I opted for the shaved prime-rib steak sandwich, a play on the classic French-dip roll. It came with au jus and horseradish cream on the side—plus a delicious stack of shoestring potatoes in their own little paper cup. Nothing dainty about this dish, except the mini-Tabasco bottle of ketchup. A good choice and plenty to take home, too. From the get-go, the lady had her eye on the grits with lobster sauce (which didn’t do much for us) and the bacon-y roasted Brussels sprouts (which did).
Though we were more than stuffed at the end of this long and indulgent repast, we couldn’t leave without trying the coconut cream pie—a casserole-size portion of heavenly custard, pillows of whipped cream, plus coconut and white chocolate shavings so big they looked like birthday candles. I can’t imagine that the babes who come here on the arms of fast and powerful men would eat more than a spoonful, but I was ready to bathe in it. Somehow, I don’t think anyone at Del Frisco’s would mind.
Del Frisco’s Grille
3376 Peachtree Road NE
Lunch: Mon.-Fri., 11am-4pm
Dinner: Mon.-Fri., 4-11pm;
Sat., 3-11pm; Sun., 3-9pm.
Brunch: Sat.-Sun., 11am-3pm.
Where to Park
Valet parking will cost you $2, plus tip. Bring cash.
What to Know
Excellent steak, but not to be confused with Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House.
What it Costs
Starters and sandwiches, $7-$18. Entrees, $16-$39