Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ronnie John's Beach Cafe - Marietta, Georgia

Always on the lookout for new restaurants to try, I don't really recall what put Ronnie John's on our radar. Whatever it was, I'm glad it did.

Ronnie John's Beach Cafe is a land-locked beach shack; the only bright spot in an otherwise unremarkable strip mall. You have to go looking for this place. You probably won't just happen upon it in its out of the way location. But it's absolutely worth the effort to find.

Ronnie John's serves a mash up of Hawaiian, Polynesian and Californian cuisines. Those influences can be seen in the large menu posted at the ordering counter. There are plate lunches from Hawaii, fish tacos from California and pork and pineapple dishes that at least nod to Polynesia. The menu offers bowls, sandwiches, salads, tacos, burritos and the oddly intriguing lunch plates.

I had a chance to briefly speak with Ronnie, one of the owners. His grandparents lived in Hawaii and he grew up in California. As far as I can tell, John, the other half of Ronnie John's Beach Cafe ownership, hails from the Carolina's. Ronnie also mentioned that he went to culinary school in North Carolina. Wanting to do something a bit off center of standard restaurant fare Ronnie and John opened Ronnie John's Beach Cafe.

 The interior is painted a warm, sunny yellow and is filled with typical beach shack kitsch; beach-y, posters, palm trees and the abandoned license plates of those who fled winter for the sunny beach shores. It's a pleasant space and does kind of put you in a lunch-on-the-beach frame of mind.

I knew just looking at the menu that we would have to come back, often. There's just so much to try. Everything we did try was good. The pork was tender and the pineapple sweet in the Wahine, the fish and shrimp in the tacos were fried perfectly and the ramen noodles in the Bonzai Pipeline were not overcooked. No pile of mushy noodles here.
Typhoon Taco Plate - one fish & one shrimp taco with a side of red beans and rice

Wahine - Sweet and sour pork with white rice

Bonzai Pipeline - chilled ramen with julienned veg and peanut sauce
I'm far from an expert on these types of cuisines but I'm a sucker for a good fish taco. When I return I'm going to try one of the Hawaiian Plate Lunches. I'm already looking forward to it and trying to decide how much food two people can order without seeming weird, well, weirder than usual. As they say at Ronnie John's "It's all good brah!"

Happy travels!

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