There is a uniqueness to street food. It is why I line up for food trucks whenever they appear. It is why I am dream of going to Mexico City.
So I love the idea of taking multiple street food recipes and serving them in a vibrant, open-air restaurant.
This week, my boyfriend and I went there for dinner. It wasn't the first time we had eaten their food, but for the past year, we have only gotten takeout from Hawkers. Now that we are fully vaccinated, we are venturing out more.
They have a prime location in SPX Alley (and if you haven't been there, I highly recommend trying all of the restaurants). We got a table on their outdoor patio and settled in among the colorful pillows decorated in Asian prints, watching joggers, bikes, scooters and others go by on the BeltLine.
Their menu includes food from the different Asian countries. Flatbread from Malaysia. Chinese steamed baos (or are they Korean?). Family recipes like Po Po Lo's Curry (chicken, vegetables and rice curry) and Yi-Yi's chicken dumplings. One of my favorites is the Viet Bún salad, topped with a crunchy egg roll.
The restaurant takes its name from street food vendors. In Asian countries, street sellers (or hawkers) serve authentic family recipes. Their locations even become coveted real estate. Both of these describe Hawkers, the restaurant.
Above video shot by Shawn Ventura
My boyfriend, Shawn, loves their Pad Thai, which was not currently on the menu. This is his favorite place to get wings, so he got naked wings with sweet Thai chili sauce on the side. I have tried the battered wings in the past, and thought they were too heavy. But the Korean twice fried wings had a lot of flavor. Shawn also got Chow Faan - fried rice with chicken, shrimp and pork. It was a huge bowl that we ended up taking home.
Whenever we get Hawkers delivery, we add an order of Roti Canai - a flakier version of Naan bread with a homemade curry dipping sauce that I want to paint the world with and eat.
They also make tacos from the roti bread. I considered getting the pork (char siu) but wanted the curry sauce, which comes with chicken. They brought me two huge tacos stuffed with chicken and rice - I could only finish one, and brought the other one home. I salivate when I think about it.
We also got the Golden Wontons, which our server said is a popular dish. They are filled with a ground mixture of chicken, shrimp and mushrooms. I think they would be better if each wonton contained a separate filling, not ground. But maybe this is a traditional Asian dish.
After seeing a tray of enticing cocktails delivered to the next table, I got the O.G. Pain Killer for myself, made with rum, pineapple, orange and cream of coconut. I could have drunk 12 (but only had one).
The restroom is papered in fun Asian designs, with authentic music piped in. Check it out:
My experience with Hawkers has been hit or miss over the past few years. Some of their menu items are mouthwatering, and some leave me wanting pizza. The food was great this time, and we had excellent service.
I recommend that you try them, and experiment with different dishes.
It was a mild evening and we walked on the BeltLine afterward, with our boxes of leftovers, looking at new artwork going up on bridges and walls.
An Atlanta native, Nicole Gustin is the founder & CEO of BiteLines, which offers walking food tours on the Atlanta BeltLine. She considers the BeltLine her backyard, and is excited to see how Atlanta is reinventing itself. The BiteLines blog features art, restaurants, happenings and weirdness on the Atlanta BeltLine. Share story ideas and pics at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or follow on Instagram @bitelinesatl.
Note: We have paused our tours during the pandemic, but plan to ramp up again in 2021.