Off the Atlanta BeltLine
My boyfriend and I rarely go outside a 1-mile radius around our home in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood. We can find everything we need close by, including many of Atlanta's best restaurants, on or off the Atlanta BeltLine.
But for his birthday last Saturday, I suggested Tuk Tuk Thai Food Loft, on Peachtree Street in Buckhead. Located upstairs, it has a wraparound balcony with a partial view of the downtown skyline. I drove by it several times and was enticed by its beautiful exterior. My interest was further piqued when I learned that Travel and Leisure magazine named them one of the top Thai restaurants in the U.S. It's no wonder - the owner, Chef DeeDee Niyomkul is the daughter of Atlanta Thai restaurant legends, who created Tamarind Seed (now closed) and Nan Thai. She is also the granddaughter of a Bangkok street food vendor, and that's what Tuk Tuk brings to the table.
Shawn was skeptical of trying a new place, especially one we had to drive to. And I understand - you don't want to risk having a bad meal on your birthday. But he loves Asian food, Tuk Tuk had good credentials, and I persuaded him.
So we made a reservation for Saturday evening, after my Food and Art Tour on the Atlanta BeltLine. When we arrived, we entered a small lobby with a tuk tuk (the restaurant's inspiration) on display. Common in Southeast Asia, they are basically electric pedicabs.
We took the elevator to the second floor, and stepped into a beautiful and vibrant dining room, flanked by a long bar. With brightly blue painted walls and red accents, the restaurant was flooded with light from the early evening sun. It was too chilly for us to sit on the balcony, but we had a table by the window with a global view of the dining room and its comings and goings - Tuk Tuk staff walking past in traditional Thai dress, a group of teenagers on their way to prom in gowns and tuxes, other birthday celebrations, an older couple eating dinner perched at a high top in the bar, men in suits, friends in casual clothes. It's a restaurant that suits your occasion, whatever it is.
Shawn and I shared several tapas plates. The beef tenderloin came hanging from skewers in a display that was as much a feast for the eyes as the stomach. And who doesn't love meat on a stick?
We enjoyed the calamari, which was light and crispy and so easy to munch on.
My favorite dish was the chicken wings. They came whole and were crispy and flavorful, with plenty of juicy meat inside.
Shawn wanted the garlic pepper spare ribs, and although I am not generally a fan, these were delicious. Usually with ribs, you have to work to get the meat. These bones were surrounded by thick pork, almost a meal in itself.
I had told the restaurant we were celebrating Shawn's birthday, so I thought they might bring out a dessert with a candle in it (they did), but I wasn't expecting the manager to give a silver keychain of a tuk tuk to Shawn. It was very cute.
Shawn was perusing the lunch menu, making plans to return, and he also discovered that Tuk Tuk serves fried chicken on Monday nights. The manager, Simon, told us it's very popular and sells out fast. He advised us to get there by 7 or 7:30 p.m.
We will definitely be back - whether for fried chicken or lunch or to bring Shawn's kids. It's a great place in Atlanta for a birthday celebration - or a romantic date - or any event, really. The food is delicious, and the atmosphere is inviting. It is now one of our favorite restaurants.
And Tuk Tuk is just fun to say. Try it.
If you love eating at the best restaurants in Atlanta, or are looking for fun things to do in Atlanta this spring, join our Food and Art Tour of the Atlanta BeltLine. We are offering 20% off for our spring launch, use code atlspring22 when booking any Saturday. Hurry, it's only good through April!
An Atlanta native, Nicole Gustin is the Founder and CEO of BiteLines, which offers walking Food and Art Tours on the Atlanta BeltLine. She considers the BeltLine her backyard, and is excited to see how Atlanta is reinventing itself. To sample some of Atlanta's best restaurants and street art, come join us on a Food and Art Tour of the Atlanta BeltLine. Follow on TikTok and Instagram @bitelinesatl.