Before coming to Emory, I grew up in South Florida, a region affectionately nicknamed New York City’s “Sixth Borough.” That nickname is most easily recognized in our food. When there isn’t a Kosher-style deli or bagel shop in sight, there’s someone’s grandmother is inviting you over for “the best matzo ball soup.” Naturally, moving to Atlanta was a bit of an adjustment — for my first several months here, the corned beef and sour pickles of yore had been supplanted with grease-saturated burgers from The Varsity and collard greens. Then I found Goldberg’s Bagel Company & Deli.
Although the small chain maintains eight outposts from Alpharetta to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the Toco Hills location is the perfect venue for Saturday morning brunch. Conveniently located a few doors down from Emory’s favorite neighborhood bar and grill, Goldberg’s is accessible with a ride on the Toco Hills shuttle.
My standard order at a deli is an everything bagel, nova and cream cheese with a side of latkes to complete the triad. That combination, the classic deli’s flagship dish, is always a satisfying choice and Goldberg’s rendition was no exception. The bagel was perfectly baked to a golden brown and seasoned well with onion, sesame and poppy seeds for a true Empire State flavor. The nova was smoked to precise perfection, not over-salted and generously nestled between the bagel halves. The latkes’ fluffy interior was well shrouded by a crispy shell. Unfortunately, I found the latkes to be slightly bland and a little small. Nonetheless, the combo remains a no-brainer for Emory’s sizable New York population to get their fix.
Last time I paid a visit to Goldberg’s, my waitress recommended the fried chicken and waffle platter. I hesitated for just a moment before my weakness for fried chicken compelled me to step away from the realm of deli food and order the dish. When it was placed in front of me, I was spellbound. The syrup lightly cascaded over the chicken and settled in the perfectly formed crevices of the waffle beneath. The chef used a boneless chicken breast, which made it easy to cut into bite size pieces. The batter on the chicken was crunchy, but not too salty. The meat inside was moist and sweet. It complemented the airy and mild waffle beneath, with the syrup serving as the perfect intermediary between breakfast and lunch. That dish is a southern gem hiding in the clamor of a New York-style delicatessen.
Every time I have dined at Goldberg’s, the service has been prompt and friendly. Within minutes, I am seated and enjoying a large,robust cup of Goldberg’s coffee. The walls of the restaurant are covered in cultural references from The Beatles to Shrek. My personal favorite hangs above one of the soda fountains. It is a parody of the Prometheus maquette from Rockefeller Center with the Greek figure hovering over a bagel. As elaborate as the décor is, the menu is far more detailed, with page after page listing a comprehensive variety of sandwiches, salads and soups. Oy vey — you too will be mired in indecision over what to order.
I will be back next weekend to visit my favorite brunch option. As the chicken on top off students’ proverbial waffle, they can bring their Emory ID for 10 percent off.