2625 Mall of Georgia Boulevard

Buford, Ga.


Owner: Tracy Wallace

Open since: Sept. 3

Hours: 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, closed on Sundays

Location: In a storefront next to a Shell gas station and a Top Nails at the corner Mall of Georgia Boulevard and Appaloosa Lane.

Atmosphere: Feast26 features a simple, clean interior design that lets it southern roots be known in subtle ways.

There are chalkboard signs where menu items are written in a sort of fancy southern cursive and a tin arrow-shaped sign pointing customers to where they pay for their meals.

The restaurant has counter seating that looks into the kitchen, as well as table seating for customers who come in in groups and want to face each other as they chat and share some laughs over a meal.

Owner Tracy Wallace said his daughter came up with the design of the restaurant’s dining area. He also said, however, that one of the things he wants customers to feel when the come into the restaurant is a friendly, welcoming atmosphere.

“In fact, I’m out here (in the dining area) talking to the customers, asking ‘Hey, how did you hear about us? Where are you from? Do you live in the area?’ and that conversation always steers into something like (customers saying) ‘You know I was in New Orleans and I love cajun food and I heard about you and now that I’ve eaten here, I really love it,’ “ Wallace said.

Some busy times of the day are the lunch rush from noon until 2 p.m. and the dinner time, from 5 until 8 p.m.

Menu: The menu at Feast26 is a little bit traditional down home southern and a little bit Louisiana bayou cajun which just a bit of barbecue mixed in.

One of the aspects of the restaurant that customers will see when they walk in the dining area is the phrase “a creative southern kitchen” on the wall under the restaurant’s name. That is the approach Wallace and the chefs on staff try to take to the menu while simultaneously respecting some of the traditions of the food styles on the menu.

“It’s really southern and cajun, a combination of the two, but it’s not limited to that,” Wallace said. “Everything we do here is made in house. We try to keep it as chef-driven as possible and not your canned (food) or any of that type of stuff. We try buy fresh and local in every way we can.”

The menu includes a “Cajun and Creole” section which features staples of meals in the cajun country of south Louisiana, including jambalaya with chicken, sausage, rice and creole sauce; gumbo with chicken and sausage, onions, bell peppers, celery and rice; red beans and rice with tasso ham, andouille sausage and pork with a bit of a kick from the addition of a cajun seasoning blend, onions and red bell peppers.

There is also etouffee with crawfish or gulf shrimp, bell peppers, celery, garlic, rice, green onion and a housemade sauce. The cajun and creole part of the menu is capped with a shrimp po boy with shrimp, lettuce, tomato and remoulade on french bread.

But the menu also has its broader southern side as well. Customers can get plates or bowls with their choice of protein with the options including a dry rub, slow smoked pulled pork, a brined and smoked half-chicken, chicken wings, grilled or fried shrimp and a sweat tea brine fried chicken breast.

Plates come with the customer’s choice of up to three sides, although the price ranges from $8 to $13 depending on how many sides there are. for the bowls, the customer chooses a base — either mac and cheese, rice or mashed potatoes — a protein and one of six sauces (peach barbecue, mustard barbecue, cherry sauce, carolina barbecue, horseradish cream and slap-ya-mama ranch).

There’s also a barbecue sandwich with a side of cajun fries and a cajun caesar salad.

Some popular menu items include the sweet tea brine fried chicken, the red beans and rice, the shrimp po’boy, the cajun burrito, the collard greens, mac and cheese and pimento cheese deviled eggs.

The menu includes several sides for $3 a piece. Many of them are southern meal stables such as collard greens, green beans, potato salad, deviled eggs, baked beans and mac and cheese. There are some sides, however, that come from, or at least pay homage to, the cajun side of the menu as well, including a small serving of red beans and rice, dirty rice, jalapeno slaw and cajun fries.

The dessert menu includes a bread pudding with a bourbon caramel sauce, a key lime pie and a banana pudding. the bread pudding has proven to be popular with customers, Wallace said.

There will be some additional menu items that will likely be added in the winter, such as a Brunswick stew. Wallace said the restaurant will also have seasonal desserts for the menu in the future as well.

From April until June, Wallace plans to serve crawfish that will be brought up from Louisiana for crawfish boils.

And there’s some experimenting with new dishes as well.

“We’re trying to come up with a southern burrito ... which we think is going to be something like mac and cheese, pulled pork or fried chicken with shredded collards,” Wallace said.

Something You May Not Know: The Feast26 name comes from a mixture of sources. Wallace said he, his family and the restaurant’s employees were trying to come up with a name that didn’t lock them specifically into one type of food. He said they wanted to find a word that “described the creativity that we wanted to bring to the kitchen” when someone suggested using the word “Feast.” The 26 part comes from the fact that Wallace’s daughter’s birthday is Dec. 26.

I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta. I eventually wandered away from home and attended the University of Southern Mississippi, in Hattiesburg, Miss., where I first tried my hand at majoring in film for a couple of years. And then political sc