If you find yourself in Buckhead, in the vicinity of Pharr Road, at lunchtime, do yourself a favor and find a place to park. Make your way to 316. On the opposite side of the street from Atlanta Fish Market and a block down, in a small strip shopping center, sits a most unpretentious little lunch spot.
Cafe at Pharr has been serving customers since its bakery days in 1992. When my friends and I ate there a short while back, the place was packed. It is highly unusual for a strip mall restaurant to continue to thrive for over fifteen years. With a change in ownership in the mid-nineties (from parents to son), and the evolution of the menu to include sandwiches and Taiwanese bread, the Cafe at Pharr still draws a crowd. Something has to be right.
I am here to tell you it is the Walnut Chicken Salad (pictured above, just to the right of the tomato, next to the tuna, also good). Now, someone else will tell you they like the Celery or Curry Chicken Salad, but I will say the surprise of the sweet golden raisins in the walnut chicken salad is the best.
The Walnut Chicken Salad was not an easy choice. The Curry Chicken Salad surprised me. The menu says "Not too spicy... Not boring... Just right!" and that much is true. I often worry that spicing things up can be overwhelming to the base ingredient. Not so, here. In this case, the curry simply flatters the chicken by being tasty but not overbearing.
By the way, we fought a little bit over the Egg & Potato Salad (REALLY good) and the Shrimp Salad (lightly coated with mayo, salt and pepper). You can order the shrimp naked, but I highly recommend the mayo coating. Try to hide the Egg & Potato salad so that nobody else at your table can see it. Trust me on that move. You want it all. You want all of the yogurt rolls, too.
The Cafe at Pharr is the place to be in Buckhead at lunch. The place draws a crowd the old fashioned way. Good food at a good price, served by people who learn your name.