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Best Atlanta takeout: Gato in Candler Park

Best Atlanta takeout: Gato in Candler Park

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Gato chef-owner Nicholas Stinson brings a takeout order out the door of his Candler Park diner. Wendell Brock for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

I haven’t even mentioned the opposite side of the menudinner entrees that showcase the playful Mexican cooking Stinson has concocted in the two years since he unveiled his Gato Nights weekend series. I’m talking about an adobo chicken quarter that Stinson flattens, tenderizes in a sous vide machine, finishes on a Japanese charcoal yakitori grill, and serves with red rice, house-made tortillas, escabeche, salsa macha and key lime halves. And a giant tlayuda, made with red corn meal that he grinds himself and crisps on a cast-iron press he imported from California. The pizza-size tortilla is strewn with mushrooms, summer squash, Oaxacan rope cheese, bean puree, avocado, salsa and the herb pipicha.

An order of takeout tacos from Gato in Candler Park includes (on the left) pulled citrus pork shoulder, with smoked peach salsa, cilantro stem, iced red onion, and chapulines salt; and (on the right) braised turkey thigh with green mole and radish. Wendell Brock for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

The self-taught chef now presents his hardy, everyday breakfasts and more intellectual Mexican fare side by side on a pandemic-era menu, “Godspeed Gato!” And, though he doesn’t knock it out of the park every time, he comes close. Either way, it’s hard not to be impressed by his rigorous research and solid technique. For certain, he knows how to make the basic elements of salt, acid, heat and spice come together in electrifying ways.

As fate would have it, COVID-19 arrived not long after his Mexican magic at Gato had started to make a buzz. (Before that, Gato was

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