Above: Pumpkin cheesecake from Corner Cafe is just one of the many delicious treats available this season. Photos by Mark Woolsey.
Cooler Temperatures. Falling leaves. Bringing in a bountiful harvest. The humble pumpkin. They all seem inseparable somehow, with the orange-yellow variety of squash calling upon our nostalgia for a simpler, close-to-the-land type of existence.
No wonder many Atlantans drive 20, 30 and more miles to visit a pumpkin patch to scoop up a vegetable they rarely touch the rest of the year. And maybe that partly explains why the pumpkin food and drink craze has spread far beyond pumpkin pie and bread in recent years.
Whether you have a hankering for the more traditional or more trendy forms of pumpkin fare, we’ve done the homework for you.
Pumpkin Spice Latte
For a lot of people, Starbucks sets the standard for this iconic fall drink. But Revolution goes one better. Presiding over a funky spot ensconced in a Decatur strip center, owner Maria Moore Riggs says she eschews pumpkin syrups and opts for actual pumpkin, locally sourced if possible. House-made espresso, fall-ish spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon and a variety of milks seal the deal.
The result: a drink with a subtle and mellow pumpkin presence, nicely balanced and all natural, and a hallmark of their fall operation. And oh yeah, the donuts are tasty as well. Price: $4 for a small, $5 for a large.
908 W. College Avenue, Decatur 30030470-428-2023, revolutiondonuts.com
Oh. My. Goodness. This is cheesecake that already puts others to shame, and the addition of fresh pumpkin and a few other signature touches puts it to shame.
A moist pumpkin cheesecake filling. A Graham Cracker crust. Pecans coated with a cinnamon brown sugar glaze, a cinnamon whipped cream and white-chocolate-slathered strawberry complete a layered journey into seasonal bliss. It’s a seasonal item. The pumpkin pie and cookies stand out as well. Price: $5.75.
3070 Piedmont Road, Atlanta 30305, 404-237-2060, buckheadrestaurants.com/restaurant/corner-cafe/
A plethora of Atlanta eateries serve pumpkin pie, but it’s safe to say that few have worked on creating a made-from-scratch masterpiece like the Pie Hole in Roswell. Owner Sabrina Crossley says she worked on the right of balance of seasonings and spices long and hard, taste-testing it with a number of different groups. The result? A pie that’s hearty and flavorful, somewhat tart and not overly sugary.
They do about 900 pies a year and Crossley said they have a lot of loyal repeat customers, some of whom say they usually don’t care for pumpkin pie at all. (They gladly make an exception in this case). Price: $27.
The Pie Hole
1025 Canton Street, Roswell 30075, 678-461-3776, facebook.com/ThePieHole
Lil Punk. It’s assertive and in-your-face like its namesake. The pumpkin spice flavor hits you right off the bat, more so than with a lot of pumpkin lattes and other coffee drinks of the world. The hazelnut component of this brown ale also comes nicely to the fore, making this an almost sinfully rich sipping experience.
This would be a great dessert beer for Thanksgiving, paired with, say, pecan pie. I’d let the turkey and fixin’s settle first, though. And judicious sipping seems like a good idea here; the punk is 8 % alcohol by volume. Pumpkin-flavored beer is said to have lost some of its cachet, but you wouldn’t know it here. Price: $4 for a 5-ounce pour, $6 for 11 ounces.
840 Franklin Court, Suite A, Marietta 30067, 770-361-5247, facebook.com/schoolhousebeer
Pumpkin Pancakes and Waffles
What more can you say about pumpkin pancakes? They’re featured year-round at the Original Pancake House, and have been for the past seven years. And they should be, because they’re bursting with vibrant harvest-time flavor.
Yes, pancakes are sugary by nature, but these don’t cross the line. The batter is pleasantly moist and eggs and various spices add a perfect touch. These folks are serious about pumpkins. Unbidden, a server offered up a pumpkin waffle on the side. A little bit of a different flavor than the pancakes but very pleasing. Price: $5.75 for a short stack, around $9 for the tall variety.
The Original Pancake House
2321 Cheshire Bridge Road, Atlanta 30324, 404-633-5677, breakfastrestaurantatlanta.com