AJ’s Famous Seafood & Po Boys, Marietta GA

Some years back, I played, and by that I mean, “dumped a lot of disposable income on,” a collectible miniatures game – you’ve got the same Wikipedia I have, look it up – and would occasionally go over to Great Escape Comics and Games here in Marietta for a tournament. For the most part, I thought that the food options around this store, which is a pretty good one, and certainly worth a visit, were quite limited. There was the now-closed Mad Italian, of course, where I should have eaten more frequently, but I thought that darn near everything else up and down 120 around that shop was some dumb fast food chain. I was proven wrong a couple of months ago when Samantha shared a terrific Thai meal at Lemon Grass with us, and now I’ve found a very respectable, tiny seafood restaurant just across the street from Lemon Grass. AJ’s Famous Seafood & Po Boys is a couple of doors down from the Kroger and I’d never have known about it had my plans not changed last week.

See, I was hoping to go to Athens last Thursday, but the region was hit by a pretty awful, albeit mercifully short, ice storm. Frozen rain came down in buckets Wednesday night and the police said that there were a thousand accidents in the Atlanta area that night. It melted off very quickly and by lunchtime Thursday, things were back to normal, but everybody’s nerves were frazzled and I didn’t know whether I wanted to risk any ice patches between home and Athens. So around eleven, I started getting peckish and had no idea what I wanted to eat. Well, actually, I had a pretty good idea, but that will have to wait until my next trip to Athens. So I pulled up Urbanspoon to see what might sound good in Marietta that I had not noticed before. There it was, a restaurant that I should have been visiting since they opened in 2005 and I was looking for something to eat on that stretch. What a ridiculous development!

AJ’s sandwiches are available as a full-sized po boy, or on a bun, like I had. They also serve up their varied fish, shrimp or oyster options as dinner-sized platter portions with several sides. Their bread is crispy but soft, and comes dressed with lettuce, tomato, pickle and one of several spreads. I just went with mayo with my shrimp, saving their house “AJ sauce” – somewhere between remoulade and thousand island dressing and quite tasty – for my appetizer. I don’t often order appetizers, unless it’s a really memorable standout. An alligator taco certainly qualifies.

Now, see, this is what I love about paying a little more attention to the quality of the food that I’m finding. Five years, this place has been serving alligator, and I had no idea. I love gator; I’ve only had it a few times, but I think it’s terrific. Apparently, AJ’s will occasionally offer up a gator and sausage chili. Holy bajole, I’d like to try that. Anyway, the taco comes with a good portion of fried gator, with cabbage, onion and cilantro.

Now, my big shrimp bun was very good, but I’m not sure that I wouldn’t have been just as pleased, and not quite as stuffed, with three alligator tacos and a side of red beans and rice. For a last-minute fill-in meal, this was really a nice treat, and I look forward to stopping by again one day soon.

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