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Restaurant Review - New restaurant roundup

Ponce City Market eateries Dub's Fish Camp, Jia, and Minero


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? ? Mia Yakel? ? ? ROLL WITH IT: Lobster roll with crab chips at Dub’s Fish Camp? ? ?
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? ? Mia Yakel? ? ? UPDATED CLASSIC: Dub’s shrimp nicoise salad? ? ?
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? ? Mia Yakel? ? ? FISH CAMP: Dub’s rustic-chic interior inside Ponce City Market? ? ??
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W.H. Stiles Fish Camp

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Affectionately called "Dub's" for owner Anne Quatrano's great-great-great-great grandfather, W.H. Stiles Fish Camp is a modern spin on a cozy fish shack. It's bright, clean, and creates a seafaring dint inside Ponce City Market, with lighting reminiscent of old fishing net floats and a wall of sea-inspired bric-a-brac for sale. Metal dishes, trays, and U.S. Army flatware add to the nostalgic vibe.

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The menu doubles as a place mat with a map showing the "mostly" local seafood executive chef Daniel Chance is currently working with. Chance tweaks the less-than-20-item list often, although you can expect mostly an array of seafood-centric sandwiches and salads. Filled-in bubbles next to the variety names denote the day's selection of raw oysters. They usually range from $1.45 to $3.75 each and come from the Northwest, Northeast, and the South. Diners have a few options for service: sit at the curvy counter for full service and a view inside Chance's kitchen; head to the order counter in the rear and have food delivered to your table; or take an order to go and eat at one of tables throughout Ponce City Market's atrium.

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"Fresh Catch" makes up the bulk of Dub's menu. The Vietnamese crispy catch salad ($11) has both hot and cold components, which pack a little bit of heat and a lot of crunch from cabbage, cucumbers, and peanuts. A bowl of crab beignets ($12) is a great starter. More corn-filled than crabby, they are tender and flavorful, nonetheless. Use the beignets along with the accompanying spoonbread to sop up the Worcestershire-spiked buttery sauce in the barbecue shrimp ($16) dish. Chowder comes in cups ($7) and bowls ($14). It's a thick, creamy mixture chock-full of tasty and unexpected veggies like cauliflower and comes with a side cup of large buttery croutons.

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You'll see many tables topped with trays of sandwiches and Utz Crab-flavored chips. If you're feeling spend-y, go for the lobster roll ($22), a crusty, split-top brioche bun filled with sweet lobster chunks lightly tossed with mayo, celery bits, and a generous topping of tarragon. Pair your meal with one of the three beers or three wines on offer, or choose from a smattering of homemade seltzers ($2) in flavors such as orange-vanilla and ginger, lime, honey.

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? ? Mia Yakel? ? ? MEATLESS MONDAY: Mapo tofu at Jia? ? ?
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? ? Mia Yakel? ? ? HOT STUFF: Jia’s fiery rice sticks? ? ?
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? ? Mia Yakel? ? ? DRAGON’S LAIR: Inside Jia at Ponce City Market? ? ??
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Jia

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Seeking bold Sichuan flavors? Look for the gold dragon wrapped around the fat crimson column that guards Jia's entrance. Once you pass his blazing gaze, settle in for fiery fare from owner Dahe Yang and chef Jiguo Jiang, the same team that runs Marietta's acclaimed Tasty China. At their new intown venture, the décor is decidedly more fashionable (a low bar, given Tasty China's apparent disregard for looks), and the menu employs tempting photos to illustrate every single dish. Thankfully, Jia's offerings are as un-Americanized as Tasty China's. That means piles of red chili peppers, intensely spiced broths, and liberal doses of tongue-tingling Sichuan peppercorn.

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While not all of the Tasty China hits have been carried into Midtown, there are plenty of familiar items to satisfy your craving. Typical crowd-pleasers made for sharing such as the crisp and tender dry-fried eggplant or green beans hit the spot, as do the braised fish swimming in bright red chili oil or Shan City chicken piled with peppers. There are also the expected Dan Dan noodles, tea-smoked duck, and, of course, the hot and numbing beef rolls that made Tasty China famous. It's worth mentioning that the dishes that end up at your table probably won't look as perfect as they do in the photos, but when the fiery rice stalks — thick and chewy slabs of rice noodle doused in red chili sauce — hit your tongue, you won't mind.

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Like most Ponce City Market restaurants, Jia offers a bar and small take-out shop up front, including shelves stacked with spices and sauces for cooking with at home, and an outdoor patio. Take a group, flip through the photo-heavy menu, and be sure to have some Maalox at the ready to combat Jia's fire-breathing cuisine.

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? ? Mia Yakel? ? ? GO GREEN: Green chorizo taco at Minero? ? ?

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? ? Mia Yakel? ? ? FISH FOOD: Minero’s fish taco? ? ?

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? ? Mia Yakel? ? ? GO BIG: Minero’s huge vegetarian burrito wrapped in foil? ? ?
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? ? Mia Yakel? ? ? SOUTHERN LIVING: Minero at Ponce City Market? ? ??
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Minero

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The second outpost of James Beard Award winner Sean Brock's Minero has a cool, casual vibe and a menu bursting with Mexican street food influences paired with those from the heirloom South. The interior is decorated with bright adobe oranges and browns. There is a marble-topped bar, tiled walls, and dark wooden tables. A huge hearth is the soul of the room, kicking out wafts of the charcoal and wood burning within. The tight menu tops out at $9 with appetizers, a half-dozen tacos, a few sides, and a single dessert of spiced churros ($7) served with a Mexican chocolate ganache for dipping. The bar features an extensive list of tequilas, mezcals, and whiskies, plus the requisite margarita, michelada, and sangria.

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Minero's gooey queso fundido ($9) is chock-full of roasted poblano peppers and spicy chorizo, and is served with tortillas nesting in a festive warming pouch. Charcoal-grilled chicken wings ($9) could be a contender on next year's "Best of" lists, with crispy skin and smoky-moist meat. Heat comes from a shake-and-bake style tossing with Valentina hot sauce in a paper bag, which later becomes the convenient resting place for bone carnage. The football-size burrito ($9), topped with a cheesy broiled crust on the outside, is stuffed with hoppin' John (think peas and rice), avocado chunks, cool crema, and poblano peppers.

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Tacos ($3.50-$4.50) are petite, but fully loaded. The star is the tender, aromatic tortillas, which are made daily from a masa using three types of heritage corn. Pork carnitas drizzled with a mole sauce get a bump from tender jowl, chicharron bits, tangy orange zest, and salsa verde. Brilliant pineapple, avocado, and radish slivers accentuate the charred pork in the al pastor taco. Sides ($3) such as Carolina Gold spicy rice, Rancho Gordo beans, and local veggies in escabeche (think spicy pickles) reflect Brock's Southern heritage.

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All in all, Minero serves up good, affordable, satisfying food. Brock created the place he wants to eat while he visits a city he loves, and we get to enjoy the spoils.

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