The ever-changing restaurant housed at Atwater Crossing is hard to keep up with. The industrial complex on the border of Atwater Village and Glassell Park, which serves as a hub for creative business and industry, has had a number of food and drink purveyors in its airy breezeway restaurant space, run by various factions. It's made even more confusing given that they've all had fairly similar names, playing off the words Atwater and Crossing, as one might expect.

What matters most at this point is that currently and for the last month or so, the place is called the Crossing, and the food is pizza and Texas barbecue. The pizza comes out of a wood-fired oven, the barbecue out of a wood smoker. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week, plus beer, wine, bottomless mimosas on the weekends, coffee and coffee drinks.

In fact, it was the coffee that brought us the Crossing: Brian Behrend has been at Atwater Crossing for a while, roasting his True & Brave coffee, and now has taken over the food side as well, along with partners Chris Butler and Jayden Brant.

While breakfast burritos and wood-fired pizzas sound tempting, it was the siren song of smoke that drew us to the Crossing. For $12 at lunch, you can get a combo of two meats (choose from chicken, brisket and ribs) along with collard greens and potato salad. We skipped the potato salad and ordered mac 'n' cheese instead, a creamy, satisfying version with large noodles. The collard greens could have used an extra shot of vinegar and were more sweet than tangy, but not obnoxiously so.

The brisket had a beautiful pink smoke ring around its edges, and the flavor of the meat was fine. Could it have been a touch moister, more tender? It could. The chicken was juicy as can be, though. I could have used more sauce, either on the meat or on the side. In the end, the much-needed tang was provided by the pickles served on the side rather than by the barbecue itself.

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Even with a few complaints, the lunch special is quite a deal for $12 — almost enough for two people, or at least leftovers for a midnight snack. Getting used to a smoker takes time and practice, and I hope that this incarnation of Atwater Crossing's restaurant takes root and sticks around for a while.

The Crossing is open Sunday-Wednesday, 8 a.m.-10:30 p.m. (bar till midnight); Thursday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-midnight (bar till 1:30 a.m.).

Dining area at the Crossing; Credit: B. Rodell

Dining area at the Crossing; Credit: B. Rodell

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