The ATL has grown up from the mom & pop diners seen on TV Land sitcoms, and's now leading the Southern culinary charge when it comes to everything from sustainable eats to innovative cuisine to ridiculous twists on classics like chicken and waffles. And who better than local editor Chris Watkins to help you sift through the culinary crap and fine some true gustatory gems.
Favorite Restaurant: With meat so good it can make you moan, it's a no-brainer that my favorite restaurant is Kevin Rathbun's Steak. The filet's so tender you can cut it with a spoon. Literally, I did that.
Best Late-Night Eats: If it's 1am and I need some grub, I'm stopping by the Octopus Bar for sake-steamed octopus, salt & pepper GA shrimp, and a High West Double Rye.
Best Cheap Eats: I eat at Victory Sandwich when I'm low on scratch, which is to say that I eat at Victory Sandwich quite often. Their $3-4 sammies pack loads of flavor into a each bite, but I typically roll with the prosciutto, mozz & apple Hambo. Oh, and can't forget the Jack & Coke slushie.
Best Sandwich: The Big Nasty at Rosebud is actually all kinds of tasty, loading buttermilk-fried chicken breast with scrambled eggs, smoked bacon, and
Best Dish: The Bocado Burger Stack is so simple, yet oh so good! Acclaimed as one of the top burgers in the ATL, it's two patties with quintessential American cheese, house-made pickles and side of garlic herb fries. Go on a Tuesday and you can score a free draft brew to go with it.
Best Italian: Decatur's No. 246 does impeccable work, turning only the freshest ingredients into everything from house pastas, to large plates of flounder and pork shoulder.
Best Japanese: Even though the perennially sold-out ramen is technically Chinese, Miso Izakaya offers some of the best Japanese yakitori in the city, skewering up gizzard, pork belly, prawns, and much more.
Best Mexican: Sue me, but I don't go for the super authentic Mexican food -- I take it easy peasy at The Original El Taco. The tacos are always good (especially the fried chicken), the queso is great, and the margaritas are baller. Highly recommend the Reales with Partida Blanco.
Best Food Truck: Chicken and waffles have been the belle of the ball as of late, and Nana G's Chicken & Waffles takes it to a whole new level. We're talking bacon & banana waffles with spiced-up chicken strips. Crazy good!
Best Burger: The double patty. The American cheese. The pickles. Whatever it is, Chef Todd Ginsberg just knows how to make the perfect burger, and his newest incarnation at The General Muir is no exception, adding on some savory onion slaw and subbing in a poppy seed bun.
Most Gut-busting Dish: Maybe you've seen it on Man v. Food, but The Carnivore Challenge at Big Pie in the Sky is a helluva lot of food to take down on your own, which is probably why they allow two to attempt to polish off the 11lbs of pepperoni-, ground beef-, Italian sausage-, ham-, and bacon-laden 'za.
Best Fine Dining: Not only does Ocean Prime provide stellar cuisine, but the service and presentation unparalleled -- flawless waitstaff, attention to detail, and smoking martinis poured table side make it a must visit.
Most Romantic: Looking to seal the deal? Tantra provides a sexy and intimate atmosphere for drinks, and even if you don't get lucky, the night won't be a total wash if you ordered the Tandoori red fish or tamarind pork.
Best for Partying: If you prefer your aged steaks and stiff cocktails be consumed underneath a go-go dancer shaking her thing in her underwear, then you definitely need to head to STK.
Best for Work: The top place to talk shop has to be Article 14. The huge booths in the back are equally suited for spreading out contracts or build-your-own martinis.
Best Lunch: Del Frisco's Grille bum-rushed the Buckhead dining scene with enough lunch options to satisfy the entire city. I go for the Cheesesteak Eggrolls, the Shaved Prime Steak sammie, or, if I'm feeling extra fancy, the 6oz filet.
Best Brunch: I love brunch, and have canvassed the entire city, but I always find myself heading back to South City Kitchen. Shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles, and the essential South City Breakfast: cheddar scrambled eggs, stone-ground grits, and applewood smoked bacon.
Most Local Food: Empire State South has led the charge when it comes to sustainable farm-to-table cuisine. We're talking the freshest produce and locally sourced meats going into mind-blowing Southern eats like GA Trout with baby carrots & confit tomato, and my favorite: a prime ribeye with potato macaire, collards, and hedgehog shrooms.
Best Wings: When you have flavors that include strawberry, honey bourbon, cinnamon, wasabi, and sriracha, you know you've got something special. That something is Jack's Pizza & Wings.
Best Doughnuts: Sublime Doughnuts is a must try for doughnut lovers. We're talking a serious gourmet approach. I always go for the fresh strawberries & cream, or, if I'm feeling extra adventurous, the salted caramel and balsamic.