Mary Hoopa's Fried Chicken and Oysters | Mia Yakel
Food & Drink

The Best Restaurants in Atlanta Right Now

Updated On 03/16/2018 at 04:31PM EST

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Mia Yakel

Mary Hoopa's Fried Chicken & Oysters

East Lake

It’s exactly what the name suggests, done incredibly well
Sometimes when you have specialties you should let people know. At Mary Hoopla’s, the suggestion is clear; you pick your bird’s size (half or whole) and how many, then have it flavored sweet, hot or plain, and they’ll fry it for you. They offer oysters raw or grilled with fermented lemon, confit garlic, French parsley, and butter, or you can get them hot fried as an entree on white bread. There’s more on the menu, but the key is to trust the house, and move forward from there.

Old Lady Gang

Castleberry Hill

A Real Housewife shares family food
Kandi’s contributions to Atlanta have already earned her a place on any future Mount Rushmore replica we build. But she might get a statue all her own now that she put her mom and two aunts in the kitchen to literally cook yams and more of the singer/personality’s favorite childhood dishes. OLG is a serious family restaurant that serves everything you’d expect loved ones to cook for you when you’ve made them proud, such as Macallan-glazed blackened salmon, or whole wings and crème anglaise French toast. Now you know who you can run to when you need soul food.

Andrew Thomas Lee Photography

Chai Yo Modern Thai

Buckhead

Premium noodles and Thai from experts who expect a dress code
The Tuk Tuk Thai team, which has roots in Midtown’s beloved Nan restaurant, knows Thai cuisine. Chai Yo brings their penchant for flavor-flexing into lunch and dinner service for Buckhead’s midday and early evening crowd, offering them inventive takes on traditional dishes, such as egg noodle-wrapped lobster tails (the fried kind) with yellow curry and mustard greens, or 12-hour sous vide beef cheeks with Brussels and jasmine rice. Yes, there’s a dress code that disinvites those in athletic or beach wear, but that just means you won’t have to run into Mark Cuban at dinner.

The Local Pizzaioli

The Local Pizzaioli

West Midtown

A pizza world champion comes for the crown
With the first of four locations planned for ATL now open, Naples native Giulio Adriani is making an attempt at conquering ATL with his inventive Montanara pizza, which is built on a flash-fried crust, and other pies that feature toppings from imported prosciutto to ATL’s own Heirloom Market brisket. There’s also a market for take-home goods (and gelato in case your doctor says all that the pizza isn’t enough).

The White Bull

Decatur

Farm-forward, Hemingway-inspired fare
This restaurant is named after what Papa Hemingway called blank sheets of paper, and similarly wants to create timeless meals while sticking exclusively to Georgia-sourced ingredients (from farms like Finch Creek, Riverview, and Stone Mountain Cattle Co.). They’ll also be serving up to 80 guests at a time with a menu that offers 15 always changing dishes that could include Sapelo Island clams with pigtails, kohlrabi, celery, lemon, or maybe tilefish with aji amarillo, daikon, tapioca, and kale. Also, maybe not! You’ll have to stop in and see.

The Painted Duck

The Painted Duck

Westside

Upscale gaming with damn-good eats
There’s been a consistent rise in the number of places where gaming, drinking, and dining are combined, and after Buckhead stepped forward with The Painted Pin it was only right that the Westside got a version of the surprisingly good food that comes with shuffleboard, knuckleball, duckpin bowling, and horseshoe-throwing. Have you ever even heard of fried spicy chicken shins? Don’t duck confit nuggets sound good to have around when you’re in serious competition? And should you be victorious, don’t you deserve a whiskey-glazed turkey leg, or a few skewers of king crab scampi or Peruvian filet mignon?

The Deep End

Deep End

Old Fourth Ward

SoCal Tacos in the old Fourth & Swift
The team behind The Mercury and The Pinewood Tippling Room figure you’re into late-night eating, so they’re feeding you tacos like you’re in Los Angeles (and it’s three hours earlier than it really is). Hours are from 5pm to 2am nightly (excluding Saturdays and Sundays, which have earlier opening hours but different closings), and tacos include buttermilk-fried mahi-mahi, pulled chicken tinga, veggie, seasoned ground beef, and more. They also have beer, wine, and cocktails like the ready-for-summer “Bueller?”, mixed with vodka, pear, lemon, and Cloosterbitter.

Andrew Thomas Lee Photography

Golden Eagle & Muchacho

Reynoldstown

Classic continental fare in a moody mid-century den
On “Mafia Music 2,” rapper Rick Ross begins by saying, inexplicably, “Larry Hoover jumped off the mountaintop and turned into a golden eagle.” Who knows what the hell that means, but you do feel like a boss with ‘70s gangster shades on when you’re sitting in this former train depot, surrounded by plaid patterns, leather seats, and taxidermy, and eating old-school classics like bricked chicken w/ Hoppin' John, fisherman's stew filled with mussels and pork belly, or grilled branzino. That’s for nighttime. If you’re out earlier, visit adjacent Muchacho for grain or poke bowls, various tacos (short rib barbacoa, breakfast chorizo, etc.), and sit around to enjoy espresso or your preferred coffee beverage, a horchata, or some early afternoon wine.

best of the best

Andrew Thomas Lee

Staplehouse

Old 4th Ward

High-level cuisine with a charitable heart
Staplehouse has seasonal, farm-fresh ingredients, and an inventive kitchen that make for a rotating chef’s tasting, and a la carte menus that are complex, unique, and delectable. Plus, proceeds benefit the Giving Kitchen, which provides aid to industry folks in need. Pro tip: don’t miss out on their perfectly executed wine pairings.

Courtesy of Ticonderoga Club

Ticonderoga Club

Inman Park

Perfectly paired supper and cocktails from ATL bar veterans
This quiet new restaurant in the corner of Krog Street Market has a seafood and poultry-heavy menu with standouts like the clam roll and dry-aged roasted duck, but their cocktails are the true attractions. Belly up to the bar and sip on everything, including their signature Ticonderoga Cup: a ridiculously good combination of rum, cognac, sherry, pineapple, lemon, and mint.

Sebastian Davis/Thrillist

Home Grown

East Atlanta

Your weird cousin Tevin’s incredible breakfast basement
While everything Home Grown makes is worth sampling, their Comfy Chicken Biscuit (crisp and juicy fried chicken atop a buttery biscuit and drowned in creamy sausage gravy) is noted as the best thing to eat in the entire state of Georgia. So yeah, get that if you HAVE to pick just one.

Marcel

Marcel

Midtown

Delicious and delectable bites... like steak. Get the steak.
Settle into one of the deep booths in the beautiful and spacious dining room at this upscale brasserie and prepare for some serious bliss in the form of a couple of courses, including the foie gras with fig terrine, escargot, and the L’Entrecôte steak with frites and insanely flavorful sauce verte.

Karen Pagano

Saltyard

Buckhead

Small yet polished plates kept casual and clean
With delicious, international-inspired small plates, excellent craft cocktails, a solid mostly-domestic wine and beer selection, and a gorgeous, ambient setting, Saltyard has gained a cult following for good reason. Their seasonal offerings vary, but arguably peak in summer when they rely on fresh Georgia peaches. We can’t get enough of their creamy, homemade Burrata accented with lemon, thyme, and chili flakes served alongside pickled peaches, crispy country ham, and delectable cornbread crumbs. It may well be the city’s best sophisticated Southern dish.

Chris Watkins

1Kept

Buckhead

Up-ticked Southern fare for lovers of secrets and great drinks
Known among many ATLiens as the city’s best kept secret, 1Kept slings some of the city’s finest meat-based dishes. From pork loin to steak frites and more, their meats are all melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Maybe even more impressive? Some of their most beloved dishes are meatless (or easy on the meat). Don’t let the delectable pimento cheese board, with its grilled, crusty sourdough and pumpernickel breads, assorted jams, and homemade pickles pass you by. And for a dose of healthy greens, check out the warm kale salad with spicy chorizo, quinoa, carrots, and sweet, plump golden raisins tossed in a spicy chili oil vinaigrette.

Robert Gunn

Chai Pani

Decatur

Easily the coolest and tastiest Indian restaurant around town
Their food is legendary, but now, their service model has changed, which makes impatient patrons love this place even more. Instead of dodging servers in their charming dining area, you can place your order at the counter, take a seat, and wait leisurely for your meal. No matter what you get, don’t even think of missing out on their signature matchstick okra fries. That said, it’s impossible to go wrong with the Maharaja Lamb Burgers: a thick, juicy lamb burger flavored with ginger, mint, garlic, pistachio, and more. And then wash it all down with a Lime Rickey.

Andrew Thomas Lee

Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall

Old 4th Ward

BeltLine brunches and camp-inspired cookery
Arguably the most popular Beltline-adjacent spot in town, Ladybird is the rare restaurant whose menu and ambience are both exceedingly amazing. Their outdoor, pet friendly patio is the perfect spot for people watching, eating their outrageously good eats like chicken fried chicken (or, for brunch, their French toast or chicken biscuit), and tossing back cocktails like their Fool in the Rain, a unique blend of Old Fourth Ward vodka, smoky brandy, sweet pear, and prosecco with a hint of earthly thyme. Regulars and newcomers alike will be pleased to know they’ve recently opened an outdoor “Grove” space, featuring a bar inside a vintage, painted camper, comfy Adirondack chairs, string lights, Ping-Pong tables, and a lot more.

Miller Union

Miller Union

West Atlanta

Farmstead-driven, James Beard-certified food that never falls short
Consistency earns respect in Atlanta’s culinary community, and Steven Satterfield’s talent with preparing organic local goodness has kept him and the Miller Union team in the city’s top tier of places to feast. In other words, not many places could pull off having a seasonal veggie plate and housemade pork sausage that are equally popular, along with other super-authentic regional meals, from smoked rabbit mousse starters and shrimp/andouille gumbo at lunch to sauteed quail w/ smoked beets and Vidalia onions. Their wine list, curated by sommelier/GM/partner Neal McCarthy, is one of the top 100 in the US, according to Wine Enthusiast, and their dessert menu includes a peach and buttermilk cake.

Atlas

Buckhead

Posh New American power dinner with Picasso (no, really)
It will be you that shrugs when other guests of this titan-inspired restaurant marvel at the amount of newly added pounds you carry after eating at this European-inspired American supper house. Advised by Gerry Klaskala (the founder of superstar ATL restaurants Aria and Canoe), and run by Christopher Grossman, who Klaskala trained at Aria and swiped from Napa Valley’s The French Laundry (which Anthony Bourdain calls “the best restaurant in the world”), Atlas gets its food exclusively from local farms, changes its menu weekly to spotlight seasonal goodness, and even has an exquisite collection of curated 20th-century art. So what the burger is $29? It’s so damn good that you’d willingly carry the chefs on your shoulders for all eternity.

South City Kitchen Buckhead

South City Kitchen Buckhead

Buckhead

Perennial crowd favorite with beloved fried chicken and fantastic service
There’s no such thing as a bad South City Kitchen location, but Chef Jason Starnes has made a major impact with the Buckhead spot, offering a location-exclusive menu that fits well with the area’s demanding culinary clientele. If you insist on having the famous fried chicken, shrimp-'n’-grits, or any of the other favorites from the Vinings or Midtown locations, it's available. But don’t miss out on the Southern Plates menu where an amazing bone-in ribeye, poultry (including seared sour cherry-sauced duck and spice-grilled quail), and seafood dishes from pan-seared cobia to Georgia mountain trout are waiting for you to tastefully gorge upon. You are in Buckhead now; show a little class.

8arm

8 Arm

Virginia Highland

Early to late-night dining and tiki with a showy simplicity that works
When Octopus Bar founders Nhan Le and Angus Brown closed Lusca, they clearly decided to simplify things a bit to not lose those of us who aren’t used to their talents with fine seafood dining. With 8 Arm, the menu -- which always changes but can be kept up with on Instagram -- is based on a few standard recipe styles that use alternating proteins. Whatever they put in it from day to day, try the tagliatelle. And then look for the main meat or seafood dish of the evening, which could be lamb shoulder, grouper, a porterhouse, or kinda anything. Just trust that it’s delicious.

Cooks & Soldiers

Cooks & Soldiers

Westside

Lofty, classy, feisty Basque cuisine
The name enough should draw you in. You almost expect a brawling gang of chefs in camouflage and red Rambo bandanas. But C&S is only at war with whack food, which it fights with “pinxtos,” or Spanish-French tapas inspired by the foods of Basque Country. For evidence, try the escabèche toast w/ Georgia white shrimp, Bayonne, chili-saffron oil, and marinated salad. Or go for small plates like grilled Spanish octopus, local rabbit, beef hearts from White Oak Pastures, and Berkshire and Ibérico pork meatballs. Regardless of your diplomatic tendencies, this is one culinary draft you’re not going to wanna dodge.

Empire State South

Empire State South

Midtown

A modern Southern restaurant still making Hugh Acheson a household name
There’s no way you can leave Hugh Acheson off a list of where’s-where in ATL’s eating scene -- not while the Canadian transplant is still proving his mastery of authentic Southern food from breakfast to dinner (and even during brunch). Just look at what he’s doing with catfish: In the mornings it’s smoked and slapped on a bagel, during lunch you can get a catfish banh mi hot dog with pickled trimmings, and for dinner it’s an entree served with Hoppin’ John, dashi, sweet potato, and cucumber. During weekend middays, it’s served with rice pudding, celery, tomato, and shrimp jus. Your grandma is jealous, and she’s an actual ATLien.

Justin Driscoll

5Church

Midtown

Kitchen and bar talent upgrades spur a miraculous turnaround
The Charlotte-born restaurant, under a different chef in its first few months, struggled to find a path to ATL’s hard-to-please stomach. Today, with executive chef Scotley Innis and bar manager Keyatta Mincey having taken the helm, the dining and drinking complex is much worthier of heavenly praise. Ask any day for the chef’s whole fish special for proof, and show up on Ramen Mondays because you need to be wowed by specials like oxtail ramen when Innis is in the mood to show off his Jamaican heritage. And we told you about Mincey a while back -- she’s still one of the best drink-makers in the city, and is responsible for the consistency of standard 5C concoctions like the sweet tea, lemon juice, blackberry, bourbon and mint Holy Water, and her own seasonal creations.

Talat Market at Gato Bizco

Candler Park

Even James Beard had to recognize this chef’s amazing Thai pop-up
Gato always has something great happening, but with Talat Market (which literally means “Market Market”), chef/owner Parnass Savang has turned it into a weekend food lover’s paradise where “Georgian Thai” (traditional Thai that uses in-season local ingredients) is served, and where you can’t RSVP but you can BYOB. The always-shifting menu usually has at least one or two soup options, and has featured steamed whole trout, crispy mussel pancakes, rice porridge with pork meatballs and ginger, and other things that make the Beard Foundation find you on weekends and give you a shout-out.

Kimball House

Kimball House

Decatur

Metro ATL’s undisputed oyster champion with a special ice secret
There’s simply no way to beat Kimball House’s raw bar happy hour -- it’s worth the drive from wherever you are, even during rush hour, to eat those high-quality bivalves. Not only that, but it’s a great place for steaks and other seafood. Plus, partner Miles Macquarrie continues proving, through his constantly changing cocktails, absinthe program, and one-off events such as a recent dinner he hosted with KH menu items paired exquisitely with Sipsmith gin, that he’s a beast with a shaker. For proof, here’s a homework assignment: next time you’re there, just ask him (or any bartender on staff) what’s so special about the ice. You’ll never question the value of a $13 drink again.

Masterpiece

Duluth

Of course the city’s best Szechuan is in an OTP strip mall
A few years ago, food critic Jennifer Zyman said Masterpiece had “the best Chinese food in the Atlanta area.” Unless you already live in Duluth (and if so, you should be there daily), go on and make the long-ass drive, because she wasn’t lying. Don’t waste time looking for an online menu; just head out there and have a hot plate of your go-tos for an introduction: they have incredible pork dumplings and spicy shaved/fried chicken. Hell, even good ol’ beef and broccoli is artisan-level compared to anything you’ve eaten lately at Perimeter Mall.

Watershed

Watershed on Peachtree

Buckhead

A trustworthy institution that never ceases to surprise
The simplicity of Watershed is deceptive. You know you’re getting food that’s based on tradition and made from locally sourced produce and proteins. But Watershed keeps on doing it at levels that surpass almost all the newcomers, and chef Zeb Stevenson consistently delivers dishes that you feel like you could make at home if only you were a genius and had the proper cookware. The general rule is this: If it’s Southern, and you like it, you’ll love it at Watershed. Also, have you been to Sunday Jazz Brunch, or their monthly 20 For $20 wine tastings? Because you need to.

Amalfi Pizza

Downtown

Crazy good Neapolitan pizza pulling locals back to South Peachtree
Amalfi partners Stephen de Haan and Greg Grant decided they wanted to make the best pizza in Atlanta, so they took courses (both here in the States and in Italy) on making traditional Neapolitan pies. Then they had two 6,000-pound brick ovens craned in through the ceiling of an old Downtown building, just so that you could eat slices of the Amalfi Carnevale, topped with spicy sausage, peppadew peppers, caramelized onion, and house-made bacon jam, with a ricotta-stuffed crust. Also, Red Phone Booth is next door and owned by the same guys. Get the code while you’re eating and walk over for a cigar and snifter of rare Pappy if you’ve got the proper funds after.

Bon Ton ATL

Bon Ton

Midtown

Vietnamese-Creole eats complemented by a superior cocktail program
Everything’s good at Bon Ton, from the blackened catfish banh mi to the sausage and seafood gumbo, applewood-smoked snow crab, boiled crawfish, and pretty much everything else. And how can you not love a place with drinks as delicious as its food, a lovable red neon sign that says “Fancy Service,” and an even more lovable low-tech website? You can’t. It’s simply impossible.

B's Cracklin' Barbecue

Westside

Undeniably righteous smoked meats that could easily be the best in ATL
If you haven’t heard how good B’s is by now, you can safely assume your friends and family and Truman Show-ing you. Everybody knows about the brisket, the wings, the pork and everything else you’d expect to be good, but nobody expected it to be this good, and this consistent. B might have a nationwide franchise opportunity on his hands, as well as a little barbecue sauce. Also, be there on Saturdays for Erika Council’s Bomb-Ass Biscuits pop-up from 9am until noon.

Bar Mercado

Bar Mercado

Krog Street Market

Spanish tapas and wines go for an Inman Park takeover
Anyone can appreciate a place with reasonable prices for Spanish wine (glasses range from $5 to $14); even folks who have houses in Inman Park, who need to watch their spending as much as a fish needs fresh air. The great thing about Bar Mercado is that the wine sets up great shared dining, particularly the perfectly seared trout (you’ll swear it’s somehow deep-fried due to its crispness), charred octopus, or nightly specials such as lobster and mussels.

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