Most chefs in Atlanta aren't fancy, "I've-got-my-own-TV-show" kinda chefs. No, our chefs are more likely to have cooked for decades in places with hot tin roofs, or in parking lots. In places smaller than your dorm room at Georgia State. Places where, when you walk in, you could be called “honey-child”, or kicked the heck out for breaking the rules. Places that are part shack, part restaurant, so, naturally, these are Atlanta’s best “shackstaurants”.
Ann’s Snack Bar
Home of “The Ghetto Burger”, which many lists name as the best burger in America, the titular Miss Ann doesn’t screw around: two giant hunks of meat go down on her tiny griddle along with piles of onions, chili, and cheese. But don’t cuss, remember to close the door behind you, and wipe your feet, or she'll have you right back out that door by the ear... without that glorious pile of beef.
This convenient (for now) joint is easy to spot, thanks to the giant metal pig on top of their “patio”, which looks like something that shouldn’t pass code... unless the inspectors were “persuaded” by some of Atlanta’s most badass Q, which, in addition to Southern staples, includes Daddy D’z Famous Que Wraps -- BBQ pork wrapped in bite-sized bits of dough and then deep-fried.
Enat Ethiopian Cafe
You’ve probably driven by this tiny building on Cheshire Bridge a thousand times, without ever realizing what amazing African eats are available inside. Pro tip: don't ask for utensils -- that's what the injera (flatbread) is for.
Mi Barrio Restaurante Mexicano
You can tell Mi Barrio is Mexican family cooking, because grandma is seated at a back table watching her “stories” en Espanol during the lunch rush and because, in addition to all your South-of-the-Border favorites, they've got a ceviche that doesn't taste anything like it was made in a building smaller than a double-wide. An actual double-wide, sure, but this place?!
Wyatt’s Country BBQ
It seems like a miracle that Wyatt’s is even standing. The building is a patchwork of shingles and plastic, the porch boards groan under your feet, and you can actually see into the building through the smoker. The actual miracle is that they can make full racks of perfectly crusted pork ribs taste this good.
Jamal’s Buffalo Wings
Next time you’re headed to a Falcons game,
don't get pulled over for having tinted windows like Roddy White skip the five-deep line at the sports bar, and get a to-go order of the hottest, freshest wings you can get in a parking lot.
Nick’s Food To Go
The owner isn’t called “The Gyro Nazi” for nothing. He has an extremely short temper, and doesn’t want to deal with stupid questions, (or people playing Flappy Birds on their phones while ordering). Keep it simple, order the lamb plate with everything, and don’t loiter in front of the takeout window. Oh, you want more sauce? No souvlaki for you!
Sure, it says it's an ice cream parlor, but their “puerco queso” sandwich is a lunchtime-must if you’re anywhere near Buford Highway... or are already at the adult movie theater, where Bellaggio's is posted up in the parking lot.
Delia’s Chicken Sausage Stand
Delia's specializes in hand-spun shakes and chicken sausage sliders that're packed with more poultry-goodness than the colonel could have ever imagined, and are rapidly becoming a late-night mainstay among the weekend EAV bar crowd.
Fat Matt’s Rib Shack
How do they manage to cram majestic barbecue ribs, a walk-up bar, and live blues into something the size of a school trailer? Go yourself and find out, but get there early, 'cause while the music’s good, the 20-deep line outside before they open is a strictly meat-based phenomenon.
1. Mi Barrio Restaurante Mexicano571 Memorial Dr. Southeast, Atlanta
2. Nick's Food To Go240 MLK Dr SE, Atlanta
3. Daddy D'z264 Memorial Dr SE, Atlanta
4. Enat Ethiopian Cafe1999 Cheshire Bridge Rd NE, Atlanta
5. Ann's Snack Bar1615 Memorial Dr, Atlanta
6. Delia's Chicken Sausage Stand489 Moreland Ave, Atlanta
7. Fat Matt's Rib Shack1811 Piedmont Ave NE, Atlanta
8. Wyatt's Country BBQ1674 Memorial Dr SE, Atlanta
9. Jamal's Buffalo Wings10 Northside Dr NW, Atlanta
10. Bellaggio's Ice-Cream5805 Buford Highway, doraville
Beside all your Mexican favorites, Mi Barrio dabbles in a very solid ceviche you wouldn’t expect in a building smaller than a double-wide.
This eatery keeps it simple with dishes like the "lamb plate with everything" and other greek eats.
You can spot Daddy’s by the giant metal pig on top of their “patio”: plates of Southern staples can always be washed down by a few beers before, during, or after a Braves game.
Only open for dinner, Enat’s is the authentic Ethiopian experience. Don’t ask for utensils, you’re only using your hands and the injera (flatbread), to soak up spicy, savory eats.
The burgers at Ann's snack bar, some of the best in Atlanta, could qualify the Kirkwood spot as the eighth wonder of the world. The voluptuous, hand-pressed Ghetto Burgers bring chili sauce, bacon, a super-secret seasoning, fat pieces of onion, and fried bacon together in a burger that's admittedly difficult to eat but so worth the mess (you've just gotta dive right into this one). There isn't ample seating, but after a short wait you can sit along the bar and watch it get made right in front of you, which, trust us, will work up an appetite large enough to tackle it on your own.
DCSS is dishing out locally sourced, small-batch chicken sausages called "slingers" in 10 styles like the Sleazy Cheesy, Italian Stallion & Shredder. They're also serving breakfast slingers throughout the day.
Fat Matt’s Rib Shack is more than just a barbecue joint (though the ribs really are something special). It’s an unassuming, counter-service shack in Morningside with a blues-centric theme (there’s a mock Mt. Rushmore mural featuring legends like Muddy Waters and BB King, for example) and live blues every night. The ribs are smoky, fall-off-the-bone tender, charred, and smothered in Fat Matt’s signature sauce, which is reason enough to go. (Best served with a side of macaroni and cheese.) Although you can order the famous sauce -- and t-shirts and stickers -- from the website, the barbecue and blues experience has been drawing diners from across the country since the 90s.
The building may be a patchwork of shingles and plastic, but the miracle comes when you take one of their full racks of perfectly-crusted ribs to your mouth and thank whoever the patron saint of pork is.
Stop by Jamal’s for the hottest, freshest wings you can get in a parking lot. There’s always a great crowd to discuss how much a bum deal Roddy White got when he got arrested during the off-season.
Advertising itself as an ice cream parlor, Bellaggio’s “puerco queso” sandwich is a lunchtime must if you’re anywhere near Buford Highway. Just because it is in the parking lot of an adult movie theater doesn’t mean it can’t sling some serious chow...