In a city with as many great things to eat as Atlanta, it’s only natural that some stuff will get overlooked, unless you already know where to find the ATL’s most underrated restaurants, or someone who can just, like, give you a list of the 11 sweetest ones. Oh, wait...
This restaurant, tucked away in historic Downtown Kirkwood, is a nook for delicious sandwiches and paninis, fresh salads, and a full breakfast menu that’s served all day. The must-try on its menu is the very Southern grits stack -- a heaping hot bowl of grits topped with fluffy scrambled eggs, shrimp, bacon, and a mound of Cheddar cheese.
College Park is much more than the home to busy Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. There’s actually really good food there. Take Pecan, for Southern eats from local restaurateur Tony Morrow, for example. No less than five minutes down the road, there’s Brake Pad, a more casual joint. It’s routinely packed during the lunch rush, which is a testament to how consistently tasty the food is. Notables on their menu are the Angus beef cheeseburger and the chicken quesadillas. Make sure to stop by on Monday nights for some brain busters at trivia.
In the South, barbecue is damn near a religion. Pit Boss is one of the many examples of true blue Georgia-style barbecue with smoky, juicy pulled pork and ribs that fall off the bone as you pick ‘em up. Always opt for the pulled pork piled high with in-house made coleslaw on a warmed bun and grab the mac & cheese on the side.
Good Thai food is hard to find in the A, but Bangkok Thai in Midtown nails it. Bangkok is a tried and true, hush-hush Atlanta institution that’s been open since 1977. Every day there’s a different menu special, an easy (and wallet friendly) way of tasting your way through various Thai dishes. The old faithful combination is shrimp pad Thai and Thai iced tea, but it’s your world. Step outside the box and try something new.
If you head towards Downtown Decatur on Church St, an Indian restaurant is not hard to find. They spill out from the strip malls jammed with grocers and places to buy fabric and other speciality items. In the Patel Plaza, Chat Patti is a goldmine. For under $10, there’s a thali: a lunchtime-only platter teeming with food roti, boiled potatoes with peas, curry chickpeas swimming in a stew of onions and tomatoes and rice. It’s vegetarian, a great bargain, and a treat from a restaurant that’s been in Atlanta for over two decades.
Never been to Hawaii because you have no idea what the food is like there and that scares you? Dining at Waikikie Hawaiian BBQ is your chance experience a plethora of amazing foods grilled in Hawaiian fashion. There’s burgers, there’s curry, and even ramen -- done the Hawaiian way. The vast majority of the menu is under $9 and lunch specials are $7.59, available during the hours of 11am and 4pm. Dine-in to get to the full experience, as Waikikie blasts Hawaiian music to create a very tropical and fun ambiance.
The only thing random about this Mediterranean casual sit-down and takeout spot is its location. Situated off Shallowford in a plaza with another restaurant, a food mart, and next to a Rite Aid, it’s easy to miss or completely overlook. That said, the food is not something you want to ignore. We’re talking kabobs, falafel, shawarma, schnitzel, and so much more. The hummus and baba ganoush are fresh and flavorful, the baklava is a must-order, and the service is a nice compliment to the entire dining experience.
You’re probably not getting your sushi fix here, but you totally should be. That’s because the easy-to-miss strip-mall spot’s menu is nearly as big as the strip mall itself. Oh, and it also serves up some of the freshest, most melt-in-your-mouth sushi in the city -- and it does it in a totally accessible environment, with service that’s attentive without being overbearing.
Old Fourth Ward
This little dive gets points for its late hours, generous servings, and reasonable prices. What it should get more points for is the king slice, essentially a piece of nearly head-sized pizza, big on everything essential: lots of gooey cheese, perfectly tangy sauce, and deliciously chewy yet crisp crust. Oh, and because EP has expanded, now has a full bar, and is open until 4am on the weekends, it’s also a killer place to continue, not just end, a night of drinking.
Old Fourth Ward
As much as we loved Chef Asha Gomez's previous venture, Cardamom Hill, we’re even happier with Spice to Table. You’ll get similarly complex, flavorful dishes, this time with a charming rustic feel. In addition to the aforementioned fried chicken, try StT’s Southern take on chicken biryani, a traditional Pakistani/Indian dish, or a winter special, like the spiced meat pie with beef, chicken, and goat. Yes, goat.
Ask for authentic regional Mexican eats, and most people will send you to Nuevo Laredo Cantina (or the South-of-the-Border spot closest to their house). Equally as inspired but less talked about is this delicious dive. With flavors inspired by Mexico City, the kitchen pumps out outrageously good comida -- in the form of delectable enchiladas, quesadillas, chimichangas, and much more -- that would make anyone’s abuela proud.
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1. Sushi Itto2173 Briarcliff Rd NE, Atlanta
2. Edgewood Pizza478 Edgewood Ave SE, Atlanta
3. Spice to Table659 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta
4. Taxco Mexican Restaurant4500 Roswell Rd NE, Atlanta
5. Le Petit Marché1963 Hosea L Williams Dr SE, Atlanta
6. Brake Pad3403 Main St, College Park
7. Pit Boss BBQ856 Virginia Ave, Atlanta
8. Bangkok Thai Restaurant1492 Piedmont Ave NE Ste A, Atlanta
9. Chatpatti1707 Church St Ste C7, Decatur
10. Waikikie Hawaiian BBQ2160 Briarcliff Rd NE, Atlanta
11. Cafe Sababa4639 N Shallowford Rd Ste D, Dunwoody
This Atlanta sushi restaurant beloved among locals plates spunky renditions of familiar dishes. Appetizers include a satay with deep-fried salmon, fish eggs, and crabstick, wrapped in seaweed and topped with eel sauce as well as Tuna Sausage, in which chunk tuna is enveloped in seaweed paper, deep-fried in panko, and crowned with sweet mayo. Raw fish-lovers, unite: Itto’s rolls are fresh and affordable. We recommend the spicy and smoky Itto Paradise or the Linsanity Roll. If you’re craving the flavor without the fish, indulge guiltlessly in the Veggie Dragon Roll, with asparagus, cucumber, bell pepper, carrot, celery, daikon sprout, and eel sauce.
Though we believe that kings and queens should always be equal, Edgewood Pizza gets a pass on offering a smaller Queen slice and a larger King slice… this time at least. The pizza’s blistered, crater-landscaped crust frames a nine-inch-long, one-inch-thick triangle of viscous cheese and tangy sauce, and slices come in invigorating incarnations like Hawaiian Delight and Meat Wagon. Edgewood churns out wings too, which, in flavors like teriyaki-garlic, lemon-pepper, and super hot, are certainly worth your while.
This Old Fourth Ward spot is on a mission to introduce spice to the American palette in familiar forms and accessible flavors. The pastries at this casual Indian patisserie span the sweet-savory spectrum, and you should make it a point to nibble on bites both like the sweet mango upside-down cake and the earthy curry chicken samosa pocket to capitalize on Spice to Table’s full experience. Be sure to go on a Friday or Saturday when Chef Asha is cooking up her nationally acclaimed Kerala Fried Chicken, which is rubbed with a secret spice blend, drizzled with coconut oil and fresh mango sauce, and finished with roasted curry leaves.
Taxco is a destination for Mexican comfort food on a wide-ranging menu that includes burritos, quesadillas, seafood platters, chalupas, nachos, and tamales. The exterior is slightly jarring with its bright yellow and red stucco, but the dining room and outdoor patio are humble and unassuming, allowing for a distraction-free meal in which the food is the main event. Order a Mexican beer from the bar or choose from the dynamic selection of tequilas if shots are in order.
Brunch’s only flaw is that it’s usually relegated exclusively to weekends, and Kirkwood’s Le Petite Marché solves this quandary by making brunch an all-day, everyday affair. Sandwiches are the name of the game here: some, like The Sarah, modeled into paninis, others like the Egg Sandwich cradling delicate scrambles, and still others like the Caribbean Chicken slathering spicy jerk aioli onto unassuming chicken breast and other sliced meats. Sweets include a French Toast Sandwich, whose bready bits are battered in vanilla rum before serving as a cocoon for maple syrup-drizzled eggs and bacon.
College Park’s Brake Pad Restaurant and Bar fuels diners with a combination of American comfort food, friendly service, and wonderfully kitschy décor. Located in a converted gas station, Brake Pad’s signature glass garage doors create an interior that’s flooded with natural light and -- depending if they’re open or shut -- the wafting aroma of greasy bar snacks like brisket nachos, wings and burgers made with natural Angus beef. Roll south of the border with spicy black bean quesadillas and tilapia tacos, and tequila cocktails, or perhaps air on the healthier side and order a blackened tilapia and goat cheese salad.
At Pit Boss, BBQ purists might make a beeline for the smoked ribs (and with every right -- it’s dry-rubbed, marinated, and slow-smoked to perfection), but it’s impossible to resist the juicy, drippy, vinegar-laced smoked chicken and smoked beef menu options, so come hungry and take advantage of plates like the Best Bet Brisket sandwich, with mushrooms and pepper jack cheese or the Chopped BBQ Chicken sandwich served on a buttered and toasted bun. The concrete and plywood eatery might not look like much from the outside, but let the restaurant’s crowds serve as a testament to how delectable its BBQ really is.
Ansley Park’s Bangkok Thai prides itself on being Atlanta’s first Thai restaurant, and to maintain its reign over the Thai food scene, it’s open 364 days each year, meaning you should have no trouble conquering the menu in its entirety. Prep your taste buds for some serious heat as you commence your meal with appetizers like Yum Won Sen, a colorful mélange of spicy noodles, ground pork, shrimp, onion, green, lime juice, and chili peppers, and progress to entrees like creamy, bubbling Ruby Curry, served with chicken, tofu, beef, shrimp, or vegetables served with bamboo shoots and fresh Thai basil. If you’re not too stuffed, nibble on the sticky rice with mango, made with coconut milk, for dessert.
Bringing the food styles of various regions together for an exceptional vegetarian dining experience, Chatpatti serves authentic unleavened breads, specialty chaats like spicy flour crisps with lentil donuts, rolled chickpea flour flats, deep-fried green chilis, and breakfast-friendly meals like the potato-, onion- and cheese-filled rice and lentil crepe.
Atlanta’s Waikikie welcomes you to Hawaiian barbecue and grill culture, embracing the concept of “local food,” a tradition of gravy-covered rice and meat lunch bowls with roots in 1920s Hawaiian lunch wagons and restaurants. Here, bowls consist of two scoops of steamed rice, one scoop of macaroni salad, and your choice from meat selections like BBQ chicken, chicken katsu, BBQ beef, BBQ short ribs, fried shrimp, and fried mahi mahi. Complement your bowl with Hawaiian craft beer for an ideal island meal.
Family-run Café Sababa embraces the ethos of “sababa,” translated from Arabic to mean “ardent love,” and at the Dunwoody neighborhood favorite you’ll certainly fall head over heels with the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern fare on offer. The difference between Sababa and other Mediterranean joints is the pride taken in each carefully prepared dish; the menu is stacked with starters, sandwiches, platters, and entrée salads, with expected selections like tender marinated lamb shish kabob platters, falafel pita pockets packed with falafel balls, cucumber-tomato salad, and tahini, and, of course, a crisp Greek salad with heaps of romaine, feta, cucumbers, chickpeas, olives, oregano, and onions.