Courtesy of Green Olive Media

Todd Richards

Richards’ Southern Fried

Address and Info

Krog St. Market

You have to wonder how it’s even possible for a self-taught chef to do what Todd Richards has done for Atlanta’s dining scene. Here you have a guy who not only innately understands fine dining, which has been evident since his days running The Café at The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead, but is also keen on keeping things unflashy and honest -- which you know he does if you ever ate at former O4W barbecue staple Rolling Bones during his tenure there. Since those days he’s gained greater acclaim at The Shed at Glenwood (where he earned James Beard semi-finalist status in 2013), then The Pig & The Pearl before moving to White Oak. Not only has he been a singular force in upgrading Downtown’s restaurant scene, but his partnership with the White Oak folks (Alan and Cindy LeBlanc) has turned into his own Krog shop, where you can enjoy Nashville-style hot chicken from a welcoming bench setup with stools and all the table-settings you’d expect at a Sunday dinner. If that wasn’t enough, Richards also served as concept director for One Flew South, the greatest airport restaurant EVER, and was consulted for the menu for Ludacris’ new airport restaurant Chicken + Beer. He may be a back-of-house restaurant guy by nature, but damn it, this man deserves gratuity.

Fifth Group Restaurants

Jason Starnes

South City Kitchen

Address and Info

Buckhead

Public expectations weren’t sky-high when the Buckhead opening of SCK was announced. And that’s not suggesting folks had reasons to assume things would be lackluster; it’s just that you’re supposed to know exactly what you want and get it at the familiar ATL Southern comfort food institution. Starnes shattered that, and as a result you can have the Midtown and Vinings menu standards or something totally unique to the new location, which the former executive chef of The Sun Dial created just to make sure you knew what neighborhood you were dining in. If you’ve been sleeping on SCK because you just couldn’t imagine they’d done anything much different, realize that you’ve been seriously missing out and get over to the old Blue Cross building as soon as permissible.

Brian Gassel

Christopher Grossman

Atlas

Address and Info

Buckhead

Running a restaurant at the St. Regis and getting a Four Diamond rating from AAA is nothing to shrug at. Chris Grossman deserves lots of credit for the accolades given to Atlas’ Euro-influenced American cuisine in 2016, especially because it’s been considered one of our best restaurants since opening just over a year ago. Looking at his track record, it’s safe to assume we can expect even greater things in the future, since he’d accomplished quite a bit on his own before Atlas opened up. Real talk: It’s impressive when you can say you’ve worked in Napa Valley at The French Laundry, which has literally been named the best restaurant in the world by people who have the qualifications to make such statements (aside from us, of course). But Grossman’s tutelage under Gerry Klaskala, who gave us Aria and Canoe, is part of the reason why you get a bit of the familiar with plenty of the extravagant, and none of the Gross, man. We’re here for dinner all night, folks.

Courtesy of The General Muir

Todd Ginsberg

The General Muir

Address and Info

Emory Village

If you -- like many others in Atlanta -- love Bocado, you have to show love to Todd Ginsberg. He’s the guy who got the kitchen started and put his guts -- not literally of course -- into its burger stack. You couldn’t have been surprised when he joined forces with the folks who opened The General Muir, because damn -- you’ve eaten there, right? Enough said. But just this January he opened up TGM Bread, a bakery where so much magic happens you almost wonder if you’re getting baked as you eat what comes from the ovens (burger buns, English muffins, fluffy pitas, pizza dough, you name it). By the way, you saw the Atlanta edition of Burger Quest, right? Fred’s Meat & Bread, where you can catch Todd hanging out pretty often, was our national burger critic’s favorite stack in the city. And if you’ve never had the falafel at Yalla!, his Middle Eastern setup next door, then you might be improperly fed. What can’t Todd Ginsberg do? Lose a burger war, or any competition that deals with cooking; that’s what.

Courtesy of Foundation Social Eatery

Mel Toledo

Foundation Social Eatery

Address and Info

Roswell

It’s been more than two years since Foundation opened past the perimeter on 400N, but if you were there at the beginning you remembered your meal, and wondered why in the hell something so tasty was on the Norcross side of the highway instead of ITP -- or at least off Canton St in Roswell’s Downtown district. Well, that’s because Chef Mel’s tatted-up arms have whipped up excellence during stints at Bacchanalia, Woodstock gem Century House Tavern, and places outside the ATL area including stints at heralded NYC restaurant Daniel. Toledo is now an owner, and he uses Foundation to mix casual flair (don’t be surprised if music from Gorillaz plays while you bite into that crispy octopus appetizer) with high-quality food packing immense flavor. The fact that he can push such consistent delicious meals from his open kitchen while the management and staff of Foundation offer reliably solid service to customers means Roswell residents better cherish this guy.