Atlanta's sprawling collection of 'hoods is united by A) our mutual hatred of the idiots on 285, and B) our mutual love of eating. But how do you know if the place where you're chowing down is a real local legend, or just some corporate chain frontin’ on your turf? It's easy: if you want to patronize the kind of places run by people who can lend you a cup of sugar (or a pound of pigs feet), then check out our list of the best local restaurants in every Atlanta neighborhood...
Buckhead Varasano's Pizzeria Software engineer and at-home mad pizza scientist, Jeff Varasano, piled up stacks of local and national awards... but totally shares his recipes with the world, mostly 'cause he knows you don’t have an 800-degree stone pizza oven or all the supremely fresh ingredients he has at home, so he’s pretty confident you’ll keep coming back for more.
Cabbagetown Home Grown If the name didn’t tip you off, this is about as Georgia-grown as you can get: just check their Facebook page for pictures of what local veggies they’ll be picking for that day’s menu, then skip said veggies (yuck!) and get the fried chicken or the pork chops, which are also from around here.
Grant Park Ria’s Bluebird Cafe The late Ria Pell's memory lives on in the famed Southern eats (grilled pimento cheese sandwiches, shrimp & grits, biscuits & gravy, etc.) that earned her reality TV fame when she won Chopped.
East Atlanta Octopus Bar Angus Brown and Nhan Le run all around the city hitting up farmers' markets you’ve probably never even heard of to find types of oysters and other creatures of the sea that sound like Japanese movie monsters, and then serve 'em to you. Take that, delicious Kumamoto oyster!
Brookhaven Pub 71 Helmed by a dude who was born in guess what year... 1972! (just kidding, it was '71)... and who wanted to open a place where his friends and family could hang/booze, this Irish-style drink spot's got more than just the usual taps (Sweetwater Red Hot Mama), and home-style eats like a Jack Daniel’s-smoked beef brisket sandwich, and shepherd’s pie.
Midtown Top Flr Original owners Darren Carr and Denise Sanchez bring a little bit of a late-night cool vibe to the converted two-story, and strictly avoids douching it up. If you need proof, boiled peanuts are their signature appetizer... but, yes, they do still manage to make a mean Duck Confit Pizza w/ sorghum-cured bacon, mixed mushroom & pesto.
Castleberry Hill No Mas! Cantina You’ll probably be able to grab a margarita with the owners at the huge bar, assuming they’re not on one of their regular trips to Mexico to pick up crazy new glassware for the attached bodega. Plus, it’s a great place to grab a tequila or five before a show, if you’re looking to avoid the regular Philips / Dome crowd, or a Bloody Maria and huevos on a blurry Sunday afternoon.
Sandy Springs Brickery Grill & Bar A husband and wife team have kept this place packed nightly for over 20yrs, which isn't something you do by sucking, unless it's your fingers after you've crushed a plate of their perfectly Southern fried chicken.
Buford Highway Sushi House Hayakawa Obviously, Buford Highway’s best isn’t going to be classic Georgia soul food, but Chef / owner Atsushi "Art" Hayakawa will happily show you some of the best sushi knife skills in the city, assuming you can follow his blazing speed. Pro tip: avoid the weekend rush and go early during the week, sit at the bar, and eat whatever the hell Chef Art tells you to.
The Highlands Murphy’s Tim Murphy’s mind-blowing shrimp & grits -- and other Southern staples -- are complemented by what is arguably Atlanta’s deepest, yet most-accessible wine menu/shop (go for the Tuesday tastings if you want to impress your next date), all of which, including their on-site bakery, is squeezed into a cozy, brick-walled space.
Old Fourth Ward Miso Izakaya You think you know what Guy Wong is all about, but any night you show up, he’ll still manage to surprise you with a ramen burger or kimchee twist that you didn’t see coming. The bar is no slacker, either, with Japanese beers you’ve never tried, and cocktails that go perfectly with those soy-marinated eggs.
West Midtown Sublime Doughnuts West of the Connector has a lot of great places, but Sublime (sweet) creams them all. Kamal Grant, a Marietta High graduate, did what so many of Atlanta’s best locals did: taught himself one thing, and then did it better than almost anyone else in the country -- so just show up in the morning and get ready for whatever peanut butter-stuffed and breakfast cereal-topped breakfast eats he's created that day.
Little Five Points The Porter Beer Bar When you have 800-something beers jammed into a space no larger than a nail salon, you’d think you might call it a day, but The Porter's, like, "Screw that! We're also gonna sell Applewood-smoked bacon hushpuppies, and almond butter and apple prosciutto sandwiches, so take that other nail salon-sized bars with 800 beers!"
Downtown Bell Street Burritos Just a few years old, Bell Street's already been named one of America’s 10 best burritos by USA Today, all because Matt Hinton, a Morehouse prof, was dismayed by the burritos Downtown, so he took things into his own hands, wrapped 'em in tortillas and put 'em into yours.
Kirkwood Kirkyard Public House Their great Georgia draft beer selection washes down powerful bar food selections like bacon guacamole and chili-cheddar Jack burgers that're so good, even people in, like, Reynoldstown should make the “road trip".
Inman Park One Eared Stag Chef and owner Robert Phalen has a 600-acre farm where he hunts, grows, and forages the wildly unpredictable and masterfully tasty dishes at his little place by the MARTA stop, making this another place where planning ahead is never needed, 'cause chef knows you're just there for a cup of sugar what's best.