Food & Drink

The best neighborhood restaurant in every Atlanta neighborhood

Published On 03/19/2014 Published On 03/19/2014

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...

Varsano's Pizzeria

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.

Ria’s Bluebird Cafe

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!

Pub 71

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.

Top Fir

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.

No Mas! Cantina

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.

Sebastian Davis

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.

Sushi House Hayakawa

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.

Murphy's

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.

Miso Izakaya

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.

Sublime Doughnuts

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.

The Porter Beer Bar

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!" 

Bell Street Burritos

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.

Kirkyard Public House

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.

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1. Brickery Grill & Bar 6125 Roswell Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30328 (Sandy Springs)

A husband and wife team have kept this place packed nightly for over 20 years, 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.

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2. Varasano's 2171 Peachtree Rd, Atlanta, GA 30309 (Buckhead)

Jeff Varasano's eponymous pizza restaurant gain national acclaim with its first outpost in Buckhead (it was purportedly one of Rachel Ray's favorite spots in America). This Perimeter offshoot is a clubby update of the original, complete with a outdoor patio, secret entry lounge and in-house DJ. Pies range from the traditional to fancier stuff like the "Nucci" (garlic, olives, Emmenthaler, arugula, Capocollo).

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3. Home Grown 968 Memorial Dr SE, Atlanta, GA 30316 (Reynoldstown)

A friendly atmosphere and some good ole Southern comfort food make this spot feel like home. Fill up on goodies like soft shell crab po' boys, sloppy joes, redneck tacos (coleslaw & BBQ pork in a pancake!) and fried bologna sandwiches.

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4. Ria's Bluebird 421 Memorial Dr SE, Atlanta, GA 30312 (Grant Park)

A casual diner done up in cabin motifs and murals by local artists. This breakfast and lunch joint is doing Southern grub right with fish and grits, biscuits, and huevos. They've also got a lot of vegetarian options if you're looking for some country fried tempeh.

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5. The Octopus Bar 560 Gresham Ave, Atlanta, GA 30316 (East Atlanta)

Featuring a menu that changes daily, Octopus Bar is a quality spot for late-night eats. But keeping in tune with their name, yes, you'll be able to order octopus on pretty much any day you're there.

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6. Pub 71 4058 Peachtree Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30319 (Brookhaven)

Helmed by a dude who was born in 1971 (get it?)... 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.

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7. Top Flr 675 Myrtle St NE, Atlanta, GA 30308 (Midtown)

This eclectic bistro boasts extensive wine and cocktail lists, and entrees include choices like sea scallops with Asian pear, pork tenderloin with sweet potato puree, and grilled chipotle chicken.

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8. No Mas! Cantina 180 Walker St SW, Atlanta, GA 30313 (Castleberry Hill)

Grab a margarita at the huge bar. 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.

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9. Murphy's 997 Virginia Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30306 (Virginia Highland)

This Virginia Highlands staple boasts a bakery and wine shop in addition to its popular restaurant.

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10. Miso Izakaya 619 Edgewood Ave SE, Atlanta, GA 30312 (Old 4th Ward)

If you want to taste their signature ramen, go there often and get there early (i.e. it tends to sell out quickly). But if you're willing to forgo that staple, there are plenty other delicious Japanese meals to masticate.

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11. Sublime Doughnuts 535 10th St NW, Atlanta, GA 30318 (Home Park)

Sublime is to donuts what Picasso was to painting. They're serious about the craft of creating sweet dough with a hole in the middle and their huge variety of gourmet donuts convey that with every delectable bite.

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12. The Porter Beer Bar 1156 Euclid Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30307 (Little 5 Points)

Grab a casual dinner & brew at The Porter Beer Bar in L5P, outfitted with comfy wooden booths and exposed bricks.

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13. Bell Street Burritos 209 Edgewood Ave SE, Atlanta, GA 30303 (Downtown)

Bell Street's serving up killer burritos and has 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.

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14. Kirkyard Public House 1963 Hosea L Williams Dr NE R105, Atlanta, GA 30317 (Kirkwood)

This neighborhood spot in Kirkwood boasts a huge open space inside, plentiful flat screens, hyper­local craft beer, and great bar food, (including a paleo burger that you'll actually want to eat).

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15. One Eared Stag 1029 Edgewood Ave, Atlanta, GA 30308 (Inman Park)

Housed in an open, quirky space in Inman Park with stag taxidermy adorning the walls, One Eared Stag offers a refined, elegant dining experience in a neighborhood space. Helmed by Chef Robert Phalen, the kitchen serves his innovative American fare seven days a week. Expect dishes like milk curd toast with fried capers and smoked roe, chicken schnitzel, and shishito peppers with benne seed. Weekday happy hours boast $1 oysters and $1 beers, and every month the cocktail menu changes in accordance with a new theme. Though the menus change often, there’s something off-menu worth mentioning, and worth the visit alone: The Meatstick. The two-patty burger is smothered with American cheese and topped with pickled onions, but the most important thing to know about the heart-stopping sandwich is that its patties are comprised of both beef… and bacon.

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16. Sushi House Hayakawa 5979 Buford Hwy NE, Ste A10, Atlanta, GA 30340

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 Chef Art tells you to.

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