The Best Dishes We Ate in Atlanta This Year

From barbecue to burgers to standout burritos and more.

Cheese Burger at The Chastain | Photo courtesy of The Chastain
Cheese Burger at The Chastain | Photo courtesy of The Chastain

We don’t need to tell you: 2021 was a wild ride for the restaurants of Atlanta. Despite facing little to no government restrictions, there were plenty of challenges thrown their way from staffing shortages to supply chain issues. Yet, Atlanta was lucky enough to still see plenty of restaurant openings, giving us lots of cause for celebration. Now that we’re at the end of 2021, we’re taking a look back on some of the best things we ate during this not-so-normal year.

Omelette at Lucian Books and Wine | Photo by Andrew Thomas Lee

The dish: Omelette at Lucian Books and Wine

Lucian created a buzz by combining beautiful design with food-centric books and an exquisite wine list. Most of the dishes are stellar, but the unexpected hit of the menu is the omelette. Chef Brian Hendrickson discovered the secret to making an omelette that’s fluffy yet smooth. The toppings vary, but have included caviar and creme fraiche or truffles. It’s a dinner-only treat which somehow makes it all the more special. Pro tip: Let co-owner Jordan Smelt pair it for you.
How to order: Make a reservation here

Jane Fonda Burrito at Poco Loco | Photo by Olivia Arnold

The dish: Jane Fonda Burrito at Poco Loco

Nick Melvin’s decision to make his burrito pop-up permanent by setting up shop in the former Dish Dive space wasn’t loco at all. In fact, it was genius because now hungry Atlantans can find burrito-happiness Thursday through Saturday along with expanded offerings such as frozen cookie dough, a variety of salsas, and beverages like horchata. When it comes to burritos, Melvin and his crew have a special way with vegetables, specifically, cauliflower. The standout of the ever-changing menu (seriously, it changes every week) is the Jane Fonda which is filled with chorizo-style cauliflower, locally-sourced eggs, sweet potatoes, garlicky mustard greens, and quesadilla cheese.
How to order: Walk in or find their pop-ups here

Fox Bro’s at The Works
Pulled Mushroom Sandwich at Fox Bro’s at The Works | Photo courtesy of Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q

The dish: Pulled mushroom sandwich at Fox Bros. at The Works

West Midtown
Look, Fox Bros does a great job with meat. And the meats coming out of their Works location where they have killer smokers in a beautiful room adjacent to the restaurant are no exception. So when we tell you that the pulled mushroom sandwich is their best dish, we mean it! First of all, it’s incredibly cool that the Fox twins took vegetarians and vegans into account when opening this new location. Not only that, but they created a dish that’s taken just as seriously as an animal protein, with smoky, earthy oyster mushrooms in a barbecue sauce served with vinegar slaw on a brioche bun. Carnivores, take a chance and you will not be disappointed.
How to order: Walk in or order pickup and delivery online.

Samosa Chaat at Dash & Chutney | Photo by Adam Milliron

The dish: Samosa chaat at Dash & Chutney

West Midtown
Palak Patel, who you may have seen on the Food Network beating Bobby Flay, returned home to Atlanta to open a stall at the Chattahoochee Food Works. There, she makes plant-based dishes inspired by her upbringing in India. One of the gems on the menu is the samosa chaat: samosas stuffed with potatoes, peas, and cumin topped with chana masala that’s been cooked with mango powder and garnished with pomegranate seeds.
How to order: Walk-ins only.

Philly Cheesesteak at Bar Vegan | Photo courtesy of Jamestown

The dish: Philly cheesesteak at Bar Vegan

Old Fourth Ward
Plant-based dishes continue to dominate with the Philly cheesesteak at Bar Vegan. Made by Dinkie’s, the concept found within Bar Vegan that was a collaboration between Slutty Vegan’s Pinky Cole and Derrick Hayes of Big Dave’s Cheesesteaks, the cheesesteak is prepared with Impossible meat and properly seasoned before getting smothered in vegan cheese with the option add mushrooms (add mushrooms).
How to order: Make a reservation by emailing 

Photo courtesy of Le Bon Nosh

The dish: Leek and taleggio galette at Le Bon Nosh

Found at the base of the Irby in Buckhead, Le Bon Nosh is a glamorous all-day spot with a cafe, coffee shop, and market. While it’s hard to choose a best dish (lobster potato salad is a strong contender), the leek and taleggio galette is a standout for the way it balances a buttery crust with fresh veggies and the welcome addition of hazelnuts for crunch.
How to order: Walk-ins only.

Smoked Salmon + Preserved Lemon Labneh Pita at Daily Chew | Photo by Kate Blohm

The dish: Smoked salmon + preserved lemon labneh pita at Daily Chew

Piedmont Heights
Julia Kesler Imerman has been appeasing Atlanta diners with her fresh approach to cooking for years through her delivery service, Stop Think Chew. At the Daily Chew, diners can delight in her dishes with locally sourced ingredients and bright flavors. The smoked salmon and preserved lemon labneh packs a wow factor into a handheld treat. They use verlasso salmon, which is lean and firm and syncs up perfectly with the zesty labneh and sumac onions. While you’re there, you should grab a house pressed juice (the fruits change often, but they’re always refreshing).
How to order: Walk in or order pickup or delivery online

Papaya Salad at Tum Pok Pok | Photo courtesy of Tum Pok Pok

The dish: Papaya salad at Tum Pok Pok

Tum Pok Pok has deservedly received tons of accolades since opening its doors in April. With vibrant flavors found in its Thai dishes and a splashy decor to match, it’s not hard to see why it’s become such a hit. When it comes to standout dishes, the papaya salad is a must-order. They actually have several varieties of papaya salad like the tum pu plara with salted crab and fermented fish sauce or the tum korat with fermented fish sauce and crushed peanuts. You can always start with the tum Thai, a papaya salad simply with crushed roasted peanuts. Either way, the salad packs a lot of flavor (by which we mean salty, spicy heat balanced out by cool and refreshing lime) and is a great kick off to the meal.
How to order: Make a reservation here or order pickup online

Cheese Burger at The Chastain | The Chastain

The dish: Cheeseburger at The Chastain

The Chastain opened in November of 2020 and quickly became popular as a breakfast and dinner destination. It’s hard to beat waking up with one of Christian Castillo’s pastries by the fire on the patio. And while chef Christopher Grossman makes vegetables (some even grown in their on-site garden) shine, the cheeseburger is a star. Two patties topped with American cheese, caramelized onion aioli, lettuce, and pickles. It's served with fries, naturally.
How to order: Walk in or make a reservation here

Photo courtesy of Nur Kitchen

The dish: Burned eggplant at Nur Kitchen

Buford Highway
Shay Lavi is the executive chef of this restaurant that brings together Turkish and Israeli flavors on Buford Highway. There’s a brick oven that churns out incredibly fluffy pita, as well as one of the star dishes: the burned eggplant. Don’t worry, only the skin is burnt—the interior is an eggplant that’s practically creamy and imbued with a smoky flavor. Topped with tahini and a mango dressing, it’s served alongside a chopped salad.
How to order: Walk in or call 678-691-3821 to book a reservation. 

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Lia Picard is an Atlanta-based journalist writing about food, travel, and a variety of other topics. Her work appears in The New York TimesThe Washington PostWine Enthusiast, and CNN Travel.