The Atlanta Botanical Garden isn’t going to let just anybody serve food inside its paradise of funky-fresh flora. So they went to Linton Hopkins, the man-half of the couple who gave us Restaurant Eugene, Holeman & Finch, Hop’s Chicken, and life, to establish a New American joint. Sure, you have to pay admission to the Garden to get your classy gobble on, but you’re also getting the spectacular seasonal cuisine Linton and his wife Gina prepare, paired with not only great cocktails, wine, Champagne, and local beer, but gorgeous views of the ATL skyline from the rooftop bar.
We’ve already recommended Nhan Le and Angus Brown’s newest cephalopod-inspired restaurant, but it’s worth repeating. The basics are that it’s a cafe by day with amazing coffee and breakfast. But then, the anything-but-basic evening menu goes wild on you by taking a standard set of recipes, such as the tagliatelle, and swapping out proteins to keep you guessing -- or simply admitting that these two guys are as intelligent in the kitchen as their eight-armed muses are in maritime environments.
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Apparently a lot of misguided people stopped caring about 4th & Swift, the Old 4th Ward anchor spot from Chef Jay Swift, so he took his skills and skillets OTP, and is giving people with more money and less options all the things we city folk so desperately miss. And Fin is indeed Noble, since Swift is a well-known supporter of sustainability in farming and procuring proteins and vegetables. Plus Swift’s son, Jeb Aldrich, is Chef de Cuisine, so it’s a family affair that feeds you like a relative they actually love. Whether you’re in the mood for surf (Spanish shellfish stew, pan-roasted branzino) or turf (prime NY strip, 8oz wagyu flank steak), you’re sure to regain your tolerance for driving through crazy traffic for fine suburban dining.
Old 4th Ward
Evan Cordes came from Cakes & Ale, Serpas True Food, and H. Harper Station just to open Cast Iron, and smack you in the head with a Lodge pan and whatever delicious thing he decided to cook inside of it. Said delicious thing could presumably be “half-cooked” snapper, smoked/roasted, buttermilk-marinated whole wings, cider-brined pork ribs, or more. But not the “Goodbye Porkpie Hat,” because that's a cocktail. One made with bourbon, lemon, maraschino, and sarsaparilla soda. And anybody who drinks and owns a cast-iron skillet knows you can’t get those things wet.
Ponce City Market
Dinner and a movie is fine. But dinner and a concert, at a winery, is so much finer. And not only does CW have amazing Mediterranean, Italian, French, Spanish, and Middle-Eastern cuisine, but they have a secret speakeasy for drinking and seeing great musical performances from international recording superstars as well as beloved local vocalists like Joi (!), and hell, even The GZA did a show there recently. Wu! Tang! Wu! Tang!!
The team behind Meehan’s Public House, Food 101, and Cibo e Beve must have known that high-quality steaks and seafood, a raw bar, and more than 100 wines by the glass were necessary on the Upper Westside, so they were heroes and opened 101 Steak. And it’s not like Vinings didn’t already have proper supper, but now they have a great new option for East and West Coast oysters, parmesan-crusted roasted marrow bones, a Caribbean seafood cocktail (shrimp, octopus, lump crab), or a 32oz, 50-day dry-aged prime “Tomahawk Chop.” You now officially have 100+ reasons to stop being vegan.
Poké, which is a raw salad with variations of tuna, salmon, albacore, shrimp, octopus, scallop, and tofu, then different mixtures such as seaweed, onions, and kale, is big in Hawaii. Because that’s where it’s from. But it’s now big in Atlanta, and you can try it your way by starting with a base of white or brown rice, salad, or nachos, then add one of those proteins above, mix in some crabmeat or whatever, then dress it in ponzu, sweet chili or wasabi mayo, and eat until you’re ready to float away to that tropical island in the sky. Except without the unfortunate dying part.
Shaun Doty has done his duty when it comes to feeding us fickle ATL people. From Shaun’s in Inman Park to YEAH! Burger, to Bantam+Biddy and now The Federal, he’s always had a great reputation. But now he’s coming back to the kitchen to make sure people see him in all his handsome, kitchen-master glory. Part-steakhouse, part-Euro-bistro, The Fed pays homage to the other Fed (you know, the bank with all the money) with its name, but ALSO pays homage to your taste buds with breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which could begin with oxtail French onion soup, center on West Texas venison or a hand-cut Iowa filet ($5 an ounce), and end with a bottle of Kiona Vineyards ice wine and a fried chocolate pie for dessert. Man, we love Shaun Doty, don’t we?
Ponce City Market
ATL restaurant guru Guy Wong has done great things for your appetite, but with Ton Ton he’s made everybody’s favorite noodle available in PCM, and boy do we appreciate it. From apps like tebasaki wings to char siu, tonkotsu, and stir-fried veggie ramen bowls, you know your soul will be fed -- as well as your stomach. Even as you wait among the scrolled curtains in front of the restaurant.
It was called Atlanta Grill, but AG sounds like Attorney General or All Good, so they went big by going small with the acronym. They also renovated the interior to make it less old-school and more modern with warmer, earthier lighting, tiled and hardwood flooring, and marble tabletops (well, maybe it’s still ritzy). Either way, you’ll be comfortable with the great service and more Southern-sourced food offerings (including Anson Mills rice and ATL’s own Banner Butter, which is just crazy good), and the continuation of great steaks, from the $29 10oz hanger steak to the $140 48oz tomahawk ribeye. What, you forgot you were in the Ritz-Carlton?
Yes, you can now eat good food in Marietta Square. This comes in handy since the only other reason to be there is because you had to pay a speeding ticket (or worse). Spring brings a neighborhood feel to the center of the Cobb County town, and keeps the small, ever-changing menu fresh with grilled king mackerel, roasted lamb saddle, braised oxtail ragu pappardelle, and lots of reds, whites, local beers like Jekyll ‘Merican to make you fine (after the one you just paid the courthouse).
You like to be comfortable, so you eat Southern comfort food. Tupelo Honey knows this! Even though it's originally from Asheville (and are now in seven states including... Colorado?), they know Atlanta is fat and likes biscuits, fried chicken, and the rest. So THC opened up shop and brought their “new South flavors” to Sandy Springs (where the money is). Rejoice, because this means you now have a go-to spot for gourmet Appalachian Johnny cake, a fried green tomato BLT, 14-hour-roasted “Cackalackie” pulled pork, and buttermilk fried chicken with milk gravy.
Old 4th Ward
Ramen is meant to be slurped, and these days ATL residents are slurping more of it than ever. It’s a good thing that we have lots of it to go around, including at Nexto, where French Culinary Institute grad Mihoko Obunai (who’s had ramen pop-ups at The Sound Table and EAV’s SoBa) runs things. Try the caramelized garlic-soy “JFC” wings, the robata-grilled Wagyu sirloin, or a bowl of Kurobuta tonkotsu (pork belly) or Ebi Shoyu ramen (GA white shrimp). You’ll feel good and be able to tell people you stay on that next(o) level. And then people will laugh at your corniness and dad jokes.
Everybody who’s shopped at Peachtree Farmers Market has loved chef/sommelier Mike Patrick’s handmade pasta for years, as he’s put “lost” Italian pasta traditions back into play and been recognized as one of the top folks making squid ink pasta in ATL for years. Now with his retail “alimentari” and restaurant, you can either buy it for the house or enjoy it without cooking from the Berkshire pork meatballs to the rabbit ragu gnocchi and lasagna alla bolognese with veal, pork, beef, and bechamel.
Old 4th Ward
When you mix New American food with Indian flavors, you get something that’s certainly bold in more ways than one. That’s the idea behind Amara, which is from the folks behind Tabla (the sexiest Indian restaurant in town), and which offers a great view of all the action on N. Highland. They also offer great snacks like crispy pig ear chevdo, a gang of small plates including masala prawn, curry-tomato mussels, and duck confit samosas. If you’re down to go bigger there’s vindaloo of pork shoulder, and a hanger steak with jaggery-tamarind glaze. And yes, it DOES have the moves.
You know you love Neapolitan pies, and you know you can’t bake them at home like DiGiorno. It takes gusto, as well as two 6,000lb wood-burning brick ovens imported from Italy. The 12-inchers you get here at Amalfi are cooked in 60 seconds at 900 degrees, and were made from recipes created by master pizzaiolos (fancy word for pizza chefs) Stephen de Haan and Greg Grant. And really, it shouldn’t take much more convincing for you to go eat some damn good pizza, so there you go.
Jay-Z’s former sidekick Sauce Money once had a classic rap line that shook the whole rap game about people trying to “duck sauce.” Well, he was right, because you and everybody else who can’t rap at all need to go eat some Asian barbecue on the edge of Marietta. While you’ve surely tasted the tamarind-based sauce many times, you haven’t had it like this, with your choice of smoked meat (grilled chicken, pulled pork, brisket, rib racks), over your choice of steamed or egg fried rice... or mixed greens, and sides like smoked brisket lima beans.
A French bakery is never a bad idea. Refined pastries and baguettes from a French/American citizen who got his Executive MBA at Emory’s Goizueta Business School, and is not only an engineer but also a soccer player and youth coach, is a special thing, especially when his food is legit delicious. Go there and eat the saveurs, especially the smoked salmon “river sandwich” or tartines from curry chicken to chorizo and peppers.
It’s not every day that a gastro sports bar/restaurant is proud to say it’s “located in the soul of downtown Historic Alpharetta,” but with a name like Butcher & Brew you might consider that it's coming through to kick ass and change things for the better. It's doing that with fresh locally baked bread, eclectic craft beers from ATL and around the country, and a ‘50s/‘60s era street shop setup that makes you feel even better about getting a house pastrami sammy called “The Underwood." Or the cornmeal crusted salmon sandwich.
Krog Street Market
Nashville-style hot chicken is having a moment in ATL -- even Hattie B’s is moving here to make sure it doesn’t miss the money it should be getting. That’s not to say that some people are doing it so well that they should have a permanent license to kill when it comes to the spicy chicken dish. And Todd Richards has earned that right. Sure, you’re spending more than $10, but when you taste those red peppered thighs and have a seat at the bench (which invites you there by being properly setup with a placemat and all the utensils before you even sit down), you’ll know that Nashville and ATL are soul-sisters anyway, so just go with it.
1. The Cafe at Linton's in the Garden1345 Piedmont Ave NE, Atlanta
2. 8 Arm710 Ponce De Leon Ave. NE, Atlanta
3. Noble Fin5260 Peachtree Parkway, Peachtree Corners
4. Cast Iron701-5 Highland Ave NE, Atlanta
5. City Winery650 North Ave, Atlanta
6. 101 Steak3621 Vinings Slope SW, Vinings
7. Poké Bar, Sandy Springs
8. The Federal1050 Crescent Ave NE, Atlanta
9. Ton Ton675 Ponce de Leon Ave NE, Atlanta
10. AG181 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta
11. Spring90 Marietta Station Walk NE, Marietta
12. Tupelo Honey Cafe4600 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs
13. Nexto828 Ralph McGill Blvd NE, Atlanta
14. Storico Fresco Alimentari y Restaurante3167 Peachtree Rd NE, Atlanta
15. Amara Atlanta870 Inman Village Pkwy NE, Atlanta
16. Amalfi Pizza17 Andrew Young International Blvd NE Fl 2, Atlanta
17. Smoke & Duck Sauce2014 Powers Ferry Rd SE, Atlanta
18. Cafe Vendôme, Atlanta
19. Butcher & BrewThree South Main St., Alpharetta
20. Richards' Southern Fried99 Krog St NE Ste T, Atlanta
Located on the grounds of the Atlanta Botanical Garden, Linton's is a refined New American eatery that's well worth the price of admission. Run by Gina and Linton Hopkins of ATL restaurant fame -- they head up Restaurant Eugene, Holeman and Finch, and Hop’s Chicken -- this classy spot serves up seasonal dishes and features a rooftop bar that overlooks the Atlanta skyline. Gaze from behind wide transparent windows or out in the open air -- while sipping a cocktail, a flute of Cava, or a pint of Creature Comforts Tropicalia IPA.
8ARM is a hybrid coffee shop-restaurant-bar in Virginia Highland from Chefs Angus Brown, Nahn Le, and Pastry Chef Sarah Dodge (all formerly of Octopus Bar and Lusca). The modern American café features small-batch coffee, counter-service breakfast and lunch, table service at dinner, and an outdoor patio bar that's especially suitable for late-night cocktails. Breakfast dishes include egg sandwiches, bagels and lox, and pastries. For lunch, soup, salad, and sandwiches are on offer, and for dinner, there’s an eight-item, vegetable-focused menu that changes with the seasons. 8ARM’s 45-seat space is inviting and suitable for your every craving, all day long.
Peachtree Corners is home to this bright, sophisticated restaurant from Jay Swift (4th & Swift), where guests can feast on market-fresh fish and fine cuts of steak alongside craft cocktails. Despite the modern decor and polished staff, the ambience is casual, making the surf & turf fare (Maine lobster rolls, pan-roasted branzino, prime NY strip) work for any night of the week. Top off your dinner with an expertly poured whiskey cocktail and creme brûlée and you'll quickly see why Noble Fin has become a go-to spot in this Atlanta suburb.
In a restaurant that operates on a “nothing too fancy” ethos, you wouldn’t expect the chicken wings to be buttermilk-brined, smoked, roasted, and served with celery ribbons instead of sticks, and herb yogurt instead of ranch. At Cast Iron, the Old Fourth Ward restaurant that operates on said ethos, that’s exactly what you’ll find. It’s a neighborhood place with elevated, Southern-inspired fare, where even the basest of dishes have an air of elegance (I repeat: those chicken wings). The cocktails are approachable with kitschy names and intricate flavor profiles. Antithetical to what you’d expect, nothing on the menu exceeds $20. It may very well be “nothing too fancy” on paper, but certainly not on the palate.
Housed in Ponce City Market, this hip bi-level winery is your one-stop shop in Atlanta for live music, food & wine classes, and a full bar & restaurant with upscale American dishes and a 400+ bottle wine list. You'll want to ask your server for some help with that last one. If you have to tickets to one of City Wintery's concerts, which cover the entire genre spectrum from pop to R&B to rock, you can drink and dine at one of the intimate wooden tables while you watch the show. The dining room, bar, and patio, on the other hand, are open to the public seven days a week, letting you nosh on plates like beef tenderloin medallions and shrimp & grits whenever you'd like.
Vinings' 101 Steak is classically steakhouse in decor and ambiance (read: mahogany wood accents, plush leather chairs, high-backed booths, low lighting), but the menu boasts a more modern approach to the motif. Drawing inspiration from Asian, Southern, and Italian cuisines, the menu veers from traditional with dishes like a tempura Maine lobster tail with sambal aioli and green tea salt, seared sea scallops with grits, roasted tomatoes, and bacon-pernod butter, and bucatini carbonara among the house specialties. And with over 100 by-the-glass wine selections, you’re sure to find a complementary glass to complete your dining experience.
Sandy Springs’ Poké Bar offers an alternative to sushi with its fast-casual concept of poké bowls, raw fish salads characteristic of Hawaiian cuisine. A glass separator stands between you and the variety of poké options you will soon make your own, starting with white rice, brown rice, salad, or nacho chips, which will serve as your base. Your next layer will be a seafood protein, like tuna, spicy tuna, salmon, albacore, octopus, shrimp, scallop, and even tofu for the vegetarians among you. Mix in fresh toppings, such as crabmeat, seaweed, cucumbers, onions, and crispy garlic, and, finally, douse your custom bowl with ponzu, wasabi mayo, or sweet chili sauce. No two poké bowls will ever be the same, so relish yours down to the very last grain of rice.
Named after the nearby Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Shaun Doty's (Bantam+Biddy, YEAH! Burger) restaurant is part European bistro, part American steakhouse. The winning combination yields heavy French- and German-inspired dishes like pork schnitzel, steak frites, and oxtail French onion soup, plus standard steakhouse cuts. Open all day, The Federal serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as coffee and cocktails, making it a reliable spot for Midtown nine-to-fivers looking for a morning caffeine break, post-work drink, and anything in between.
Located in the food hall of Atlanta’s hip Ponce City Market, Ton Ton dishes out piping hot Japanese ramen. The Hakata Tokatsu Classic is indeed classic, and the most popular, with its pork belly, egg, mushrooms, corn, scallions and sesame seeds. If you deviate from the status quo, try the hot hot Invincible Dan Dan Mazemen with its minced pork, egg, cucumber, spicy soybean, and szechuan oil. You can also customize your bowl with add-ons like, Kae Dama (extra noodles), Char Sui (BBQ pork), a soft boiled egg, chili paste, and garlic butter corn. Pro tip: don’t wait for your friends, ramen is best eaten quickly while it’s hot.
The Ritz-Carlton's AG combines the modern steakhouse with Southern charm in a swanky, second-floor space. This is no ordinary, all-day hotel restaurant: instead of a standard stack of buttermilk pancakes at breakfast, there are griddled hoecakes with bacon peach compote, while at lunch, menu a BLT is replaced with a pork belly, kale, and fried green tomato sandwich. Dinner is all about cuts of steak and their sides, like okra & tomato or creamed corn with bacon & jalapeño. Perhaps the most Southern addition to AG's menu is the seven types of speciality ice featured in the cocktail program.
Spring is a quaint neighborhood joint that serves upscale locally (and ethically) farmed American foods in its simple, intimate dining space. In the past the seasonally rotating menu has featured an Apple and Endive Salad with pomegranate and pickled fennel and a tender Grass-fed Steak Tartare with curried egg yolk and mustard for starters, as well as mains like a filling Pappardelle with oxtail ragu and lighter fare like grilled mackerel with fingerling potatoes, leeks, and shallots. Wash it down with something off the European-centric wine list or a Georgia local brew, and finish off the night with a Spanish port wine and a decadent dessert like the citrus-forward White Chocolate Mousse.
Everything about the Sandy Springs Tupelo Honey Cafe location screams southern comfort from the intoxicating smell of freshly baked biscuits to the rustic decor and friendly atmosphere. The big draw here is the brunch menu, you bet they have fried green tomatoes (hold the Kathy Bates), cheesy shrimp and grits, fried chicken, and the fan-favorite Sweet Potato Pancakes. The frier stays hot for dinner, but you can also find options like, “Low Country” blackened catfish and shrimp served over sautéed faro and leeks, and the Dastardly Gentleman (an 11 ounce rib-eye with mashed potatoes and bacon-laden Brussel sprouts). Plus they feature over 40 taps, most of which are hyper-local, hand-picked craft brews. Pro tip: make a reservation … especially for brunch.
NEXTO might simply look like a glorified corrugated metal shack, but inside there are huge windows, sleek decor, and Japanese ramen that is to die for. The menu features more traditional ramen like, Spicy Veggie Miso (contains tofu and egg) and Kurobuta Tonkotsu (pork belly, egg, and scallions), as well as NEXTO’s more unique offerings like, Crispy Bacon Miso Ramen (charred eggplant, bean sprouts, and pickled ginger) and locally sourced Ebi Shoyu (Georgia white shrimp, egg, and scallions). If it’s too hot for soup, try the Diver Scallops with curried spaghetti squash and pumpkin oil, Wagyu Sirloin with ginger and charred onions, or the Ramen Burger with kimchi, spicy mayo, and a fried egg. Pair your meal with Japanese sake or local craft beer.
Storico Fresco Alimentari is a dual-concept Italian grocery store and restaurant in Buckhead. Retail options evolve weekly, with an array of filled pastas (the tortelloni is stuffed with ricotta, Grana Padano, and nutmeg), salads, lasagnas, pestos, and fresh-cut pastas. Storico’s dinner menu is a selection of antipasti, insalata, pasta, mains, and sides. Our favorite pastas include the Pi Fasaac, with taleggio, ricotta, spinach, Grana Padano filling, and brown butter sage, and yes, you should upgrade your dish with shaved white truffle. Why are you even thinking twice?
Inman Park’s Amara is an Indian-American restaurant that presents new takes on traditional Indian dishes in a dining room with industrial, modern décor, complete with a glass-backed bar, an open kitchen that serves as a stage for guests to watch their culinary creations unfold, and a patio for outdoor dining. The menu is organized into snacks, small plates, large plates, sides, bread, and dessert, with fresh cocktails like the Smoking Gun, combining mezcal, pineapple, agave, and spicy bitters. Start off with crispy pig ear chevdo, accompanied by coriander and curry leaf, and make your way to oysters smoked with sandalwood and paneer gnocchi with lemongrass, curry leaf, coconut milk, and olive kitchdi.
Amalfi Pizza centers its Neapolitan pizzeria concept on its two 6,000lb wood-burning brick ovens imported from Italy. Amalfi churns out pizzas that are 12in or less in diameter and constructed using quality ingredients from the Italian region of Campania, resulting in pièces de résistance like the Carrettiere, with spicy sausage, broccoli rabe, and fior di latte, and the Gli Amanti Della Carne, with spicy Neapolitan salami, meatballs, spicy sausage, house-made bacon jam, and fior di latte. Also on offer are appetizers, salads, pasta dishes, and homemade desserts, like cannoli and tiramisu.
Gleaning inspiration from the eccentric combination of both Southern comfort food and traditional Chinese duck sauce, the orange stuff almost exclusively found in tiny plastic packets at the bottom of your brown paper takeout bag, Smoke and Duck Sauce combines Asian and American barbecuing traditions in a multicultural menu of smoked meats and assorted sides like vegetable spring rolls, smoked chicken wings, and waffle fries with pepper jack cheese and scallions. Build your own barbecue platter, choosing a base of grilled chicken, smoked brisket, pulled pork, or a rack of ribs, adding steamed rice, egg fried rice, or mixed greens, and topping it all off with two extras, like grilled corn, smoked brisket lima beans, Asian slaw, French fries, and broccoli in garlic sauce.
There is a tiny slice of Paris in Sandy Springs, and it’s hidden behind the Belle Isle strip mall, inside of Café Vendôme. Headed by French ex-pats, Café Vendôme bakes French pastries, like croissants, canelés, madeleines, and one of the best baguettes you’ve ever tried. Coming in fat and skinny varieties, they are filled with a light, doughy interior that’s encapsulated in a somewhat tough, crispy exterior. Spend an afternoon at the café for lunch, and sample the menu of quiches, salads, and sandwiches, like the French Sandwich, with mayo, hard-boiled egg, tomato, greens, and fresh chicken or ham.
Butcher & Brew is a gourmet sandwich shop with house-made bread and all meat ground or sliced on-site. Overseen by South Main Kitchen’s executive chef Christy Stone, Butcher & Brew offers appetizers, soups, salads, bowls, and sandwiches including The Underwood, with house pastrami, grainy Dijon, Swiss cheese, and giardiniers, and the Papiamento, with braised lamb, pickled cactus and pepper relish, pimento goat cheese, and crispy plantains. For a bit of a healthier option, test out the Paleo bowl, with sweet potato, spinach, caramelized onion, red bell pepper, avocado, hard-boiled egg, peanut, bacon, and spicy honey mustard. Enjoy your dish in the industrial-chic atmosphere at a chrome four-top.
Richards’ Southern Fried has distilled the art of fried chicken down to a science. At the casual, counter-serve Krog Street Market outpost, chicken sourced from Springer Mountain Farms is marinated in spiced brine for 24 to 48 hours (depending on the size of the bird), air-dried to develop flavor and seal in juices, coated in flour and seasonings (many of which are ground in-house to ensure peak flavor), and pressure-fried, which lends a crispy exterior to the greasy poultry without making it especially heavy. Choose your heat level wisely; your three options are the well-seasoned, relatively un-hot “Classic,” the slow-burning “Hot,” and the SOS-there-is-a-four-alarm-fire-on-my-tongue “Richards’ Hot,” which might be painful, but is worth a taste nonetheless.