Comedian David So Reviews Las Vegas’ Food Scene
Flavorful, Instagram-ready fancy food from a Buckhead Life alum
Chef Matthew Rainey, who came up under the gourmet wing of Atlanta culinary legend Pano Karatassos, is executive chef at The Select, a new Euro/US dinner destination by the Paces & Vine owners. The dining room -- with its hanging lanterns and spring-green color scheme carried from the tiled walls to the liquor-holding bookshelves -- is as deliberately designed as you’d expect a Buckhead Life Restaurant Group alum. Note that dinner starts at 5pm, but small plates take over from 10pm to midnight. The filet mignon steak frites with crisp jumbo fries and the elegant miso sea bass are seriously sexy, but the fashion isn't hiding the flavor. The same goes for appetizers like the gorgeous quail-egg-topped steak tartare and the saffron-sabayon Alaskan king crab. Also, the menu has around 30 wines, an arsenal of ATL craft draft beers, and an impeccable cocktail list.
The best pizza in Atlanta right now
Atlanta isn't necessarily known for its pizza prowess. But Anthony Spina and Billy Streck's Nina & Rafi could change that. It’s not just the recent culling of ATL’s pizza herd (Rize, Gino’s East, The Local Pizzaiolo, etc.) that gives N&R a legitimate claim to having the city’s finest; it's the robust sauces, meats, and expert baking that create a perfectly balanced work of comfort food art. Sure, they make a stellar chicken or eggplant parm, so get that too, but don’t leave without pizza, whether it’s the round Vodka Margherita with spicy meatballs, garlic, pecorino, EVOO, mozz, and fresh basil, or the overwhelmingly meaty "Tony Pepperoni” with a generous spread of spicy arrabbiata red sauce. Thankfully, they just started serving slices every weekday during lunch hours (11am - 4pm).
Hip-hop-inspired pizza and craft beer
Launched in Nashville a few years ago by three recent graduates of Tennessee State University, this hip-hop-themed pizzeria and craft beer dine-in is known for their business strategy of investing in gentrifying neighborhoods and taking pride in their HBCU heritage. They’ve brought a decidedly ATL-proud vibe to a space that once housed Chow Baby. Upon walking in, you’ll see a hand-painted mural of a poem written by Big Rube of the Dungeon Family and must pass a Goodie Mob wall-painting just to order your pie (seems like a good law). As for the pizza, the “Cee No Green,” for example, is a meat-lover’s paradise of ground beef, pepperoni, bacons (smoked and Canadian), and Italian sausage. The beers will rotate regularly, but expect local goodness from SweetWater, Creature Comforts, and Scofflaw.
Ponce City Market
An all-star team puts 24-hour breakfast and java in PCM
Unless you’re on some ridiculous diet, it's in your best interest to eat 24-hour breakfast at Pancake Social. It’s a partnership from one of the best chefs in Atlanta (Anne Quatrano), former Chick-Fil-A executive Dan Jacobson, and the founders of Octane Coffee (Tony Riffel) and Tin Drum Asian Kitchen (Steven Chan). Consider starting your day with an iced shakerato and dark chocolate buckwheat pancakes, or a Dutch baby with apple and Gruyere. They’ve also got bowls (sweet or savory ancient grain porridge; quinoa with roasted carrot, avocado, kale, and peanut vinaigrette) and sandwiches like hot honey fried chicken on an English muffin or avocado toast on a sesame bagel. Or just get the flapjacks -- you can’t go wrong with three stacks in Atlanta.
Atlanta’s favorite meatless burger truck gets a home on the Westside
Yes, all the celebrities are eating the hell out of the Slutty Vegan’s food-porn-tastic Impossible burger, but you don’t really need the blessing of Lena Waithe, Tyler Perry, and Big Boi to tell you it’s delicious. (But yes, that helps.) Get there with plenty of time to spare; there will almost certainly be a line for CAU grad Pinky Cole’s wildly successful food truck and brick-and-mortar burger business. Just trust us, you don’t want to risk getting there after all the hornily-named burgers (Menage a Trois with vegan bacon; Sloppy Toppy with vegan cheese on a Hawaiian bun) are sold out.
Old-school, tongue-in-cheek eatery with on-point specials and cheap beer
As retro as retro gets, LLoyd’s truly doesn't take itself seriously, which you can tell from the uncle-esque design, heavy on wood paneling, leather, and brick. It’s a refreshing rejection of the pomp and circumstance of many new Atlanta restaurants, but it’d be nothing without food you’ll actually like eating. As is often the case with Vic Brands restaurants (Victory, Little Trouble, etc.), the food’s actually banging, especially if you get there when the blue plate special is their deeply flavorful Peruvian chicken. Happy hour means $5 vespers and Manhattans, but the real action is the super-cheap American beer -- when’s the last time you had a Champagne Velvet, the pre-Prohibition-style German lager from Indiana? Tonight.
Counter-serve spot for authentic Mexican breakfast and lunch
While it plans to expand beyond the current counter-order setup (expect more outdoors -- a patio, walk-up bar, and games), El Tesoro is off to a respectable start. That’s mostly because “the treasure,” as the name translates, is in the quality and authenticity of the Mexican food prepped, cooked, and served daily from the small, double-wide-like space with a bright, cozy, yellow-brown interior. The mother-daughter team running the kitchen begins with breakfast tacos, and there's a great selection of fresh-brewed macchiatos, iced horchatas, and other Counter Culture coffees brewed by baristas on a foxy-red La Marzocco espresso machine out front. After 10:50am, however, it’s lunch-only, and the spot closes for the day at 2:30pm. With this level of tacos (the corn tortillas are perfect), expertly wrapped and griddled burritos, and crisp chicken tinga tostadas, you probably won’t leave room for dinner anyway.
Est. 2018 | East Atlanta Village
Funked-up New American with creative cocktails
This funked-up “New American” eatery has quickly become the Glenwood/Flat Shoals intersection’s most serious dining destination by taking its food just seriously enough without being pompous, so you don’t feel like you’ve left the neighborhood when you’re chomping into the bar-cut flounder with grapefruit and sunchokes, or out of place for a wagyu steak salad. It’s one of our favorite spots of 2018, with seamless service thanks to operations run by veterans of Wrecking Bar Brewpub and Ford Fry’s school of culinary competency. And the cocktails also rule -- for a taste of originality try the Fernet-Branca-mixed Staccato, a bourbon-based beverage that mixes citrus, spice, and tawny port.
Est. 2018 | Decatur
Farm-forward, Hemingway-inspired fare
This restaurant is named after what Papa Hemingway called blank sheets of paper, and similarly wants to create timeless meals while sticking exclusively to Georgia-sourced ingredients (from farms like Finch Creek, Riverview, and Stone Mountain Cattle Co.). They’ll also be serving up to 80 guests at a time with a menu that offers 15 always changing dishes that could include Sapelo Island clams with pigtails, kohlrabi, celery, lemon, or maybe tilefish with aji amarillo, daikon, tapioca, and kale. Also, maybe not! You’ll have to stop in and see.
Est. 2015 | Old Fourth Ward
High-level cuisine with a charitable heart
Staplehouse has seasonal, farm-fresh ingredients, and an inventive kitchen that make for a rotating chef’s tasting, and a la carte menus that are complex, unique, and delectable. Plus, proceeds benefit the Giving Kitchen, which provides aid to industry folks in need. Pro tip: don’t miss out on their perfectly executed wine pairings.
Est. 2015 | Inman Park
Perfectly paired supper and cocktails from ATL bar veterans
This quiet new restaurant in the corner of Krog Street Market has a seafood and poultry-heavy menu with standouts like the clam roll and dry-aged roasted duck, but their cocktails are the true attractions. Belly up to the bar and sip on everything, including their signature Ticonderoga Cup: a ridiculously good combination of rum, cognac, sherry, pineapple, lemon, and mint.
Est. 2015 | West Midtown
Delicious and delectable bites... like steak. Get the steak.
Settle into one of the deep booths in the beautiful and spacious dining room at this upscale brasserie and prepare for some serious bliss in the form of a couple of courses, including the foie gras with fig terrine, escargot, and the L’Entrecôte steak with frites and insanely flavorful sauce verte.
Est. 2013 | Decatur
Easily the coolest and tastiest Indian restaurant around town
Their food is legendary, but now, their service model has changed, which makes impatient patrons love this place even more. Instead of dodging servers in their charming dining area, you can place your order at the counter, take a seat, and wait leisurely for your meal. No matter what you get, don’t even think of missing out on their signature matchstick okra fries. That said, it’s impossible to go wrong with the Maharaja Lamb Burgers: a thick, juicy lamb burger flavored with ginger, mint, garlic, pistachio, and more. And then wash it all down with a Lime Rickey.
Est. 2009 | West Midtown
Farmstead-driven, James Beard-certified food that never falls short
Consistency earns respect in Atlanta’s culinary community, and Steven Satterfield’s talent with preparing organic local goodness has kept him and the Miller Union team in the city’s top tier of places to feast. In other words, not many places could pull off having a seasonal veggie plate and housemade pork sausage that are equally popular, along with other super-authentic regional meals, from smoked rabbit mousse starters and shrimp/andouille gumbo at lunch to sauteed quail w/ smoked beets and Vidalia onions. Their wine list, curated by sommelier/GM/partner Neal McCarthy, is one of the top 100 in the US, according to Wine Enthusiast, and their dessert menu includes a peach and buttermilk cake.
Est. 2015 | Buckhead
Posh New American power dinner with Picasso (no, really)
It will be you that shrugs when other guests of this titan-inspired restaurant marvel at the amount of newly added pounds you carry after eating at this European-inspired American supper house. Advised by Gerry Klaskala (the founder of superstar ATL restaurants Aria and Canoe), and run by Christopher Grossman, who Klaskala trained at Aria and swiped from Napa Valley’s The French Laundry (which Anthony Bourdain calls “the best restaurant in the world”), Atlas gets its food exclusively from local farms, changes its menu weekly to spotlight seasonal goodness, and even has an exquisite collection of curated 20th-century art. So what the burger is $29? It’s so damn good that you’d willingly carry the chefs on your shoulders for all eternity.
Est. 2016 | Poncey Highland
Early to late-night dining and tiki with a showy simplicity that works
When Octopus Bar founders Nhan Le and Angus Brown closed Lusca, they clearly decided to simplify things a bit to not lose those of us who aren’t used to their talents with fine seafood dining. With 8 Arm, the menu -- which always changes but can be kept up with on Instagram -- is based on a few standard recipe styles that use alternating proteins. Whatever they put in it from day to day, try the tagliatelle. And then look for the main meat or seafood dish of the evening, which could be lamb shoulder, grouper, a porterhouse, or kinda anything. Just trust that it’s delicious.
Est. 2014 | West Midtown
Lofty, classy, feisty Basque cuisine
The name enough should draw you in. You almost expect a brawling gang of chefs in camouflage and red Rambo bandanas. But C&S is only at war with whack food, which it fights with “pinxtos,” or Spanish-French tapas inspired by the foods of Basque Country. For evidence, try the escabèche toast w/ Georgia white shrimp, Bayonne, chili-saffron oil, and marinated salad. Or go for small plates like grilled Spanish octopus, local rabbit, beef hearts from White Oak Pastures, and Berkshire and Ibérico pork meatballs. Regardless of your diplomatic tendencies, this is one culinary draft you’re not going to wanna dodge.
Est. 2010 | Midtown
A modern Southern restaurant still making Hugh Acheson a household name
There’s no way you can leave Hugh Acheson off a list of where’s-where in ATL’s eating scene -- not while the Canadian transplant is still proving his mastery of authentic Southern food from breakfast to dinner (and even during brunch). Just look at what he’s doing with catfish: In the mornings it’s smoked and slapped on a bagel, during lunch you can get a catfish banh mi hot dog with pickled trimmings, and for dinner it’s an entree served with Hoppin’ John, dashi, sweet potato, and cucumber. During weekend middays, it’s served with rice pudding, celery, tomato, and shrimp jus. Your grandma is jealous, and she’s an actual ATLien.
Est. 2013 | Decatur
Metro ATL’s undisputed oyster champion with a special ice secret
There’s simply no way to beat Kimball House’s raw bar happy hour -- it’s worth the drive from wherever you are, even during rush hour, to eat those high-quality bivalves. Not only that, but it’s a great place for steaks and other seafood. Plus, partner Miles Macquarrie continues proving, through his constantly changing cocktails, absinthe program, and one-off events such as a recent dinner he hosted with KH menu items paired exquisitely with Sipsmith gin, that he’s a beast with a shaker. For proof, here’s a homework assignment: next time you’re there, just ask him (or any bartender on staff) what’s so special about the ice. You’ll never question the value of a $13 drink again.
Est. 2015 | Duluth
Of course the city’s best Szechuan is in an OTP strip mall
A few years ago, food critic Jennifer Zyman said Masterpiece had “the best Chinese food in the Atlanta area.” Unless you already live in Duluth (and if so, you should be there daily), go on and make the long-ass drive, because she wasn’t lying. Don’t waste time looking for an online menu; just head out there and have a hot plate of your go-tos for an introduction: they have incredible pork dumplings and spicy shaved/fried chicken. Hell, even good ol’ beef and broccoli is artisan-level compared to anything you’ve eaten lately at Perimeter Mall.
Est. 2017 | Midtown
Vietnamese-Creole eats complemented by a superior cocktail program
Everything’s good at Bon Ton, from the blackened catfish banh mi to the sausage and seafood gumbo, applewood-smoked snow crab, boiled crawfish, and pretty much everything else. And how can you not love a place with drinks as delicious as its food, a lovable red neon sign that says “Fancy Service,” and an even more lovable low-tech website? You can’t. It’s simply impossible.
Est. 2018 | Poncey Highland
A Downstairs French kiss at The Clermont Hotel
Don’t let your mind wander to what’s going on in the basement when you’re at Tiny Lou’s. Just take in the snazzy, sexy, low lit atmosphere, and if you’re going to T-Pain it and fall in love with a stripper, let it be the one for whom the restaurant is named. After all, she turned down an invitation to give Adolph Hitler a table dance (true story!). But love is the word that comes to mind as you scarf down this French-American brasserie’s appetizers, whether it’s the duck confit crêpe or the dark-chicken-au jus’d Maine diver scallops. Hit the menu’s “L'abattoir” section and order the amazing grilled venison (even if you don’t like venison, you’ll like this venison), or the whole roasted sea bass on the “La Mer” menu. And drink “The Stripper’s Real Name” -- it’s Libelula Plata tequila, Aperol, ruby port wine, and a little orange and chocolate bitters. Then go downstairs and lovingly ask for Blondie.
Est. 2018 | Midtown
Stellar service and captivating Japanese comfort food
Answering a question long agonized over by… well, maybe no one (“How do you say “Peachtree” in Japanese?”), Momonoki takes care to show appreciation to Atlanta by shouting out the name of too many local streets while treating us to excellently casual Japanese cuisine. Yes, there’s ramen if you want it, but it’s done with style here. You can get dippable Tsukemen ramen, which is cooked and contained separately from the pork belly broth. You can keep it standard with your poultry, fish and/or pork (they offer the last two as a combo), and you can even have it prepared stir-fry-style without any broth. They’ve also got protein bowls in both cooked and raw format (salmon tataki, curried beef, etc.), sandwiches cut into squares (try the Wagyu sandwich, which is not cheap but not-not-delicious), and bistro-ish bites over in the adjacent Momo Café, where you’re welcome to enjoy matcha brownies, black sesame coffee and more. How do you say “hell yeah” in Midtown Japanese? Also “Momonoki.”