When people think about Atlanta's food, they probably think it's all just BBQ joints around here, but the food scene is as varied and exciting as any in the country, with a ton of seriously good places to dine. So many, in fact, that it can actually be hard to pick the best ones. That's why we've assembled a list of the best restaurants in Atlanta right now, including spots run by celebrity chefs, not-so-authentic Asian eateries, and yes, a couple BBQ spots. How could there not be, after all?
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The newest addition to the downtown Decatur dining scene, Rezagarse offers a fusion of homemade, traditional Spanish tapas made with local ingredients. Named for a Spanish verb meaning “to linger,” the restaurant and menu are inspired by the chef’s adventures to Spain, particularly Barcelona, and the flavors, combined with the atmosphere on the huge open-air patio, make it feel that much more authentic. Said patio is also the best place to down things like fried puntillitas (aka, squid) that are perfectly crisp yet tender and served with spicy tomato sauce, grilled lemon, and piquant Pecorino, or flatbread with ahi tuna, olives, and manchego cheese.
With the motto “Overindulgent Yumminess”, Oy! delivers with enormous portions and colossal flavors, which is great, since reading the menu will make you hungry as eff. While their huge burgers and farm-sized omelettes are incredible, the french toast casserole is where it’s at. Perfectly crisp yet fluffy and doused in caramel sauce and powdered sugar, it’s even better than it sounds.
Helmed by Raffaele Crispino, a Naples native, whose previous experience includes Maggiano’s, Darden Restaurants, and numerous family businesses in Capri, Crispina is a truly authentic (and delicious) Italian restaurant and pizzeria. The pastas and dough are made fresh daily, and the dishes are simple, straightforward, and explosively good. Just remember to save room for the Gelato San Crispino -- local honeysuckle gelato drizzled with 25-year-old balsamic vinegar.
Located across from the Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta Breakfast Club rocks killer breakfasts and then some in a colorful, homey, retro-style diner. Its location attracts a lot of tourists, but the food brings a lot of locals, especially the aptly named manager’s special, an ample collection of eggs, meat, pancakes, and potatoes or grits that’s totally bawse. Oh, and they’re open for 24 hours on Friday and Saturday nights so you can easily stumble in for sustenance when you’re out on the town.
The sister restaurant of Decatur’s Cakes & Ale, PROOF Bakeshop inhabits the space formerly occupied by Dough Bakery, where from sweet to savory, it’s also turning out baked goods -- you can even pick up loaves of fresh bread to take home. Can't-miss-options include the ham and Gruyère melt with rosemary pork, nutty gruyere, and a fluffy baked egg on a toasted English muffin. Pair it with a freshly made Counter Culture coffee drink and you will feel invincible. Or at least happily stuffed.
Don’t get it twisted: this hidden gem in Decatur cranks out some of the city’s most delectable Southern-inspired eats in a decidedly sophisticated way. From small plates, to entrees, to custom cocktails (some of which use moonshine!), Twisted Soul is about to be your new favorite place -- especially once you try the otherworldly sweet tea marinated ribs. Pro tip: if the weather is nice, definitely nab a spot on their hidden but lush patio.
Nestled inside the Krog Street Market, this modern Middle Eastern food stall has quickly become one of the market’s most popular spots, mostly thanks to things like a nearly football-sized shawarma crammed with tender spit-roasted chicken, zesty sauce, pickled veggies, and more that’s so good it won’t matter that you... um, don’t really know what a shawarma is?
Arguably one of Atlanta’s most buzzed-about brasseries, Le Fat lives up to the hype with its modern, oftentimes Southern, interpretation of classic Vietnamese dishes. Your best bet is to bookend your meal with the not-to-be-missed soft shell BLT bun and hazelnut chocolate cake, while downin' as much spicy chili prawns and salt & pepper calamari you can in-between.
Charming and surprisingly devoid of pretension, this delicious addition to the swanky The Shops Buckhead has a relaxed atmosphere that’s balanced with sophisticated French eats. Score a seat their gorgeous bar, admire the solariums on either side of the dining room that flood it with beautiful natural light, select a wine off the menu that suits your tastes, and complement it with their signature cajun chicken laced with creamy beurre blanc and some truly legit French Fries.
Featuring changing menus full of local farm-to-table eats (like the chicken liver tart, muscadine, okra, and crisp chicken skin pictured above), Staplehouse directly supports the Giving Kitchen, a nonprofit that provides emergency assistance to those in need in the Atlanta restaurant community. With a casual first come, first served porch out back, and a gorgeously renovated dining room where you’re served an $85 prefix menu that changes almost daily, Staplehouse is essentially two incredible restaurants in one. And until they get their liquor license, you can take your own wine to enjoy with dinner. Pro tip: all reservations for the main dining room are essentially tickets you pay for in advance online using Tock ticketing and reservations system.
Not one, but three awesome spots now share the space where Urban Cannibals used to reside, the star of which is Poco Pomodoro thanks to handcrafted food that is simple and delicious and is all freshly made using local and seasonal ingredients. That’s right, lasagnas, raviolis, pastas, paninis, soups, and desserts, all served up in a homey (albeit sometimes cramped) atmosphere. Oh, and top ‘em however you like, but if you don’t opt for the turkey meatballs, we’re not sure we can be friends.
Chef Kevin Gillespie has a devoted following in Atlanta, and it’s only grown more fervent since the opening of Revival. Inspired by traditional Southern suppers, dinner is served family style, meaning you choose an entree -- we recommend the fried chicken, which is perfectly crisp and flavorful without being greasy -- and your server loads your table down with sides sized to fit the number of folks in your party. The setting is sprinkled with kitsch and sepia photos, making it homey and warm. And don’t even think about leaving without trying the luscious lemon icebox pie.
Before they set up shop in Ponce City Market and became one of the city’s best places for Korean eats, Simply Seoul was Atlanta's supreme slinger of kimchi, with wares sold at Whole Foods and local farmers markets. They still make what some call the city’s best kimchi, but earn major points for having great, fast, and reasonably priced Korean fare. The buns are soft and supple and crammed with warm, fresh flavorful meat making them a tender, flavor-packed masterpiece.
If your idea of fun is stuffing your face with large portions of ridiculously fresh Indian street food, head to MASTI, NOW. MASTI rocks Indian/American fusion with expert, delicious precision. No wonder their menu boasts such unexpected delights as paneer hot dogs, masala fries, the sublime butter chicken tacos: served on supple Indian pancakes made of lentils and rice, they’re stuffed with chicken chunks, diced tomato, some sort of slaw, shredded cheese, and a spicy dipping sauce, they can’t be missed.
Yes, they have some of the city’s best ‘cue, but Smoke Ring DOES have other incredible creations, including the grilled cheese, an unbelievable blend of fontina, smoked Gouda, Gruyere, and Parmesan with spicy fire roasted poblanos and sweet Vidalia onion marmalade. By the way, did we mention it comes with a bacon-wrapped pickle?!
Some folks might not consider a craft ice cream parlour with killer coffee a “real” restaurant, but screw that: Atlanta’s newest purveyors of ice cream now have a lovely and hip storefront where folks can come get their fix of creamy, made-from-scratch ice cream and ice cream-based treats like sundaes and sandwiches. They also offer solid coffee creations, including a kicking cold brew. And because they’re just a hop off the BeltLine, there’s no excuse not to indulge in any of their flavors like brown butter whiskey and spicy chocolate chunk.
You really can’t go wrong with anything from their menu of award-winning tapas, fantastic brunch, and expansive selection of custom cocktails. But there’s a reason the chicken and waffles won honors on the Travel Channel’s Chow Masters episode: think fried chicken pieces on a stick, wrapped with bacon then dipped in waffle batter and deep fried. Served up with the sorghum syrup, powdered sugar, and hot sauce on the side, you need to order this.
Maybe it’s their fresh bread and toppings. Maybe it’s the fact that they tenderize their local, hormone-free chicken by beating it like it owed ‘em money, before they bread and fry said poultry until it’s crispy on the outside and impossibly juicy on the inside. Whatever it is, Seven Hens is doing something right. Their staple item, the chicken schnitzel, is a build your own masterpiece that, when you add the spicy Buffalo fries, is... um, a build-your-own masterpiece with fries, presumably.
The little sister to the upscale Bacchanalia occupies the cozy, intimate space below its sibling and churns out classic Continental cuisine on mostly small plates with a few larger dishes thrown in. The menu is designed to be shared "family style," so take along a date or, you know, don’t. Either way, you’ll want to wolf down their 14oz, 28 day dry-aged New York strip.
This relatively new dinner-only restaurant located at the luxurious St. Regis hotel, is as swanky as it sounds and boasts utterly outstanding food (and service) that is kinda like what your grandmother might make if she were a haute chef who blended Southern and international flavors, each artful plate almost too beautiful to eat. But only almost. Regardless of what you do, nab a plate of perfectly panko-breaded-and-fried Crispy Wianno Oysters, which come with pickled and shishito peppers, pepper jelly, and avocado bacon mousse, which is so good it could almost be a meal on its own.
While they make some of the city’s most solid small plates, entrees, drinks, etc., Ration & Dram’s brunch is truly the jam, especially the bone marrow breakfast, which comes with soft, buttery biscuits, eggs, a touch of broccoli rabe, and a hefty hunk of decadent bone marrow. It might be the most sophisticated hangover cure ever. Don’t worry, though, signature breakfast cocktails like the Rise ‘N’ Shine with white whiskey, Italian liqueur averna, vanilla syrup, and nitro coffee mean you can get started on your next one right away.
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Brook Bolen is a freelance writer from Atlanta who may, or may not be, eating chicken and waffles on a stick from one of the city’s best restaurants right now. Follow her on Instagram @redvelvetfemme to find out.
This restaurant serves up Spanish fusion tapas inspired by the chef's travels to Barcelona. Everything down to the design of the menu here is Spanish inspired. Get tapas like ceviche, chilled langoustines, and huevos rellenos (smoked salmon in a tomato sauce with green olives stuffed in an egg)
Come her for breakfast and order the red velvet pancakes or the French toast casserole. If your not really in the breakfast mood order their "mountain of fries" that could easily serve three. Everything is big here so be prepared to leave with doggy bags.
With lines headed out the door, this is the spot to be for weekend brunch and breakfast. Order a huge serving of pancakes and some creamy, savory grits and eggs on the side or opt for a sandwich like their huge turkey melt with a side of french fries.
Proof serves breakfast, lunch, baked goodies and a variety of Counter Culture Coffee. They've got all the oven good stuff, croissants (chocolate, almond, savory), scones, donuts, bagels and all kinds of cookies (vegan Mexican, mudslide). Plus they've got some solid breakfast and lunch options, like rosemary ham and gruyere melts on English muffins and smoked sheep’s milk grilled cheeses.
Yalla!, meaning "Let's Go!" in Arabic, modern Middle Eastern food stall in Atlanta’s trendy Krog Street Market complete with the tantalizing smell of meat roasting on spits behind the counter. The menu features favorites like crispy falafel, fresh chicken shawarma, and juicy lamb kebabs wrapped in a laffa, stuffed in a pita, or served in a bowl. The Shouk is the star of the show with shawarma, crispy fries, hummus, baba ganoush, Israeli pickles, cole slaw, spicy harissa, sweet tahini, and tangy amba (mango sauce), and is probably best consumed in a bowl with a handcrafted, all natural soda on the side.
This seriously authentic Vietnamese brasserie comes to you from Guy Wong of Miso Izakaya. For lunch and dinner there's pho, com (rice dishes), bun (vermicelli) and rotisserie half-chicken, and dinner-only specials include flash-fried whole fish and spicy chili prawns. Wash it all down with a tableside-brewed Vietnamese tea or a Hemingway daiquiri.
Le Bilboquet is easily the best French fare you'll find in Buckhead. With an authentic Parisian bistro feel -- smack in the center of The Shops at Buckhead Atlanta -- this bright space is chic without trying too hard, relying on modern artwork and classic white tablecloths to elevate its look. On the menu, you'll find traditional and delicious Fresh dishes like house-made duck foie gras terrine, Mediterranean branzino, and Cajun chicken with crispy fries.
From the founders of the Giving Kitchen -- a non-profit that helps restaurant workers in need -- Staplehouse is a James Beard Award-nominated communal dining experience. The Old Fourth Ward restaurant offers a few dining options: à la carte service, for which reservations are encouraged; a pre-paid, reservations-required five-course tasting; and bar service, where walk-ins are welcome to eat. The menus change daily but you can always expect a mix of fresh produce, flavorful meats, and simple but rich desserts.
Their main focus is taking traditional family style dishes like pastas and sandwiches and offer a healthy alternative. The menu features foods from all over the world so you can get Italian, Mexican, or even and Asian-inspired meal here.
Butter reigns supreme at Revival, Kevin Gillespie’s Decatur restaurant dedicated to reinterpreting the family dinners he grew up on in Georgia. Southern cuisine shines in dishes like buttermilk-fried chicken, cornmeal-fried catfish, duck-fat fried potatoes, and iron-skillet cornbread based on secret recipe passed down through the Gillespie family. The restaurant design itself is an ode to the chef's family, with a comfortable dining room modeled after his grandmother's farmhouse, complete with her old candy bowls and sewing kit.
This eatery is making all natural Korean BBQ steamed buns and vegan kimchi all within the hip, little Ponce City Market. The BBB (beef bulgogi bun) is a favorite for it's tender, juicy meat that pairs perfectly with the hot steamed buns making for a delicious snack.
This restaurant takes Indian street foods and turns them into American style dishes like their Masti masala fries or their chicken masala burger with mango lassi. Tons of delicious Indian fusion cuisine available to try here.
We are already seeing great things from Smoke Ring, currently in their soft opening, like Kobe beef hotdogs wrapped in bacon just wait till they really get the smokers fired up. Locals think that Smoke Ring serves up not only the best BBQ in Castleberry Hill, but in all of Atlanta.
Before Cora Cotrim (aka the Queen of Cream) opened her Old Fourth Ward artisanal ice cream shop, she sold her scratch-made speciality at farmers markets throughout Atlanta. She makes the ice cream completely from scratch starting with the base, which she pasteurizes herself instead of using a pre-made one. Aside from signature and seasonal flavors like burnt-sugar caramel, sprinkle cookie, and blueberry cobbler, Queen of Cream offers cold-brew coffee and pastries.
7 Hens is a rustic chicken cutlet sammy stand featuring 'wiches made from young birds raised on a Gainesville farm, and flash-fried before being stuffed into crunchy, fresh-baked sesame buns. Options include the panko-crusted Chinese, or picante breadcrumb-coated Mexican w/ chipotle aioli.
It's a 52-seat dining room inside Bacchanalia. The menu is a la carte with whole-roasted Green Circle chickens for two (the birds are fed veggie peelings and day-old bread from elite restaurants’ kitchens -- think “table-to-farm-to-table”), a 28-day-dry-aged NY strip, and a fancy 30-gram Petrossian caviar service... In case you know what that actually is.
It's dinner-only at this mocha leather-heavy Buckhead base to the St. Regis, where the wine buckets, white tablecloths, and fine cutlery should tell what you should expect to pay... and what they expect you to wear. And if it doesn't, there's the 35-day aged ribeye, venison tenderloin, lamb loin, and a $25 burger.
Andy Minchow graduated from Holeman & Finch into his own spacious place on Arizona Ave. Seasonally-based Southern fare includes everything from duck salad to a “fried bologna cup”. They aim to balance their comfort good with fresh veggie juices and homemade sodas, so use that to counteract your fried pork chop with mayo.