Remember everything that happened this year? Some stuff kind of sucked, but then again, a lot of it wasn’t all that bad. And just in case the really great stuff faded from your overly vaped memory, we've put together a thoughtful and thorough list, because it’s just that time of year. Behold the best of the many things we were given in 2015...
Best new overall restaurant
StaplehouseAddress and Info
Old Fourth Ward
You should be a major fan of Staplehouse for two reasons. First, it’s delicious, thanks to a constantly shifting, five-course chef’s tasting menu or seasonal a la cart eats that really are local, and not just meaning the bread came from Murder Kroger. Second, it gives every dollar of earned after-tax profit to The Giving Kitchen, which provides emergency charitable assistance to restaurant industry workers. So it’s not just delicious, it’s sustainable times-infinity.
Best new steakhouse
MarcelAddress and Info
It may or may not be the city’s most expensive steakhouse, if you like counting that kind of thing. Regardless, it’s easy to fall in love with both the premium cuts of cow, the banquet ambiance, and the story of the restaurant’s namesake, Marcel Cerdan, who was a French boxer that whooped lots of ass in the ring and dated a famous singer in his time before dying in a plane crash on his way to see his girl. Sexy! Oh, and his record: 113 wins, four losses, and 66 wins by knockout. So if you’re a real man, you’ll put the $165 Porterhouse on your eye before you eat it.
Best new brunch
The General MuirAddress and Info
Sure, you think your neighborhood spot is undefeated because you can walk there and back from your apartment on weekends, and those spritzy little bellinis you and the homies order by the bottomless make your feelings that much more valid. But the truth is that true-NY-style Emory-area deli TGM murders with the Maven lox plate, matzo, mimosas, and much more.
Best new burger
H&F BurgerAddress and Info
Ponce City Market
It’s not just because it’s sooooo good; there’s also the fact that a gang of ATL burger joints use H&F buns on their own burgers, just because you can’t front on the truth. There’s also the fact that a lot of folks never got lucky enough to get one of the limited number of nightly special burgers at Holeman + Finch. Now that they’ve opened at Ponce, everyone has access. You can even get them without the cheese! Why you’d do that is unclear, but it’s now possible!
Best new tacos
Bone Garden CantinaAddress and Info
The house-made tortillas are damn-near perfect -- even if you normally like flour over corn, trust us and do the maize version around the peanut-sauced al pastor marinated pork taco, chicken-based curry-citrus pollo al limon, or the awesomely spicy chile picante, the shrimp verde in house-made green mole, or the brisket-laid birria.
Best new lounge
Little TroubleAddress and Info
We told you about the opening, as well as barkeep Jess Crisler and her fabulous drinks. But the Blade Runner-inspired ramen bar, which might seem deceptively shitty to the average ramen nerd who got lost on her way to Buford Highway, ran away with the award for this year’s funkiest fun den. Don’t ask how many boxes of matches we stole from the bathrooms, or how many times we asked Jess Crisler “Who made this playlist?” Caleb, Ian, and the rest of the gang from Vic Brands did it again.
Best new strip club
Follies (address and info)
The consensus is that Follies has the prettiest ladies who sport the least amount of wear-and-tear. This must be true, considering how long it takes to get to Follies, and the fact that it’s not at all near downtown. Nobody drives that far for the average lap-dance, but the perfect twerk will make men and women drive an unlimited amount of miles.
Best new pizza
Pizzeria VesuviusAddress and Info
What’s wack is that it recently closed. So it was the best new. But those who went know that it was not quite as bourgeoisie as Antico, not as ballerific as (the admittedly delicious) Ammazza and Varasano’s, and not as new-frou-frou as Varuni Napoli or Thirteen Pies, which are also no-joke-status. It was just good-ass pizza with well-charred crust, San Marzano tomato sauce and fresh toppings on Edgewood Ave. We will cry for it like Jodeci in memorandum. And then go somewhere else to eat pizza until we get over it.
Best new street art
Hebru Brantley’s “Flyboy” mural
The sweetest thing the Old 4th Ward may ever know is still displayed on the side of The Sound Table right now. Hate as hard as you can; there’s no way to peep the painted bricks featuring the two cloud-lost kids piloting their way through the clouds in an imagined aeroplane and not remember the days when creativity and puppy love were all that mattered.
Best new clothing store
Chrome Yellow Trading Co. (address and info)
Old Fourth Ward
Here you can find Raleigh, Rogue, 3Sixteen, and other denim brands for that ass, along with high-quality socks, belts, button-downs, bags, ATL-themed pennant flags, grooming products (from soap to beard oil), handy gentlemanly tools like compressed towel tablets for your travel bag (they expand when soaked in warm water), and other things. Cop a cup of Portland-based Stumptown Coffee from the attached 1,100sqft coffee shop before you buy -- best to have the mental clarity of caffeine before you fill that shopping cart.
Best place for live music
Venkman’sAddress and Info
Old Fourth Ward
The $5-per-person added surcharge for live entertainment is highly justified. This is the house that Yacht Rock Revue built, and if they’re not playing special shows themselves, they’re curating nightly lineups that include brass bands, small orchestras, and other jam crews that fit perfectly with Chef Nick Melvin’s playfully home-styled menu.
Best new barbecue
Grand Champion BBQAddress and Info
You might think they’re new just because a lot of ITP-ers would have never made that long-ass ride up to Milton or Roswell just for meat plates, but GC actually can claim champ-status, having won a shload of ‘cue competitions. Now that they’re in Krog, you can get to them much easier, but do it early -- they constantly sell out of ribs, which is your problem, not theirs.
Best new date spot
Atlanta Botanical Garden (address and info)
There’s no beating ATL’s most beautiful conservation grounds. Where else can you admire all sorts of flora, eat at a cafe run by a James Beard-winning chef, visit gardens of roses, Japanese flowers, and carnivorous plants, walk through treetops on a canopy tour, and admire various living creatures from birds to butterflies and wood turtles? Well, the wood turtle part is probably something you see in the shower daily, but aside from that, there’s no place more romantic in ATL.
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1. Staplehouse541 Edgewood Ave, Atlanta
2. Marcel1170 Howell Mill Rd, Atlanta
3. The General Muir1540 Avenue Pl NE Ste B-230, Atlanta
4. H&F Burger675 Ponce de Leon Ave NE, Atlanta
5. Bone Garden Cantina1425 Ellsworth Industrial Blvd NW, Atlanta
6. Little Trouble1170 Howell Mill Rd NW, Atlanta
7. Venkman's740 Ralph McGill Blvd NE, Atlanta
8. Grand Champion BBQ4401 Shallowford Rd, Roswell
9. Pizzeria Vesuvius327 Edgewood Ave, Atlanta
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.
Settle into one of the deep booths in the beautiful and spacious dining room at this upscale restaurant and prepare for elegant courses like foie gras with fig terrine, escargot, and the L’Entrecôte steak with fries and insanely flavorful sauce verte. Don't be deceived by the French-leaning menu though, Marcel isn't a brasserie; it's a steakhouse, and the two-person Beef Wellington is a sight to behold (and requires 24-hour notice).
The General Muir is an homage to the timeless New York-style deli, though the white subway-tiled space looks more like a demure bakery than a generations-old Jewish deli. The hallmark of the morning-to-night menu is, of course, the bagels, which are hand-rolled and kettle-boiled. Sandwiches are named after the streets of Alphabet City and served open-face with smoked fish spreads ranging from nova and schmear to trout salad. The rest of the menu reads like a combination of Katz's and Russ & Daughters: house-cured pastrami with chopped liver, latkes with apple sauce, and matzoh ball soup are all there. The only giveaway that you're not in New York is the friendly smiles from the people dining next to you.
H&F Burger might have a sleek and minimal appearance on the inside, but it's menu looks more like what you'd find at an old-school diner type of restaurant. You've got relatively few options, but you rarely need them -- you know you're getting the Original Burger with a double beef patty, bread and butter pickles, red onion and melted American cheese. If you're feeling playful you'll add some bacon, avocado, or a fried egg. A chocolate shake or root beer float pairs nicely, but not nearly as well as a draft or bottle from their small beer selection.
This is our favorite place to get tacos in Atlanta.
Asian street food (think steamed buns, fried crab dumplings, and ramen) and inventive cocktails such as the T.R.L (vodka, raspberry, cucumber soda, and mint), and King Werewolf (white brandy, plum, lemon, and soda) come together at this retro joint.
Creative comfort food and live music unite under one roof at Venkman's, the brainchild of Chef Nick Melvin and musicians Nick Niespodziani and Peter Olson (of the comedic cover band Yacht Rock Revue). Housed inside a former soda bottling plant in the Old Fourth Ward, Venkman's serves Southern-leaning salads, hot sandwiches, and sides, plus craft beer and cocktails.
You’ll walk by the smoker as you come in the front door of this East Cobb BBQ joint where they're serving some of the city's sweetest ribs. Don’t worry, if your rib meat actually falls off the bone, you’ll have some of the city’s creamiest mac and cheese to help catch it.
Nestled into the lofty former Bureau space, Vesuvius is a wood-fired pizza dine-in & delivery joint with upstairs seating for 60 at paper-covered tables and a winding, shiny tile/wood bar, plus a downstairs grotto functioning as a private event room with a DJ booth; the whole deal's a collaboration between six partners who've previously run popular local restaurants -- Bureau, Sotto Sotto, Noni's, Grant Central, and Thumbs Up, which apparently didn't get one from the guy who left to start this place.