Eater's year-end survey continues. We've already touched on the best restaurant standbys, top newcomers, dining scene summed up in one word, and best dining neighborhood. Now it's time to discuss what made Atlanta's food media types pause in 2015.
What was the biggest dining surprise of 2015?
Ligaya Figueras, Atlanta Journal-Constitution food editor: I think there were two. First, the Here to Serve saga. Shutting down an entire group of restaurants en masse — that was a shocker. Then, we saw Ford Fry go on a restaurant opening spree. It's hard to keep up with all of the restaurants opening in and around Atlanta, but keeping up with Ford Fry was a challenge of its own.
The Foodie Buddha: Nothing really surprised me ... is that good or bad?
Grant Goggans, Marie, Let's Eat! editor: Brisket in Atlanta is getting a whole lot better. There have been a few standout examples of good brisket at barbecue places for several years (Fox Bros., Sam's, Dave Poe's, Moonie's), but Bludso's, Twin Smokers, Memphis BBQ Company, and The Pig & The Pearl, among others, are all now serving really excellent brisket, much better than what had been standard in this region, while at the same time offering some pretty dull pulled pork, which is odd.
Evan Mah, Atlanta Magazine food editor: I assumed that Staplehouse would be slammed the minute they opened the doors. The Giving Kitchen has had such tremendous support (and done so much for our restaurant community), and I thought that people would flock to see Ryan Smith back in the kitchen. I'm hoping that business picks up for them in 2016.
Beth McKibben, Eater Atlanta contributor: Ticonderoga Club. We all knew the cocktails would be outstanding, but I think they knocked it out of the park with the food too. First with the lunchtime spiedie sandwich and then in the evening with their dinner menu. The Ipswich clam sandwich, butternut squash salad, and sweetbreads are crazy good.
Bob Townsend, Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributor: Greg Best and Paul Calvert together at the bar was the hype about the opening of Ticonderoga Club. But David Bies and the kitchen turned out to be the secret weapon and pleasant surprise — though it probably shouldn't have been.