It is time now — drumroll, trumpets, gongs — to announce the winners of the 2016 Eater Awards. In more than a dozen categories in multiple cities, the winners comprise a diverse group of the finest and most interesting chefs, operators, and characters in the continent that have defined this year in dining. We applaud them. You are hereby instructed to applaud them.
To recap, candidates were nominated for three major categories: Restaurant of the Year, Chef of the Year, and Stone Cold Stunner, with the addition of local categories OTP Restaurant of the Year and Bar of the Year. The Eater editorial team chose winners, and Eater readers voted for their favorites. Without further ado, here's who came out on top in Atlanta.
Restaurant of the Year
Nominees: Bread & Butterfly, Revival, Staplehouse, Ticonderoga Club, We Suki Suki.
Readers’ Choice: Revival.
Editorial Choice: Benefitting The Giving Kitchen, a non-profit that provides emergency grants to restaurant-industry workers in need, Staplehouse would be beloved even if the food, drink, and service were mediocre. Turns out, they’re all excellent. The restaurant was one of Atlanta’s most anticipated openings in recent memory when it debuted in Old Fourth Ward 14 months ago, and it has met the hype since day one.
Among its many accolades, Staplehouse has earned four stars from Atlanta Magazine, it was one of five finalists for the James Beard Foundation’s Best New Restaurant award, and Bon Appetit tabbed it as the best new restaurant of the year. Eater national restaurant critic Bill Addison, an Atlanta resident, calls it “arguably the city’s finest restaurant.”
Chef of the Year
Nominees: David Bies, Andre Gomez, Art Hayakawa, Todd Richards, Ryan Smith.
Readers’ Choice: Ryan Smith.
Editorial Choice: And Ryan Smith is the visionary behind the cuisine at Staplehouse. On the cutting edge without feeling pretentious, Smith’s food is a beautiful sight. It showcases unique ingredients and techniques, such as an amalgamation of carrots, eggplant, aged beef fat, corno di toro peppers, and black peanuts.
Stone Cold Stunner
Nominees: BeetleCat, Bread & Butterfly, Himitsu, Linton’s, The Mercury.
Readers’ Choice: The Mercury.
Editorial Choice: Walk into Bread & Butterfly, and you’ll be transported to Paris. This all-day bistro from Billy and Kristin Allin, the husband-and-wife team behind Decatur’s Cakes & Ale, is a real charmer. Kristin collaborated with local firm Square Feet Studio on the design, which features detailed copper ceiling, painted and natural woods, marble, and lovely green tiles in the dining room and adjacent sun room. The neon sign that reads “merci” is a hit on Instagram.
OTP Restaurant of the Year
Nominees: Noble Fin, O4W Pizza, Porch Light Latin Kitchen, Spring, Sushi House Hayakawa.
Readers’ Choice: Porch Light Latin Kitchen.
Editorial Choice: Tucked away in a nondescript suburban development in Smyrna, Porch Light Latin Kitchen is the first restaurant from former Kevin Rathbun Steak chef de cuisine Andre Gomez. As you might imagine, Gomez knows how to handle animal proteins. His application of Puerto Rican flavors has been one of the surprises of the year.
Bar of the Year
Nominees: Amer, Himitsu, Manuel’s Tavern, Ticonderoga Club, The SOS Tiki Bar.
Readers’ Choice: Ticonderoga Club.
Editorial Choice: Greg Best and Paul Calvert have been household names among Atlanta’s barflies for years, and at Ticonderoga Club, they’re mixing up some of Atlanta’s best and most innovative drinks. Every new restaurant comes with a “craft cocktail program” these days, but it’s actually worth the buzz at T-Club. (Oh, and chef David Bies and the kitchen staff are cooking some of the city’s tastiest food; if not for Staplehouse, this would likely be Atlanta’s Restaurant of the Year.)