As is the year end tradition, Eater Atlanta has surveyed a handful of the city’s food editors on everything from their best meal to their biggest dining grievance in 2017. The experts have already named their restaurant standbys, Atlanta’s top newcomers, and the city’s best dining neighborhoods. Their responses are cut, pasted, and (mostly) unedited. Now Atlanta’s food editors name this year’s biggest dining surprises.
Julia Bainbridge, Atlanta Magazine food editor
Asha Gomez closing Spice to Table. In a way, I'm not surprised, because the restaurant businesses is tough. Asha closed right around the time that there was a rash of closings back home in New York, including Anita Lo's longstanding Annisa--it's happening everywhere. "It’s time to start the conversation of how chefs can actually make this career a lucrative one," Asha told me in February. "We don’t talk about that often enough, how standing behind a kitchen isn’t really financially sustainable." Not having Asha's cooking as available as it was before is a loss for Atlanta, though. (At least her ticketed dinners at the Third Space are still going.)
Hilary Cadigan, Creative Loafing food editor
I'd say the fact that most of the best meals I had were not in restaurants at all, but in pop-up spaces. I'm so impressed by the attention to detail shown by chefs like Mike and Shyretha Sheats of The Plate Sale, Jarrett Stieber at Eat Me Speak Me, and caterers like Tiffany-Anne Parkes of Pienanny--she did this really intimate event at Studio No. 7. Also, that 15-course Analog pop-up that Todd Richards, Guy Wong, and the Slaters [Jerry and Krista] did was pretty rad.
Mike Jordan, Thrillist Atlanta editor, Southern Kitchen associate editor
Festivals Jerk Chicken Grill. It's about damn time we had legit jerk chicken in Atlanta proper. And, it's in Glenwood Park of all places, where you don't automatically think "Jamaican food." I want them to stay; go eat that chicken, people -- it's good.
Christopher Hassiotis, Zagat Atlanta food editor
That big, shiny, new, **expensive** restaurants kept opening, and all around the city. I keep thinking that our current point of over-saturation will cause more places to close, but we're not there yet. That's mostly a good thing, but also dilutes the talent pool in the city.
Beth McKibben, Eater Atlanta editor
There was such energy coming into the year with restaurant opening after opening including Bon Ton. I really thought 2017 was going to surpass 2016. But by spring, that energy had waned. The pop-ups saved 2017 for me and kept me excited. My favorites to attend: Talat Market, The Plate Sale, Erika Council’s biscuit breakfasts at B’s Cracklin’, Eat Me Speak Me at S.O.S Tiki Bar, and Sofia XIV’s Persia on Ponce dinner for the Iranian new year. My hope is that some of these pop-ups seeking a brick and mortar restaurant get their wish in 2018.