As is the year end tradition, Eater Atlanta 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, the city’s best dining neighborhoods, and the biggest dining surprises. Their responses are cut, pasted, and (mostly) unedited. Now Atlanta’s food editors name their top dining grievances of 2017.
Julia Bainbridge, Atlanta Magazine food editor
The same grievance that former Atlanta Magazine restaurant critic Corby Kummer had in 2016: It’s a city that looks outward more than inward. There are a handful of chefs who innovate with local ingredients, and really make diners feel a sense of place (Ryan Smith and Steven Satterfield are at the top of that list), but there are far more who find a formula that works (usually pulling from already successful trends elsewhere in the country) and pump out food to fit it. I wish we still had the late Angus Brown; I was so looking forward to seeing how he might fuck shit up. Otherwise, in general, I still see a lot of butter and flexing of meat muscles here. I'm ready for a lightness of hand, with flavor coming from spice and acid and fermentation instead of fat.
Hilary Cadigan, Creative Loafing food editor
If I get another press release about a white, male chef "nodding to Hemingway" I'm gonna lose it. Really, just the overrepresentation of white male chefs in general. Move aside, y'all.
Mike Jordan, Thrillist Atlanta editor, Southern Kitchen associate editor
Restaurants gone Hollywood. I really thought we'd be over the trend of restaurants that look cool but have mediocre (at best) food. We came to eat, not to admire the decor and theme. As has been said since the beginning of restaurant-ing, people will come to a hole in the wall if there's a good sandwich to be had; not vice versa.
Christopher Hassiotis, Zagat Atlanta food editor
The constant stream of new restaurant openings is stretching the industry's workforce thin, with training a young workforce unable to keep apace and the city's best servers, bartenders and kitchen staff often moving around to whatever's hottest and newest. (Admittedly, we food media 100-percent fuel that trend by focusing most on what's hottest and newest.) It's a serious struggle for restaurants to recruit and keep good staff. That means that Atlanta diners can often receive a dining experience that's a couple notches in quality below what it should be for the price they're paying.
Beth McKibben, Eater Atlanta editor
Atlanta seems stuck in a food rut—same food, different restaurant. There are the standouts— many, the initial trailblazers of the current food scene. The beauty of Atlanta lies in its diversity. There are so many voices who’ve been here all along yet struggle to be heard (women, people of color, etc.) Pop-ups like Talat Market and recent dinners like The Cast Iron Chronicles and the Buford Highway food crawl with Marian Liou and Everyday Korean author Seung Hee Lee have found success because diners are growing tired of the same-old-same-old and want more of Atlanta’s food story told.