After compiling lists of America’s 38 best restaurants for the past three years, Eater roaming restaurant critic Bill Addison is narrowing his focus for regional accolades. First up is the Southern 38, which spotlights the best dining institutions the South has to offer (“South” meaning Louisiana to mid-Virginia). With five names included, the Atlanta metro area is tied with New Orleans for most in the region.
The state of Georgia has representation outside Atlanta too. Hugh Acheson’s Athens flagship, Five & Ten, and The Grey, where chef Mashama Bailey has been turning heads since opening in Savannah a couple of years ago, also made the cut.
Why is Atlanta so well represented? Sheer size is one factor, but the city’s “New South” diversity plays a role as well.
“Atlanta obviously has the most populated metro area in the South (we’ll be looking at Texas separately in the next year), and above all else the restaurants on this list recognize its vital, exuberant multiculturalism,” Addison tells Eater Atlanta.
“I’ve lived in Atlanta off and on since 1995. The ever-changing options array of cuisines from around the world — cooked by immigrants or the children of immigrants — is my favorite part of eating in the city. Occasionally in my career I’ve groaned about how not enough Atlanta chefs embrace more historical Southern cooking — traditions from, say, the nearby Appalachians and the Georgia coast. But Atlanta’s dining scene is at the center of the expanding definition of Southern food, and our choices reflect that.”