Today, the process of choosing this year’s stars in the Atlanta restaurant world — the Eater Awards winners for 2019 — continues apace. After fielding many solid ideas from readers during the course of our month-long nomination period, it’s time to narrow the playing field. There are four finalists in three categories: Restaurant of the Year, Design of the Year, and Dish of the Year.
Here they are:
Restaurant of the Year:
Redbird: This new Westside Provisions District restaurant is where former Watershed chef Zeb Stevenson has finally let loose his culinary creativity to cook without constraints or the need for labels. Vegetables are the real stars here, where dishes on the menu are woven together via corresponding ingredients and shared family style.
Lazy Betty: Chefs Ron Hsu and Aaron Philips manage to strike a harmonious balance between fine and casual dining at their Candler Park restaurant. The chefs create beautiful dishes for the tasting menus here that are approachable and weave Hsu’s Chinese-Malaysian heritage with French recipes he and Phillips mastered at Le Bernardin in New York.
Aziza: Tal Baum’s “modern” Israeli restaurant is a breath of fresh air at Westside Provisions District. Like the decor, dishes on the menu lean chic yet comfortable, and showcase the diverse range of Middle Eastern foods and flavors found within Israel’s most cosmopolitan cities.
8ARM: While the restaurant may be three years old, chef Maricela Vega’s menu makes it feel like an exciting new entry on the Atlanta dining scene. Dishes Vega creates for this constantly evolving, mostly vegetarian menu are innovative and fresh, and showcase her unwavering dedication to sourcing local and in-season ingredients.
Design of the Year:
Cold Beer: Atlanta-based firm Ai3 designed chef Kevin Gillespie’s new Eastside Beltline restaurant to highlight his love of art and architecture. It’s the chef’s most ambitious and stylish restaurant yet.
Lazy Betty: Regulars to the former Radial Cafe will find the footprint unchanged. However, Praxis3 transformed the once dark restaurant filled with clunky wooden booths into a light and airy space surrounded by crisp whites, ocean blues, leather booths, and custom artwork.
LLoyd’s Restaurant & Lounge: Walking into this Dekalb Avenue lounge and bar is like stepping back in time and right into granddad’s 1970s basement den. It’s not fancy, and maybe it’s a bit kitschy, but it’s comfortable and always filled with good people having a good time.
Aix and Tin Tin: Atlanta design firm ai3 captured chef Nick Leahy’s fond childhood remembrances of Aix-en-Provence in France. Light, airy, and laid-back, the restaurant and adjoining wine bar give off coastal vibes with a cosmopolitan elegance.
Dish of the Year:
Akko prawns at Aziza: The heads-on jumbo prawns at Aziza come swimming in a warmly spiced tomato sauce served atop falafel toast meant for sopping.
Blue crab fried rice at Bully Boy: This omurice-style fried rice dish contains lumps of blue crab mixed with scallions and a Thai lime nam jim sauce. A large, fluffy omelette sits atop the rice when it arrives and is split open table side, draping over the stir-fry.
“Meat Me in Detroit” pizza at Nina & Rafi: What is Detroit-style pizza? Think rectangular pies with a thick focaccia-like crust, loaded with cheese and toppings. It’s a knife and fork affair. The “Meat Me in Detroit” takes its toppings to another level with generous portions of pepperoni, hot soppressata, and spicy capicola buried under a blanket of cheese.
Choriqueso at Supremo Taco: The new takeout taco joint on Memorial includes the choriqueso on its menu. This quesadilla-like creation contains spicy chorizo and queso stuffed between two corn tortillas and fried to perfection. It’s then topped with a super fresh salsa verde.
All of these finalists have either opened (between November 2018 and October 2019) or come into their own in a new way (major menu or interior design revamps) since we declared the winners last year. All of them were key contributors to making 2019 a great year of eating in Atlanta. So please, take a moment to give these finalists a round of applause. Winners will be crowned, with much fanfare, on December 10, 2019.