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A white bowl containing six Chile wontons in red chile sauce with a silver serving spoon from Hai Authentic Chinese in Decatur, GA
The chili wontons at Decatur Sichuan restaurant Hai

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Atlanta Dining Experts Weigh In on the Biggest 2019 Food Trends

These were Atlanta’s biggest food and dining trends in 2019

Beth McKibben is the editor and staff reporter for Eater Atlanta and has been covering food and cocktails locally and regionally for 12 years.

The year is drawing to a close and, as is tradition, Eater Atlanta surveyed several Atlanta food writers and dining experts on everything from their best meal in 2019 to their food headline predictions for 2020. Responses are cut, pasted, and (mostly) unedited. The experts have already given their restaurant standbys when dining off duty and named the best new Atlanta restaurants of 2019.

For this round, Atlanta’s dining experts name the year’s biggest food trends.

Tell us about the food trends you saw popping up at restaurants around town this year in the comments below, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Mara Davis — Radio and TV personality for WABE, the Bert Show, and Atlanta Eats

Impossible burgers and food halls.

Mara Shalhoup — Deputy editor for Atlanta Magazine

It was a good year for excellent Asian restaurants opening in intown neighborhoods: Vietvana (Vietnamese) in Avondale Estates, Hai Authentic Chinese (Sichuan) in north Decatur, Urban Wu (also Sichuan) in Buckhead, and Food Terminal (Malaysian) bringing a second location to the Westside, to name a few. And 2020 is looking to be just as impressive in this category.

Jennifer Zyman — Contributing writer and restaurant critic for Atlanta Magazine, Thrillist, Eater Atlanta, AJC

I feel that a lot of the most popular restaurants serve some sort of comfort food like BBQ, family-style food, sandwiches, pasta, and general unfussy food. I also saw a lot of new Sichuan restaurants, which always makes me happy.

Mike Jordan — Thrillist Atlanta editor and contributing writer for Eater Atlanta, Playboy, Rolling Stone, Atlanta Magazine

Better food! Seriously. It was a big step up across the board, and it seemed like chefs and restaurateurs became more comfortable with the idea that the less they focused on the gimmick or hook, the better they could make the food, drinks, and service.

Beth McKibben — Eater Atlanta editor

2019 feels like a turning point for Atlanta in terms of food and dining. This includes what is appearing most often on restaurant menus and how people are choosing to eat. Vegetables went from simply being a side dish to the main attraction. There’s nothing wimpy about these vegetable plates or vegetarian main dishes, folks. I saw a lot more seafood appearing on menus in 2019: whole roasted fish, beautiful prawn dishes, various preparations of shellfish and mollusks. You can’t leave 2019 behind without mentioning the wine awakening happening around Atlanta right now, especially natural wine. Lists are stacked with great by-the-glass and bottle choices, and at all price points — making wine more accessible than ever.

Urban Wu

3330 Piedmont Road Northeast, , GA 30305 (404) 816-8008 Visit Website

Food Terminal

1000 Marietta Street NorthWest, , GA 30318 (404) 500-2695 Visit Website


2641 North Decatur Road, , GA 30033 (470) 225-7172 Visit Website
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