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Red Rice at Virgil’s in College Park
Red Rice at Virgil’s Gullah Kitchen in College Park
Ryan Fleisher

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Atlanta Food Writers Discuss the Biggest Dining Surprises of 2019

From neighborhood reawakenings to an amazing Filipino pop-up

Today, we continue discussing the 2019 dining scene with several Atlanta food writers and restaurant critics. The experts have already given their restaurant standbys when dining off duty, named the best new Atlanta restaurants, included their insights into the biggest food trends of 2019, and described Atlanta’s restaurant scene this year in just one word.

For the next installment, Atlanta’s dining experts discuss the biggest restaurant, dining, or food surprises of 2019.

What surprised you about the 2019 Atlanta dining scene? Tell us in the comments below, on Facebook, or on Twitter.


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

Summerhill. So many cool places in a funky new area. Wood’s Chapel BBQ, Little Tart Bakeshop, Big Softie and so many more exciting things to come.

The smokehouse at Wood’s Chapel
The smokehouse at Wood’s Chapel BBQ in Summerhill
Ryan Fleisher

Mara Shalhoup — Deputy editor for Atlanta Magazine

I can’t say that it was a huge surprise, but the emergence of downtown College Park as a hub of black-owned restaurants is awesome.

Virgil’s Gullah Kitchen in College Park, GA
Virgil’s Gullah Kitchen and the Real Milk and Honey in downtown College Park
Ryan Fleisher

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

How amazing the food from Kamayan ATL is. Chef Mia Orino might be one of the most thoughtful and organized (not to mention warm) cooks in Atlanta. Every single dish she cooked me was perfectly seasoned. I am also psyched we have more representation of Filipino cuisine because it was sorely needed.

Grilled pineapple, purple cabbage slaw, belly lechon sisig sinangag or garlic fried rice, pompano, and dragonfruit from Kamayan ATL Filipino Pop Up
Grilled pineapple, purple cabbage slaw, belly lechon sisig sinangag or garlic fried rice, pompano, and dragonfruit
Kamayan ATL

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

How there were more than a few new places that were taking things seriously enough to create a new level of expectations, among themselves and among diners. Friends who’d call to ask where they should eat seemed to be visiting a lot of the places I’d recommend, so I had to dig deep to give them choices they didn’t already know about. That’s always a good sign for business — people are actually agreeing on the good spots and looking to see who else is raising the bar.

Mole poblano taco
Mole poblano taco
Supremo Taco

Beth McKibben — Eater Atlanta editor

Not a lot surprised me this year. Atlanta has always had something to say, and thankfully chefs and restaurateurs are pushing boundaries like never before and not feeling the need to continue replicating food being done in New York and LA. However, what caught me off guard this year are the number of mostly generic mixed use developments popping up around town and that real estate developers seem to be trying to drive neighborhood restaurant culture, not diners, chefs, or restaurant owners.

Looking west down Memorial Drive toward Atlanta Dairies on the left
Looking west down Memorial Drive toward Grant Park on the edge of Reynoldstown
Jonathan Phillips/Curbed Atlanta

Little Tart Bakeshop

68 Georgia Avenue Southeast, , GA 30312 (404) 348-4797 Visit Website

Wood’s Chapel BBQ

85 Georgia Avenue Southeast, , GA 30312 (404) 522-3000 Visit Website

Virgil's Gullah Kitchen & Bar

3721 Main Street, , GA 30337 (404) 228-4897 Visit Website
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