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A basket of jumbo hot chicken tenders with a side of mac and cheese and collards Joella’s Hot Chicken

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Atlanta Food Writers Name Their Biggest Dining Grievances of 2019

Too much Nashville hot chicken and big name chefs absent in their own kitchens

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

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 insights into the year’s biggest food trends, described the 2019 Atlanta restaurant scene in one word, and explained the biggest dining surprises of the year.

For this installment, Atlanta’s dining experts discuss their biggest dining grievances of 2019.

What was your biggest dining grievance in 2019? 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

Too many taco places named after lady parts. Nashville hot fried chicken, it’s enough.

Mara Shalhoup — Deputy editor for Atlanta Magazine

This is not a new (or, sadly, surprising) phenomenon, but I wish that larger, deeper-pocketed restaurant groups would take some cues from scrappier restaurateurs and chefs when it comes to innovation and creativity.

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

Going to dinner anywhere where the chef/owner made me feel like they were doing me a favor by serving me a meal. I feel that some people forget this is a service industry.

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

The absent name-brand chef. I took a few road trips around the southeast this year and had some excellent meals, and one thing I noticed about places like Raleigh, Durham, Charleston, Birmingham, and other cities where the restaurant scene is impressive is that the chefs are there more times than not. If you’re a big name chef and you’re never behind the line at your restaurant, but the place pushes you as the main attraction, you’re not keeping it 100, as they say. If it’s really the executive chef that deserves credit, you should be promoting them instead of yourself. Remember the first FLIP Burger? A lot of very talented chefs in Atlanta are flipping off their customers too often. Show us why we loved you in the first place — get back there and cook something great!

Beth McKibben — Eater Atlanta editor

By the summer, it began to feel like the majority of restaurants opening were simply serving versions of the same menu just with a different name. There wasn’t much innovation or creativity. There were definitely several exceptions this year. But I am beginning to wonder (and worry) if Atlanta’s current development-driven restaurant scene is starting to interfere with what’s being created in kitchens. It seems that maybe creativity and innovation on menus are being tossed aside in favor of data and demographic analysis and pleasing investors and not Atlanta’s diners.

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