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Poached shrimp and grilled octopus aguachiles at 8ARM
Poached shrimp and grilled octopus aguachiles from 8Arm chef Maricela Vega
Ryan Fleisher

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Atlanta’s Dining Experts Name Their Best Meals of 2019

From a creative tasting menu to an Atlanta Italian classic

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

We continue discussing the 2019 dining scene with several Atlanta food writers and restaurant critics. The experts have already given their restaurant standbys, 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 their biggest dining surprises and biggest dining grievances.

Next, Atlanta’s dining experts give a shoutout to their best meal in 2019.

What was your best meal in Atlanta this year? 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

Lazy Betty. I was skeptical of the menu and format at first. The food is fancy schmancy creative, but the service is down-home friendly. It was as good as anywhere in NYC or LA, minus the attitude. Can’t wait to go back to see what they have to offer in the spring.

Charred octopus at Lazy Betty
Charred octopus
Ryan Fleisher

Mara Shalhoup — Deputy editor for Atlanta Magazine

The first time I ate at 8Arm after the arrival of chef Maricela Vega blew my mind. (Subsequent visits were just as insanely good.) Though her menu isn’t entirely plant-based, most of it is—and what Vega does with vegetables is miraculous. I’m a fan of healthy and sustainable eating, obviously, but that fandom is not why I love Vega’s cooking. I love it because it’s delicious. If I could eat at one restaurant every day, it would be this one.

Ryan Fleisher

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

La Grotta. I grew up going here and it is a great example of a mature restaurant that is still holding its own. We did many special occasions here over the year, and the overall experience left me feeling happy and nostalgic.

La Grotta

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

Tiny Lou’s. From the minute I sat down to eat, the service, appetizer, cocktails, wine, salad, entree, and dessert were all exceptional. I still get warm and fuzzy inside thinking about how impressed I was when I left.

Trout Almondine Heidi Geldhauser

Beth McKibben — Eater Atlanta editor

Filipino pop-up Kamayan, Gato Nights, and 8Arm. I attended a few Kamayan pop-ups this year and am in love with chef Mia Orino’s food. Excited for her to open a permanent spot so I can indulge regularly in that lechon sisig, among other dishes. I can’t say enough great things about Maricela Vega at 8Arm. I’ve eaten my way through an entire menu in one night numerous times. Like Vega, I find myself returning often for chef Nicolas Stinson’s Mesoamerican food at Gato Nights. All three chefs genuinely love what they do, love experimenting with ingredients and flavors, and love sharing their food with people. It’s always a joyful experience.

Bihon with Chopsuey vegetables, grilled tocino skewers (pineapple cured pork shoulder), and ginataan with bilo-bilo on a red picnic table
Bihon with Chopsuey vegetables, grilled tocino skewers (pineapple cured pork shoulder), and ginataan with bilo-bilo
Kamayan ATL


710 Ponce De Leon Avenue Northeast, , GA 30306 Visit Website

Lazy Betty

1530 DeKalb Avenue Northeast, , GA 30307 (404) 975-3692 Visit Website

La Grotta Ristorante

2637 Peachtree Road, , GA 30305 (404) 231-1368 Visit Website


1660 McLendon Avenue Northeast, , GA 30307 (404) 371-0889 Visit Website

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