Despite impossible odds this year, the health crisis showcased the resiliency and immense creativity of the people working in Atlanta’s restaurants and bars. We continue discussing the 2020 dining scene and the tumultuous year for the restaurant industry with Atlanta food writers and authorities. The experts have already given their takeout standbys for the year and named their favorite new Atlanta restaurants of 2020.
Now Atlanta’s dining experts give a shoutout to their best meals of 2020. Responses are cut, pasted, and lightly edited.
Jennifer Zyman — Atlanta food writer and dining critic Atlanta magazine, Thrillist, Eater Atlanta, AJC; founder of “The Blissful Glutton”
The last meal I ate in a restaurant in 2020 with my daughter at Dillard House in Dillard, Georgia. It was a fitting last meal since it’s such a home-style and warming spot. You don’t order, they bring you a little of everything the kitchen is cooking that day, and you can have as many refills as you want. It was even sweeter because I got to introduce my daughter to the experience right before everything closed.
Mike Jordan — Atlanta food and beverage writer Eater Atlanta, Playboy, Rolling Stone, the Wall Street Journal, Atlanta magazine; editor-in-chief of Butter ATL
I was blown away by MUJO [at Cooks and Soldiers]. In a year where you were decidedly NOT going to Tokyo without some important person’s permission (and your own ridiculousness,) that omakase nigiri took me away from home. And it gave me another great sushi place to recommend in the place of Umi after that incredibly stupid “no Air Forces” situation.
Deborah VanTrece — chef and owner of Twisted Soul Cookhouse and Pours
The Bucatini alla Bolognese and the tiramisu from A mano.
Sarah Kim — partner Our Bar ATL
To me, there’s something about a restaurant’s atmosphere and vibe that makes the food just taste so much better. Due to COVID-19, the list of dine-in restaurants I’ve been able to enjoy this year is incredibly short, but Lazy Betty’s prix fixe menu was perhaps the best restaurant meal of 2020 for me.
Beth McKibben — editor of Eater Atlanta
With just two months of actual dining at restaurants under my belt before the pandemic began, the vast majority of my restaurant meals this year were experienced as takeout. I have to give my best restaurant meal of 2020 to Spring in Marietta. After closing for two months, chef Brian So reopened Spring this summer as a curbside takeout restaurant offering a pared-down menu of prepared foods and meal kits. I had my doubts that So and his team could execute Spring’s gorgeous seasonally driven dishes to-go. My first meal from the curbside menu in July washed away any doubts, ending with the most beautiful and scrumptious peach tart with Bavarian cream. While the restaurant recently reopened for limited dine-in service, So continues to offer a small selection of dishes for curbside pick-up (try the cheeseburger,) along with meal kits to create family feasts like lasagna bolognese at home. If the fried chicken meal rotates back onto the takeout menu, order it. Leave room for dessert.