Despite impossible odds this year, the health crisis showcased the resiliency and immense creativity of the people working in Atlanta’s restaurants and bars. Glimmers of hope emerged throughout 2020, as new restaurants continued opening around Atlanta. And there are more to come in 2021.
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, named their favorite new Atlanta restaurants of 2020, offered insight into their best meals of the year, and discussed the saddest restaurant closures.
Now Atlanta’s dining experts weigh in on the restaurants, coffee shops, and pop-ups they’re looking forward to seeing open or return in 2021. 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”
I’m excited to see Rumi’s Kitchen open at Colony Square and to watch any chefs break out on their own.
Mike Jordan — Atlanta food and beverage writer Eater Atlanta, Playboy, Rolling Stone, the Wall Street Journal, Atlanta magazine; editor-in-chief of Butter ATL
For a pop-up, it’s chef Maximilian Hines, whose Stolen Goods pop-up series was gonna be one of my last Eater stories for 2019, and it got rescheduled from December into early 2020, and we all know what happened next. I hope he brings it back, because it’s an awesome idea, and I’ll be happy to tell you more when it returns. For a restaurant, it’s Rock Steady. I was really excited to see an upscale Afro-Caribbean restaurant open in West Midtown, and they were just getting started when the pandemic slowed them down. I’m really glad they’re back in time to ring in the new year. And, of course, Bankhead Seafood.
Deborah VanTrece — chef and owner of Twisted Soul Cookhouse and Pours
Continent Atlanta [on Buford Highway] by chef Scotley Innis. It’s slated to open any day now, and I am salivating in anticipation. This chef has worked hard, coming up the ranks with innovative, inspired cuisine.
Sarah Kim — partner Our Bar ATL
For a pop-up I’ve never tried yet, I’m quite eagerly looking forward to Kamayan ATL’s upcoming brick-and-mortar spot next year. One of my partners in Our Bar ATL is Filipino, so I’ve been following Kamayan for a couple years now and going to one of their pop-ups has always been on my foodie wish list.
Federico Castellucci — President and CEO of Castellucci Hospitality Group (Cooks and Soldiers, the Iberian Pig, Double Zero, Sugo)
I look forward to dining in person at Georgia Boy and Southern Belle. I’m excited to see Joey Ward’s vision for this restaurant see the light of day.
*both restaurants close for the winter starting January 1, 2021
Beth McKibben — editor of Eater Atlanta
Atlanta’s restaurant pop-up scene continues to be strong, and I’m so glad that one of its best and brightest — Kamayan ATL — will finally open a permanent location in 2021. There’s a reason so many people credit Mia Orino and Carlo Gan for shining a spotlight on the food of the Philippines in Atlanta. 2021 is their year. Make sure to watch for more pop-ups becoming permanent, too. I am also eagerly awaiting the opening of South Atlanta greenhouse and sustainable cafe Nourish Botanica, owned by Quianah Upton, and Atlanta-based roastery Portrait Coffee in the West End. Two extremely cool projects I’ve been following closely this year. Upton continues to raise funds for Nourish Botanica via GoFundMe, and I highly recommend the coffee subscription from Portrait, which has kept me nice and caffeinated throughout the pandemic.