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The outside entrance to Chattahoochee Food Works in northwest Atlanta on clear blue sunny day. Big red sign with the words “Food Hall” sits above the wood covered patio while a may in a ball cap and blue windbreakers walks past a small strip of bright green grass on the newly paved sidewalk
The opening of the Andrew Zimmern-backed food hall Chattahoochee Food Works was one of the most read stories of 2021.
Ryan Fleisher

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The Most Read Eater Atlanta Stories of 2021 and Six You Might Have Missed

These ten stories got a lot of Atlantans talking this year

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

As 2021 began, the promise of COVID-19 vaccine availability to all Georgians was just on the horizon, and the Atlanta restaurant industry was coming to grips with the state of dining during the pandemic and settling into the cadence of a new normal. But with each month, and with vaccines now widely available, restaurants opened or returned to dine-in service, the pop-up scene thrived, and the list of new establishments planning to open around Atlanta grew.

The most read stories from Eater Atlanta in 2021 reflect a year of promise and hope mixed with a bit of controversy. From an Atlanta pitmaster bouncing back after a devastating fire destroyed his beloved barbecue restaurant and the return of a downtown Atlanta landmark, to the domination of food halls, a dumpling automat, and another dress code dust up, these ten stories got Atlantans talking in 2021. Plus, six more Eater Atlanta stories you might have missed this year definitely worth reading.

10.) Pitmaster Bryan Furman Is Back With a New Restaurant and a New Perspective

Pitmaster Bryan Furman leans against a column on the front porch of an old shotgun style house on Bolton Road in Atlanta looking pensive
Pitmaster Bryan Furman leans against the front porch of an old shotgun-style house on Bolton Road, home to his future restaurant.
Illia R. Hayes

In April, Atlanta journalist and editor of Butter ATL, Mike Jordan, brought news of pitmaster Bryan Furman’s return to the dining scene with a brand new barbecue restaurant. After losing his second restaurant to fire, then closing his barbecue counter at the Ponce Kroger in 2019, Furman opens his eponymous restaurant Bryan Furman BBQ in 2022 on Bolton Road in his beloved Riverside neighborhood. With this restaurant, Furman brings family on board and celebrates Black barbecue traditions in the South.

9.) That Hotel for Food Lovers Opens in Midtown Atlanta This Week

Epicurean Atlanta hotel and its restaurants and bars open September 16 in Midtown.
Epicurean Atlanta hotel and its restaurants and bars opened September 16 in Midtown.
Erik Meadows

Readers were thrilled to learn of the opening of Midtown culinary-themed hotel Epicurean Atlanta in September. Part of Marriott’s Autograph collection, the hotel resides in one of three towers at the 1105 West Peachtree development and includes restaurant Reverence, Aerial Kitchen and Bar on the ninth floor terrace, and high-tech kitchen classroom Epicurean Theatre.

8.) Downtown Landmark Underground Atlanta Becomes the Latest Location to Gain a Food Hall

Underground Atlanta
A 21-stall food hall opens next year at Underground Atlanta.
Underground Atlanta

In May, Robert Montwaid, the co-founder of recently opened Chattahoochee Food Works in northwest Atlanta, announced his plans to open another food hall in 2022 at downtown landmark Underground Atlanta. The food hall serves as the anchor tenant for Underground Atlanta, now owned by Shaneel Lalani, and will eventually include 21 stalls. It joins live music venue the Masquerade and Future Showbar, an LGBTQ-friendly restaurant, cabaret, and dance bar.

7.) Inside Chattahoochee Food Works, the Latest Food Hall to Open in Atlanta

Two vada pav (potato sliders) from Dash and Chutney at Chattahoochee Food Works in Atlanta
Vada pav (potato sliders) from Dash and Chutney at Chattahoochee Food Works.
Ryan Fleisher

Speaking of food halls, readers were really excited to take a peek inside one of Atlanta’s newest food markets when it opened in Underwood Hills in May. Chattahoochee Food Works, backed by Robert Montwaid and celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern, will eventually feature 31 restaurant stalls. Nearly a dozen stalls are now open there, with more expected to open in 2022. Atlanta is currently experiencing a food hall boom.

6.) Atlanta Is Getting Its First 24-Hour Automat Dispensing Dumplings

Lamb gyro dumpling
Lamb gyro dumpling.
Brooklyn Dumpling Shop
The pastrami dumpling is just one of dumpling fillings from Brooklyn Dumpling Shop, which is bringing the automat restaurant concept to Atlanta with five new shops.
Pastrami dumpling.
Brooklyn Dumpling Shop

Blame it on the meteoric rise in demand for even faster food during the pandemic, but Atlantans were charged up upon learning the news the city would be getting its first 24-hour automat when five locations of Brooklyn Dumpling Shop open here. What’s an automat? People order on their phone or via a digital panel at the restaurant and then pick up the order from a specific locker. It basically operates like a hi-tech vending machine.

5.) A Buckhead Restaurant Comes Under Fire For Its Arbitrarily Enforced Dress Code

The Buckhead French restaurant came under fire earlier this year over its arbitrary enforcement of the dress code.
Le Bilboquet

Buckhead French restaurant Le Bilboquet came under fire in May for its arbitrary enforcement of the dress code, first by a patron attempting to dine there on May 16, then by Hawks basketball legend Dominique Wilkins days later. Wilkins received a public apology from Le Bilboquet. However, Johnson said she did not receive one from the restaurant regarding her experience.

4.) From Latkes to Scallion Pancakes, Add These Fried Foods to Your Hanukkah Feast

Asian street food pop-up Mushi Ni serves out of Little Trouble and S.O.S Tiki Bar and includes tempura-fried Oreos.
Tempura-fried Oreos.
Mushi Ni
Asian street food pop-up Mushi Ni serves out of Little Trouble and S.O.S Tiki Bar.
Asian street food pop-up Mushi Ni serves out of Little Trouble and S.O.S Tiki Bar.
Mushi Ni

One of Eater Atlanta’s top food guides this year was written by food and culture writer Robbie Medwed, who gave a history lesson on the significance of olive oil and fried foods served during Hanukkah, and why the latke isn’t the only option to consider for the eight-day celebration. The guide features several Atlanta restaurant dishes to enjoy during Hanukkah.

3.) This Hidden Cocktail Lounge in Midtown Delivers Glitzy 1970s Vibes and Crafty Cocktails

A 1980s somewhat futuristic atmosphere of the bar and lounge at Jo Jo’s Beloved in Atlanta. The bar is dimly lit with thin, semi-circular flanking it. Red plush booths with the same semi-circular lightening flank the sides of the lounge
A 1980s somewhat futuristic atmosphere can be found at Colony Square bar and lounge Jo Jo’s Beloved in Midtown.
Lindsay Butler

The July opening of Colony Square cocktail bar Jo Jo’s Beloved hidden inside food hall Politan Row brought summer excitement when readers learned of its retro cool design. The bar is a total vibe, hoping to entice people to step back in time to the age of disco glam with a solid dose of 1980s futurism in its design and drinks.

2.) Guy Fieri Welcomes Alpharetta to Flavortown With His New Metro Atlanta Restaurant

Guy Fieri’s Flavortown Kitchen fare
Celebrity chef and self-proclaimed mayor of Flavortown Guy Fieri launched a ghost kitchen in Atlanta this year.
Guy Fieri’s Flavortown Kitchen

Never underestimate the power of Guy Fieri to drum up serious enthusiasm over the opening of another ghost kitchen in Atlanta. The self-proclaimed mayor of Flavortown launched a delivery-only restaurant in Alpharetta from the kitchen of Buca di Beppo aptly named Guy Fieri’s Flavortown Kitchen, and people were here for it.

1.) With the Last Remaining Restrictions Lifted, Georgia Is Officially Open for Business

Restaurant patios along the Eastside Beltline at SPX Alley in the Old Fourth Ward, Atlanta
Restaurant patios along the Eastside Beltline at SPX Alley in the Old Fourth Ward.
Ryan Fleisher

Georgia governor Brian Kemp’s apathetic response to the pandemic continued to make news during the first half of 2021. But with an April press release entitled “Georgia is Open for Business”, readers questioned whether Georgia was every really closed during the early, unvaccinated days of the pandemic. On May 1, an executive order from the governor lifted the ban on large gatherings, eliminated the remaining shelter-in-place requirements for vulnerable residents, and reduced social distancing requirements at bars, restaurants, and movie theaters from six feet to 42 inches (3 feet, 6 inches) between seated parties. Eater included a timeline of decisions (and controversial lawsuits) by the governor through the first year of the global health crisis leading up to the May 1 reopening of the state.

Six Stories You Might Have Missed Worth a Read

September 28, 2021

The Permanency of On-Street Dining in Atlanta Looks Promising — by Kris Martins

August 17, 2021

At Heirloom Market BBQ, Chef Jiyeon Lee Creates Southern Barbecue Sides Inspired by Korean Banchan — by Jennifer Zyman

March 31, 2021

The Fight to Unionize Georgia’s Hospitality Industry Is Underway — by Laura Scholz

March 22, 2021

These Pandemic-Related Changes Are Here to Stay at Some Atlanta Restaurants — by Lia Picard

October 29, 2021

Could Atlanta Be Getting Its First ‘Night Mayor’? Maybe. — by Beth McKibben

June 9, 2021

The Next Chapter of South Downtown’s Historic Hotel Row Includes New Restaurants — by Beth McKibben

Got a story idea or restaurant industry-related policy or legislative news you think Eater Atlanta should cover in 2022? The editorial calendar is filling up, so send us the details at

Colony Square

1197 Peachtree Street Northeast, , GA 30361 (404) 965-9091 Visit Website

Heirloom Market BBQ

2243 Akers Mill Road Southeast, , GA 30339 (770) 612-2502 Visit Website

Le Bilboquet

3027 Bolling Way Northeast, , GA 30305 (404) 869-9944 Visit Website

Chattahoochee Food Works

1235 Chattahoochee Avenue Northwest, , GA 30318 Visit Website

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