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A spicy Korean pork sandwich at Heirloom Market BBQ.
A spicy Korean pork sandwich at Heirloom Market BBQ.
Matthew Wong

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Get the Story Behind Atlanta’s Food History and Restaurant Scene With These Books

From deep dives into the culinary history of Atlanta and prohibition to scenes from various Waffle Houses in the South and innovative Atlanta chefs and bakers

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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.

Digging into the culinary history and restaurant culture of a place provides essential insight into the foods of a specific city or region of the country, linking the past to the present while also highlighting where that dining scene might head next. For those looking to learn more about the food and drink history of Atlanta, here are a few culinary and restaurant culture books all about Georgia’s capital city to curl up with on a rainy day or the weekend.

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A Culinary History of Atlanta

Culinary historian Akila Sankar McConnell celebrates the food history, iconic dishes, and restaurants of Atlanta in this academically driven book, starting with its Native American roots and the founding of the city to the present day. Through recipes and historical documents, McConnell spotlights the food, chefs, bakers, restaurants, and markets that have all helped shape Atlanta’s culinary identity over the past 175 years. McConnell is also the founder of Atlanta Food Walk Tours.

Buy: Bookshop | Amazon

Fearless Innovation: Atlanta’s Food Story

More than just a cookbook, chef Taria Camerino shines the spotlight on Atlanta’s culinary diversity and penchant for innovation and entrepreneurship through recipes and insights from dozens of chefs, lauded Atlanta food figures, and home cooks. This book highlights how the city has always tried to (and continues to) push the envelope and break down barriers when it comes to food. Beautifully photographed with 50 food and drink recipes in the back.

Buy: Bookshop | Amazon

Unique Eats and Eateries of Atlanta

Author and Chow Club Atlanta underground dining founder Amanda Plumb takes readers beyond the dishes most often associated with Atlanta, like fried chicken, to reveal the city’s vast and diverse global pantry through restaurants like Heirloom Market BBQ, Canoe, and establishments found along Buford Highway. The book also provides Plumb the platform to offer insights into the must-try dishes at Atlanta restaurants, give behind the scenes looks at kitchens throughout the city, and tell a few tales surrounding some of Atlanta’s iconic food institutions.

Buy: Bookshop | Amazon

Waffle House Vistas

Atlanta-based digital storytelling publication the Bitter Southerner commissioned this book dedicated to the 24-hour Southern (and Atlanta founded) breakfast institution after publishing its popular story entitled “Waffle House Vistas” by Micah Cash in 2019. Cash’s photos were taken inside Waffle House restaurants throughout the South, including the original restaurant in Avondale Estates, now a museum. The 96-page book includes a foreword by New Orleans novelist Maurice Carlos Ruffin (“We Cast a Shadow”) and an afterword from North Carolina writer Laura Bullard.

Buy: The Bitter Southerner

Prohibition In Atlanta: Temperance, Tiger Kings & White Lightning

Even after ending in 1935, many of the social mores, legal constraints, and legislation surrounding prohibition still exist today in Georgia. But Atlanta led the fight against total temperance during the dark days of prohibition with rum runners in souped-up cars racing up and down the state hauling illegal booze and moonshine to sell at blind tigers across the city. In this book, Ron Smith and Mary Boyle explore how race, religion, and gender have historically and legally complicated Georgia’s relationship with booze since its founding and the part Atlanta played, and still plays today, in keeping alcohol flowing freely here.

Buy: Bookshop | Amazon

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