The year may have begun with a massive surge of COVID-19 cases that sadly led to a slew of temporary restaurant closures, but if the last two years has taught us anything about this industry and its workforce, it’s that resilience is key. Perhaps the biggest story of the year is simply the number of new restaurants and bars that opened over the course of 2022. It’s a number inching ever closer to 200 with each passing day in December. In between reporting on restaurant openings (and closings), Eater also explored the histories behind some of the city’s classic restaurants, and even dug into why Atlanta restaurants have been at the center of social justice movements since its founding in 1847.
But there were plenty of other big stories dominating the dining news cycle in Atlanta this year, some that really got readers talking. These stories ranged from anticipated restaurant openings and yet another controversial dress code dust up to Atlanta’s food hall boom and a story on how the city’s hottest strip club became a chicken wing destination.
Below are the top ten most read stories on Eater Atlanta for 2022.
Kicking off the top ten stories list is the reopening of an iconic restaurant in downtown Atlanta. Polaris roared back to life on December 7, rotating once again 22 stories atop the Hyatt Regency hotel. The restaurant closed in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic. Polaris, which resembles a flying saucer, first opened in 1967 and even has ties to the Civil Rights movement in Atlanta. Designed by Atlanta architect John C. Portman Jr., the restaurant makes a full rotation every 45 minutes.
Since 2014, food halls have taken root all over Atlanta, both inside and outside the perimeter, starting with the openings of Krog Street Market in Inman Park and Ponce City Market in the Old Fourth Ward nearly a decade ago. And even more food halls are planned for Atlanta’s suburbs, its exurbs, and neighborhoods around the city. This is a story Eater continually updated throughout 2022, as more food halls opened around town.
8.) Sorry, Chick-fil-A Isn’t Testing Out Wings in Atlanta and Wawa Is Making Moves to Open in Georgia
People were really riled up over these two stories involving two chains — one possibly entering the Atlanta market with wings, and the other opening its first location in Georgia. Chick-fil-A made the news rounds again when a social media post went viral concerning wings from the chain’s delivery-only restaurant Outfox Wings. The social media account in question claimed the home-grown fast food giant might be getting in on the wing game in Atlanta via this virtual restaurant. It turned out to be just a rumor. But Wawa opening its first set of stores in Georgia is not a rumor. In fact, the popular northeastern convenience store chain known for its hoagies and coffee should open its first location in southern Georgia by 2024.
Like it or not, BrewDog is now open in Atlanta. For those who’ve been following the many controversies this brewery has stirred up over the years in the UK, the news of its opening at the Stove Works across from Krog Street Market wasn’t exactly welcome. Atlantans who’ve been here for more than five minutes know the city has a very strong local beer culture and any big chain trying to break into the ATL brew market will always raise more than a few eyebrows. But BrewDog has an even harder row to hoe than most, and it will take a lot more than a few carefully worded press releases to win over Atlanta beer drinkers.
In less controversial chain restaurant news, people are very excited that Texas-based Whataburger is now open in metro Atlanta — Kennesaw to be exact. However, the debate raged online as to just what constitutes metro Atlanta. Yes, Kennesaw in Cobb County is indeed part of the metropolitan area of Atlanta. And if the lines are any indication, people are definitely willing to travel to Kennesaw for their Whataburger fix. Five other locations are headed to the metro area, too, in Woodstock, Cumming, Snellville, Covington, and Buford.
Atlanta made another giant step forward into the 21st century on November 8 when city residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of allowing grocery stores, wine shops, and package stores to begin selling booze at 11 a.m. rather than 12:30 p.m. on Sundays. The measure passed by 82 percent and takes effect in 2023. It also extends Sunday buying time by the drink and package to 12 a.m. instead of 11:30 p.m.
It’s a debate that rages every summer in the Southeast: Georgia versus South Carolina peaches, and which state grows the best. Eater Atlanta contributor Sarra Sedghi did a deep dive into why Georgia is known as the “Peach State” and why the state’s peaches might really just be the best in the South. You might not agree, but science and the soil may say otherwise. Sedghi then rounded up a list of Georgia farms to visit during peach season.
The controversy over the arbitrary enforcement of dress codes at Atlanta restaurants continued in 2022. This time it was former Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms claiming she was asked to leave pricy steakhouse chain Capital Grille at Perimeter Mall in April for wearing leggings, which apparently violates the restaurant’s “no gym attire” rule. Bottoms says she observed a woman dressed in similar attire walking into the restaurant, but did not see the woman leave. Adding to the former mayor’s skepticism about why she was asked to leave, a man commented on her tweet saying he wasn’t denied service three weeks prior at the same location for wearing a Nike sweatsuit and Nike Air Jordan 11s. Other commenters posted photos of people wearing jeans, medical scrubs, and jogging suits at Capital Grille.
The opening of seafood market and cafe Fishmonger in Poncey-Highland was not only one of this year’s hottest restaurant debuts, it was also one of the most read stories of 2022. In its first week, Fishmonger sold nearly 700 pounds of fresh fish and close to 60 grouper sandwiches daily. The blackened grouper sandwich is now Fishmonger’s most popular menu item. The hype surrounding the opening of the seafood market and cafe was further validated by the stories piling up on Fishmonger’s Instagram feed. Even former president Barack Obama knows where to find the best fish in Atlanta these days. During a runoff campaign stop on behalf of Senator Raphael Warnock in December, Obama ordered the blackened grouper atop Fishmonger’s caesar salad at its second location, which opened in August in Kirkwood. Eater Atlanta also named Fishmonger the Breakout Hit of 2022.
No other story in 2022 drew more eyes on it than this feature by Atlanta-based culture writer Jacinta Howard on how the city’s hottest strip club, Magic City, became a chicken wing destination. Part of Eater’s national package entitled “The United States of Fried Chicken”, Howard unraveled the history behind the wing craze at this shoe modeling establishment and why the drums and flats are so popular with Atlantans, many of whom have never been to Magic City. The wings are as popular as the strip club. As Howard states in the story, “Even if you’ve never had an Atlanta area code or seen the glimmering neon, you’ve heard about Magic City” and the lore surrounding its wings.