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Mambo Zombi.
Ryan Fleisher

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The Atlanta Restaurant Trends in 2022 That Got Us Excited for the Future

Smaller restaurants, chefs and restaurateurs actually working in their restaurants, more Southeast Asian restaurants opening all over Atlanta, cocktail bars, and tighter menus

As 2022 draws to a close, and, as is tradition, Eater surveyed Atlanta food writers and restaurant critics as well as surveyed readers on everything from their favorite new restaurant or pop-up and best meal of the year to what they hope to start seeing on the Atlanta dining scene in 2023.

We’ve already asked Atlanta food writers and Eater readers to name the best new restaurants and pop-ups of 2022, their best meals in Atlanta this year, and to offer up their favorite spots to regularly dine in Atlanta. Now, each shares their thoughts on what got them excited in 2022 for the future of restaurants and dining in Atlanta.

Check back throughout the week for more Year in Eater feedback from Atlanta food writers and Eater readers.

Sara Delgado, Eater Atlanta contributor

Was this the year of the omakase? I feel like I’ve seen and heard of so many new omakase spots and pop-ups all across town. If I can segue off of that, the restaurants I’ve really clung to are on the smaller side and similarly focused in their offering. Think Gigi’s, Lucian, Fishmonger, and Mujo. Or they’re large dining rooms that are segmented and cut in ways that allow you to cozy up in different nooks of the restaurant. Small restaurants are to the city what big restaurants are to the suburbs, and what makes Atlanta interesting is that we get to be spoiled with both.

Mike Jordan, Atlanta food and culture journalist and Southeast editor at Resy

I see chefs and restaurateurs being at their restaurants. Another place I visited several times this year, and took a crew of prestigious visitors who kept getting bad recommendations, but wanted a memorable Black-owned restaurant experience, was the Consulate. Doug Hines is always there. Every time I sit down at the bar, he always comes over and says “Hi,” not only to me, but to other tables, too. I like classy restaurants and bars, and I encourage everyone in Atlanta to be willing to pay for it when people seriously strive for excellence — not just because you think that place is the place to see and be seen. I’ll pay more when someone is doing great things. And as always, the continued advancement of Black restaurateurs in Atlanta is amazing and inspiring, especially for those of us who look for such things outside Atlanta and are reminded how special this funky little city really is.

Kris Martins, Eater Atlanta contributor

I loved following Zilch Market as it popped up around town, providing a dedicated space for thoughtful non-alcoholic cocktails in the city. It’s also exciting to see that Elemental Spirits Co. opened Atlanta’s first zero–proof bottle shop, the Zero Co., recently. I hope the rise in businesses like these will challenge more restaurants and bars to put more of an emphasis on non-alcoholic drinks within their beverage programs.

Jennifer Zyman, Atlanta restaurant critic and Food & Wine magazine senior commerce writer

We have a wide variety of Asian cuisines in Atlanta that rivals most major metropolitan areas. However, we are seeing it fill out even more, with more representation from Southeast Asian nations and sub-types of cuisines such as Thai street food. We have more choices than ever, and it continues to get better with places like Kamayan opening on Buford Highway. I also love how much variety there is in town now. I can get ramen, hand-cut Xian-style noodles, and Korean fried chicken in Midtown, a big change from just a few years ago.

Beth McKibben, editor of Eater Atlanta

This year I saw restaurants moving away from large, complicated menus filled with dishes that often felt sloppy in execution and disconnected from one another, in favor of tighter, more focused menus offering dishes that really shined. Another highlight of the year was the return of the cocktail bar after more than two years on hiatus due to the pandemic. I’m looking forward to spending more time at Mambo Zombi, and am equally excited to see bars like Ranger Station and the Waiting Room opening. True wine bars are something I see on the horizon for Atlanta. I’m loving what Jordan Chambers is doing with Larakin, now open on 12th Street in Midtown. This is the neighborhood wine bar and coffee shop combo I’ve been waiting for, one with a focus on enjoying it all outdoors.

Eater readers surveyed

Eater readers who participated in the 2022 Year in Eater dining survey were excited to see the following on the Atlanta dining scene: casual but interesting places opening like Fishmonger; more Peruvian food; more Detroit-style pizza; more restaurants owned by Black and brown chefs opening; the return of cocktail bars; and more omakase restaurants opening.

Elemental Spirits Co.

602 North Highland Avenue Northeast, , GA 30307 (404) 990-4310 Visit Website

Ranger Station

684 John Wesley Dobbs Avenue Northeast, , GA 30312 (925) 989-0076

The Consulate

10 10th Street Northwest, , GA 30309 (404) 254-5760 Visit Website

Fishmonger

225 Rogers Street Northeast, , GA 30317
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