It was a day where it seemed everyone in Atlanta was either talking about or waiting to watch the big reveal of the first Michelin guide to the city. For those attending the ceremony on the evening of October 24 in downtown Atlanta, nervous excitement filled the red carpet, as people lined up to pose with the inflatable Michelin Man mascot greeting people on the step-and-repeat before entering the gala.
Michelin inspectors spent months secretly reviewing restaurants multiple times within Atlanta’s perimeter (ITP). When it was all said and done, 45 restaurants were awarded one star, bib gourmand status, or other recognitions during the ceremony at the Rialto Center in Atlanta. And while residents living beyond I-285 (OTP) were disappointed about not seeing restaurants from Atlanta’s sprawling metropolitan area also represented this year, Michelin may expand its review boundaries beyond the perimeter in the future.
Following the ceremony, crowds gathered back downstairs around bar stations scattered throughout the Rialto Center lobby, where champagne flowed and people huddled in groups hugging and congratulating one another and clinking glasses in celebration. Some chefs and restaurant teams in attendance expressed genuine shock over nabbing a Michelin recognition. One chef told Eater the entire experience was “just so humbling,” while another stated, “I can’t believe I’m really here...getting a Michelin star in Atlanta.” Descriptors like “surreal”, “mind-blowing”, and “wild” were uttered frequently throughout the night by awardees. Others recognized by Michelin were simply overwhelmed.
The pressure is now on for these restaurants to retain or level up their Michelin status for 2024, which can change over the course of the year depending on the dining experiences of the anonymous inspectors. Restaurants can retain status, gain status, or even drop off the guide if Michelin’s food and service criteria aren’t met consistently with each visit.
Much will be written over the coming weeks about Michelin’s inaugural guide to Atlanta, including not selecting any ITP restaurants south of I-20, Black and women chefs still being underrepresented, and the conspicuous restaurant omissions many locals and industry insiders felt deserved recognition. Eater plans to continue covering the impact of the dining guide on the newly awarded restaurants and what it really reveals about Michelin’s perspective on the Atlanta dining scene.
Check out some photo highlights from the 2023 Atlanta Michelin guide gala and reveal ceremony below.