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Mujo was awarded one star by Michelin in 2023.
Ryan Fleisher

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The Biggest Atlanta Restaurant Stories of 2023

From Michelin to Keith Lee to sandwiches to Black brunch culture in Atlanta, these stories captured the most attention from readers 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 2023 draws to a close, Eater is looking back at the stories that made the biggest impact on readers this year. We covered a lot over the course of 2023, and while the sheer number of Atlanta restaurant openings and closings dominated much of the news throughout the year, there were some stories that captured (and kept) the attention of readers more than others. These stories included all things Michelin, celebrity-owned restaurant and food hall openings, Atlanta’s Black brunch culture, Keith Lee, sandwiches, and an Italian market institution with seriously delicious sandwiches.

Below are the top ten most-read stories on Eater Atlanta for 2023.

10: Only in Atlanta: Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport Is Getting a Food Hall

Citizens Market

Only in Atlanta, right? Stories on food halls always grab the attention of readers in Atlanta, likely because there are so many of these establishments now. Some would say, too many. But this story on a food hall opening at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport took the cake. Citizens Go, a pared-down version of Citizens Market at Phipps Plaza, is opening on Concourse F (international terminal) in 2025 with a dining room and a 25-seat bar. Like the Phipps Plaza food hall, Citizens Go won’t feature any local restaurant stalls. Instead look for stalls from known brands and chefs like Umami Burger, Sam’s Crispy Chicken, and El Pollo Verde by Michelin-star chef Dani Garcia.

9: This Dunwoody Market Has Been Slinging the Best Italian Sandwiches for 36 Years

Charlie Augello owner of E. 48th Street Market in Dunwoody standing behind the counter beside a large silver carafe hand-harvest, cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil.
Charlie Augello owner of E. 48th Street Market in Dunwoody.
E. 48th Street Market

Eater Atlanta continued its series on classic restaurants, which included this story on beloved E. 48th Street Market in Dunwoody from local food writer Lia Picard. Owned by the Augello family, E. 48th Street Market opened in 1986 on Jett Ferry Road at a time when such markets selling mozzarella, fresh Italian breads and sausages, pastas, and other Italian provisions were scarce in metro Atlanta. But the made-to-order sandwiches from the counter in back are what continue to draw people to the market — and have so for more than 30 years now. Of the 26 sandwiches served on fresh Italian bread, the meatball sub is E. 48th’s most popular sandwich, followed by the Stoffato (mortadella, capicola, provolone, lettuce, and special sauce).

8: Forget a Food Hall, This Drinks Hall Is Opening at Pratt Pullman District

Pratt Pullman District

Readers were both intrigued by and ready to pounce in the comments on the story behind this food hall centered on booze. AlcoHall (pun intended) opened in March at the Pratt Pullman District in building one on the property, formerly home to an engineering and upholstery shop. Like a food hall, the seven stalls at AlcoHall operate independently and feature different alcohol brands offering tastes, cocktails, and flights ranging from wine and whiskey to gin and beer. And, yes, it’s still open.

7: The Triumph of Black Brunch in Atlanta

The Breakfast Boys

The story on Atlanta’s Black brunch culture was one of 2023’s most-read reported features. It was also widely praised for how local food and culture writer Mike Jordan captured this particular dining scene through interviews with major players involved and the Atlanta restaurateurs who formed the foundation for Black brunch culture in the city, starting in the late 1990s. Jordan’s story offers a unique glimpse into a wholly Atlanta foodway, laying out the case for Black brunch restaurants as gathering places for celebrating Black culture through food, music, dancing, and fashion.

6: Will Lines Form Just Like Whataburger If Chicago Hot Dog Chain Portillo’s Opens in Atlanta?

BBQ Bacon Burger from Whataburger Whataburger
Two hot dogs covered with vegetables sit on a piece of waxed paper beside a tray with all the fixings and a container of more hot dogs already wrapped. Portillo’s

With the news that Chicago-based hot dog chain Portillo’s might be eyeing Atlanta and Georgia for expansion, Eater readers took to social media to discuss the chainification of the dining scene in recent years. This includes the rapid expansion of Texas-based burger chain Whataburger, which now includes several locations in the suburbs of Atlanta. Would hours-long lines also form for the opening of Portillo’s, similar to those Whataburger experienced during the openings in Woodstock, Kennesaw, and Newnan? Readers chimed in and the answer was a resounding, “yes”.

5: Chef to Lil Baby and Migos Opens His Downtown Atlanta Soul Food Spot

Binky’s

The story on Bryant “Chef Baul” Williams and his new downtown Atlanta restaurant captured more than a few eyeballs this spring. Readers were ready for the restaurant to open. Williams, who once served as a private chef to rappers like Lil Baby, 2 Chainz, Migos, and Kendrick Lamar, opened soul food spot Binky’s on Broad Street in April. The mostly takeout operation honors his father’s affectionate nickname and serves meals of turkey wings in gravy and braised oxtails with sides of collards, baked mac and cheese, and hunks of lemon pound cake.

4: A Highly Opinionated Guide to Atlanta’s 10 Best Sandwiches

The Meatloaf Melt bacon jam, pimento cheese, and greens from Humble Mumble sandwich pop-up in Atlanta.
The Meatloaf Melt bacon jam, pimento cheese, and greens.
Humble Mumble

In case you missed it, 2023 was the year of the sandwich in Atlanta. And local writer Austin L. Ray had strong opinions on the city’s sandwich culture. After extensive research and taste testing, Ray created a guide to his top ten sandwiches in Atlanta. The story went viral when it was published at the end of May, with people weighing in on Ray’s choices and offering their own hot takes. In fact, Eater is still receiving emails on the tipline about Ray’s guide, along with their top ten Atlanta sandwiches.

3: Why Atlanta’s Keith Lee Moment Matters —and Why It Doesn’t

A man, Keith Lee, sits with a microphone
TikTok food critic Keith Lee.
Getty Images

TikTok food critic Keith Lee left some restaurants reeling in Atlanta and lit social media comment sections on fire after his visit to the city in October. Lee publicly exposed a dirty little secret in Atlanta that some bad actors in the restaurant industry here are prioritizing vibes and clout over customer service and food. The viral videos of Lee critiquing a handful of Atlanta restaurants for poor customer service, eye-popping service charges ($1 for extra butter), and general mediocrity sparked conversations locally and nationally on the need for restaurants to step it up and the role diners play in allowing such restaurants to proliferate and profit.

2: Atlanta Rapper Lil Baby Opens a Seafood Restaurant and Lounge in the AUC

Lil Baby sits at his new Atlanta restaurant the Seafood Menu and Lounge. The Seafood Menu and Lounge

Atlanta native and rap artist Lil Baby added the title of restaurateur to his resume in July with the opening of the Seafood Menu Restaurant and Lounge on the edge of Atlanta University Center (AUC). Readers were totally here for it, too, and continue to be so, according to Eater’s analytics. The brief write-up on the restaurant opening this summer is rarely out of the top 25 stories each week.

1: Michelin fever hits Atlanta

Newly minted Michelin Bib Gourmands from Atlanta 2023.
Newly minted Michelin Bib Gourmands from Atlanta 2023.
Ryan Fleisher

No other set of stories in 2023 kept readers more engaged (or garnered more hot takes and fierce debate) than the arrival of Michelin and the French tire company’s prestigious dining guide in Atlanta. From the announcement of the guide’s Atlanta debut in July to the awards ceremony in October, Eater was there covering all the news, commentary, and opinions on Michelin’s choices. Like it or not, Atlanta is a Michelin city now.

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