As another year ends, and as is tradition, Eater surveyed Atlanta food writers, industry insiders, and our readers on everything from their favorite new restaurant and best meal of the year to what they hope to start seeing on the Atlanta dining scene in 2024.
We’ve already asked Atlanta food writers and readers to name the best new restaurants and pop-ups of 2023. Now, they shout out their best meals at Atlanta restaurants this year. Check back throughout the week for more Year in Eater feedback from Atlanta food writers, restaurant insiders, and readers.
Lia Picard, Eater contributor and Atlanta food writer
My best meal of 2023 would have to be the dinner at Dirt Church Ceramics in September. I still remember meals I enjoyed a decade ago at chef Zach Meloy’s now-shuttered restaurant Better Half, and enjoying his food again, on dinnerware he crafted, was awesome. More than the good food, though, was the lively conversation that arose, thanks to the dinner club setting in the Dirt Church “dining room.” I had a great meal, made friends, and got to take home a mug made by Zach himself. Win. Win. Win.
Mike Jordan, senior editor leading Black culture coverage at the AJC
Mine was in February, during the final few days Redbird was open. I’m still bothered by how everyone woke up and realized they’d been meaning to support that restaurant all this time — so much that there were lines out the door beyond Jeni’s when everyone realized time was up. I tell Zeb Stevenson all the time that I know he’s going to get the itch to run another restaurant, mainly because, to this day, I’ve only had a chicken dish as good as his chili-rubbed chicken in satsuma vinaigrette maybe ten times in my life. It was one of the few items on the menu I’d only tried a month or two before the closing announcement. I was grateful to have ordered it. True story: I even took home an extra order on my last visit and froze it for a special occasion, but had to go on and eat it when my freezer broke a couple months ago. And even after defrosting, it’s still undefeated. Come back, Zeb!
Jennifer Zyman, Atlanta restaurant critic and senior writer at Food & Wine
That is a tough question, because I had so many equally great omakase experiences this year. I went back to Mujo, and it is still excellent. I also really liked my experience at Omakase Table. The atmosphere is sterile, but the food, ingredients, and presentation were some of my favorites this past year. I also love the new omakase spot at Umi. It’s hidden upstairs and a true luxury experience.
Maximilian Hines, chef at Breaker Breaker and founder of pop-up Stolen Goods
My top meal of the year was from Deborah VanTrece and Robert Butts at Twisted Soul to close out this year. Flawless, delicious, and well seasoned. I still think about the black pepper grit dumplings. A close second was the omakase menu at Chirori. Great food and great value, and had all the sake bottles for a good price.
Beth McKibben, editor of Eater Atlanta
When you eat out as often as I do on a weekly basis, meals tend to run together, with many landing in the so-so category. If a particular meal does stand out as being above and beyond the rest, it’s truly exceptional. The juiciest prime rib I’ve had in a long time, accompanied by a bowl of the creamiest pomme aligot, at Whoopsie’s and the chochoyotes (masa dumplings) filled with corn puree in a corn stock mixed with coconut milk at La Semilla are two meals that spring to mind. Also, the tasting menu the first time I attended Bovino After Dark supper club in West End with perfect wine pairings.
Eater readers surveyed
Eater readers who participated in the 2023 Year in Eater dining survey listed some of their best meals from the following restaurants:
- Fruit salad with fish sauce at Talat Market
- Lamb kebabs at Rumi’s Kitchen
- Rigatoni al forno from La Tavola
- Dealer’s choice menu at Little Bear
- Omakase at Chirori
- Okonomoyaki from Ok Yaki
- Duck lasagna from Lyla Lila
- Omakase at Omakase Table
- Eggplant parmesan at A Mano
- Chicago beef sandwich from pop-up Tony’s ATL