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Roasted pork loin with squash gratin and toasted blue cornbread in a peach-garlic glaze.
Roasted pork loin with squash gratin and toasted blue cornbread in a peach-garlic glaze.
Southern Belle

38 Essential Restaurants Around Atlanta, Winter 2024

From Peruvian food and an underground steakhouse with sought-after martinis to Southern restaurants and Korean feasts at a Buford Highway institution

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Roasted pork loin with squash gratin and toasted blue cornbread in a peach-garlic glaze.
| Southern Belle

The Eater 38 is a curated list of restaurants covering Atlanta and its metropolitan area — both inside and outside the perimeter — spanning myriad cuisines and price points. It’s meant to help navigate Atlanta’s sprawling restaurant scene, while also answering the question, “Can you recommend a restaurant?”

With fall’s arrival, the Eater 38 has been updated for the fourth time in 2023 to include longtime Atlanta staples, restaurants with loyal followings, and those really bringing something special to the food scene right now. The restaurants listed below have been open for six months or longer and were selected to showcase the impressive diversity of Atlanta’s dining landscape. Removal from the Eater 38 does not mean a restaurant isn’t still great and won’t return in the future, but it allows for new additions, keeping the 38 a fresh, inclusive, and representative list.

For the first update of 2024, Java Jive, Continent, and Rice n Pie were removed to make way for Highland Tap, Tio Lucho’s, and Southern Belle.

Want to nominate a restaurant? Send suggestions to atlanta@eater.com, along with details as to why a particular restaurant deserves to be included before the next quarterly update.

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Eater maps are curated by editors and aim to reflect a diversity of neighborhoods, cuisines, and prices. Learn more about our editorial process. If you buy something or book a reservation from an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.

The BeiRut

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People living in the southern suburbs of Atlanta have long coveted this gem of a restaurant in Peachtree City, often raving as much about the lovely hospitality received during meals here as they do about the food. Owned by Hadi Rabai and Fatima Hojaij, the Beirut has served classic Lebanese dishes with fine dining touches for nearly a decade in Peachtree City. Try the foul mudammas (fava and garbanzo bean salad), Kefraya (Lebanese wine)-marinated steak tips, or lamb and beef shish kaftas. Order a grand feast for dinner that includes three mezzes, three kebabs, and dessert or coffee.

A bowl of hummus topped with chunks of spiced lamb and garnished with fresh herbs. The BeiRut

Spring Restaurant

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The critically acclaimed restaurant, owned by chef Brian So and partner Daniel Crawford, features a tight, seasonally inspired menu of dishes paired with a curated list of natural and biodynamic wines. Start with foie gras terrine and sockeye salmon crudo before moving on to entrees like grilled wagyu flatiron steak and braised short rib or a whole fish course. Never skip the desserts at Spring, which change often and incorporate herbs, fruits, and other ingredients of the season. The small dining room lends itself nicely to both intimate dinners as well as larger groups catching up over bottles of wine and a meal. Reservations are highly encouraged.

Virgil's Gullah Kitchen & Bar

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The Gullah and Lowcountry dishes at Virgil’s, owned by Gee and Juan Smalls, are not to be missed. Order the she-crab soup or Gullah egg rolls stuffed with red rice, cabbage, and shrimp; the crab rice mixed with sauteed bacon, onions, and peppers; a side of greens; and the brownie-based Chucktown Chewie sundae for dessert. A second location is now open along the Marietta Street Artery near Georgia Tech.

A round of compact white rice topped with shrimp and crab gravy at Virgil’s in College Park, Georgia. Ryan Fleisher

Heirloom Market BBQ

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This Cobb County barbecue spot has limited seating, but chefs Cody Taylor and Jiyeon Lee bring more than enough flavor to compensate for the cramped quarters or a ride home with a to-go box. Taylor and Lee’s Southern-meets-Korean barbecue restaurant offers a must-try spicy Korean pork sandwich on its menu with chopped rib meat marinated in fermented chile paste, topped with kimchi coleslaw, black sesame seeds, and a sliced scallion. Order the sandwich with a side of Brunswick stew or collards.

A tin tray displaying spicy Korean BBQ pork, kimchi, and pickles spilling out of a sandwich at Heirloom Market BBQ in Smyrna GA. Heirloom Market BBX

Bacchanalia

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Two-decade-old fine dining stalwart Bacchanalia and its epic tasting menu are better than ever. The menu still includes the popular crab fritter, Maine lobster with caviar and brioche, and a rotating array of in-season entrees and desserts. Located next to market and cafe Star Provisions on Ellsworth Industrial Boulevard, reservations are necessary for a table here. Don’t have reservations? Head to the bar for cocktails, a glass of wine, and the a la carte menu.

Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours

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Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours in Westside is where the South’s most loved dishes meet the minds of chef Deborah VanTrece and chef de cuisine Robert Butts. VanTrece brings her extensive travel knowledge along with three decades of professional cooking to drive the menu and the service here, while Butts pushes the boundaries further with his dishes; together the pair strikes a balance between casual and fine dining with ease. Expect dishes like mole sous vide short ribs, a smoked salmon croquette sandwich, cornmeal-crusted catfish goujonnette, and crispy confit duck with chevre scallion Johnny cakes.

Tassili's Raw Reality Café

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Located in West End, Tassili’s is a haven for people seeking raw and vegan food dishes that not only taste good, but are filling and satisfying. Owned by Tassili Ma’at, the restaurant offers various wraps and salads, including a wrap boasting Southwestern flavors made from chiles stuffed with black-eyed pea puree, couscous, tomatoes, and avocado. The Tassili original kale salad comes with red onions, sun-dried tomatoes, and spices. paired with freshly pressed carrot juice.

Weathered red letters designed with curlicues read “Tassilis Raw Reality” on the facade of a small restaurant with beige frame siding. Tassili’s Raw Reality

Busy Bee Cafe

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In business since the 1940s, this Vine City soul food institution on Atlanta’s Westside serves some of the city’s best fried chicken, alongside an assortment of other Southern meat-and-three staples. The fried chicken at this James Beard America’s Classics award winner is marinated for 12 hours, hand-breaded, and fried. If that isn’t enticing enough, get the smothered version, which is topped with pan gravy.

Fried chicken, collards, and mac and cheese from Busy Bee Cafe in Vine City Atlanta. Busy Bee Cafe

Che Butter Jonez

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Occupy the Hood activist Malik Rhasaan and Detric Fox-Quinlan opened a permanent location of their popular food truck, Che Butter Jonez, as a restaurant in 2021. Located next door to a Chevron station on Cleveland Avenue, the halal restaurant continues to serve one of the food truck’s most popular menu items: the That Sh!T Slambing burger. The menu here changes daily to keep things fresh, but often features options like bodega-style breakfast dishes, tacos on Tuesday, lumpia and garlic noodles topped with steak, and a delicious soft-shell crab sandwich during the spring.

Fried soft shell crab sandwiched between a whole buttery brioche bun dressed with mayo and lettuce.
B-More Careful Soft Shell Crab on a brioche bun.
Che Butter Jonez

Miller Union

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James Beard award-winning chef Steven Satterfield’s fresh Southern cooking is simple, elegant, and includes a lot of seasonal, locally grown vegetables. The farm egg baked in celery cream with grilled bread is a must-try Atlanta dish. The restaurant also has one of the best vegetable plates in town and offers a killer wine list, too. Getting a reservation at this west side Atlanta restaurant can be challenging on busy dining days, so opt to sit at the bar or head in on a Monday for a quieter meal. Maybe try lunch, which finally returned to Miller Union in 2023, three years after the restaurant discontinued the mid-day meal service at the start of the pandemic. And the popular ice cream sandwiches are also back on the lunch menu.

Built around an intimate and highly personalized dining experience between guests of the restaurant and the sushi chef, 2022 Eater award winner Mujo is a splurge-worthy destination for omakase. Reservations go fast when released each month, but for those who secure a seat at the sushi bar, patience (and the hefty price tag) pay off thanks to the attention to detail and personalized touches they experience throughout the meal. Led by chef J. Trent Harris, who trained under master sushi chefs at at Michelin-star establishments Sushi Ginza Onodera and Shuko in New York and Tokyo, this 15-seat omakase restaurant gives a nightly master class in hospitality and the nuanced art of Edomae-style sushi. A meal here begins with cocktails at the small bar reserved for guests of the restaurant. Then, during dinner, Harris and his team wow with exquisite course after exquisite course of nigiri, beautifully presented dishes like hakurei turnip tartlets, and nods to other Japanese culinary traditions, including tamagoyaki (Japanese shrimp and egg cake similar to an omelet) and konacha green tea served with dessert.

Kohada nigiri topped with kimioboro at Mujo in Atlanta, GA. Ryan Fleisher

Jamrock Restaurant

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It’s hard to go wrong with any order at this Jamaican restaurant institution, but a great place to start is with one of Jamrock’s curry plates. Try the rich curry shrimp and curry snapper, or maybe opt for a plate of braised oxtails or a hearty Hotty Hotty jerk chicken and turkey bacon sandwich topped with peppers and onions. Breakfast is also available and typically features callaloo and saltfish, dumplings, and saltfish fritters. Keep an eye out for specials like jerk fish fried rice.

Little Bear

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Former pop-up chef Jarrett Stieber opened Little Bear in Summerhill right before the start of the pandemic in 2020. Despite the challenges brought on by the health crisis, Stieber never wavered from what made his pop-up, and now his restaurant, so popular with regulars. The chef’s mischievous sense of humor and creativity continue to be on full display in dishes like the Everything Raw Beef with hatch chile bagel soubise and drinks like the Invasive Species mixed with singani and rum, bitter bianco, and creme de kudzu flower. It’s best to order the entire tight menu here. Tell the server, “Just F*ck Me Up, Fam.”

A ceramic blue and white bowl of gold rice pudding garnished with edible violets at Little Bear Atlanta. Ryan Fleisher

Talat Market

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Summerhill Thai restaurant Talat Market opened in spring 2020 inside an old neighborhood market on Ormond Street. Each week, chefs Parnass Lim Savang and Rod Lassiter create around a dozen or so Thai and Thai-influenced dishes for the menu, featuring soups, salads, relishes, curries, stir-fries, and desserts, along with a couple of larger entrees, like yum khao thawt (crispy rice salad) and whole fish preparations. Head here for happy hour specials, fresh oysters, off-menu dishes, and crushable cocktails, including a Thai twist on the pina colada.

Lucian Books and Wine

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Owners Katie Barringer and Jordan Smelt merge their love for books, wine, food, and London at bookshop and wine bar Lucian. Located at Modera Buckhead, Lucian specializes in titles centered on art, design, food, and culture and carries nearly 400 wines by the bottle and 15 wines by the glass. Food here is approached with the same thoughtfulness and care that Barringer has with books and Smelt with wine. Nothing is an afterthought, right down to the sauces composed for each dish. Standouts on the menu are the raw hamachi with seasonal fruits, the gnudi, and duck. Be sure to order a glass of Champagne and a bowl of crispy fries, too, which comes with a chef’s choice aioli, like horseradish or chile-spiced. Reservations are highly encouraged.

The roast duck leg atop lady peas and cherry tomatoes at Lucian Books and Wine in Atlanta. Lucian

After years of serving classic, white-tablecloth fine dining, chef Gerry Klaskala remodeled his Buckhead staple restaurant in 2016 to appeal to a younger generation of diners. Now it’s a bit more relaxed and casual — there’s a walk-in-ready bar and lounge for drinks and snacks for an impromptu night out. The kitchen consistently cranks out Aria favorites, like butter-braised lobster, slow-braised pork, and lump crab cakes. Aria continues to carry one of Atlanta’s most comprehensive wine lists, too. Dine al fresco on Aria’s covered and heated patio. Reservations are required.

Interior of a fine dining restaurant with light wooden tables and gray furnishings and fixtures, including gray wall panels with mirrors , and light gray banquette seating. Jonathan Phillips

Staplehouse

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In 2020, Kara Hidinger and chef Ryan Smith took over ownership of the restaurant they helped found with nonprofit Giving Kitchen, transforming it from a tasting menu restaurant to a neighborhood market with food served daily from the back counter near the kitchen. The food remains as seasonal, creative, and thoughtfully composed as ever it was. Head to the back counter and order dishes like grilled octopus, eggplant, and peppers tossed in fennel-salami vinaigrette, a crab cake sandwich, or a hearty grain bowl or burrata with fresh vegetables. If it’s on the menu, don’t skip the Italian grinder — a meaty and mighty sandwich easily shared between two people. Then, grab wine and beer by the glass or bottle or a cocktail and find a seat outside in the sunny garden patio or on the covered porch behind the building.

The chicken liver tart at Staplehouse
The chicken liver tart at Staplehouse.
Staplehouse

Ticonderoga Club

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To be a member of this Krog Street Market New England-style tavern, one simply has to walk in, grab a seat, and order a drink or a meal. Try popular menu mainstays like the Ipswich clam roll, the seasonal vegan noodle bowl, or the Club’s iconic veal sweetbreads. Cocktails at Ticonderoga Club are always top-notch, as the restaurant is owned by three trailblazers of Atlanta’s cocktail movement: Greg Best, Paul Calvert, and Regan Smith. The drinks rotate regularly here, but T-Club’s mint julep riff, the Ticonderoga Cup, and an Irish coffee are always on the menu. Reservations are highly encouraged.

BoccaLupo

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Open since 2013, Italian American restaurant Bocca Lupo has become both a neighborhood favorite in Inman Park and one of Atlanta’s must-go destination restaurants. Order any of the fresh pasta dishes on the menu — the black spaghetti and the 20-yolk tagliatelle are now Atlanta classics. Make sure to check out the tight wine list and cocktails here, too. Reservations are encouraged and outdoor seating is available.

Daily Chew

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This small cafe from Julia Kesler Imerman features coffee, protein breakfast bowls, and shakshuka in the morning, followed by rotisserie chicken pitas and grain bowls in the afternoon, all leaning into Imerman’s Jewish and South African roots. Try the lemon ricotta hotcakes, the carrot and potato latke stack, or the smoked salmon pita stuffed with lemon labneh, greens, sumac-seasoned onions, capers, and dill.The restaurant also sells fresh breads and pastries daily, as well as whole rotisserie chicken or cauliflower family meals, plus prepared foods such as salads and vegan soba noodles.

Hands reach out to sample a takeout spread of hummus, pita, a whole seasoned rotisserie chicken, chicken salad, pita with za’taar, and fries. Daily Chew

La Semilla

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La Semilla flexes the flavors of Cuban and Mexican dishes on a menu rooted in veganism and family recipes. And for owners Sophia Marchese and Reid Trapani, La Semilla (or the seed) is just the beginning of a new chapter in their restaurant careers. Forged from a pop-up launched just before the pandemic, La Semilla is a flavor-packed triumph of vegan dishes, like meatless versions of vegan chicken tamals steamed in banana leaves served with a punchy ancho sauce, croquetas de jamon stuffed with seitan ham Tranpani makes himself, and bistec de palomilla made with Lion’s Mane mushrooms. Start off with sikil pak (spicy pumpkin seed and tomato dip) served with fresh tortilla chips. And don’t skip the chochoyotes (masa dumplings filled with corn puree) served atop a thin layer of coconut-corn broth topped with a poblano-corn sofrito and matcha oil and fried tortillas for scooping. A zero food waste policy means unused ingredients are incorporated back into sauces and salsas for dishes at La Semilla or made into tinctures or syrups for riffs on classic cocktails. The couple doesn’t see La Semilla as a vegan restaurant, they see it as a restaurant that happens to serve vegan food that unless you were told, you might not suspect otherwise.

Bistec de palomilla made with Lion’s Mane mushrooms. Ashley Wilson

Highland Tap

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No matter the day of the week, locals love to meet up for steak and martinis at the Tap. Lovingly referred to as “steak basement” or “steak cellar”, as the Virginia-Highland restaurant institution is located below street level, Highland Tap serves heaping platters of old-school cuts of steak and starchy sides. Look around the dining room and you’ll likely see multiple tables filled with people sipping the generously poured martinis served here, which come with a sidecar to refresh the drink. There’s no need to dress up at Highland Tap. Just come as you are and enjoy the low-key atmosphere, comfort food, and amazing people-watching. Check out brunch on the weekends, too, at the Tap.

Highland Tap

Southern Belle

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A great soundtrack and a menu filled with “authentically Atlanta” dishes set the mood at chef Joey Ward’s Poncey-Highland restaurant, Southern Belle, which is refined without being pretentious. This is how Atlantans like to dine, and Ward leans into it. Expect wildly creative dishes such as cold smoked pork belly with chili garlic crisp, Georgia peaches, and Coca-Cola reduction with Chinese black vinegar. Adding a bit of theater to dinner, some cocktails might be prepared table side from a Delta beverage cart, complete with smoky magic and maybe garnished with a Biscoff cookie. For people seeking nonalcoholic options, Southern Belle’s zero-proof cocktails are hard to beat, including the earthy and tropical At Dusk or Dawn using Lyre’s “tequila” mixed with oat and coconut milk, matcha, and Earl Grey tea. For a truly spectacular dining experience from Ward and his team, make a reservation at Georgia Boy—the intimate tasting menu restaurant hidden behind a bookcase in back of Southern Belle. Reservations for Southern Belle encouraged.

A shaker sprinkling a ranch and cheddar mixture over a plate of chicharrons Andrew Thomas Lee

Fishmonger

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During its original Poncey-Highland location’s first week in business back in 2022, the tiny seafood market and cafe sold nearly 700 pounds of fresh fish and close to 60 blackened grouper sandwiches each day. Six months later owners Skip Engelbrecht, Nhan Le, and chef Bradford Forsblom opened a second, larger location at the Pratt Pullman District in Kirkwood, followed by a third location on Howell Mill Road in June 2023. That aforementioned grouper became an instant classic for Fishmonger when it hit the menu, even grabbing the attention of former President Barack Obama, who ordered the fish atop his Caesar salad during a visit to Atlanta in 2022. Beyond fish sandwiches, look for daily oyster and crudo specials, fish dinners, and seafood salads and chowders from Forsblom at all three locations. Pair it with sparkling wine, a boozy cocktail, or a frozen drink, though keep in mind that the Poncey-Highland location is BYOB. The Howell Mill and Kirkwood locations feature full bars.

The blackened grouper sandwich at Fishmonger in Atlanta is topped with Florida sauce, herb salad, and pickled peppers served on a buttery toasted bun smeared with nori butter. Ryan Fleisher

Tio Lucho's

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Chef Arnaldo Castillo opened his first restaurant in Poncey-Highland with Atlanta restaurateur Howard Hsu of neighboring Sweet Auburn BBQ back in 2022. Tio Lucho’s (“Uncle Luis”) is an ode to Castillo’s father, who was known for his ceviches when he worked at Peruvian restaurants around Atlanta years ago. At Tio Lucho’s, Castillo mixes traditional Peruvian recipes with Southern and local ingredients, resulting in dishes like papas fritas tossed in furikake seasoning, red snapper ceviche with cornmeal fried calamari, and a vegetarian ceviche using local mushrooms layered with grape tomatoes, red peas, and sweet potatoes. Make sure to try the lomo saltado, too, or any of the whole fish specials at Tio Lucho’s. Pair your meal with a pisco sour or tamarindo caipirinha.

Tio Lucho’s

Lazy Betty

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Owned by chefs Ron Hsu and Aaron Phillips, Lazy Betty in Candler Park offers sophisticated fine dining wrapped in a warm and inviting neighborhood restaurant. Here, people choose between two reservation-only tasting menus of six to eight courses with optional wine pairings and a vegetarian meal upon request. There’s also champagne and caviar service, which comes with steamed milk buns and scallion pancakes, too. Reservations are required and a vegetarian menu is available upon request. Lazy Betty is temporarily closed and will reopen in Midtown later this year.

A ceramic dish containing polished pebbles features a single gold-rimmed oyster shell filled with caviar. On the top of the lid are four scallion pancake squares and two steamed milk buns. Ryan Fleisher

Gigi's Italian Kitchen & Restaurant

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Chefs Eric Brooks and Jacob Armando transformed their weekly pop-up in Candler Park into a permanent restaurant in August 2022, establishing a cozy Italian bistro in the former Gato space complete with tables draped in red checkered linens, candlelight, and flowers. It’s now an award-winning restaurant serving a menu of red sauce classics made with in-season produce and fresh pastas. Expect dishes like rigatoni fazool with cowpeas replacing cannellini beans and chicken marsala served with fresh focaccia. Dessert features Gigi’s popular tiramisu. Some cocktails, wine, beer, and amaro round out the beverage list, including the Dirty Gigi martini and a rye Old Fashioned punched up with espresso and coffee bitters. Reservations are limited and encouraged on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Dark tubular pasta sits in a white bowl, with dollops of pasta on top and garnished with fresh basil leaves. A fork rests against the side of the bowl.  Sydney Foster

Poor Hendrix

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A congenial neighborhood restaurant and bar in East Lake, Poor Hendrix is a sought-after spot for laid-back vibes paired with stellar cocktails and bar food that’s been kicked up a notch yet still affordable. Order perennial favorites on the menu like the spicy peanut cold noodles or baskets of drums and flats glazed in a sticky sesame sauce, as well as meatless Monday meal deals and daily barfly specials that never disappoint. Pair dinner with a draft beer, one of the cocktails on rotation from the bar, or a glass of wine. Poor Hendrix’s covered patio is 21 and up but well-behaved dogs on leashes are welcome; the backyard seating is all-ages.

Chicken liver pâté with peanuts & red wine gastrique on house-made focaccia on a white plate
Chicken liver pâté with peanuts & red wine gastrique on house-made focaccia
Poor Hendrix

Cafe Alsace

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This little French restaurant in the heart of downtown Decatur is one of the city’s most charming dining gems, offering a quiet escape from bustling East Ponce and beyond. As the name implies, Cafe Alsace serves both traditional French and Alsatian cuisine — the latter coming from a region in northeastern France bordering Germany and Switzerland along the Rhine River, blending the cultures, languages, and foods of the three countries together. (Think cassoulets, beef bourguignon, creamy egg noodle-laden spaetzle, tarte flambee, and coq au riesling.) The wine list here is a lovely mix of French and Alsatian vintages. Owner and Alsatian native Benedicte Ulsas Cooper, who often works the dining room of the tiny three-decade-old restaurant, is the greatest ambassador of Alsace and its cuisine. Reservations for dinner are encouraged on the weekends.

Cafe Alsace

The Deer and The Dove

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James Beard award-winning chef Terry Koval opened his Decatur restaurant in 2019 and it’s become not only a destination restaurant for Atlantans, but also an ample space for Koval to really shine as a chef. Expect skillfully composed dishes of in-season vegetables, beef and pork from nearby cattle and pig farms, and game meat entrees, like crispy rabbit legs fried in fermented buttermilk, duck sausage roulade, and plates of venison. The restaurant’s bar offers a handful of classic cocktails, beer, and cider, as well as a selection of mainly French and Italian wines. In the mornings, head next door to Koval’s B-Side Cafe for Montreal-style bagels and coffee. Reservations are encouraged and outdoor seating is available.

Chef and owner Terry Koval inspecting dishes prior to being served at The Deer and the Dove. The Deer and the Dove

Kimball House

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Housed in the former Decatur train depot, the menu at Kimball House is an ode to elegant dining and drinking all experienced in a dimly lit, laid-back dining room. Kick off the night with Southern and Gulf water oysters paired with cocktails or Champagne at happy hour. Stay for dinner and continue the evening by sharing local vegetable and fish dishes or a three-course steak dinner for two. Beyond its award-winning cocktails, the Decatur restaurant features a wine list that is equally impressive, including muscadet, chenin blanc, and big, bold reds as well as sherry, Madeira, and vermouth. Reservations are highly encouraged and outdoor seating available.