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Bucatini alle Vongole with littleneck clams in white wine and garlic at Storico Fresco
Karen Pagano Florence

The 38 Essential Atlanta Restaurants, Winter '19

The restaurants that define dining around the ATL

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Bucatini alle Vongole with littleneck clams in white wine and garlic at Storico Fresco
| Photo by Karen Pagano Florence

It's time to update the Eater 38, the answer to any question that begins with, "Can you recommend a restaurant..?" The Eater 38 covers the entire metro Atlanta area — both inside and outside the perimeter — and spans a myriad of cuisines, collectively satisfying the majority of dining needs.

Every quarter, Eater Atlanta will add pertinent restaurants that were omitted, have become newly eligible (open at least a year,) or have stepped up their game, in order to keep the list fresh. It includes longtime Atlanta staples, restaurants with loyal followings, and those that bring something unique to the city’s dining scene. Removal from the Eater 38 doesn’t mean a restaurant won’t return in the future.

For the first update of 2019, the 38 bids adieu to Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q, Nam Phuong, and Restaurant Eugene — but adds Brick Store Pub, Storico Fresco Alimentari e Ristorante, and LT’s Wings.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. O4W Pizza

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3117 Main St
Duluth, GA 30096
(678) 587-5420
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The Jersey-style pizzeria in historic downtown Duluth, owned by Anthony Spina, is named for its former location in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood on the east side of the city of Atlanta but, it still serves up its most famous pizza — the margherita-like Grandma Pie. The pizza is made with fresh mozzarella, marinara, Pecorino-Romano, extra-virgin olive oil, fresh oregano, and topped with fresh basil. Most of the pies here lean heavy on the meat with tangy sauce, however, there are vegetarian and gluten free options, too. These pies are as true to the pizzas of New York and New Jersey as it gets in Atlanta.

O4W Pizza

2. Masterpiece

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3940 Buford Hwy
Duluth, GA 30096
(770) 622-1191

Masterpiece is a family-owned and operated Sichuan restaurant and service can prove slow — but the dishes by chef Rui Liu are worth it. From the chongqing style noodles and dry spicy eggplant to tea-smoked duck and shredded beef or pork with hot peppers, few things on the menu don’t come with a bit of heat (some more numbing than others.) Masterpiece is a great place to enjoy a family-style meal with friends.

3. Jang Su Jang

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3645 Satellite Blvd
Duluth, GA 30096
(678) 475-9170
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Jang Su Jang translates to “the meeting place” and, for many in the area, the restaurant has definitely been a community hub for over ten years. This is the place to grab Korean dishes with traditional touches like kalbi (barbecue beef short rib), bibimbap, and soondubu-jjigae (tofu stew). Some say the endless banchan here is the best in Atlanta.

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4. Spring

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90 Mountain to River Trail
Marietta, GA 30060
(678) 540-2777
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Chef Brian So opened his Marietta restaurant in April 2016. In a time when "seasonal" and "local" are overused and not necessarily an indicator of quality, So's French techniques allow the best Southern ingredients to shine. The tight menu of dishes showcase each season and change frequently. Not to mention, Daniel Crawford (formerly of Miller Union) selects the wines for Spring’s list as carefully as So composes his plates. Many of the wines listed are organic, biodynamic, or simply hard to find retail. In other words, this is a wine lovers list. Reservations are highly encouraged.

5. Rumi's Kitchen

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6112 Roswell Rd
Atlanta, GA 30328
(404) 477-2100
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There’s no denying that Rumi’s Kitchen in Sandy Springs serves some of the city’s best Persian cuisine. But, it’s more than just the food here that makes Rumi’s an essential Atlanta restaurant. Chef Ali Mesghali and his team offer diners an elegant experience paired with impeccable service — and great wine that pairs well with the food. Do not skip the mirza ghasemi (smoked eggplant with tomato and garlic) or the yogurt trio to start off the meal. For dinner, order any of Rumi’s kabobs to share with the table or the lamb shank with Persian lime, turmeric, dill, and fava beans over saffron-infused basmati rice. There’s a second location at Avalon in Alpharetta.

6. Sushi Hayakawa

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5979 Buford Hwy NE
Atlanta, GA 30340
(770) 986-0010
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Chef Art Hayakawa’s renovated Buford Highway sushi restaurant ranks at the top in Atlanta, as do Hayakawa’s knife skills and selection of freshly imported fish from Japan. Reservations in the small, spartan dining room should be made well in advance. Try Hayakawa’s epic 14-course honkaku omakase.

7. Heirloom Market BBQ

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2243 Akers Mill Rd SE
Atlanta, GA 30339
(770) 612-2502
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This barbecue spot located just inside the perimeter near Cumberland has limited seating, but chefs and owners 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. Look for Korean-inspired Southern barbecue with spicy and tangy sauces and pitch-perfect sides, such as classic Brunswick stew and collards.

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8. Mamak

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5150 Buford Hwy NE A-170
Doraville, GA 30340
(678) 395-3192
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Mamak on Buford Highway in Doraville might be the closest thing Atlanta has to true Malaysian cooking. This small, congenial cafe serves dishes with influences from Southeast Asia, like roti with curries, pork porridge, lemongrass chicken, and curry-braised beef brisket.

Mamak Malaysian Kitchen

9. Porch Light Latin Kitchen

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300 Village Green Cir SE
Smyrna, GA 30080
(678) 309-9858
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As a former chef de cuisine at Kevin Rathbun Steak, Andre Gomez should know a thing or two about grilled and smoked meats. Now a few years into his own restaurant in Smyrna, he’s serving big cuts of meat with Puerto Rican flavors such as cumin-spiced Saint Louis ribs and the “roasted little piggy” — a whole suckling pig that must be ordered two days in advance — served with three complementing sides.

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10. Storico Fresco Alimentari e Ristorante

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3167 Peachtree Rd NE Suite S
Atlanta, GA 30305
(404) 500-2181
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Part-restaurant, part-market, and part-pasta company, Storico Fresco in Buckhead is likely one of the best places in Atlanta to buy and consume freshly-made pasta. Portions here are easily shared. Order a couple of pastas for the table like the cacio e pepe, the squid ink ravioli with salmon belly, or lasagna alla bolognese. The wine list at Storico isn’t the deepest but, it’s carefully curated for the menu it serves — from sparkling prosecco and light and fruity falanghina to the bold spice and complexity of nero d’avola and barolo. Storico Fresco is also opening a Roman Italian restaurant in Westside Provisions District on Howell Mill Road in 2019.

11. Aria

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490 E Paces Ferry Rd NE
Atlanta, GA 30305
(404) 233-7673
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After years of serving classic, white-tablecloth fine dining, owner Gerry Klaskala remodeled his Buckhead staple restaurant to appeal to a younger generation of diners. Now, it’s a bit more relaxed and casual — there’s a bar and lounge that are walk-in ready, a menu serving Aria favorites like butter braised lobster, slow braised pork, and lump crab cakes. The restaurant still carries one of Atlanta’s most comprehensive bottle lists, which often reads like a wine lover’s “best of”.

The main dining area inside the revamped Aria in Buckhead.
Jonathan Phillips/Eater Atlanta

12. Desta Ethiopian Kitchen

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3086 Briarcliff Rd NE
Atlanta, GA 30329
(404) 929-0011
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In operation for a decade in North Druid Hills, Desta is Atlanta's best bet for Ethiopian fare for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The expansive menu allows diners to build their own meals, like the tib platters with a choice of meat, flatbread such as injera, and sides that include tomato fitfit. Desta now has a second location nearby at Emory Point on Clifton Road, across from the CDC.

Desta

13. B's Cracklin Barbeque

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2061 Main St NW
Atlanta, GA 30318
(678) 949-9912
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Pitmaster Bryan Furman and general manager Nikki Furman opened a local outpost of their Savannah smokehouse in September 2016 — and it’s a hit. Located in the former Hottie Hawgs space in Riverside, the Furmans serve award-winning, whole-hog ‘cue, South Carolina-style hash and rice, and more.

Jonathan Phillips

14. The Colonnade Restaurant

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1879 Cheshire Bridge Rd NE
Atlanta, GA 30324
(404) 874-5642
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The Colonnade has been an Atlanta icon for decades. Opened in 1927, this Cheshire Bridge institution has a loyal following among the over-60 crowd but continually attracts a new generation of regulars seeking down home, Southern comfort food (and strong martinis.) Diners come for the turkey and dressing, chicken fried steak, and fried chicken, but restaurant regulars swear by its brunch and the bloody marys, too.

The restaurant opened in 1927.
The Colonnade

15. The General Muir

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1540 Avenue Pl
Atlanta, GA 30329
(678) 927-9131
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This upscale Jewish deli from Ben and Jen Johnson and Shelley Sweet (West Egg Cafe), and executive chef Todd Ginsberg has been winning hearts since it opened in early 2013. The burger is one of the best in town, but other star dishes include the poutine fries, cheesecakes, piled-high pastrami sandwiches, and the matzoh ball soup. Order from the counter to-go or sit down to enjoy a meal in the bright and airy dining room or at the bar. Check out the Friday night fried chicken dinners, spaghetti suppers on Sunday evenings, and Monday night deli menu offered weekly, too.

16. Bacchanalia

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1460 Ellsworth Industrial Blvd NW
Atlanta, GA 30318
(404) 365-0410
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Fine dining stalwart Bacchanalia and its epic tasting menu are better than ever after over 20 years on the Atlanta dining scene. Located next to its market and cafe Star Provisions on Ellsworth Industrial Boulevard in Westside, reservations are necessary for a table here. Don’t have reservations? Head to the bar for cocktails, a beautiful glass of wine, and the a la carte menu. Expect top-notch service at Bacchanalia.

17. Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours

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1133 Huff Rd NW #D
Atlanta, GA 30318
(404) 350-5500
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Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours in Westside is where the South’s most loved dishes meet the classically trained chef-owner Deborah VanTrece. VanTrece’s world travels and her three decades of professional cooking experience are present and accounted for on the menu and in the service here. Twisted Soul strikes that difficult balance between casual and fine dining with ease. Expect amuse bouches like a delicate bite of chicken salad, shared dishes such as black-eyed pea salsa fresca served with fresh tortilla chips, and graciously plated entrees such Cajun-spiced roast chicken atop a bed of red beans and rice. This food has soul.

18. Miller Union

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999 Brady Ave NW
Atlanta, GA 30318
(678) 733-8550
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James Beard award-winning chef Steven Satterfield's farm-fresh, updated Southern cooking is simple and elegant. The farm egg baked in celery cream with grilled bread is considered a top-10 Atlanta dish. The restaurant has one of the best vegetable plates in town, offers a killer wine list, and the lunchtime-only ice cream sandwiches are the perfect post-meal treat.

[Miller Union’s farm egg in celery cream. Photo: Matthew Wong]
Matthew Wong

19. Arepa Mia

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10 N Clarendon Ave
Avondale Estates, GA 30002
(404) 600-3509
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Owned by Lis Hernandez, Arepa Mia in Avondale Estates (just east of the city of Decatur) has been making arepas for nearly a decade in Atlanta. The menu consists of arepas topped with beef, chicken, seafood, avocado, or scrambled eggs as well as empanadas, cachapas (Venezuelan sweet or savory pancake), and pabellón with shredded beef, black beans, fried plantains, queso, and jasmine rice.

Arepa Mia in Avondale Estates
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20. Rising Son

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124 N Avondale Rd
Avondale Estates, GA 30002
(404) 600-5297
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Rising Son in Avondale Estates has long been an Atlanta favorite for breakfast, lunch, and brunch. Dishes worth the order include the frittata ensalada with eggs, roasted tomato, shallots, arugula, and parmesan; the fried trout and grits; or the chorizo and scrambled egg tacos. Order a meat and 1, 2, or 3 platter at lunch. Supper (served on Friday and Saturday nights) is where owners Hudson and Kathryn Fitzgerald Rouse let their creativity and love of the seasons fly. The menu changes often and has included standout items like a triple-stack burger, green curry and rice bowl with eggplant, and shiitake carbonara.

Rising Son

21. Chai Pani

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406 W Ponce de Leon Ave
Decatur, GA 30030
(404) 378-4030
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Indian restaurants abound in Atlanta, but Chai Pani is something really special. The menu at this Decatur spot includes its unique take on Indian street food (some with local twists, like the kale pakoras) as well as North Indian thalis and chef’s specials, such as butter chicken, Malabar chicken curry, and Maharaja lamb burgers.

22. Brick Store Pub

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125 E Court Square
Decatur, GA 30030
(404) 687-0990
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This downtown Decatur beer pub, located just off of the town square, turned 21 in 2018, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Brick Store offers a lengthy, rotating list of local, Belgian, and hard-to-find beers on its menu and on its more than two dozens taps. Not to mention, the kitchen serves an excellent bar burger, chicken pot pie, and fish and chips, among its many pub food dishes.

23. 8 Arm

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710 Ponce De Leon Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30306
(470) 875-5856
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8 Arm serves some of the most creative dishes in Atlanta morning, noon, and night. Brunch offers carefully created grain bowls, toasts topped with avocado and rock crab, and a brunch and late night double stack burger, topped with cheese, onions, pickles, and house Russian dressing made from roasted beets. The dinner menu is vegetable and seafood forward, featuring dishes on a ever-rotating menu like caesar salad made with white anchovies topped with manchego cheese or pan-seared chilean sea bass. The restaurant has two bars: a covered patio, with its neon pink glowing shipping container bar and a sexy 20-seat, Japanese-style kanzume bar serving natural wines, cocktails, and teas called Ink.

24. Brush Sushi Izakaya

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316 Church St
Decatur, GA 30030
(678) 949-9412
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Former Craft Izakaya and One Sushi + chef Jason Liang is serving exquisite cuts of raw fish, yakitori (skewered meats,) and a limited, daily quantity of lobster ramen from his restaurant in downtown Decatur. For an optimal dining experience, grab a seat at the sushi bar and partake in Liang's beautifully composed omakase offerings.

Rolls ready to be served at Brush.
Jonathan Phillips/Eater Atlanta

25. Kimball House

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303 E Howard Ave
Decatur, GA 30030
(404) 378-3502
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Housed in the former Decatur train depot, Kimball House's devotion to the way dining and drinking used to be shines through in its classic cocktail-inspired drinks menu, carefully chosen oyster offerings, vegetable and fish dishes, as well as its three-course steak dinner. The restaurant’s wines are equally impressive, and include everything from Champagne to madeira.

Kimball House.
Andrew Thomas Lee

26. Gato

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1660 McLendon Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30307
(404) 371-0889
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This cozy neighborhood restaurant on the corner of McClendon Avenue and Clifton Road in Candler Park is owned by Nicholas Stinson and offers a Southwestern-influenced breakfast and lunch throughout the week. For nearly a decade, it’s also served as a restaurant incubator on weekend evenings for moonlighting chefs. Past Gato pop-ups have included New York’s Québeco-American diner M. Wells, Stinson and chef Allen Suh’s popular Gato Arigato series, chef Jarrett Stieber of Eat Me Speak Me, and chef Parnass Lim Savang of Talat Market. Stinson now offers his own weekend dinner series called “Gato Nights” exploring the deep, regional food roots of southern Mexico and the Yucatán.

Gato

27. Bread & Butterfly

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290 Elizabeth St NE F
Atlanta, GA 30307
(678) 515-4536
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Bread & Butterfly does an excellent job serving guests from breakfast through dinner. Inspired by the cafes of Paris, this sunny Inman Quarter cafe shines with French bistro fare and a simple but excellent wine list. Dine on dishes such as a decadent burger with Swiss and caramelized onions, steak frites, crab, crayfish, and penne au gratin, or an ode to New Orleans institution Commander’s Palace with its shrimp remoulade.

28. Wrecking Bar Brewpub

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292 Moreland Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30307
(404) 221-2600
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Located in the cellar of an old Victorian mansion on Moreland Avenue in Little Five Points, The Wrecking Bar Brewpub has become a regular gathering spot for beer and food geeks alike. Dishes on the menu, under the careful guidance of chef Terry Koval and his team, include farm-fresh ingredients from the restaurant’s own farm, Wrecking Barn. Next door, find a seven-barrel (BBL) brewing system and a brewery tasting room. The rotating list of beers range from lagers and stouts to porters, experimental barrel-aged brews, and sours. Wrecking Bar can have up to 15 of their beers on tap at the bar in the restaurant at any given time.

29. One Eared Stag

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1029 Edgewood Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30307
(404) 525-4479
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This Inman Park restaurant is known for its bold and ever-changing menu, thanks to chef Robert Phalen’s inventiveness in the kitchen. Try dishes such as Carolina gold rice with lump crab, asparagus, and benne seed or steelhead trout with Carolina gold rice grits, last year’s ramps, and endives. Oyster happy hours are great here on weeknights, as is the fried chicken on Mondays. Make sure to try the meatstick (one of Atlanta’s must-try burgers) and the chef’s breakfast during weekend brunch. Pair both with a Schlitz tall boy.

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30. Ticonderoga Club

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Krog Street Market, 99 Krog St NE W
Atlanta, GA 30307
(404) 458-4534
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With renowned Atlanta bartenders Greg Best and Paul Calvert running the beverage program, it’s no surprise T-Club’s cocktails are a hit. But the food, from chef David Bies, shines all on its own. Club classics to try include the Ipswich clam roll, the sweetbreads, and whatever vegan option Bies has listed on the menu such as the vegan noodle bowl or Poh’s eggplant with jasmine rice. Feeding a crowd? Order the chuckwagon —  a 48-ounce, medium-cooked, black angus chuck roast served with fresh horseradish, wort, and parsley-red onion salad. The dinner bell will ring when its headed to the table.

31. BoccaLupo

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753 Edgewood Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30307
(404) 577-2332
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Italian-American restaurant BoccaLupo quickly became both a neighborhood favorite and a destination restaurant when it opened in 2013 on Edgewood Avenue in Inman Park. Head in for the fresh, handmade pasta (the black spaghetti and the 20-yolk tagliatelle are now Atlanta classics), stay for the wine and cocktails. Chef Bruce Logue also offers a pasta tasting menu for those who don’t want to choose just one dish.

32. Busy Bee Cafe

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810 Martin Luther King Jr Dr NW
Atlanta, GA 30314
(404) 525-9212
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In business since the 1940s, this Vine City staple on Atlanta’s westside serves some of the city’s best fried chicken, alongside an assortment of other meat-and-three staples. It’s always packed, so prepare to rub elbows with fellow diners. And, don’t be surprised if you run into a famous face or two. Fans will be happy to know the restaurant is opening its second location in Downtown Atlanta later this year.

Busy Bee Cafe

33. Staplehouse

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541 Edgewood Ave SE
Atlanta, GA 30312
(404) 524-5005
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Staplehouse’s September 2015 debut was one of Atlanta’s most-anticipated openings in some time. The hype was worth it. Chef Ryan Smith’s 10 to 12-course tasting menus have garnered nothing but critical praise for his innovative dishes where no ingredient is wasted. The restaurant added an upstairs cocktail lounge called Paper Crane in late 2017. It’s open during normal dining hours, but make sure to check in at the host stand in order to gain entrance to this intimate, second floor bar. Paper Crane offers a small food menu, which includes the restaurant’s famed chicken liver tart and Grandma Lillian’s potato bread.

Beth McKibben

34. Home Grown

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968 Memorial Dr SE
Atlanta, GA 30316
(404) 222-0455
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Home Grown is a breakfast favorite among Atlanta’s eaters and restaurant industry members. And it’s home to one of the city’s must-try dishes — the comfy biscuit topped with fried chicken and smothered in sausage gravy. There’s almost always a wait at this casual Reynoldstown neighborhood diner on the weekends, but it’s definitely worth it.

35. We Suki Suki: the Global Grub Collective

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479-b Flat Shoals Ave SE
Atlanta, GA 30316
(404) 430-7613
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We Suki Suki is the anchor of East Atlanta Village’s restaurant incubator and food market, the Global Grub Collective and its rotating list of food stalls, such as Lifting Noodles Ramen and Mushi Ni Baos & Bowls Pan-Asian. We Suki Suki itself proves there are intown options for great banh mi and pho. The restaurant — really, a tiny kitchen and a few communal tables — also serves boba tea, noodle dishes called bun in the warmer months, and soups like pho through winter and fall.

We Suki Suki

36. Gunshow

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924 Garrett St
Atlanta, GA 30316
(404) 380-1886
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When chef Kevin Gillespie opened his Southern-style dim sum restaurant Gunshow in Glenwood Park, no one was quite sure what Atlanta was about to experience. It didn’t take long for diners and critics to realize just what Atlanta had in the restaurant. Dishes are presented to diners at their table on rolling carts and trays, where they choose what to order on the spot. In 2016, Eater’s former national restaurant critic Bill Addison named Gunshow one of America’s essential dining experiences, calling it “the most creatively energized restaurant in the Southeast.” The menu at Gunshow is of the moment and the season so, expect the unexpected, like Viet-Cajun shrimp toast, carpaccio of venison, and Georgia quail with cornbread stuffing. This includes the restaurant’s cocktails, too. Beverage director Mercedes O’Brien’s cocktail menu is one of the few in Atlanta that changes on a dime with the seasons.

37. L T's Wings

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1160 Fairburn Rd SW
Atlanta, GA 30331
(404) 349-0006

Atlanta knows wings, and the city’s wing eaters have slowly come to terms with the fact that it’s impossible to agree on which restaurant offers the best. However, LT’s Wings on Fairburn Road in southwest Atlanta might be the one to beat. During a panel discussion at the 2018 A3C hip hop festival, renowned writer and Atlanta native Rembert Browne and the city’s mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms agreed LT’s is an Atlanta wing institution. The wings here rely on down-home simplicity and are fried and tossed in lots of sauce. The house special blends sweetness and heat, though it’s the Cajun lemon pepper that regulars to LT’s will likely recommend to newcomers. Customers routinely mix and match their wings.

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38. La Oaxaquena Taqueria

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605 Mt Zion Rd
Jonesboro, GA 30236
(770) 960-3010
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Owned and operated by chef Rosalia Ruiz in Jonesboro, La Oaxaquena Taqueria is a favorite place for tacos and regional Mexican fare in south metro Atlanta. Come here for a taste of Oaxaca (a coastal state in Mexico, known throughout the United States for its impressive culinary offerings.) Expect dishes like the extremely popular tlayuda — a pizza-like Oaxacan dish consisting of toasted tortilla typically topped with refried beans, cheese, meat, and lettuce. It’s so well known, in fact, people travel from across the metro area just to try it.

La Oaxaquena Taqueria

1. O4W Pizza

3117 Main St, Duluth, GA 30096
O4W Pizza

The Jersey-style pizzeria in historic downtown Duluth, owned by Anthony Spina, is named for its former location in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood on the east side of the city of Atlanta but, it still serves up its most famous pizza — the margherita-like Grandma Pie. The pizza is made with fresh mozzarella, marinara, Pecorino-Romano, extra-virgin olive oil, fresh oregano, and topped with fresh basil. Most of the pies here lean heavy on the meat with tangy sauce, however, there are vegetarian and gluten free options, too. These pies are as true to the pizzas of New York and New Jersey as it gets in Atlanta.

3117 Main St
Duluth, GA 30096

2. Masterpiece

3940 Buford Hwy, Duluth, GA 30096

Masterpiece is a family-owned and operated Sichuan restaurant and service can prove slow — but the dishes by chef Rui Liu are worth it. From the chongqing style noodles and dry spicy eggplant to tea-smoked duck and shredded beef or pork with hot peppers, few things on the menu don’t come with a bit of heat (some more numbing than others.) Masterpiece is a great place to enjoy a family-style meal with friends.

3940 Buford Hwy
Duluth, GA 30096

3. Jang Su Jang

3645 Satellite Blvd, Duluth, GA 30096
Google Maps

Jang Su Jang translates to “the meeting place” and, for many in the area, the restaurant has definitely been a community hub for over ten years. This is the place to grab Korean dishes with traditional touches like kalbi (barbecue beef short rib), bibimbap, and soondubu-jjigae (tofu stew). Some say the endless banchan here is the best in Atlanta.

3645 Satellite Blvd
Duluth, GA 30096

4. Spring

90 Mountain to River Trail, Marietta, GA 30060