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Where the Chefs Like to Eat in Atlanta

From spicy Sichuan fare, Korean, and pho to pasta, oysters and cocktails, and favorite neighborhood spots

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One question Eater readers and ardent followers of Atlanta’s food scene frequently ask is where local chefs like to dine. Days off from their own restaurant kitchens are coveted by chefs, many of whom choose to spend that time exploring new restaurants on the dining scene, visiting restaurants and pop-ups led by Atlanta chefs they admire, or enjoying the comforts of a meal at their favorite neighborhood spot.

Below are 19 Atlanta restaurants and pop-ups chosen by nine local chefs when asked where they like to eat when dining off the clock.

Where Atlanta’s Food Industry Pros Like to Eat and Drink Around the South

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Miller Union

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For Palak Patel, chef behind vegan Indian street food stall Dash and Chutney at Chattahoochee Food Works, it’s all about the “great vibe” at chef Steven Satterfield’s westside Atlanta institution Miller Union. “I always feel like they have the charm of a southern restaurant with a chic NYC decor. The food and wine list are always a hit for me,” Patel says. 

Nick's Westside

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Twisted Soul Cookhouse and Pours chef Deborah VanTrece just opened her second Atlanta restaurant, Oreatha’s in Cascade Heights. When she’s not busy running her restaurants, VanTrece hops over for a meal at neighboring westside restaurant Nick’s Westside, owned by chef Nick Leahy. “Not only is Nick’s Westside close to my restaurant Twisted Soul, I Iove that Nick works with local farms and creates dishes that pay homage to global cultures and food traditions. I can certainly appreciate that given my style of cooking and my travels that have taken me around the world,” says VanTrece

When Maximilian Hines isn’t leading the kitchen at the Lawrence in Midtown, folks might find him at one of his new favorite restaurants in Atlanta, Mujo. Reservations are hard to get at this restaurant, even for industry insiders, but Hines says he scored one recently for his birthday. “The moment you enter their doors and sit at their waiting bar sipping cocktails, the friendly service gets you excited before you even sit down for your omakase experience,” says Hines. “You’re relaxed, but excited wondering what awaits behind the door you’re about to dine in.” The menu changes frequently, but Hines says the kinmedai (golden eye snapper), burizuke (marinated yellow tail), and botan ebi (spot prawn) were “unforgettable bites.” Read more about Mujo here.

THE CHASTAIN - New American Bistro

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For Spring chef and co-owner Brian So, he heads to the Chastain in Chastain Park on his days off from the restaurant to enjoy a relaxing dinner. “I love chef Christopher Grossman’s no-nonsense approach to cooking,” says So. “Quality seems to be his only goal when it comes to his food and service. Nothing there is pretentious, and proper cooking technique is always on full display.”

Atlantans will also find chef Deborah VanTrece at Southern-Caribbean restaurant Apt4B in Buckhead. “I love the food and cocktails at Apt4B. Dishes like the braised oxtail pasta and the amazing ceviche are sublime,” she says. “They’re a Black-owned restaurant, and are opening a juice bar right next to my newest restaurant, Oreatha’s.”

El Burro Pollo

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For a quick meal before heading to work, the Lawrence chef Maximilian Hines likes to frequent fellow Midtown restaurant El Burro Pollo, owned by chef Hector Santiago at the Collective at Coda food hall. “Any establishment he runs is going to have some of the best, no-holds-barred food around. I get the El Burro Pollo [burrito] or smoked tofu burrito, the cueritos, and a ceviche.” Hines also recommends not skipping any of the menu specials at El Burro Pollo.

Lucian Books and Wine

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When she’s not running her Meso-American pop-up, collaborating with local chefs on dinners, or making batches of fresh tortillas, salsas, and tamales to sell at farmers markets, chef Maricela Vega enjoys dinner at Lucian in Buckhead. “I am an oysters + wine + fries + good salad kind of gal and there is usually other tasty items in addition to my go-to cravings.”

Glide Pizza

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Chef Craig Richards opened his elegant Italian restaurant Lyla Lila in Midtown at the end of 2019. It’s already a favorite for neighborhood residents, city dwellers, and people attending concerts and shows at the Fox. For a low-key meal on days off, Richards says it’s all about Glide Pizza. “Glide Pizza is always a go-to pick at our house,” he says. “Whether we have friends in town or just simply don’t feel like cooking, it’s a great pizza.”

Nani's Piri Piri Chicken

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For Farhan Momin (aka Chef Farmo), who serves Southern, Indian, and Mexican comfort foods from his family’s halal meat market and restaurant Atlanta Halal Meat & Food, days off frequently find him at chef Meherwan Irani’s Ponce City Market stall Nani’s Piri Piri Chicken. “The Chai Pani gang has done it again with this spot,” he says. “It’s so much fun to eat and so many good side options. I wish I lived closer to visit more often.”

BoccaLupo

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Chefs Nick Leahy (Nick’s Westside and the Usual) and Palak Patel both call Inman Park darling BoccaLupo one of their favorite spots to dine in Atlanta. “Bruce [Logue] makes the best pasta in the city, among many great pasta makers we have here,” Leahy says. “I love his flavors and unique, non-traditional touches.” Patel says she’s frequented BoccaLupo for years, even when she didn’t live in Atlanta. “I lived in Italy and love good, authentic Italian food. Their pasta is inventive and delicious,” says Patel. 

La Chingana at Chop Shop

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Maricela Vega recommends people check out Peruvian food pop-up La Chingana, run by former Minero chef Arnaldo Castillo. Folks should follow on Instagram for pop-up dates and locations, but Castillo can frequently be found at Chop Shop on the weekends in the Edgewood neighborhood. “Arnaldo’s food is so good because the flavors are well rounded, balanced, which allows for excitement and contentment,” Vega says. 

Gigi’s Italian Kitchen at Gato

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Another favorite pop-up for Maricela Vega is Gigi’s Italian Kitchen, operating out of Gato in Candler Park on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday evenings. “This is where I usually go! They have the whole flavor contrasts figured out, plus they always have the martini.”

Kimball House

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When Craig Richards is looking to dine out at a restaurant on a day off, he likes to head to Kimball House in Decatur. “The cocktail program and oyster service are above and beyond,” Richards says. “I had a fantastic birthday meal there this year, which was an added bonus to be able to enjoy on a Sunday evening.” 

Phở Bắc Restaurant

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Brian So counts Buford Highway Vietnamese restaurant Pho Bac among his favorite places to dine off the clock. “I make a weekly trip to Buford Highway for personal and restaurant shopping, and this is my go-to for a quick, satisfying, and usually solo meal,” he says, calling the pho here the “most consistent” in Atlanta. “The broth is always clean and never over-seasoned, meat portions always the same, and noodles never over-cooked. It’s affordable and I can be in and out in 15 minutes when I need to eat on a hectic day.”

BBQ Corner 2

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Like So, Maricela Vega frequently finds herself at one of her favorite Buford Highway restaurants, BBQ Corner 2. “My family and I have been going here for at least a decade. Chinese-American staples, like the vegetable lo mein, fried pork dumplings, egg drop soup, bok choy, garlic eggplant, egg fried rice, and sesame chicken are all hits.” 

LanZhou Ramen 兰州拉面

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Nick Leahy counts Buford Highway stalwart LanZhou Ramen among his favorite restaurants for off-the-clock, low-key dining. “The soup dumplings, oxtail ramen, and just watching [Fu Li Zhang] hand-pull the noodles is amazing!”

Yet Tuh

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Fu-Mao Sun, the chef behind Taiwanese brunch pop-up Mighty Hans at Gato in Candler Park, says he enjoys dining at Korean restaurant Yet Tuh, just off of Buford Highway. “I’ve eaten everything on the menu, but my go-to dishes are the beef rib and cabbage stew with kimchi pajeon,” Sun says. “There is an amazing variety of small dishes that arrive just before your meal is served. The servers are the nicest, and they definitely helped with ordering the first time that I went.”

Dil Bahar Cafe

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Eater 38 essential restaurant Dil Bahar Cafe is where Farhan Momin enjoys partaking in Pakistani street foods, sandwiches, and wraps. “My favorite is the hunter beef sandwich. They also have tons of South Asian desserts, like falooda, and fresh pastries,” Momin says, who credits the owners for the success of the family-owned restaurant. “It’s a family affair, with the mom who makes all the food and pastries from scratch. The dad handles the register and also serenades the guests with Indian ballads while they eat. The kids join in when they are not working/studying as well.”

Masterpiece

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Fu-Mao Sun says Sichuan restaurant institution Masterpiece “hits the spot every time.” Among his favorite dishes are the fu qi fei pian (braised beef with scallion and tendon), kou shui chicken, and boiled fish in chili stew. “Something about the balance of Sichuan spice, sweet, sour, and salty in the dishes that just leaves you wanting to try more of the humongous menu,” Sun says. For “adventurous” eaters, there’s also braised duck tongue and stir-fried pig kidney. “Or you can just go crazy with a spice overload.”

Miller Union

For Palak Patel, chef behind vegan Indian street food stall Dash and Chutney at Chattahoochee Food Works, it’s all about the “great vibe” at chef Steven Satterfield’s westside Atlanta institution Miller Union. “I always feel like they have the charm of a southern restaurant with a chic NYC decor. The food and wine list are always a hit for me,” Patel says. 

Nick's Westside

Twisted Soul Cookhouse and Pours chef Deborah VanTrece just opened her second Atlanta restaurant, Oreatha’s in Cascade Heights. When she’s not busy running her restaurants, VanTrece hops over for a meal at neighboring westside restaurant Nick’s Westside, owned by chef Nick Leahy. “Not only is Nick’s Westside close to my restaurant Twisted Soul, I Iove that Nick works with local farms and creates dishes that pay homage to global cultures and food traditions. I can certainly appreciate that given my style of cooking and my travels that have taken me around the world,” says VanTrece

Mujō

When Maximilian Hines isn’t leading the kitchen at the Lawrence in Midtown, folks might find him at one of his new favorite restaurants in Atlanta, Mujo. Reservations are hard to get at this restaurant, even for industry insiders, but Hines says he scored one recently for his birthday. “The moment you enter their doors and sit at their waiting bar sipping cocktails, the friendly service gets you excited before you even sit down for your omakase experience,” says Hines. “You’re relaxed, but excited wondering what awaits behind the door you’re about to dine in.” The menu changes frequently, but Hines says the kinmedai (golden eye snapper), burizuke (marinated yellow tail), and botan ebi (spot prawn) were “unforgettable bites.” Read more about Mujo here.

THE CHASTAIN - New American Bistro

For Spring chef and co-owner Brian So, he heads to the Chastain in Chastain Park on his days off from the restaurant to enjoy a relaxing dinner. “I love chef Christopher Grossman’s no-nonsense approach to cooking,” says So. “Quality seems to be his only goal when it comes to his food and service. Nothing there is pretentious, and proper cooking technique is always on full display.”

APT 4B

Atlantans will also find chef Deborah VanTrece at Southern-Caribbean restaurant Apt4B in Buckhead. “I love the food and cocktails at Apt4B. Dishes like the braised oxtail pasta and the amazing ceviche are sublime,” she says. “They’re a Black-owned restaurant, and are opening a juice bar right next to my newest restaurant, Oreatha’s.”

El Burro Pollo

For a quick meal before heading to work, the Lawrence chef Maximilian Hines likes to frequent fellow Midtown restaurant El Burro Pollo, owned by chef Hector Santiago at the Collective at Coda food hall. “Any establishment he runs is going to have some of the best, no-holds-barred food around. I get the El Burro Pollo [burrito] or smoked tofu burrito, the cueritos, and a ceviche.” Hines also recommends not skipping any of the menu specials at El Burro Pollo.

Lucian Books and Wine

When she’s not running her Meso-American pop-up, collaborating with local chefs on dinners, or making batches of fresh tortillas, salsas, and tamales to sell at farmers markets, chef Maricela Vega enjoys dinner at Lucian in Buckhead. “I am an oysters + wine + fries + good salad kind of gal and there is usually other tasty items in addition to my go-to cravings.”

Glide Pizza

Chef Craig Richards opened his elegant Italian restaurant Lyla Lila in Midtown at the end of 2019. It’s already a favorite for neighborhood residents, city dwellers, and people attending concerts and shows at the Fox. For a low-key meal on days off, Richards says it’s all about Glide Pizza. “Glide Pizza is always a go-to pick at our house,” he says. “Whether we have friends in town or just simply don’t feel like cooking, it’s a great pizza.”

Nani's Piri Piri Chicken

For Farhan Momin (aka Chef Farmo), who serves Southern, Indian, and Mexican comfort foods from his family’s halal meat market and restaurant Atlanta Halal Meat & Food, days off frequently find him at chef Meherwan Irani’s Ponce City Market stall Nani’s Piri Piri Chicken. “The Chai Pani gang has done it again with this spot,” he says. “It’s so much fun to eat and so many good side options. I wish I lived closer to visit more often.”

BoccaLupo

Chefs Nick Leahy (Nick’s Westside and the Usual) and Palak Patel both call Inman Park darling BoccaLupo one of their favorite spots to dine in Atlanta. “Bruce [Logue] makes the best pasta in the city, among many great pasta makers we have here,” Leahy says. “I love his flavors and unique, non-traditional touches.” Patel says she’s frequented BoccaLupo for years, even when she didn’t live in Atlanta. “I lived in Italy and love good, authentic Italian food. Their pasta is inventive and delicious,” says Patel. 

La Chingana at Chop Shop

Maricela Vega recommends people check out Peruvian food pop-up La Chingana, run by former Minero chef Arnaldo Castillo. Folks should follow on Instagram for pop-up dates and locations, but Castillo can frequently be found at Chop Shop on the weekends in the Edgewood neighborhood. “Arnaldo’s food is so good because the flavors are well rounded, balanced, which allows for excitement and contentment,” Vega says. 

Gigi’s Italian Kitchen at Gato

Another favorite pop-up for Maricela Vega is Gigi’s Italian Kitchen, operating out of Gato in Candler Park on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday evenings. “This is where I usually go! They have the whole flavor contrasts figured out, plus they always have the martini.”

Kimball House

When Craig Richards is looking to dine out at a restaurant on a day off, he likes to head to Kimball House in Decatur. “The cocktail program and oyster service are above and beyond,” Richards says. “I had a fantastic birthday meal there this year, which was an added bonus to be able to enjoy on a Sunday evening.” 

Phở Bắc Restaurant

Brian So counts Buford Highway Vietnamese restaurant Pho Bac among his favorite places to dine off the clock. “I make a weekly trip to Buford Highway for personal and restaurant shopping, and this is my go-to for a quick, satisfying, and usually solo meal,” he says, calling the pho here the “most consistent” in Atlanta. “The broth is always clean and never over-seasoned, meat portions always the same, and noodles never over-cooked. It’s affordable and I can be in and out in 15 minutes when I need to eat on a hectic day.”

BBQ Corner 2

Like So, Maricela Vega frequently finds herself at one of her favorite Buford Highway restaurants, BBQ Corner 2. “My family and I have been going here for at least a decade. Chinese-American staples, like the vegetable lo mein, fried pork dumplings, egg drop soup, bok choy, garlic eggplant, egg fried rice, and sesame chicken are all hits.” 

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LanZhou Ramen 兰州拉面

Nick Leahy counts Buford Highway stalwart LanZhou Ramen among his favorite restaurants for off-the-clock, low-key dining. “The soup dumplings, oxtail ramen, and just watching [Fu Li Zhang] hand-pull the noodles is amazing!”

Yet Tuh

Fu-Mao Sun, the chef behind Taiwanese brunch pop-up Mighty Hans at Gato in Candler Park, says he enjoys dining at Korean restaurant Yet Tuh, just off of Buford Highway. “I’ve eaten everything on the menu, but my go-to dishes are the beef rib and cabbage stew with kimchi pajeon,” Sun says. “There is an amazing variety of small dishes that arrive just before your meal is served. The servers are the nicest, and they definitely helped with ordering the first time that I went.”

Dil Bahar Cafe

Eater 38 essential restaurant Dil Bahar Cafe is where Farhan Momin enjoys partaking in Pakistani street foods, sandwiches, and wraps. “My favorite is the hunter beef sandwich. They also have tons of South Asian desserts, like falooda, and fresh pastries,” Momin says, who credits the owners for the success of the family-owned restaurant. “It’s a family affair, with the mom who makes all the food and pastries from scratch. The dad handles the register and also serenades the guests with Indian ballads while they eat. The kids join in when they are not working/studying as well.”

Masterpiece

Fu-Mao Sun says Sichuan restaurant institution Masterpiece “hits the spot every time.” Among his favorite dishes are the fu qi fei pian (braised beef with scallion and tendon), kou shui chicken, and boiled fish in chili stew. “Something about the balance of Sichuan spice, sweet, sour, and salty in the dishes that just leaves you wanting to try more of the humongous menu,” Sun says. For “adventurous” eaters, there’s also braised duck tongue and stir-fried pig kidney. “Or you can just go crazy with a spice overload.”

Related Maps