We’ve already asked Atlanta food writers, restaurant industry insiders, and a few Eater readers to name the best new restaurants and pop-ups of 2022 and their top meals in Atlanta this year. But, Eater also wanted to know the establishments ATL restaurant insiders, food writers, and readers found themselves returning to again and again in 2022. These are the 22 restaurants Atlanta dining experts and readers frequented this year.Read More
22 Atlanta Restaurants We Kept Returning to in 2022
The restaurants Atlanta dining experts and Eater readers found themselves coming back to again and again in 2022
Vatica Indian Cuisine
The extensive menu found at this Marietta Indian restaurant stalwart features heaping platters of biryani, comforting dishes of tandoori shrimp, lamb, and chicken, and daily thali specials. But for Atlanta restaurant critic and Food & Wine magazine senior commerce writer Jennifer Zyman, whose been frequenting this restaurant for over 20 years now, it’s all about the vegetarian dishes at Vatica.
Virgil's Gullah Kitchen & Bar
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 sautéed bacon, onions, and peppers; a side of greens; and the brownie-based Chucktown Chewie sundae for dessert. The restaurant is so popular, there’s now a second location open near Georgia Tech. However, the College Park location remains a favorite for many Eater readers surveyed.
Pit Boss BBQ
Pit Boss in Hapeville is often packed with Delta employees, weary travelers, locals, and off-duty (hopefully) police who come to indulge in the sweet, spicy, savory, and smoky ’cue here, which includes the delicious smoked wings. For Atlanta food and culture journalist and Southeast editor at Resy Mike Jordan, Pit Boss is a regular stop for his family. “We at stately Jordan Manor in East Point continue to give money freely to Pit Boss BBQ.”
Located beneath Marcel at Westside Provisions District, Aziza serves a menu filled with wood-fired dishes inspired by owner Tal Baum’s childhood in Israel. Baum designed the restaurant with a cozy neighborhood bistro vibe. Eater Atlanta contributor Sara Delgado says Aziza is on regular rotation for dinner, calling it an “underrated” restaurant in Atlanta. “The menu is consistent, but changes enough to keep me rotating in and out. It’s also a great spot to go with a large group or to hang by yourself at the bar.”
Gio’s Chicken Amalfitano
Antico owner Giovanni Di Palma opened Gio’s Chicken next door to his extremely popular pizzeria on Hemphill in Home Park a few years ago. While most come to Gio’s for the generously-sized chicken dishes, don’t skip ordering a bowl of zuppa di pollo here. The soup is made from leftover chicken parts, including Sorrento lemon chicken. Atlanta restaurant critic and Food & Wine magazine senior commerce writer Jennifer Zyman also recommends trying Gio’s Sicilian pizzas, including the lemony Amalfu chicken with garlicky salad and the spicy pepperoni pies with Calabrian chilies and Sicilian orange blossom honey. “They all hit different comfort notes for me when I don’t want to cook at home.”
Also featured in:
Dat Fire Jerk Chicken
Dat Fire Jerk Chicken has dubbed itself “Atlanta’s best jerk chicken.” By all accounts, and the daily lunch lines, that’s not hyperbole. There’s now a second location on Camp Creek Parkway. “I ate quite a bit of Dat Fire Jerk Chicken, especially since they opened a new location off Camp Creek,” says Atlanta food and culture journalist and Southeast editor at Resy Mike Jordan.
Xi'an Gourmet House (Midtown)
Xi’an Gourmet House focuses mainly on dishes from the Shaanxi region of China, northwest of Sichuan. Shaanxi cuisine often incorporates Sichuan peppercorns and chilis in its dishes. While the original location is located at the Jusgo’s food court in Duluth, the owners opened a second location in Midtown in 2022. “I eat out so much for work that I don’t really get to return to places as often as I’d like to,” says Atlanta magazine deputy editor Sam Worley. “If I lived or worked in the neighborhood, I’d eat here all the time.” Worley enjoys the “notably, amazing hand-pulled noodles” here.
El Viñedo Local
Billed as a South American tapas, coffee, and wine bar, El Viñedo Local offers wines by the glass and bottle just one block north of the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. Most bottles lean toward South American wine producers using sustainable and organic winemaking practices and come served as half or whole pours by the glass. Pair wine with empanadas, ceviches, and arepas. While a popular spot for Midtown residents to grab coffee in the morning or a glass of wine and a light dinner in the evening, readers are also charmed by El Viñedo Local.
Summerhill Thai restaurant Talat Market is now one of the hottest restaurants in town, thanks to chefs Parnass Lim Savang and Rod Lassiter. Look for Thai and Thai-influenced soups, curries, and entrees, like yum khao thawt (crispy rice salad) and whole fish preparations. The menu changes frequently and with the seasons. For cocktail drinkers, this is the spot to head to for crushable libations from Adrian Fessenden-Knoll and her team, including a fantastic Thai twist on the martini with blanc vermouth, dry madeira, pandan, artichoke, and orange bitters. The martini comes with a choice of vodka, gin, or pisco. Both readers and Eater Atlanta contributor Kris Martins name this restaurant a go-to dining destination. Martins sometimes heads to Talat Market just for oysters and cocktails. But sometimes she’s in for a big meal. “The flavors here are just too enticing for anything less.”
Rumi's Kitchen Colony Square
Rumi’s Kitchen has been a perennial favorite for many Atlantans since chef Ali Mesghali first opened it in Sandy Springs in 2006. Now there are three locations of the Persian restaurant, including in Alpharetta and the newest location in Midtown. Count Atlanta restaurant critic and Food & Wine magazine senior commerce writer Jennifer Zyman among the fans of this restaurant, where she loves ordering as many wood-fired dishes as possible from Mesghali and his chefs.
Lucian Books and Wine
Owners Katie Barringer and Jordan Smelt merge their love for books, wine, food, and London at bookshop and wine bar Lucian. Lucian specializes in titles centered around art, design, food, and culture and carries nearly 250 wines by the bottle and 15 wines by the glass, curated by Smelt. Food here is approached with the same thoughtfulness and care as Barringer does with books and Smelt with wine. For Eater Atlanta contributor Sara Delgado, Barringer and Smelt are simply winning at Lucian. “Sometimes all I want to do on a Saturday night is throw on a really good outfit and dine somewhere that’s tantamount in style. Every time I dine at Lucian, I notice a new detail to obsess over.” Delgado isn’t alone in her love for Lucian. Several readers named it their go-to spot for regular dining.
Led by longtime Atlanta bartender Kysha Cyrus, cocktail bar Mambo Zombi resides above Georgia Beer Garden. Folks enter via an outside stairway along the side of the building leading to the second floor where they step into a space inspired by global celebrations of the afterlife. Expect Caribbean-style drinks and classic cocktails here, including the Singapore Sling, Mai Tai, Harvey Wallbanger, and Ti’ Punch, along with original tipples such as the Elote made with Haitian rhum, house-made corn milk, and condensed milk from Cyrus. Atlanta magazine deputy editor Sam Worley calls Mambo Zombi “just a perfect funky little bar to chill out in.”
In 2020, Kara Hidinger and chef Ryan Smith took over ownership of the restaurant they helped found with non-profit Giving Kitchen, transforming it from tasting menu restaurant to a neighborhood market with a daily food menu served from the back counter near the kitchen. The food is as seasonal, creative, and thoughtfully composed as it was when Staplehouse offered coursed-out tastings before the pandemic. When Eater Atlanta editor Beth McKibben wants to unwind, she enjoys a meal (or snacks) and a glass of wine or cocktail on the patio at Staplehouse. “I might pull up and order a charcuterie and cheese spread with friends and a bottle of wine to share, or take down a bowl of Akaline noodles or that absurdly good Italian grinder.” People can now also sit at one of the four seats at the counter inside.
This cozy neighborhood Italian bistro in the Old Fourth Ward serves a tight menu of pastas with a bit of Southern flare on its menu, and lots of in-season vegetables, too. Order the classic cacio e pepe or try the fusilli with diver scallops, chard, and mushrooms tossed in a light cream sauce. Be sure to order a cocktail or wine. A Mano is a popular spot for regular dining for Eater readers, too.
This cafe from Julia Kesler Imerman features coffee, protein bowls, and light breakfast items in the morning, followed by rotisserie chicken pita wraps and grain bowls in the afternoon that all lean into Imerman’s Jewish and South African roots. Eater Atlanta contributor Sara Delgado loves a working lunch here. “Daily Chew has really revived daytime dining for me in ways that I haven’t felt since the early 8ARM days.”
LLoyd's Restaurant & Lounge
Located in the same complex as Hell Yeah Gluten Free, Lloyds transitioned from a pub to an old-school pizza parlor in 2020. Order classic pizza pies, pizzeria salads, shrimp cocktail, and artichoke dip paired with mugs of cold beer and martinis for dinner. Lloyd’s still offers its crab leg special on Mondays nights, too. For Eater Atlanta editor Beth McKibben, Lloyd’s is simply a comfortable, low-key spot to relax and eat a no-fuss pizza with a seriously good (and super cold) gin martini. “Is there a better combination than a martini and pizza or lasagna fries? I think not.”
There may be fancier steakhouses in Atlanta, but nothing compares to the ambiance (or the martinis served with a sidecar) at Highland Tap — aka “steak cellar”. That nickname refers to its location beneath the street level on North Highland Avenue. The restaurant serves up old school cuts of steak and starchy sides, along with generously poured martinis, while bands like Night Ranger, Fleetwood Mac, and Run DMC play. Make sure to check out brunch on the weekends. Highland Tap is among the favorite restaurants on regular rotation for readers.
After running Peruvian pop-up La Chingana for over a year, chef Arnaldo Castillo opened his first restaurant in Poncey-Highland with Atlanta restaurateur Howard Hsu of neighboring Sweet Auburn BBQ. Tio Lucho’s is an ode to Castillo’s father, who was known for his ceviches. Dishes blend Peruvian techniques and recipes with Southern ingredients. Atlanta food and culture journalist and Southeast editor at Resy Mike Jordan lists Tio Lucho’s among his favorite restaurants to return to again and again “because I’m a ceviche fiend.”
Also featured in:
Grab a seat inside or out on the covered patio and dive into Sinaloan-style roast chicken marinated in morita chili peppers and other spices and a squeeze of lime served with fresh tortillas, rice, and beans. A quarter-sized chicken meal costs around $10. Add an $8 frozen margarita that can come with a splash of hibiscus aguas frescas. The East Atlanta restaurant is a go-to for Eater Atlanta contributor Kris Martins and Atlanta magazine deputy editor Sam Worley. Martins says this menu is “only hits.”
This pop-up transformed into an East Atlanta restaurant at the end of 2020, but it continues to draw crowds to its dining room and outdoor patio seeking Corban Irby’s takes on okonomiyaki and Japanese street food. Look for stellar cocktails and glasses of natural wine here to pair with comforting noodle dishes, karaage chicken, and Japanese pub standards. Eater Atlanta contributor Kris Martins says OK Yaki serves “some of the best cocktails in town — elevated and precise yet always approachable.” Readers also named the restaurant a favorite East Atlanta spot.
Also featured in:
Gigi's Italian Kitchen & Restaurant
This Best New Restaurant winner has completely charmed Atlantans with its takes on Italian bistro classics like rigatoni fazool with cowpeas replacing cannellini beans and chicken marsala served with fresh focaccia. Whatever you do, don’t skip the tiramisu. Chefs Eric Brooks and Jacob Armando transformed their weekly pop-up in Candler Park into a permanent restaurant in August, transforming the former Gato space into Gigi’s Italian Kitchen and Restaurant. Dirty martini lovers would be wise to order the restaurant’s take on the cocktail, aptly named the Dirty Gigi. More than a few readers called Gigi’s their go-to restaurant in Atlanta.
Atlanta China Town Food Court
Eater Atlanta editor Beth McKibben frequents the food court at Atlanta Chinatown Mall, where you might spy her feasting on hot pots, dan dan noodles, Chongqing spicy chicken, or spicy cumin lamb to a table filled with dumplings, crispy roast duck, and bowls of hand-pulled noodles and noodle soups.