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The 38 Essential Atlanta Restaurants, January '14

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It's time to update the Eater 38, your answer and ours to any question that begins, "Can you recommend a restaurant?" This highly elite group covers the entire city (inside the perimeter, loosely), spans myriad cuisines, and collectively satisfies all of your restaurant needs. Every couple of months, we'll be adding pertinent restaurants that were omitted, have newly become eligible (restaurants must be open at least six months), or have stepped up their game.

This time around, after much reflecting and poring over reader emails and comments, the 38 bids adieu to Bocado— nothing against the top-notch burger— as well as Honey Pig, Little Bangkok, and No. 246. New additions to the alphabetical list are BoccaLupo, Chai Pani, Gunshow, and Victory Sandwich Bar.

For those of you readying the pitchforks because your favorite restaurant isn't on the list, wouldn't it just be more productive to leave your thoughts in the comments? State your cases for (or against) restaurants below or in the tipline. And don't forget that newer restaurants can be found in the Eater Atlanta Heatmap, updated monthly.

March 2013: Added: Local Three, Woodfire Grill, Iberian Pig, Nick's Food to Go, Pho Dai Loi #2, Wrecking Bar Brewpub, Honey Pig.
July 2013: Added: Gu's Bistro, Rumi's Kitchen, Table & Main.
October 2013: Added: Abattoir, The General Muir.
January 2013: Added: BoccaLupo, Chai Pani, Gunshow, Victory Sandwich Bar.


· All Eater 38 Coverage [-EATL-]

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. 4th & Swift

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621 North Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30308
(678) 904-0160
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4th & Swift was called the “au courant vision of Atlanta restaurant design” by Atlanta Magazine and has food to match the décor. On the menu are things like crispy Southern fried quail, local corn soup, pan-fried squash blossoms, Tybee Island shrimp ravioli.

2. Abattoir

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1170 Howell Mill Rd NW
Atlanta, GA 30318
(404) 892-3335
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Local favorite Hector Santiago, previously of the well-loved Pura Vida, is now in the kitchen at Anne Quatrano's Abattoir. The chophouse-style restaurant serves small plates and meat-centric entrees; adventurous diners should ask for Santiago's secret butcher's menu, which offers dishes like blood sausage, chicken hearts, and even blood cake.

3. Antico Pizza Napoletana

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1093 Hemphill Ave. NW
Atlanta, GA 30318
(404) 724-2333
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Antico's got certified authentic pizza and a local cult following. Plans for expansion are blazing away like the imported Acunto ovens that feed the masses— find Gio's Chicken Amalfitano and Caffe Gio right next door, with a limoncello bar and some Antico outposts coming soon.

4. Aria Restaurant

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490 E Paces Ferry Rd NE
Atlanta, GA 30305
(404) 233-7673
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The elegant cuisine at Gerry Klaskala's lovely Buckhead restaurant make it perfect for special occasions (go for the prix fixe). Desserts from talented pastry chef Kathryn King only add to the experience.

5. Bacchanalia

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1198 Howell Mill Rd. NW
Atlanta, GA 30318
(404) 365-0410
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Bacchanalia's five-course set menu is consistently called one of the best meals in Atlanta. The dinner is worth its price, but dishes can be ordered a la carte at the bar for those who just want a taste.

6. BoccaLupo

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753 Edgewood Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30307
(404) 577-2332
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Opened in April, BoccaLupo quickly became both a neighborhood favorite and a destination restaurant. Head in for the pasta (the black spaghetti and the 20-yolk tagliatelle are popular choices), stay for the patio— and you can't go wrong with either wine or the craft cocktails. Chef Bruce Logue also offers a $40 pasta tasting if you're feeling crazy.

7. Cakes & Ale Restaurant

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155 Sycamore St
Decatur, GA 30030
(404) 377-7994
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There have been some recent changes, but Cakes & Ale continues to capture the local food-loving hearts of Atlantans who prefer substance and simplicity over style and status. The restaurant now offers Sunday brunch, and the pastries at the next door cafe are as good as ever.

8. 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 the one to try: from the Decatur spot's signature street food dishes (some with local twists, like the kale pakoras) to the North Indian thalis and the chef specials, which range from well-researched historic dishes to contemporary comfort food favorites, the menu has something for everyone.

9. Ecco

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40 7th St NE
Atlanta, GA 30308
(404) 347-9555
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Ecco's seasonally inspired fare is carefully prepared and executed. Don't miss the fried goat cheese appetizer and olive oil stracciatella ice cream, and if the weather is nice, ask for a tour of the rooftop garden.

10. Empire State South

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999 Peachtree St NE
Atlanta, GA
(404) 541-1105
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This upscale Southern restaurant is Hugh Acheson’s first Atlanta project. The wine list, cocktails, and outdoor bocce court are worth a visit alone, but if you stay for dinner, do get the farm egg or the "in jars" appetizer to start, then move on to the seasonal entrees.

11. Floataway Cafe

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1123 Zonolite Drive
Atlanta, GA 30306
(404) 892-1414
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Though it has been through many a change, this semi-hidden Anne Quatrano joint remains a jewel in her crown. Looks for fresh oysters, Moscow Mule cocktails served in chilled metal cups, and the city’s only noteworthy steak frites.

12. Fox Bros Bar-B-Q

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1238 DeKalb Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30307
(404) 577-4030
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It’s all about the gut-bombs at the icon that proved great barbecue is possible in Atlanta. Tater tots covered in chili and cheese, massive short ribs, and Frito pie are staples that make this the only spot you should go for the morning— okay, afternoon— after.

13. The General Muir

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1540 Avenue Pl NE Ste B-230
Atlanta, GA 30329
(678) 927-9131
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This upscale Jewish deli concept from Ben and Jen Johnson of popular breakfast spot, West Egg, 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, cheesecake, and sandwiches with reuben and turkey.

14. Gu's Bistro

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5750 Buford Hwy NE, Ste A
Doraville, GA 30340
(770) 451-8118
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The Chinese Szechuan food at Gu's Bistro has developed a heavy following amongst Atlanta's food enthusiasts— so much so that an intown location is on the way. Favorites at this Buford Highway spot include the tea-smoked duck and the dry eggplant.

15. Gunshow

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924 Garrett St SE, Ste C
Atlanta, GA 30316

Kevin Gillespie's innovative new restaurant Gunshow opened in May in Glenwood Park. The format is the first of its kind in Atlanta: You don't order from the menu, but by taking dishes off of a tray or cart that's passed around (sometimes) by the chef who cooked the food. The menu changes often and has had everything from pork skin risotto to an In-N-Out-esque "West Coast" burger so far, plus Swedish-inspired dishes unlike anything you'll find elsewhere in town. Pro tip: The bill adds up quickly, so go with a group.

16. Heirloom Market BBQ

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2243 Akers Mill Rd
Atlanta, GA 30339
(770) 612-2502
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This barbecue spot has very limited seating, but the duo behind it, who also own new Korean-Southern diner Sobban bring more than enough flavor to compensate for the cramped quarters or a ride home in a to-go box. Look for Korean-inspired Southern ‘cue and pitch-perfect sides.

17. Holeman & Finch Public House

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2277 Peachtree Rd. NE
Atlanta, GA 30309
(404) 948-1175
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This public house is so much more than the crafted specialty cocktails and cult burger. With the restaurant's local, seasonal offerings, keen attention to details, and fun atmosphere, it’s the place to take out of towners to show them what’s great about Atlanta. Try the carbonara, sweetbreads, and sticky toffee pudding if you miss the double stack.

18. The Iberian Pig

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121 Sycamore St
Decatur, GA 30030
(404) 371-8800
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Downtown Decatur tapas spot The Iberian Pig has great service and wine, but where it really shines is the carefully curated charcuterie and the small plates, which range from eggplant fries to pork cheek tacos.

19. JCT Kitchen

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1198 Howell Mill Rd NW
Atlanta, GA 30318
(404) 355-2252
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Ford Fry calls JCT Kitchen’s style 'Southern farmstead.' The restaurant dishes out items that conjure up the South with a gourmet twist and serves them in an beautiful but industrial converted-warehouse space. Hit the upstairs bar for a pre-dinner drink, especially when the weather is nice.

20. Kyma

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3085 Piedmont Rd NE
Atlanta, GA 30305
(404) 262-0702
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The standard-bearer for upscale contemporary Greek food in the city, Kyma’s been bringing the bright flavors of Mediterranean seafood to life for a decade now. Look for show-stopping décor, fresh ingredients, good energy, and a nice wine list from this Buckhead Life Restaurant Group favorite.

21. Local Three

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3290 Northside Pkwy NW
Atlanta, GA 30327
(404) 968-2700
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An upscale restaurant without any of the stuffiness, Local Three focuses on showing guests a good time while serving Southern-inspired food with fresh, local ingredients.

22. Miller Union

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999 Brady Avenue
Atlanta, GA
(678) 733-8550
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Steven Satterfield's farm-fresh, updated Southern cooking is simple and elegant. The farm egg baked in celery cream with grilled bread is a top ten Atlanta dish, the restaurant has one of the best vegetable plates in town, and the lunchtime-only ice cream sandwiches are the perfect after-meal treat.

23. Miso Izakaya

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619 Edgewood Ave SE
Atlanta, GA 30312
(678) 701-0128
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Named as one of Bon Appetit's six favorite izakayas in North America, Miso Izakaya happens to be helmed by 2011 Eater Atlanta Award-Winning Chef of the Year Guy Wong. A favorite of locals and critics alike, the Japanese pub is a must-try.

24. Muss & Turner's

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1675 Cumberland Pkwy Ste 309
Smyrna, GA 30080
(770) 434-1114
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This Smyrna spot serves enormous lunch sandwiches stuffed with all manner of homemade meats and fillings— with a side of pickles. The burger is definitely a top contender, the goat cheese cheesecake is phenomenal, and the beer list is a whopper. Don't miss the speakeasy behind the refrigerator door.

25. Nick's Food To Go

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240 MLK Dr SE
Atlanta, GA 30312
(404) 521-2220
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Get a gyro at this takeout-only spot and you won't be sorry— unless, of course, you manage to annoy Nick, who can ask for your order and threaten to kick you out of the space in the same breath.

26. Octopus Bar

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560 Gresham Ave
Atlanta, GA 30316
(404) 627-9911
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Serving late-night only and catering to the industry crowd, Octopus Bar opens at 10:30 p.m. and serves cocktails and dishes like salt and pepper shrimp, lobster rolls, and daeji bulgogi. Find it inside and to the left of the space that's Vietnamese restaurant So Ba by day.

27. One Eared Stag

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1029 Edgewood Ave
Atlanta, GA 30307
(404) 525-4479
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This Inman Park restaurant is known for its bold menu, thanks to chef/owner Robert Phalen's inventiveness in the kitchen. You cant go wrong with lunch or dinner— or the chef's breakfast, served with a Schlitz, at brunch.

28. The Optimist

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914 Howell Mill Road
Atlanta, GA 30318
(404) 477-6260
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Ford Fry's much-hyped fish camp and oyster bar in West Midtown opened in 2012 and has since been the recipient of praise galore. Don't be afraid to sit at the bar, and don't forget to leave some time for miniature golf.

29. Pho Dai Loi 2

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4186 Buford Hwy NW, Ste G
Atlanta, GA 30345
(404) 633-2111

Buford Highway is home to many great ethnic restaurants, but Pho Dai Loi #2 has made a name for itself as a city favorite. The pho is key here, but the bun (a rice noodle dish), bubble tea, and iced coffee are also great options.

30. Rathbun's

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112 Krog St NE
Atlanta, GA 30307
(404) 524-8280
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After a recent remodel and some menu changes, Kevin Rathbun's restaurant, Rathbun's, is back in full form. The food and the service are consistently great, and the Inman Park restaurant is conveniently located next to Krog Bar, where diners can stop in before or after a meal for a glass of wine and an appetizer or a nightcap.

31. Restaurant Eugene

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2277 Peachtree Rd
Atlanta, GA 30309
(404) 355-0321
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Restaurant Eugene’s Linton Hopkins won 2012's James Beard Award for Best Southeast Chef, and for good reason. This restaurant puts a definite emphasis on good food and an even bigger one on making sure everything is sourced locally. Order the tasting menu to make sure you don't miss a thing.

32. Rumi's Kitchen

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6112 Roswell Rd NE
Atlanta, GA 30328
(404) 477-2100
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Last year, Rumi's Kitchen moved a few doors down from its first location into a new space. With it came an airier dining room and better parking along with the top-notch Persian food Atlantans have come to love from owner Ali Meshgali.

33. Sotto Sotto

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313 N Highland Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30307
(404) 523-6678
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If one Atlanta Italian restaurant must be crowned supreme, this Inman Park favorite deserves the title. A long list of pastas made with care is the menu’s centerpiece and will ensure a successful night on any special occasion.

34. Star Provisions

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1198 Howell Mill Rd.
Atlanta, GA 30318
(404) 365-0410
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Order the sandwiches— especially the unorthodox Reuben and shrimp po’ boy— at Star Provisions. And after you eat, walk around the chef's market at peruse the fine home goods, chocolates, cheese, and meat.

35. Table & Main

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1028 Canton St
Roswell, GA 30075
(678) 869-5178
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Roswell's Canton Street is a destination in and of itself, but even without a fancy address, Table & Main would be worth the trek into the suburbs. Ryan Pernice and chef Ted Lahey are doing everything right, from the Southern-inspired food and bourbon to the impeccable service.

36. Victory Sandwich Bar

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340 Church St
Decatur, GA 30030
(404) 377-9300

Victory Sandwich Bar is a lot of things. A purveyor of $4 sandwiches, Jack and Coke slushies, and fine cocktails, sure, but it's also fast become a neighborhood spot: somewhere people feel comfortable dining solo at the bar or in a large group, for a quick lunch, dinner and drinks, or a post-midnight snack. Don't miss the ping pong table or Paper Plane, the stellar bar around back, either.

37. Woodfire Grill

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1782 Cheshire Bridge Rd NE
Atlanta, GA 30324
(404) 347-9055
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Since Eater Atlanta 2012 and 2013 chef of the year Tyler Williams made the move to Woodfire Grill, the food has been pretty damn close to impeccable. Under his direction, the high-end offerings also see more playful twists.

38. Wrecking Bar Brewpub

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292 Moreland Ave.
Atlanta, GA 30307
(404) 221-2600
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The food at Wrecking Bar has been unbeatable since executive chef Terry Koval (and his knowledge of local and sustainable food) came over from Farm Burger. Try the kale ale fondue or the three pigs skillet with its crispy pig ears to start.

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1. 4th & Swift

621 North Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30308

4th & Swift was called the “au courant vision of Atlanta restaurant design” by Atlanta Magazine and has food to match the décor. On the menu are things like crispy Southern fried quail, local corn soup, pan-fried squash blossoms, Tybee Island shrimp ravioli.

621 North Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30308

2. Abattoir

1170 Howell Mill Rd NW, Atlanta, GA 30318

Local favorite Hector Santiago, previously of the well-loved Pura Vida, is now in the kitchen at Anne Quatrano's Abattoir. The chophouse-style restaurant serves small plates and meat-centric entrees; adventurous diners should ask for Santiago's secret butcher's menu, which offers dishes like blood sausage, chicken hearts, and even blood cake.

1170 Howell Mill Rd NW
Atlanta, GA 30318

3. Antico Pizza Napoletana

1093 Hemphill Ave. NW, Atlanta, GA 30318

Antico's got certified authentic pizza and a local cult following. Plans for expansion are blazing away like the imported Acunto ovens that feed the masses— find Gio's Chicken Amalfitano and Caffe Gio right next door, with a limoncello bar and some Antico outposts coming soon.

1093 Hemphill Ave. NW
Atlanta, GA 30318

4. Aria Restaurant

490 E Paces Ferry Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30305

The elegant cuisine at Gerry Klaskala's lovely Buckhead restaurant make it perfect for special occasions (go for the prix fixe). Desserts from talented pastry chef Kathryn King only add to the experience.

490 E Paces Ferry Rd NE
Atlanta, GA 30305

5. Bacchanalia

1198 Howell Mill Rd. NW, Atlanta, GA 30318

Bacchanalia's five-course set menu is consistently called one of the best meals in Atlanta. The dinner is worth its price, but dishes can be ordered a la carte at the bar for those who just want a taste.

1198 Howell Mill Rd. NW
Atlanta, GA 30318

6. BoccaLupo

753 Edgewood Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30307

Opened in April, BoccaLupo quickly became both a neighborhood favorite and a destination restaurant. Head in for the pasta (the black spaghetti and the 20-yolk tagliatelle are popular choices), stay for the patio— and you can't go wrong with either wine or the craft cocktails. Chef Bruce Logue also offers a $40 pasta tasting if you're feeling crazy.

753 Edgewood Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30307

7. Cakes & Ale Restaurant

155 Sycamore St, Decatur, GA 30030