The “25: 35 Short List” – these are the few establishments that we feel have a earned a special place of distinction in Atlanta and to which we give our highest recommendation (they are also bolded and marked by “*” before the business name). The rest of our Atlanta recommendations are listed below it.
*Bocado – Popular restaurant in West Midtown specializing in farm-to-table cuisine. Nice decor with exposed interior brick and sleek patio out back. Though they are not a burger spot per se, they have garnered a lot of attention for their Bocado Burger Stack – a deliciously juicy double patty burger made from house ground chuck, short rib and brisket with American cheese on a Holeman & Finch Co. bun. We also loved the Roasted Cauliflower Sandwich with Chinese and Thai eggplant, cilantro, and a great spicy mayo with a kick.
*The Optimist – fantastic upscale seafood restaurant and oyster bar from Chef/Owner Ford Fry with Executive Chef Adam Evans manning the helm. The decor is a beautiful and creates an atmosphere that feels like a fish market-meets-warehouse-meets Grand Central station. The main dining room is large and bustling and features more fish entrees. They also have an attached Oyster Bar with more oyster options with a scaled down menu. We loved the Florida grouper with smoked vidalia onion and horseradish broth as well as the Duckfat poached swordfish with pickled sweet peppers and crispy pancetta. The fish and chips featured a tasty but astonishingly large beer battered Haddock with shoestring chips. Wash it down with one of their signature cocktails or an Allagash White on tap. The honey ice cream was a great way to end the evening. This restaurant is receiving well deserved accolades. If you are going for dinner plan to get a reservation in advance.
*Piedmont Park – it is hard to imagine us visiting Atlanta and not stopping to enjoy this beautiful and enormous park located in an ideal setting downtown. Running trails, bocce courts, tennis courts, swimming pool, and playground areas are only a fraction of the many activities held here. Check out the Saturday Farmer’s Market if you get a chance.
*Antico Pizza Napoletana – bring a bottle of wine (BYOB), step in, step up and order one of these stellar pizzas and then head back and find a seat in the fun free-for all dining room and watch your pies getting made in several large ovens. The San Gennaro with salsiccia and sweet red peppers and Diavola with Calabrian peppers are amazing. Be prepared to wait, this place gets packed!
*The General Muir – Chef Todd Ginsberg’s (formerly of Bocado fame) take on a New York Jewish Deli in Emory Point. Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. The Double Burger Stack was similarly messy and delicious to the Bocado Burger Stack (he previously created) but it was the Pastrami Poutine that we couldn’t get enough of. They nailed the aesthetic with white subway tile, pendant lighting and marble top bar. Coffee from Batdorf & Bronson as well as a fully stocked bar.
*West Side Provisions District – some of the best in shopping, food and home in the Atlanta area and a “must” whenever we are in Atlanta. Give yourself plenty of time to explore the expansive outside areas that connect via a bridge over a functioning railroad track. For casual food try Star Provisions for a sandwich followed by some sensational ice cream at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. Also located on site are JCT Kitchen and Bacchanalia – some of the most popular restaurants in town. For shopping check out Steven Alan, Billy Reid, Sid Mashburn (see below), Ann Mashburn and Lululemon. For home goods – Jonathan Adler, Knoll, Seed Factory, and Room & Board.
Here are the rest of our Atlanta recommendations:
Casual Dining –
Victory Sandwich Bar – two locations, one in Decatur and one in Inman Park. Specializes in small sandwiches but they all pack a punch and are one of the best values in town at only $4 per sandwich. They also have a brilliant Paloma – where they put tequila and lime juice inside of a grapefruit Jarritos and serve it in the bottle.
Star Provisions – great market and sandwich shop inside the West Side Provisions District (see above) by the Bacchanalia team with separate markets inside for cheese, meats, seafood, coffee, sandwiches and kitchen wares. The prosciutto sandwich with butter on a bagel was simple yet delicious. Brews local Batdorf & Bronson coffee and even sells elite San Francisco roaster Blue Bottle Coffee.
Muss & Turner’s – the sandwiches at this fantastic sandwich spot in Smyrna are some of the best we’ve had in a long time. The S.B.L.T. with in house smoked salmon was about as good as you can make a BLT and the Swifty’s Dream with pulled pork, BBQ sauce and applewood bacon on a French bun was amazing. Great selection of beers, great pickles and french fries as well. We’ll for sure be back here to check out more of the menu.
Gio’s Chicken Amalfitano – Chicken and pastas from the owner’s of Antico Pizza (and right next door). The roasted lemon chicken is tender and flavorful and the skin is crisp and savory (i.e. – nice and salty). We loved the Diavola chicken with Calabrian peppers, garlic, fresh crushed pepper and olio picante. The portions are generous and great for sharing several plates. Available for take out or dine in.
Murphy’s – restaurant, bakery, and wine shop in the cute Virginia Highlands neighborhood. Open for lunch and dinner, but we suggest going for a great weekend brunch. Recommend the chicken chilaquiles and challah bread french toast.
Contemporary Dining –
No. 246 – rustic Italian from Chef/Owner Ford Fry in Decatur featuring handmade pastas and wood fire grill utilizing local and seasonal ingredients. The Porchetta sandwich is delicious and comes with its own roasting jus for dipping. The spaghetti with Georgia shrimp and crisped bread crumbs was a standout as was the Paper Pilot cocktail (12 yr Elijah Craig with chili-infused Aperol and lemon). Open for lunch and dinner.
Wisteria – upscale gourmet Southern cuisine in the Inman Park area with a wonderful renovated brick interior and vibrant mood. Recommend the beef tenderloin with a side of braised greens macaroni and cheese. Have a bottle of wine from their excellent wine list.
Local 3 Kitchen & Bar – from the owners of Muss & Turner’s this upscale Southern restaurant also specializes in using local, sustainable and organic ingredients. From the crowd on a random Monday night we assume that the word is out about this spot. Their fried okra, Spring Vegetable Composition and Duck Meatballs were all excellent as were their cocktails.
Coffee Shops –
Octane Coffee – this award winning coffee shop in Midtown brews Counter Culture beans in an exposed brick warehouse vibe – now expanding outside of the Atlanta area.
Holeman & Finch Public House – named by GQ as one of the Best Cocktail Bars in America. Famous for their burger which they only serve 24 a night at 10pm. If you want one you have to get there early and put your order in. May want to get a table seat if you can rather than squeeze into the crowded bar area.
Hop City – craft beer and wine store with an outstanding selection of beers. They have 60 well selected, wide ranging beers on tap in what they call Growlertown. We knew this place was going to be good when we asked if they had any sour ales and they pointed us to a whole rack of them.
Sid Mashburn – excellent men’s clothing store (with a women’s store, Ann Mashburn next door) with it’s own line of high quality dress shirts, shoes and suits as well as a nice selection of clothes and goods from companies like Barbour and Filson.
Pieces – home boutique in Buckhead district featuring beautiful new and restored vintage items with a slant toward clean lines, vibrant colors and modern aesthetic.
Redefined Home Boutique – nice selection of chic home furnishings, candles and accessories along side unique vintage finds like typewriters and cameras
Scout For the Home – chic home boutique in Buckhead featuring mostly new pieces with a few select vintage items.