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1. Cakes & Ale
Any number of restaurants on this list could have opened in another city, but not Cakes & Ale, which effortlessly captures the scope of metro Atlanta’s complex culinary makeup. We’d cross county lines for a bowl of Billy Allin’s fried okra or his stunning North Carolina trout glossed with bacon mayonnaise. Nor is Allin’s boundless curiosity limited to the South: Brilliant, melting pillows of gnocchi tossed in a hearty lamb and pork ragu evoke Italy, while a smooth squash dip dotted with pomegranate seeds and served with blistered naan calls India to mind. Equal to Allin’s creativity is his consistency. Walk in for a quick weeknight dinner or dress up for an anniversary, and you can trust that the food will be reliably elegant night after night. Although he and his wife, Kristin, recently opened Proof Bakeshop in Inman Park and will soon launch Bread & Butterfly, a cafe in Inman Quarter, Allin will continue to lead the kitchen at his warm, welcoming flagship. As for what to drink: Jordan Smelt’s passion for obscure French wines complements Allin’s singular cooking.
155 Sycamore Street, Decatur, 404-377-7994, cakesandalerestaurant.com