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Atlanta Food Lovers Guide

Think of our A(TL) to Z index as your essential shopping list. We scoured the city’s best markets and shops to find fruits and vegetables at the peak of the season, fragrant olive oils, crusty breads, locally raised meats, tempting sweets, and much, much more. Plus, we sneak in a few restaurant recommendations. // Photographs by Greg Dupree; styling by Angie Mosier 

A  
Asparagus
 
Out of all the vegetables that chefs and writers rave about tasting better straight from the garden, this is the one truly worth savoring only in its season. The first tender spears embody spring: pale green with tips like just-budding ferns and with a singularly earthy sweet-astringent flavor. To yield the few weeks of asparagus heaven (otherwise known as right now!), organic farmers tend their patches year-round, so expect to pay upwards of $5 for a small bunch. It’s worth the price. And arrive at farmers markets early: The delicacy sells out fast. We especially love the asparagus from Crystal Organic Farm at Morningside on Saturday mornings. morningsidemarket.com

B 
Bread
 
When it comes to the staff of life, Atlanta doesn’t measure up to cities like New York and San Francisco, which have surfeits of obsessed bakers mastering tangy rounds and perfectly crisp baguettes. But it is possible to find soul-satisfying bread locally. We pinpointed the one standout example at each of our best bakeries:  

(Clockwise starting with the far left baguette)

Star Provisions  
The city’s finest baguettes, hands down. We’re even fonder of the baguette variation called pain d’epi, shaped to resemble a wheat stalk with “leaves” that rip off in easy chunks. starprovisions.com

H&F Bread Co.  
At the hidden retail store on Ellsworth Industrial Boulevard, we fell hardest for the pain au levain, a French predecessor to American sourdough with smoky complexity. hfbreadco.com

Alon’s  
At both the Virginia-Highland and Dunwoody locations, we’re partial to the chewy, oblong ciabatta, ideal for sandwiches. Tip: Slice and toast leftovers to make crostini. alons.com 

Breadgarden  
Midtown’s hidden bakery down Amsterdam Walk manages to give whole-wheat bread sex appeal. The round feels hefty but reveals a light texture and an enticing nuttiness. breadgarden.wix.com/breadgarden

> Brazilian Flavors in Marietta
Devotees of Asian cuisines know that Buford Highway and Duluth serve them well. But travel west for a culinary adventure featuring flavors from another part of the globe; Cobb County is home to the metro area’s largest Brazilian population. Restaurants specializing in Brazilian food tend to come and go, but one exception is Marietta’s Brazilian Bakery Cafe, which has been around since 2006. Home in on bites like pastéis, airy pockets of fried pastry dough filled with chicken, hearts of palm, and a creamy béchamel sauce. Or try the BB Bauru, a popular Brazilian sandwich with ham, cheese, and tomato served on griddled bread. Cases of cakes and truffles tempt, but the refreshingly light passion fruit mousse is the true dessert gem. brazilianbakerycafe.com

> Banner Butter  
When Decaturites Andrew and Elizabeth McBath decided to build a business on flavored butters, they knew they had a concept that could, well, easily spread. Combinations include roasted garlic, basil, and parsley (sublime melted over grilled steak), and cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger (which will give your oatmeal a jolt of spice). The couple had been using locally made butter, but in February they purchased a churning machine to make their own. The McBaths sell through groceries such as the Mercantile in Candler Park as well as at Peachtree Road Farmers Market. bannerbutter.com


Cool Beans Coffee Roasters
 
Finding a superb cup of joe made by skilled baristas has never been easier in Atlanta. While shops like Octane (on the Westside and in Grant Park) and Dancing Goats (in Decatur and at Ponce City Market) tend to garner most of the attention, Cool Beans on Marietta Square deserves props for providing serious coffee culture to the northern suburbs since 2001. Owner Kevin Langill roasts more than forty varieties of beans—including single origins from farms around the world, blends, and eight versions of decaf produced without chemicals—right in the store, using a lipstick-rouge roaster built in France and aptly nicknamed “Big Red.” When its alarm goes off, the blare might startle you enough to slosh your java. But Langill’s attention to temperature and timing results in smooth, not-too-darkly roasted brews that highlight the coffees’ more subtle flavors. coolbeanscoffeeroasters.com

> Cacao Atlanta Chocolate Co.  
Kristen Hard’s bean-to-bar creations are some of the city’s peerless indulgences. Last year Cacao unveiled a line of Epiphany bars that includes milk chocolate and even a white chocolate option, flavored with coffee and cookie crumbles. Dark chocolate diehards will gravitate to the Love Bar collection: Its latest edition, made with beans from Peru, is bright with notes of plum and raisin. Visit the posh Virginia-Highland store for individual truffles (like the orange marmalade, pictured right) and a killer chocolate milkshake. cacaoatlanta.com

D 
Doux South
 
Louisiana native Nick Melvin helmed the kitchen at top local restaurants like Parish and Empire State South before starting his business dedicated to organic pickles. Melvin’s knowhow with spices distinguishes his honey-kissed turnips, green tomatoes with turmeric and mustard seed, and peach chutney gently punched up with sweet peppers and garlic. He sells his Doux South products at farmers markets and area stores, including Alon’s. Want to make your own pickles? Read about Hugh Acheson’s new book in "Pick a Pickle" under the letter P. douxsouth.com 
 
E 
Eggs 

There may not always be a difference in taste between generic grocery store eggs and the oval beauties bought at farmers markets, but the latter certainly look better, with sunrise-orange yolks that leave you with a warm sense of wellbeing. There’s also the bonus of buying from farmers who treat their chickens humanely. A dozen multicolored eggs from the online CSA (community-supported agriculture) market run by Moore Farms and Friends cost $5. You can also purchase seasonal produce and other goodies like cheese and shelled pecans. Retrieve it all at one of twenty metro pickup locations. moorefarmsandfriends.com

F 
Freedom Farmers Market
 
Given its central location, easy parking, and abundance of shade, it’s surprising that the Carter Center has never before been tapped to host a farmers market. But on March 1, a group of farmers launched a new gathering on its grounds. The name reflects not only its location along Freedom Parkway, but also its governance. “We’re not answering to a board of directors, and it’s not operated by the community. It’s put on by the vendors,” says Laurie Moore of Moore Farms and Friends. The market is open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. until December 20. Look for unexpected vendors (Star Provisions, Bramlett Trout Farms) alongside anchors like Riverview Farm (a favorite source for pork and beef) and vegetable stars like Winterville’s Woodland Gardens and Rise ’n’ Shine Organic Farm out of Calhoun. freedomfarmersmkt.com 

G
Guanciale 
Most types of charcuterie—sausages, salumi, terrines, pâté—show well on their own: They need only bread and perhaps some grainy mustard to make an appetizer or light meal. But guanciale (or hog jowl), an increasingly popular ingredient among restaurant cooks, is primarily used as a seasoning in Italian dishes. Toscano and Sons, newly relocated from the Westside to Virginia-Highland, sells traditional cured guanciale, which is ideal for pasta carbonara or the classic bucatini all’Amatriciana, a smoky red sauce that calls for thick bucatini noodles, San Marzano tomatoes, and pecorino cheese. (Conveniently, the store stocks all these ingredients.) The Spotted Trotter in Kirkwood offers a more unusual smoked version of guanciale, which is sliced thin like prosciutto but boasts meatier, richer qualities and a satisfying gristle that dissolves like butter in a hot skillet. toscanoandsons.com; thespottedtrotter.com

H 
HoneyPops  
Look out this spring for the next hot frozen treat. HoneyPops are the creation of Mandy and Steve O’Shea at 3 Porch Farm in Comer, just outside of Athens. Imagine the push-up pops you devoured as a child, but with a grown-up intensity of flavor: The couple’s own strawberries, sweetened with local honey, are the only ingredient in the original. Versions made from blueberries, melons, and stone fruits grown by the O’Sheas will follow seasonally. Find HoneyPops at Freedom Farmers Market on Saturdays. 3porchfarm.com

> Hot Dog Buns    
Charcuterie shops like the Spotted Trotter, Pine Street Market (check it out in this guide), and Heywood’s Provision Company in Marietta give hot dogs and sausages a gourmet makeover by using locally raised meats. Why not invest in hot dog buns with equal culinary cred? H&F Bread Co.’s rolls put squishy supermarket brands to shame. Using pain de mie (white bread with a delicate crumb) as the foundation, these oblong buns cross the lightness of a croissant with the substance of a yeast roll. Brushed with melted butter and toasted in an oven or skillet, they’re also ideal as a vehicle for fresh lobster meat. If the H&F Bread Co. stand at your nearby farmers market has run out, swing by the retail store off Ellsworth Industrial Boulevard. hfbreadco.com

I 
Ibérico Ham 
Imagine the most memorable country ham you’ve ever tasted, but with the saltiness dialed back two notches and with a nutty depth that zigzags around your taste buds. That’s Jamón Ibérico, a Spanish delicacy that begins with free-roaming pigs who nosh on up to twenty pounds of acorns a day. It is indisputably the world’s finest ham. Star Provisions, the only place you’ll find Jamón Ibérico in town, sells it for the ungodly sum of $136 per pound. Just purchase an ounce, which the butcher shaves off in ruby wisps onto deli paper, and let the slivers dissolve on your tongue. starprovisions.com

 

Juice Bars

Juice bars are the new cupcake bakeries. They’re opening in every neighborhood in the city, only they tempt the sweet tooth with healthier ingredients. (To be fair, you can avoid sugar altogether at juice bars with vegetable blends, and no one—we hope—goes on cupcake cleanses.) Dtox, which originally opened in Midtown but relocated to Buckhead, kicked off the craze. Its minimalist black-and-white bar doles out freshly pressed concoctions—such as “Pink,” with grapefruit, cranberry, coconut water, aloe, pear, and lemon—to enjoy on-site or to-go in earth-friendly glass bottles. For sheer deliciousness, we’re partial to Juicy Jenny, which launched last September in Buckhead. At the sister business to Jennifer Levison’s beloved Souper Jenny, the staff blends sassily named flavors like the deep green “Do I Have Kale in My Teeth?” zinged with cayenne and ginger, or “Instant Immunity” with its vitamin C–rich blend of grapefruit, lemon, and orange. The store also offers smoothies and lunch options featuring vegan and gluten-free dishes. dtoxjuice.comjuicyjennyatl.com

> Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams 
Given how few independent ice cream shops exist in Atlanta, it’s no surprise that Jeni’s—a small, nationally lauded chain based out of Columbus, Ohio—saw an opportunity here. Lines frequently trail out the doors of its first area store in the Westside Provisions District. The secret is founder Jeni Britton Bauer’s talent for unusually sophisticated flavors. Beyond intense standards like dark chocolate and black coffee are inventions like the Yazoo Sue, ice cream flavored with smoked beer and rosemary-scented bar nuts. Look for Jeni’s second Atlanta location in the forthcoming Krog Street Market this summer. jenis.com


Knives  
For committed cooks, no kitche
n tool is more essential than a superior knife. Buying one should be a thoughtful investment, so consider what foods you typically cook. Japanese and German knives made of high-carbon stainless steel dominate the market. Japanese brands like Global, Miyabi, and Shun perform best when cutting vegetables, fish, and chicken. A German Wüsthof excels when slicing through tougher cuts like a bone-in ribeye. No matter your needs, always test several knives at the store. You’re looking for a blade that feels like an extension of your arm.  

Recommendations: Shun Classic Chef’s Knife 8” ($139.95) at Cook’s Warehouse, perfect for tasks like slicing carrots. cookswarehouse.com   
Wüsthof Classic Ikon Chef’s Knife 8” ($159.95, right) at Williams-Sonoma, for added power and heft. williams-sonoma.com


Lamb Merguez
Southerners will never love another meat more than pork. That’s a given. But at a time when pork mania rages—when we might start oinking from the piggy profusion of bacon, country hams, and hot dogs served in restaurants and crafted by artisans—a break from the drove is occasionally welcome. Our favorite diversion: the merguez, a lamb sausage of North African origin, at Avondale Estates’ Pine Street Market. Owner Rusty Bowers seasons his merguez with cumin, fresh herbs like mint, roasted red peppers, and red wine. Throw them among the brats and franks on the backyard grill for a bit of exotica among the Americana. pinestreetmarket.com

> Lion's Mane Mushrooms 
At the farmers market stands set up by Sparta Imperial Mushrooms, 
you’ll find these shaggy, ghostly, often enormous wonders alongside better-known shiitakes and oyster mushrooms. The cooked texture is akin toshellfish, with a delicate flavor that brings to mind lobster. Buy them from owner Jonathan Tescher, previously the farmer services coordinator for Georgia Organics, at the weekly Decatur and Grant Park markets (among others), and check Sparta Imperial’s website for mushroom recipes devised by local chefs. spartamushrooms.com

> Lunch Greats  
The “city too busy to hate” is more about lunches on the fly than lengthy repasts. But these five midday meals will make you wonder why you don’t take time for a languid lunch more often.

Bone’s  
Can’t face a porterhouse at noon? Try the sirloin burger, a two-fister that the kitchen will even split into a couple of sliders. bonesrestaurant.com

Miller Union  
Go for Steven Satterfield’s fried oysters on a hoagie, smoked chicken salad, and the ice cream sandwiches. millerunion.com

One Eared Stag  
Look for wonders like pan-fried dates with olives, white anchovies, pine nuts, and a scattering of mint leaves. oneearedstag.com

The Optimist 
The buttery lobster roll (a lunchtime treat; it’s only served at the restaurant’s oyster bar during dinner) rivals all others in the city. theoptimistrestaurant.com

Rumi’s Kitchen  
Order Persian classics like lamb or beef kebabs, and share a salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and parsley. rumiskitchen.com  
 

Many Fold Farm Cheeses  
Rebecca and Ross Williams founded their farm in south Fulton’s Chattahoochee Hills in 2009, selling eggs, lamb meat, and blueberries. But it wasn’t until 2012, after they’d established a sheep flock and built a 3,000-square-foot creamery, that they debuted their masterworks, instantly the finest sheep’s milk cheeses made in metro Atlanta. Sheep’s milk has a gentle tang similar to goat’s milk, most evident in the Williamses’ brebis, a soft, bright cheese akin to fresh chèvre. Their aged cheeses deliver even more wow. If you like Humboldt Fog, the popular aged goat cheese from California’s Cypress Grove, try Many Fold’s Condor’s Ruin, shaped like a pyramid and with a texture that segues from dense at its center to creamy around the edges. manyfoldfarm.com

> Ma Cuisine by Adeline 
Perrine Prieur, owner of Perrine’s WineShop, tipped us off to Adeline Borra, who was raised in Burgundy, France; teaches cooking classes around town; and prepares restaurant-quality meals in people’s homes. I was new to how the chef-for-hire process works: Borra sent a proposed menu with choices for each of the four courses she prepares. She brings the dishes, cooks and serves the food, and cleans the kitchen when the meal is over. Sold! Though Borra threw in Italian and New American suggestions like mushroom risotto or roasted sea bass with celery root puree, I requested a straight-up Gallic dinner. She dazzled with cheese soufflés that mushroomed out of their ramekins, poached egg in red wine reduction (a Burgundian specialty and my favorite dish of the night), a riff on beef Bourguignon made with short ribs, and apple tart with salted caramel sauce. Given Borra’s sprightly presence, the meal’s precise pacing, and how stress-free the whole evening felt, the $350 bill for three of us seemed entirely reasonable. macuisinebyadeline.com
 

Nantucket Bay Scallops    
These tiny jewels have disappeared until late fall/early winter, but they’re a sigh-inducing treat appearing more regularly on Atlanta’s seasonal menus. Forget the fleshy sea scallops that chefs sear to golden crispness year-round. These are Neptune’s candy, gumdrop-sized mollusks (harvested from, yes, the waters around Massachusetts’s island famous for wealthy vacationers) that emerge from the depths so sweet they hardly need cooking. Anne Quatrano, who grew up in New England, loves them: She might serve them at Bacchanalia sauteed and served with maitake mushrooms and other vegetables in clam broth. Thomas Minchella at Mc-Kendrick’s Steakhouse fries them in a light tempura batter. Wherever you spot them, just make sure the preparation looks simple: You don’t want too many ingredients masking their singular flavor.
 

Olive Oil Specialty Store
  
In the same way that wine shops hold tastings, a new crop of stores specializing in olive oils encourages you to sample before you purchase. Oli + Ve, which opened in Roswell in 2012 and has since launched locations in Buckhead and Vinings, stocks freshly pressed extra virgin olive oils from around the world, depending on the growing season. Sipping helps you decide if you lean more toward fruity, buttery, or peppery oils. The company also blends flavored varieties (like blood orange, garlic, or Tuscan herb) and thirty balsamic vinegars, which make ideal salad dressings and marinades. Emory Point’s Strippaggio (the name refers to the word Italians use for slurping olive oil) opened last June and sources sixteen olive oils, mostly from California. Look for the Ternero olive oil blend, which has a beautiful banana aroma, or the Cask 10 balsamic vinegar, with its hints of orange and fig. oliandve.com; strippaggioevoo.com



"Pick A Pickle"    
On March 25, Empire State South chef-owner Hugh Acheson released a mini follow-up to his James Beard Award–winning A New Turn in the South. Billed as a culinary swatch book, the fifty bound recipe cards provide instructions for pickling fruits and vegetables in every growing season, including green strawberries, beans, okra, beets, and turnip stems. One section covers classic Southern condiments like brandied peach butter and chowchow. A final chapter dives briefly into fermentation, with guidance on kimchi and sauerkraut. The endearing format alone would make this a 
charmer of a gift. Pick a Pickle $14.95

> Preserving Place 
Martha McMillin traded in a successful law practice to launch this project—part specialty foods purveyor, part cooking school—in the Westside Provisions District. The market lures with small-batch finds like Bourbon Barrel Foods’ smoky soy sauce brewed in Kentucky, and the store’s own condiments (including vanilla bean apple butter, pictured right). In the spacious commercial kitchen, McMillin hosts classes on subjects like Canning 101 (the store sells all the DIY supplies you need). Most classes cost $75 to $95. preservingplace.com 

> Penzeys Spices  
You’ve likely heard of the folksy catalog sent out every couple of months by this national retailer of spices, which was founded in Milwaukee in 1957. But visiting the chain’s store in Sandy Springs (its only location in Georgia) offers an olfactory education you can’t experience anywhere else in town. The spices beckon from wide jars, ready for you to ogle, sniff, and compare. The differences in cinnamon—gently sweet Indonesian, heady Chinese, potent Vietnamese—are alone an epiphany. Dried herbs may have fallen out of favor with gourmands, but the chervil and tarragon could change their minds, as could spot-on spice blends for curries or chili con carne. penzeys.com 
 
> Pastrami  
If the only pastrami you’ve ever known comes presliced from a grocery store deli, an alternative-universe experience awaits at the General Muir’s deli counter. Chef and co-owner Todd Ginsberg brines Angus beef for ten days with pickling spices, rubs it with coriander and peppercorn, smokes it for eight to ten hours, and then slowly steams it until the meat is meltingly tender. The restaurant serves its pastrami as a sandwich, but what a treat to take a slab home. Simply slice it thickly against the grain and gently reheat it, preferably by steaming. thegeneralmuir.com 


Quiche  
Bacon-cheddar scones, buttery croissants, delicate fruit galettes: The Little Tart Bakeshop has so much to recommend it. But the biggest revelationfrom behind its butcher-block counter may be the quiche—a tall, custardy marvel that rescues the savory pastry from association with 1980s horrors like raspberry vinaigrette. Crème fraîche lightens the quiche, revolving local vegetables like shiitakes or cherry tomatoes cut the richness, and a bit of whole-wheat flour in the crust adds nuttiness. Little Tart owner Sarah O’Brien is opening a stall in Inman Park’s upcoming Krog Street Market this summer, where she assures us the quiche will also be served. littletartatl.com


Rainbow Kale  
Kale’s fifteen minutes of stardom are stretching into several hours, with no signs of abating. But to bring a twist to kale salad mania, farmers this year are rolling out the sturdy green in a fresh new color scheme. Rainbow kale crosses dark, bumpy Lacinato and frost-resistant Redbor varieties. The result is a beautiful, durable plant with blue-green and purple leaves, red veins and stems, and curly, frilled edges. Look for it now—and again in the fall—at local farmers markets, including Saturday’s Peachtree Road Farmers Market, where it is sold by Dahlonega’s Heirloom Gardens. peachtreeroadfarmersmarket.com
 

Seafood Counter at Buford Highway Farmers Market
 
Mere yards outside the Perimeter, this megastore (not technically a farmers market) covers more than 100,000 square feet and features forty aisles of fresh and packaged foods organized by country of origin. As dizzying as it is to ogle spiky Asian fruits, sample freshly griddled tortillas, and discern the differences among Eastern European pastries, the most impressive draw is the winding seafood counter. It displays more than 100 varieties of pristine fish and shellfish packed on ice. The familiar (picked crab, wild shrimp, snapper, Dover sole) mingle with the exotic (kingfish, shark, silver pomfrets). As an added bonus, the staff will prep the fish one of eight different ways, including cleaned with head on, filleted, cut into steaks, and butterflied. aofwc.com

> Strawberries  
Organic strawberries grow smaller than supermarket berries, but their flavor is intensified: sweet, tart, lush. Decatur’s Love Is Love Farm at Gaia Gardens (which sells at East Atlanta Village Farmers Market) and South Carolina’s Watsonia Farms (find them at Brookhaven and Dunwoody farmers markets, among others) produce especially sublime fruit. Strawberries usually arrive by mid-April and last until late May or early June, but Mother Nature has the last word. loveislovefarm.comwatsoniafarms.com
 
> Storico Fresco Pasta  
Michael Patrick is Atlanta’s pied piper of pasta. In 2012 he enchanted customers at the Peachtree Road Farmers Market with filled pastas made from obscure recipes he learned while kicking around Italy. Last year he opened a Buckhead storefront hidden in the back of a complex on Roswell Road, where he offers a mix of esoteric glories like casonsei (half moons stuffed with pureed roasted beets and smoked ricotta), as well as magnificent versions of old favorites, including the silkiest lasagna we’ve ever tasted. Once a week, Patrick makes his version of a timballo, the huge savory torte filled with pasta and meats made famous in the movie Big Night. Sign up for the store’s newsletter to learn about Patrick’s regional Italian dinner series. storicofresco.com


Tortillas 

Chicago Supermarket
, a bustling Hispanic grocery on Buford Highway, carries several brands of locally made corn tortillas—including El Milagro, produced in Chamblee, which tastes worlds different from the lifeless versions sold in chain groceries. Even better, though, is making your own tortillas from the ground-to-order masa dough sold by Chicago for $1.19 per pound. Because the dough is so fresh, you hardly need more than a pinch of salt before pressing palm-sized balls into tortillas by hand or with a rolling pin. If you’re making tacos for a crowd, you can always invest in a simple tortilla press, which the market also sells. 5263 Buford Highway, Doraville, 770-452-1361

 

Umeboshi  
Put these tiny pickled plums, a staple of Japanese cuisine, on your radar asone of the next ingredients du jour. Salty, bracingly sour, and the dusky pink of a fading sunset, umeboshi are already showing up as accent flavors in dishes around the city. We’ve spotted them adding their fruity nip to cucumber soup at Decatur’s Paper Plane and to octopus with dandelion greens and charred scallions at Buckhead’s Aria. At home, whole umeboshi add a pleasantly bracing note to a gin and tonic, and a store-bought vinegar derived from the plums makes for kicky salad dressing. The Japanese revere umeboshi paste (made from pureed plums) as a hangover cure. Whole Foods Market and most health food stores carry umeboshi in many forms, but for the broadest selection, visit Tomato Japanese Grocery Store, with locations in Smyrna and Norcross. tomatostoreus.com


Vermouth  
Edged out during the cocktail’s vodka-fueled Middle Ages in the eighties and nineties, vermouth has returned triumphant as part of the recent spirits renaissance. Originating in Italy and France, vermouth is a wine aromatized with herbs and other botanicals and fortified with unaged brandy. Its herbaceous complexity is essential to martinis and Manhattans, but you can
also sip the best vermouths solo as an aperitif, preferably chilled or with an ice cube or two. Find these three standouts at H&F Bottle Shop and Tower Beer, Wine & Spiritshfbottleshop.comtowerwinespirits.com
 
Carpano Antica Formula 
An ideal intro to sipping vermouths, with a rich earthiness that starts floral and ends bittersweet with traces of warm spices like cinnamon.

Carpano Punt e Mes  
A more aggressively bitter vermouth for seasoned palates. It stands up to rye whiskey and gives Negronis extra nuance. At H&F only.
 
Dolin Dry 
Light and floral, this showcases vermouth’s gentler side. Elegant with just a citrus twist, but it also mingles well in gin cocktails.
 
 

Wine Bars  
Craft cocktails and microbrews dominate Atlanta’s beverage culture, but wine is emerging from its lonely place in the cellar with some new vino-minded ventures. Late last year East Cobb scored with Stem Wine Bar, an offshoot of always-busy Seed Kitchen & Bar right next door. An accessible list, broken into well-known and offbeat varietals with helpful tasting notes, and a short menu of smart small plates (garlicky shrimp, warm duck confit salad, an irresistible sticky toffee date cake) keep the seats around its marble bar filled. In Roswell, Vin25 strikes a savvy balance between know-them-and-love-them Cabs and Chardonnays and some worthy underdogs like grapefruit-scented Verdejo from Spain. Inside the Perimeter, Vine & Tap just opened its doors in Buckhead in February. Most wines on its tightly curated list are available by the glass thanks to the Coravin, a device that extracts wine from a bottle without uncorking it (see our review for more information). stemwinebar.com; vin25.com; vineandtapatl.com


Xiao Long Bao 
Restaurants are prone to speedy staff turnover, but Chinese kitchens take the turnip cake when it comes to departures. Perhaps it is the constant shuffling that makes finding a proper xiao long bao,also known as a soup dumpling, so frustrating in this city. The Shanghai delicacy should have paper-thin skin, a simple pork-based filling, and plenty of warm broth inside. Northern China Eatery on Buford Highway steams the juiciest version in town. Current owner Zhi Wen Qi hails from Tianjin, just south of Beijing in northern China, where dumplings reign supreme. By fall, Qi will have run the shop for two years. Let’s hope he sticks around. 5141 Buford Highway, 770-458-2282  


Yogurt    
In Georgia we have two exceptional yogurt producers. AtlantaFresh uses hormone- and antibiotic-free milk from Southern Swiss Dairy in Waynesboro. Its plain, whole-milk Greek style is the definition of “pleasantly sour,” though the company also makes low- and no-fat in zippy flavors like ginger peach and bananas Foster. Dreaming Cow Creamery is a spin-off of the South Georgia family that makes the famed cheeses at Sweet Grass Dairy. The yogurt’s texture is less thick but creamier, with flavors that are both subtle (honey pear) and full-throttle (blueberry cardamom and a wake-you-up dark cherry chai). Whole Foods Markets across the metro area carry both. atlantafresh.com; dreamingcow.com


Zen Tea  
Connie Miller’s calming cafe in Chamblee caters to every kind of tea lover. For sticklers, she carries high-end varieties—white, green, oolong, black—whose wine-like flavors evolve as the loose leaves are steeped multiple times. (One green, a pre–Qing Ming, tastes like mulberries by the third cup.) She stocks a gamut of herbal teas (including South African rooibos and Indian ayurvedic blends) and flavored teas if that’s your yen. Miller also inducts neophytes into the Tao of tea with $20 classes that take you through five or six samples and background on tea production. The composed, knowledgeable staff members gladly open canisters so you can sniff through the assortment. ezentea.com


Photography credits: Cool Beans, Juicy Jenny, Ma Cuisine, and Vine & Tap: Andrew Thomas Lee; Knife: Courtesy of Wüsthof; Illustrations and lettering: Liz Noftle

This article originally appeared in our April 2014 issue.