As the tongue-numbing spices of Sichuan cuisine become more and more popular, this family-owned hot spot is an Atlanta standout that will soon expand with Gu's Dumplings in the Krog Street Market. Chef Yiquan Gu can bring the burn, but he also has a keen eye for textures that range from boiled fish fillet to crisped eggplant. Flat Zhong pork dumplings, robust Chengdu-style cold noodles, ineffably tender cumin lamb, and tea-smoked duck are among his best dishes. Don't miss other gems such as conch in red chili oil, stir-fried crunchy lotus roots, and twice-cooked smoked pork belly with jalapeños.
Best of Atlanta 2013
Itinerant (and long gone) chef Peter Cheng launched Atlanta's craze for the chile-stoked dishes from China's Sichuan province at Tasty China in 2006. Yiquan Gu, though, has emerged as the cuisine's steadfast local champion. His restaurant, housed in a dowdy Buford Highway shopping center just north of I-285, impresses with its consistency and versatility. If you crave spicy, sear your taste buds on unctuous cumin lamb and fish fillets bathed in chile oil. Those less inclined to breathing fire will savor the tea-smoked duck, served in pieces on the bone or shredded and stir-fried with scallions and ginger. Be on the lookout for Gu's Dumplings, opening next year in the forthcoming Krog Street Market.