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We've got some catching up to do.
The last time Atlanta published a best-restaurants issue was approximately three millennia ago, in June 2019. Things in the interim have been—you may have noticed—somewhat unsteady, in dining as in everyday life. A handful of restaurants opened, a tragic number closed, and most simply held on as best they could. Some did all three, shuttering as the pandemic spread, figuring out some new business model—takeout, delivery, groceries—then reopening tenuously, hopefully.
Things still feel tenuous, and some days are more hopeful than others. If restaurant owners and workers were forced to contemplate some existential questions over these past 20 months, so were diners: What even were restaurants anymore? What did we want from them? The places that had entertained and fed us came to offer more complicated pleasures, or more elemental ones, or sometimes even just the bare necessities—see, for instance, those spots selling milk and toilet paper in the dark depths of spring 2020. The best of them reminded us that restaurants aren’t simply places where we eat and hang out; they, and the people who make them run, are members of our communities. They’re our neighbors.
In this issue, we’re celebrating restaurants in all of the ways they’ve meant something to us lately: Of course, we’re highlighting those bold folks who managed to launch and sustain something during one of the most challenging stretches in recent memory. Included in our “new” restaurants are a couple places that opened in 2019—because it’s been a while since we’ve done this, because what even is time anymore?, and because nobody wants to live in a world where a cafe like Pho Ga Tony Tony, a fantastically good Vietnamese soup shop that opened in a Norcross shopping center in the latter half of 2019, is left off of a list like this.
But we also wanted to highlight some places—the most random assortment—that aren’t necessarily new but are worth honoring: places that take up a little room in our hearts, for some reason, for any reason at all. And then, by all means, make a reservation, call in an order—or just show up and see what happens.
Atlanta's Best New Restaurants 2021
From regional Thai to neighborhood barbecue, these are our favorite spots from the last year (or two)Read more
During the pandemic, Atlanta restaurants weren't a treat—they were a lifeline
Atlanta's restaurants became a vital resource during the pandemic, offering community, stability, comfort — and pepperoni butter by the pintRead more
Love letters to the restaurants Atlanta can't live without
These are the restaurants that make Atlanta, Atlanta.Read more