Best of Atlanta 2014 Food & Drink

Desserts: Aria

For 15 years, Kathryn King has shown remarkable confidence and technique in one of Atlanta’s most consistent kitchens.

Sushi Bar: Sushi House Hayakawa

Intimate and jolly, Atsushi Hayakawa’s counter is a magnet for the Japanese community and for true lovers of exquisitely fresh nigiri sushi paired with some of the best sake in town.

Dinner with a Show: Gunshow

For those looking to break from the usual restaurant ritual, Kevin Gillespie’s corner in Glenwood Park is the answer.

Meal That’s Worth the Drive: Five & Ten

Fourteen years ago, Hugh Acheson opened his flagship restaurant in the college town of Athens, and today, it still cranks out the engaging, thoughtful food we’ve come to expect from him.

Expense Account Meal: Bone’s

Since 1979, Buckhead suits have filed into our city’s oldest steakhouse for deftly seared rib-eyes, polished waiters in starched whites, and a 20,000-bottle wine list that even has a magnum of the cult wine Screaming Eagle.

Food Court: The Great Wall Supermarket

One part grocery store and one part food court, this Duluth market is a magnet for the local Chinese community.

Coffee: Octane

Give yourself over to the masters behind the brew bar, where baristas—who look too cool but are actually helpful—serve seasonal, single-origin brews.

Southern Diner: Home Grown

At an institution that seems a lot older than it is, co-owner Kevin Clark provides an invaluable sense of place and history with classics that highlight our city’s roots.

Second Act: Asha Gomez

Four days. That’s all it took for Gomez to rebound after locking the door to Cardamom Hill, which attracted national attention but not enough local allegiance.

Japanese Restaurant: Tomo

Once a quiet sushi bar in a Vinings strip mall and now a glittery mecca in the Ritz-Carlton Residences, Tomo is the one place to indulge in a multicourse omakase, which you must order five days in advance.

Trailblazer: Kimball House

We aren’t surprised that a bunch of alums from Brick Store Pub and Leon’s Full Service are causing a ruckus—locally and nationally—in a remodeled train depot in Decatur.

Brunch: One Eared Stag

Think brunch is boring? Tell that to Robert Phalen, who tops fluffy biscuits with fried chicken and a rich sausage gravy and nestles soft-poached eggs in a bed of curried chickpeas.

Farm to Table: Cakes & Ale

In a city obsessed with local ingredients, Billy and Kristin Allin are our shining stars from their charming nook in downtown Decatur.

Indian Street Food: Chai Pani

Because it feels so hip and modern, it would be easy to assume that Meherwan and Molly Irani’s Indian restaurant in Decatur (an offshoot of their Asheville location) caters to Westerners. False.

BeltLine Pioneer: Kevin Rathbun Steak

Before there were fitness nuts running on a ribbon of concrete, there was Kevin Rathbun and his modern steakhouse luring crowds to the Old Fourth Ward with dry-aged rib-eyes and lobster tails.

Korean Barbecue: 678

You haven’t lived until you’ve grilled your own meat tableside over charcoal.

Home-Style Korean: Yet Tuh

It’s easy to get lost among the bustling shopping centers of Buford Highway, so look closely to find traditional Korean fare like barley bibimbap, seafood pancakes, and a hearty pork neck soup.

Ethiopian: Desta Ethiopian Kitchen

Vegetarians and meat eaters alike have long relished the wonderfully aromatic stews and vegetables (red lentils, collard greens, tomatoes) served with spongy injera bread in this Druid Hills staple.

Fourth Meal: Octopus Bar

Until Angus Brown, Nhan Le, and Duane Kulers opened a punk fine-dining spot on So Ba’s back porch, the only after-hours options available to chefs, musicians, and night owls were greasy fast food joints.

Restaurant: Restaurant Eugene

Few restaurants get better with age, but as Linton and Gina Hopkins celebrate the 10-year anniversary of their flagship venture, it’s clear that they’ve become an exception. In an intimate setting that exudes confidence and class, the ever-evolving menu is an exercise in Southern pride and original cooking.

Italian: BoccaLupo

Bruce Logue’s passion for pasta is impressive: He hand-cuts and extrudes his own and marries it deftly with Calabrian chiles, red shrimp and scallions, or wild mushrooms and Tuscan kale kimchi.

Fine Dining: Bacchanalia

Marriage proposals, anniversaries, graduation dinners—they all happen at Bacchanalia, where chefs-owners Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison remind us of the dying art of intuitive service and seamless pampering.

Seafood: The Optimist

Ford Fry’s empire keeps getting bigger, but we remain partial to the oyster bar at his Westside seafood spot.

Lunch: Miller Union

A righteous burger, crisp salads topped with smoked trout, and a just-plucked vegetable plate ace any other lunch in town.

Deli: The General Muir

With aspirations that far exceed the casual deli, Todd Ginsberg has given us a rare dining landmark.

Chinese: Gu’s Bistro

Spicy Sichuan cuisine has just about wiped out milder versions of Chinese cooking.

Reboot: The Brasserie and Neighborhood Cafe at Parish

From its misbegotten Louisiana focus to a dull farm-to-table phase, this Concentrics Restaurants child has seen more change than its Inman Park peers. This year marks its most successful effort: a modern American brasserie in the hands of Zeb Stevenson.

Buckhead Newbie: St. Cecilia

Ford Fry’s most glamorous effort is this tall, sinuous dining room across from Lenox Square that once housed Bluepointe. Local elite meet over solid cocktails for food that evokes the Italian Riviera.

Rising Star: Jarrett Stieber

He hasn’t even opened his own restaurant, but we’re already hooked. Stieber pops up in different kitchens and has tenure at Gato, but no matter the place, his cooking exudes both sense and sensibility.

Chamblee Newbie: Southbound

It’s all about the elements at this 100-year-old building that was formerly a Masonic lodge.

New Barbecue: The Pig & the Pearl

Amid the blandness of Atlantic Station dining, Todd Richards’s second restaurant (following the Shed at Glenwood) is a safe haven.

New Izakaya: Craft Izakaya

Krog Street Market has found a champion in this Japanese izakaya that pulses with inspired cooking and clubby music.

New Ethnic Find: Babylon Cafe

There’s nothing generic about Atlanta’s only Iraqi restaurant. A lentil soup bright with lemon, unctuous baba ghanoush, and excellent shawarma are just what we wish all Middle Eastern cooking would taste like.

New Restaurant: Lusca

The biggest splash of 2014 came from Angus Brown and Nhan Le of East Atlanta’s Octopus Bar. The new spot enjoys a lofty space, a superior cocktail bar with a proper wine list, a raw bar, and gracious service.