Best of Atlanta 2018: Food & Drink


Best of Atlanta 2018: Tiny Lou'sBest new restaurant: Tiny Lou’s

For a few sad years, French cuisine appeared to have gone out of style in Atlanta. Its triumphant return—in the newly rehabbed Hotel Clermont, right above the infamous (and mercifully untouched) strip club—is cause for celebration. Tiny Lou’s is part classic brasserie, part hip hotel restaurant, and exactly what the Atlanta restaurant scene needed to up its game while remaining true to its nonconformist roots. Named after a 1950s burlesque dancer who once disrobed downstairs, Tiny Lou’s possesses the timelessness of both Paris and Ponce de Leon Avenue. Managing partner Steve Palmer smartly brought on chef Jeb Aldrich, who injects playful new energy into staples such as fromage brulee, escargots, and soupe a l’oignon. Along with the whimsical desserts of talented pastry chef Claudia Martinez, Aldrich’s creative interpretations channel the essence of French cuisine with none of the intimidation factor. The polished service and the after-dinner fun—at the hotel’s rooftop bar or in its basement—add to the magic. 789 Ponce de Leon Avenue,

Best of Atlanta 2018: Tiny Lou's
Black cocoa foie gras torchon

Photograph by Raymond McCrea Jones

Best Laotian: Snackboxe Bistro

Laotian food has long been overshadowed in Atlanta by the cuisine of neighboring Thailand. But with the opening of Snackboxe Bistro in Doraville, there’s now an excellent representation of the underappreciated cuisine right in our backyard. Husband and wife Vanh Sengaphone and Thip Athakhanh opened Snackboxe after a trip to their native Laos, where they fell in love with the food’s bright flavors. Their quaint, fast-casual lunch and dinner spot offers street food–inspired dishes vibrant with heat and acid, including a peerless laap (a spicy and tart meat salad more commonly known by its Thai name, larb) and a sinus-clearing bowl of khao poon (its curry broth, rich with coconut milk, clings to long rice noodles). 6035 Peachtree Road, Doraville,

Best breakfast and lunch with SoCal vibes: Muchacho

Poké and avocado toast. Turmeric tonics and spiked agua frescas. A super-chill, dog-friendly patio with plenty of potted succulents. Soaring white brick walls painted with the type of orange and navy racing stripes commonly found on muscle cars and muscle tees. Yes, Venice has arrived in Reynoldstown, and it’s awesome. At Muchacho, you can start your day with chorizo breakfast tacos and a cortado and wind it down with a Vietnamese grain bowl and a $3 beer. If it were open at night, we might never leave. 904 Memorial Drive,

Best of Atlanta 2018: Recess
Casablanca bowl

Photograph by Caroline C. Kilgore

Best healthy food: Recess

If your commute home takes you anywhere near Krog Street Market, Recess is a godsend. The “healthy-ish” food stall has a few counter seats, but the real joy is quickly grabbing dinner to-go for a family of four—for $30. The four bowls on offer are $9.50 each, and the best of them is the dreamy Casablanca, with almost airy seared okra, pillowy feta, chewy beluga lentils, crunchy puffed rice, spicy carrot puree, and fragrant Swiss chard. It’s a case study in ideal textural contrasts and fun flavor mash-ups. The salads are no joke, either (that turmeric–black pepper vinaigrette!). And your fussy spawn might even appreciate the $6 kid’s bowl. 99 Krog Street,

Best new farm-to-table: White Bull

Not only does White Bull focus on hyperlocal ingredients, but its staff goes so far as to churn their own butter and mill their own flour. The chef, sous chef, and general manager all have Italian backgrounds, so it’s a bit of surprise that the menu doesn’t stick to that country’s culinary style. But the free-range approach suits the restaurant; the menu is tweaked daily, taking into account what’s available from land and sea. The only constant is the must-have housemade bread, a puffy sfincione. If they’re offering the chicken livers on toast, which appear frequently, be sure to order those, too. 123 E. Court Square, Decatur,

Best of Atlanta 2018: Second Self

Photograph courtesy of Atlys Media

Best beer for a cause: Second Self’s A.T.aLe Pride

It’s almost impossible at this point to keep up with all the delicious, funky, award-winning suds coming out of Atlanta breweries, but Second Self takes the prize for a beer we can actually feel great about drinking. Their rainbow-bedecked cans of A.T.aLe Pride, a limited-edition canning of the brewery’s year-round American Pale Ale, benefit Lost-n-Found Youth, an outreach organization working to eradicate homelessness among the city’s sexual-minority youth. 1317 Logan Circle,

Best local farm: Rodgers Greens and Roots Farm

The name of Ashley Rodgers’s certified organic farm is both a tribute to her father, who died in 2011, and a testament to her skill at growing roots and greens. She offers an impressive assortment of produce that shows up at places such as Restaurant Eugene and Miller Union. Even better: She’s helping promote the importance of women in farming. There’s almost always a crowd at her stands at both Peachtree Road Farmers Market and Morningside Farmers Market on Saturday mornings. Get there early so you don’t miss out.

Best of Atlanta 2018: Golden Eagle
Amaretto sour

Photograph by Iain Bagwell

Best of Atlanta 2018: Golden Eagle
Clockwise from top: Okonomiyaki, garlic knots, and crab rangoon

Photograph by Iain Bagwell

Best date restaurant: Golden Eagle

If your ideal date night channels the glamour of the early 1960s (minus the misogyny), might we suggest Golden Eagle? The swoon-worthy dining room and bar, inside the restored Memorial Drive train depot that formerly housed H. Harper Station, are tall ceilinged, dark hued, and handsome in that midcentury way. The retro vibe extends to the dinner menu, where you’ll find garlic knots, a wedge salad, and crab rangoon, and to the cocktail list, which includes a Blue Hawaiian, Mai Tai, and amaretto sour. The food might sound campy (heck, in any other setting, it probably would be campy), but here in this room, it’s pure seduction. 904 Memorial Drive,

Best deluxe Thai: Chai Yo

Deedee Niyomkul of Tuk Tuk Thai Food Loft in South Buckhead has taken a giant step in opening the most decadent Thai restaurant Atlanta has seen (more so than even her mother’s spot, Nan Thai). As if to address the needs of the well-heeled, she serves intriguing specialties—including steamed lobster tail elegantly perched on a bed of thin noodles in a pool of yellow curry—and offers a $115-a-head experience at her chef’s table. This food pairs beautifully with drinks that capture the true flavors of Thailand while respecting the sanctity of the cocktail. 3050 Peachtree Road,

Best new restaurant at the Battery: Garden & Gun Club

Yes, it’s a restaurant named for and conceived by the Charleston-based magazine. And yes, it’s every bit as tasteful as those glossy pages. From the glistening raw bar to the posh brass accents; the darkly decadent turkey-neck gumbo to the olive-green, leather-wrapped bar stools; the signature tableside bourbon service to the taxidermy in the ladies’ room (lifted from the home of Garden & Gun founder Rebecca Wesson Darwin, no less)—this is a fine Southern fantasy indeed. The fact that it’s located steps from the entrance to SunTrust Park completes the dreamscape. 2605 Circle 75 Parkway,

Super Sandwiches

Best of Atlanta 2018: Zunzi's
Godfather sandwich

Photograph by Cori Carter

Zunzi’s Takeout and Catering
The owner of this Savannah-based minichain grew up in South Africa, where he developed a taste for frikkadels (meatballs), boerewors (sausage), and Durban-style curries. His staff now uses them to build sandwiches on French bread, in wraps, on a pita, or, in the case of the Bunny Chow, in a rectangular bread bowl. Expect vegan options aplenty and wide usage of their trademark catchphrase, “shit yeah!” 1971 Howell Mill Road,

Tortas Factory del D.F.
Tortas Factory serves the sandwiches you’ll find in Mexico City, also known as Distrito Federal, or D.F. They come on soft telera rolls baked daily at Panaderia Del Valle, the bakery directly behind the restaurant (it’s owned by the same family). Order the pambazo, stuffed with potatoes, chorizo, shredded lettuce, and crema Mexicana—and don’t be alarmed by the crimson hue of the bread: It’s been brushed with a red guajillo pepper sauce. 5781 Buford Highway, Doraville

The Po’Boy Shop
These New Orleans–style po’boys are the real deal, served on sturdy yet chewy bread shipped in from the Big Easy’s Leidenheimer Baking Company. Don’t let the small, no-frills, strip-mall space fool you; there’s plenty of soul packed into these sandwiches. The catfish is a must, and if you can’t decide between the golden-fried shrimp or oyster version, you can always go for half and half. 1369 Clairmont Road, Decatur,

Best brasserie: The Brasserie at Bazati

In much the same way that Tiny Lou’s proved modern French cuisine is no longer dead in Atlanta, the Brasserie is making the case for the simultaneous return of more straightforward French cooking. And the case is rather convincing while sitting on the sprawling, BeltLine-adjacent patio, sipping on an expertly mixed French Connection, and grazing on lentil salad and poisson over ratatouille from chef Remi Granger, formerly of Bread & Butterfly. It’s not the Seine, but the stream of cyclists, Bird riders, and stroller pushers has a je ne sais quoi all its own. 550 Somerset Terrace,

Best of Atlanta 2018: Anh's Kitchen
Pho with filet mignon

Photograph by Iain Bagwell

Best intown Vietnamese: Anh’s Kitchen

The Vietnamese owners of MF Sushi have gone back to their roots at Anh’s Kitchen. Occupying a former Starbucks transformed with splashy colors (and more taste than money), the comfortable restaurant serves elegant but still affordable versions of the Buford Highway Vietnamese dishes you love. That means crusty banh mi, creative dumplings, bowls of pho brimming with fresh herbs, and a solid selection of grilled meats served over rice or rice vermicelli. 855 Peachtree Street,

Best of Atlanta 2018: Mission Market
Scallop ceviche

Photograph by Iain Bagwell

Best evolution of the Buckhead scene: Mission + Market

Who knew a restaurant in an office tower could be so glam? Apparently, everyone who follows the scent of money. Mission + Market’s posh business crowd includes plenty of establishment types looking for an upscale hang with a clubby feel. Regardless of whether you belong to that tribe, the food has legit substance that enhances the restaurant’s flashy style. The seafood-heavy menu, orchestrated by longtime pro Ian Winslade of Murphy’s renown, is a lesson in elegant simplicity. Don’t skip the mussels. 3550 Lenox Road,

Best new steakhouse: Arnette’s Chop Shop

This splashy new spot from Michel “King of Brookhaven” Arnette completes his bid to rule the culinary scene in the fast-expanding city. He has honed his brand of hospitality at Haven and other spots, but at the highly polished Arnette’s, he perfects it. Expect giant prime steaks, attractive and itty-bitty lesser-known cuts, colossal onion rings, potatoes served five ways, and a successful attempt to modernize the environs of the typically stuffy steakhouse. 2700 Apple Valley Road, Brookhaven,

Best of Atlanta 2018: Watchman's
Ti Punch, Pain Killer, and Watchman’s Daiquiri

Photograph by Caroline C. Kilgore

Best second act: Watchman’s Seafood and Spirits

Five years after they opened Kimball House, the team behind the now-iconic Decatur oysters-and-cocktail depot has launched a second concept. In the restaurant world, that’s quite a while for the arrival of a second act—but Watchman’s Seafood and Spirits is so worth the wait. Gracefully situated in the southwest corner of Krog Street Market, Watchman’s is the lighthearted and breezy yang to Kimball House’s dark and moody yin. All the seafood, from oysters to crudo to the whole-fish entree, is sustainably sourced from the South, and the cocktail list is the perfect beachy counterpart to Kimball House’s world-class bar program. Whatever you do, order the spot-on Air Mail cocktail, and follow it up with a nip of chartreuse from the shot-dispensing chiller behind the bar. 99 Krog Street,

Porsche Experience Center Atlanta
Porsche Experience Center Atlanta

Photograph courtesy of Porsche Cars North America

Best restaurant with a racetrack: Restaurant 356

In a formerly sleepy area near the airport, the Porsche Experience Center has shifted the mood into high gear with its Euro-cool design, high-end cuisine, and really fast cars. At the racetrack, you can take a 718 Boxster for a spin (though it will set you back $350). Or you can watch the action for free from the facility’s restaurant while grazing on dishes including smoked burrata with poblano crema, cured yolk, nest of leeks, and crispy prosciutto, and Cornish hen with parsnip puree. Or you could do both—preferably in that order. One Porsche Drive Atlanta,

Best new pizza: Genuine Pizza

James Beard Award–winning chef Michael Schwartz, of Michael’s Genuine and Harry’s Pizzeria, has managed to open a mall restaurant you actually want to eat at. Inside Phipps Plaza, Genuine Pizza serves thin, woodfired pies, similar to the style you see in Rome, ranging from an essential margherita to a riotous option topped with rock shrimp, roasted lemon, manchego cheese, a flurry of scallions, and cilantro. Bonus: The salads are reason enough to visit; the escarole dressed in sour lemon and olive oil serves as a bright and bitter foil to the beauteous pizzas. 3500 Peachtree Road,

Best weekday dim sum: Won Won Seafood

Unlike most Chinese restaurants, where the dim sum scene peaks on weekends, this flossy parlor attracts a huge weekday crush of lunch-goers eager to take advantage of the 40 percent discount. Won Won Seafood’s new chefs, lured here from New York, do double duty preparing fancy items such as abalone, lobster, fish maw soup, and dried squid noodles while sending forth a multitude of well-crafted dumplings and other classic dim sum offerings. What a way to spend a Wednesday! 1600 Pleasant Hill Road, Duluth,

Best of Atlanta 2018: Nolan Wynn

Photograph by Raymond McCrea Jones

Best new chef: Nolan Wynn of Banshee

Now that he runs his own kitchen, Nolan Wynn—formerly a sous chef at Ford Fry’s No. 246 and King + Duke—doesn’t get hung up on what everyone else in the industry is doing. His greatest gift is that of originality, and it’s a talent that plays particularly well in renegade-minded East Atlanta Village. At the spirited and creative Banshee, Wynn is as comfortable serving astonishingly light and delicate Native American frybread with pepperoni butter as he is sending out Sapelo Island clams and herbed taglierini with guajillo and botarga. Thanks to Wynn, the Village is gaining further traction as an important dining destination—a distinction the neighborhood has long sought. 1271 Glenwood Avenue,

Best of Atlanta 2018: Momonoki

Photograph by Caroline C. Kilgore

Best fast-casual: Momonoki

It’s impossible to resist the allure of this funky and chic Japanese spot with a Taiwanese twist. Nearly every element of its design is built for snaps, and the food is pretty spectacular, too. Husband-wife team Jason Liang and ChingYao Wang have transformed this Connector-adjacent corner spot in Midtown into an instant Atlanta staple. Look for beautiful bowls of dry curry beef over rice, various types of noodle dishes, and Wang’s peerless croissants dipped in a slick of black sesame or matcha icing. 95 Eighth Street,

Best new brewpub: Good Word Brewing & Public House

The owners of Decatur’s beloved Brick Store Pub have exported their brand of authenticity, comfort, and beer nerdiness OTP. Good Word’s old-fashioned schoolhouse aesthetics create a cozy vibe in the type of gigantic brewery environment that elsewhere feels cavernous. The beers brewed on premises by brewer and owner Todd DiMatteo include a dozen or so highly quaffable options, all of them costing a reasonable $5 to $7. And the menu is a treat, too, with Latin and Southern influences showing up in dishes ranging from tostones to corn fritters, empanadas to crispy pork. 3085 Main Street, Suite 520 Duluth,

Crushing it behind the bar

Best of Atlanta 2018: Tokiwa Sears

Photograph by Cori Carter

Best of Atlanta 2018: Tokiwa Sears
Tokiwa Sears’s Mordecai’s Escape

Photograph by Cori Carter

Tokiwa Sears of Bar Margot
Sears polished her skills over the past decade at cocktail vanguards such as One Flew South and Holeman & Finch, and her classic style fits in seamlessly at Bar Margot. Her elegant drinks often incorporate subtle nods to seasonal produce, such as watermelon “caviar,” and playful accouterments, including Aperol gummy bears. 75 14th Street,

Mercedes O’Brien of Gunshow
O’Brien comes up with some of the most delightfully zany drinks in Atlanta. And she does much of it on the move, via the dim sum–style cocktail cart she wheels around the floor of Gunshow, mixing tableside drinks while dazzling guests. Try to grab a spot at Shaken & Stirred, the quarterly cocktail classes she leads at Gunshow. 924 Garrett Street,

Adrian Fessenden-Kroll of Watchman’s Seafood & Spirits
Fessenden-Kroll mixed cocktails at Kimball House from its opening in 2013 until this past year, when she was tapped as beverage manager of the team’s new venture. Now, she continues to craft some of the finest drinks in town and make easy conversation with guests—all while keeping the ship running smoothly. 99 Krog Street,

Photograph courtesy of Golda Kombucha

Best healthy drink: Golda Kombucha

It’s one thing to buy kombucha at the grocery store; it’s another to hop a stool at the edgy taproom inside Cultured South, in the ever-so-hip Lee + White warehouse universe, steps away from the BeltLine’s Westside trail. The undecided can enjoy flights of the daily rotating selections while the faithful can guzzle great big glasses of slightly fizzy, mild, and refreshing kombucha flavored with everything from blackberries and basil to citrus hops and mango. 1038 White Street,

Best zero-proof cocktail: Ticonderoga’s Saline Sibling

Atlanta bartenders are pushing the envelope with creative and complex cocktails that happen to have zero alcohol. At the forefront: Ticonderoga Club’s Booze-Free list, on which the puckeringly tart, pleasantly salty Saline Sibling shines. While some nonalcoholic drinks feel like an afterthought, this effervescent hibiscus, lime, and ginger highball is every bit as balanced and thoughtful as the rest of Ticonderoga’s cocktails. So long, Shirley Temple. 99 Krog Street,

Best new cocktail bar: Paper Crane Lounge

This charming little lounge tucked in an alcove above Staplehouse feels more like a Brooklyn living room than a bar in the classic sense. There’s not even an actual bar; a bartender works from behind a small table loaded with intriguing bottles, which contributes to the homey feel of the place. The drinks come with cryptic names and little indication of specific ingredients. Anything can be tailored to reflect your mood and alcohol preference, and all of it pairs superbly with the abbreviated menu on offer from esteemed chef Ryan Smith. If you can’t get a reservation downstairs, this is the next best thing. 541 Edgewood Avenue

Best of Atlanta 2018: Mary Hoopas

Photograph by Caroline C. Kilgore

Neighborhood gem: Mary Hoopa’s House of Fried Chicken and Oysters

What One Eared Stag is to Inman Park, Mary Hoopa’s is to East Lake. Both are relaxed restaurants with no shortage of finesse, and both are expertly calibrated to their respective neighborhood, thanks to chef Robert Phalen’s intuitive ways. Like Inman Park itself, One Eared Stag is a rather grown-up destination, whereas Mary Hoopa’s is the kid-friendly yet still sophisticated joint East Lake badly needed. There’s no better restaurant in Atlanta that will tolerate toddlers. The fried chicken, available as a half bird, whole bird, or two birds, is the draw (order the just-spicy-enough hot version). But everything else on the menu of creative small plates, entrees, and sides is just as good, from the catfish with beet-top salsa verde, to the Sapelo clams with potato, bacon, and lemon gremolata, to the milk curd with conserved mushrooms on toast. 2371 Hosea L. Williams Drive,

Best caipirinha: Estrella

There is no better place in town for caipirinhas than Estrella, the chic, Latin-style bar and patio on the roof of the BeltLine-adjacent Bazati complex. Estrella’s grand setting has the same exuberance as the popular and fast-acting Brazilian drink. This is a traditional caipirinha (the best kind), with artisanal Leblon cachaça redolent of sugarcane simply mixed with fresh limes and turbinado, served over ice. 550 Somerset Terrace,

Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Photograph courtesy of Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Best beer-loving stadium: Mercedes-Benz Stadium

At Mercedes-Benz Stadium, gone are the days of paying top dollar for boring, mass-produced lagers; instead, many of the Benz’s taps rep Georgia breweries, from Monday Night to Creature Comforts, and its “fan-first pricing” won’t break the bank. The stadium recently collaborated with Avondale-based Wild Heaven to brew ATL Pale Ale, only available at the Benz and, most notably, only $5. 1 AMB Drive,

Best of Atlanta 2018: Hotel Clermont

Photograph by Alex Martinez

Best rooftop bar: Hotel Clermont

The stylish design and priceless view are reason enough for the insane popularity of this cabana-style scene teeming with millennials. But what will truly win you over is the lack of pretension, from Solo cups to canned beers to $7 wine. Bonus: Patrons who dine downstairs at Tiny Lou’s have first dibs on the rooftop. 789 Ponce de Leon Avenue,

Cooking Up New Concepts and Incubating Talent

Best of Atlanta 2018: Spindle Kitchen

Photograph by Caroline C. Kilgore

The Spindle Kitchen
Walk through a tiny boutique bike and commuter clothing shop in the multi-use Studioplex development and you’ll end up in a cafe that serves affordable, ambitious food from Atlanta’s rising stars (and the already risen). Chef Taria Camerino helms the kitchen during the day, but the chef doing the cooking at night can change from week to week. Duane Kulers recently previewed the stellar tacos (the lamb barbacoa is insane!) that he’ll be serving at Supremo, his joint venture with Nhan Le of 8Arm and Octopus Bar. And the talented Maricela Vega, the (mostly) plant-based pop-up queen better known on Instagram as Chicomecóatl, has been a regular member of the rotating cast. 659 Auburn Avenue,

The longtime breakfast and lunch joint in Candler Park has been moonlighting as a pop-up restaurant host for years. Among the chefs who’ve camped out: James Beard Award–nominated Parnass Savang, whose Thai-Georgia concept, Talat Market, is moving to a hotly anticipated brick-and-mortar location, and Jarrett Stieber, whose lauded Eat Me Speak Me is currently popping up at S.O.S. Tiki. Now, Gato chef and owner Nicholas Stinson is popping up in his very own space with his weekend dinner series, Gato Nights, which focuses on “deep regional” Mexican cuisine. 1660 McLendon Avenue,

Global Grub Collective
There is perhaps no place in the world where you can find poké bowls, sushi burritos, bao, umami fries, tonkotsu ramen, Moroccan tagines, banh mi, and pho in as few square feet as this East Atlanta food hall occupies. It is cramped, it is hot, and it is perfect. Only one of the five stalls is permanent, and the two most recent—Marrakech Express and Mushi Ni—are welcome additions. Pro tip: Marrakech’s housemade hot sauce is what dreams are made of. 479-B Flat Shoals Road,

Greatest hits

Best overall

Best breakfast
Rising Son

Most consistent
Miller Union

Best barbecue
B’s Cracklin’

Best OTP

Best tacos
El Rey del Taco

Best brunch
Ticonderoga Club

Best burger
The General Muir

Best vegetarian
VeGreen Vegetarian Fusion Restaurant

Best Chinese

Best cocktails
Kimball House

Best Indian
Chai Pani

Best Italian

Best Japanese
Sushi Hayakawa

Best Korean
Yet Tuh

Best late-night
Octopus Bar

Best Mexican
Taqueria La Oaxaquena

Best pizza
O4W Pizza

Best ramen
Jinya Ramen Bar

Best soul food
Busy Bee Cafe

Best Southern

Best special-occasion restaurant

Best steakhouse

Best Vietnamese
Nam Phuong

Correction: The Anh’s Kitchen blurb has been amended to correct an error in the description of the Buford Highway dishes its menu reflects.

Check out our other Best of Atlanta 2018 winners:
Style & Design
Beauty & Fitness
Arts & Culture
City Life