As the pandemic raged (and then kept on raging), many restaurants—including a good number of our favorites—halted all operations for months. The places on this list spent extra time on their reopening plans, with some only recently resuming business under a takeout-only model and others introducing both takeout and socially distanced in-person dining. Because of the caution they took, you might have missed that you now have the chance to order from them again—and order from them you should. Not only do these restaurants box up some of our favorite takeout meals: They’re also the restaurants that help define our dining scene, and we want to do everything we can to keep them around for the long run.
In light of the pandemic, be sure to check a restaurant’s Instagram or website for its most up-to-date info on dine-in, patio, takeout, and delivery options.
Starting in the early days of the pandemic, Staplehouse switched gears from specializing in cutting-edge, unfussy fine-dining to offering free meals to members of the service industry. That shift in mission was very much in line with the mission of Staplehouse’s sister nonprofit, the Giving Kitchen, which offers financial aid and other resources to food-world workers forced out of work by illness, accidents, and family emergencies. It wasn’t until mid-July that Staplehouse again started preparing food for the public—and though these takeout meals are, by necessity, different from the ticketed, prix-fixe experiences the restaurant mastered, they still befit a special occasion (and by “special occasion,” we mean a picnic in your backyard). A recent, $30 meal included generous slabs of brisket blanketed in luscious fat, served with heirloom tortillas and salsa macha, along with a side of corn pudding elevated with squash, shishitos, and caramelized garum and a salad of tomatoes, cucumber, marigold, and walnut XO sauce. It’s a great way to enjoy Staplehouse’s ingenuity—at less than a third of the price of its fancier meal. 541 Edgewood Avenue, Old Fourth Ward, 404-524-5005
This clever little restaurant, which opened in 2016, practically on top of the railroad tracks in a remote corner of Marietta Square, quickly became a comfortable occupant of our list of top 10 restaurants. Chef Brian So proved himself a rare talent in the crowded field of simple, elegant, seasonal cooking. In an attempt to weather the pandemic, So shuttered Spring in March; his small-scale, high-quality operation did not lend itself to a quick transition to takeout. But at the very end of July, Spring returned—with a new menu of takeout-appropriate composed dishes and meal kits. A recent jaw-dropper included a grill-at-home Snake River Farms gold label côte de bœuf, black truffle creamed corn, green beans with chanterelles, and a garden salad. We’re now looking forward to Spring (at home or, when the time comes, on the Square) year-round. 36 Mill Street, Marietta, 678-540-2777
For more than a quarter of a century, chef Anne Quatrano and her husband, Cliff Harrison, haven’t merely stayed ahead of the curve—they’ve drawn the curve. And though Bacchanalia’s luxuriously simple food—crafted with impeccably sourced ingredients (many of them from Quatrano’s own farm)—hasn’t changed much since 1993, it’s no less influential. Bacchanalia stuck to its trailblazing roots first by shutting down during the pandemic, then by becoming one of the first fine-dining establishments to reopen its spacious (and easily socially distanced) dining room in late May. It’s also an outlier in offering a four-course, $100 menu to-go. That menu has fewer options per course than the regular one, offering only ones that travel well. But you can still indulge in foie gras torchon with blueberry, corn, and honey; prime New York strip with Summerland Farm onion and potato; Bacchanalia’s celebrated cheese course; and dessert crafted from blackberries, elderflower, and roasted white chocolate. 1460 Ellsworth Industrial Boulevard, Westside, 404-365-0410
The city of Lanzhou is the noodle capital of China, and Buford Highway strip-mall joint LanZhou Ramen is the noodle capital of metro Atlanta. It’s not in every city that you can find Lanzhou-style, hand-pulled noodles, which are nothing short of an art form. After closing the restaurant for two months, LanZhou reopened for takeout only in May. At the moment, you might not be able to observe the creation of these revelatory noodles; in safer times, you were able to gaze into LanZhou’s kitchen through a picture window that dramatically frames the hypnotic act of rolling, stretching, and spinning the cascading tendrils of springy dough. But you can still enjoy the resulting noodles—or, if you prefer, the thicker, knife-cut ones—in bowls of fragrant beef broth brimming with wilted greens and tender meat, or stir-fried with your choice of three spice options: regular, spicy, or laced with cumin seeds. Make sure you have a pair of kitchen shears handy; these noodles are so long that, at the restaurant, your server would have armed you with a pair of scissors. Of course, you might rather just slurp them until the end of time. 5231 Buford Highway, Doraville, 678-691-2175
This glamorously hip restaurant inside the recently transformed Hotel Clermont—and directly above the lovably grungy Clermont Lounge—sporadically offered takeout in the beginning of the pandemic. But after the restaurant and lounge ceased operations for weeks, the compound has gradually reawakened—first by resurrecting its takeout menu in mid-May and reopening its dining room in mid-June; then, remarkably enough, by restarting operations at the basement strip club in late July. (The restaurant bears the name of a dancer who once disrobed in that space.) Though many of Tiny Lou’s dishes might read as traditional, chef Jeb Aldrich’s food possesses far more restraint than those menu phrases suggest (and infinitely more than you’ll find downstairs). The pared-down to-go menu still covers plenty of ground, from bouillabaisse (a cacophony of Tybee Island shrimp, Maine diver scallops, Nantahala ramp polenta, broccolini, beech mushrooms, and Pastis de Marseille) to burger (topped with bacon jam, Gruyère, and pickled red onion). Don’t skip dessert. The only takeout option is a salted chocolate chip cookie, but in the dining room, you must order pastry chef Claudia Martinez’s brown-butter blondie. It pays proper homage to Blondie herself, the downstairs lounge’s most endearing star. 789 Ponce de Leon Avenue, Poncey-Highland, 470-485-0085
Something had long been missing in East Atlanta Village’s food scene, and that something is Banshee. Its disappearance for several months made its importance to the neighborhood all the more apparent—as did its return to takeout on July 7. The tiny, sophisticated, highly original operation transcends genre and remains in tune with its offbeat surroundings, even if your only interaction at the moment is at the curb. Chef Nolan Wynn earned a Best New Chef award from us last December, and his to-go food easily could persuade us to re-up. When I first ate at Banshee a year ago, I called their pepperoni butter, served with perfectly puff-crunchy frybread, a “genius condiment” and reported that the restaurant had fielded “countless customer requests for Wynn to sell jars, bottles, or vats of the stuff.” Those prayers have finally been answered: You can now order a pint of it for $10. There’s not a dud on the menu, and a hanger steak with ramp kimchi, sweet and sour shiitake, and togarashi mayo is among the five best things I’ve eaten in the pandemic. 1271 Glenwood Avenue, East Atlanta Village, 470-428-2034
Oh, how I miss camping out in this cozy, cavelike corner of Krog Street Market and sipping on a Ticonderoga Cup (a mix of rum, brandy, sherry, lemon, and pineapple, served with crushed ice in a frosty copper mug). You can no longer camp out, but, starting in early June, you finally could dip in to pick up your takeout order—and, when conditions were just right, could order a quick cocktail and the clam roll, offered only while you wait. Bonus: On Sundays, you can take home the city’s best brunch. 99 Krog Street, Inman Park, 404-458-4534
Chai Pani’s playful Indian street food was part of my regular takeout regimen prepandemic (the Bengali Fish Fry Sandwich, with ginger-chili mayo, was equally adored by the adults and toddler in my household). Star chef Meherwan Irani closed the restaurant near the beginning of the pandemic, but takeout and deliver returned in mid-June. Chai Pani’s menu changed shortly before the pandemic, and the fish sandwich is no more. But the $45 family package (choose from butter chicken, saag paneer, mixed vegetable korma, or lamb vindaloo, with all the fixings) suits us just fine. 406 West Ponce de Leon Avenue, Decatur, 404-378-4030
Seed Kitchen & Bar
This modern, idiosyncratic, and beloved East Cobb fixture started doing takeout in late May and reopened its dining room and patio two weeks later. You can order to-go from the full menu, or choose from a half-dozen meal kits. Go for the $38 chicken schnitzel for two, served with miso mustard, arugula salad, two sides, and dessert. 1311 Johnson Ferry Road, Marietta, 678-214-6888
Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours
Chef Deborah VanTrece reopened her influential restaurant on Juneteenth, a nod to her commitment to championing Black culinary traditions. Speaking on behalf of Black-owned restaurateurs, VanTrece said in our June Resilience of Restaurants issue: “Do not dismiss us. Know that we’re still here. And fight for us, too.” We can think of few tastier ways to do that than with a plate of VanTrece’s hoisin oxtails, vegetable fried rice, and shallot-ginger bok choy. 1133 Huff Road, Blandtown, 404-350-5500
This article appears in our September 2020 issue.