Chef Michael Semancik, formerly of Midtown’s Georgian Terrace, occasionally adds too many twists and turns to American favorites like Caesar salad and smoked chicken wings. It’s best not to overcomplicate this kind of crowd-pleasing food. For now, wait for the kitchen to evolve and grab a seat at Scout’s bar for beer-battered cauliflower and excellent cocktails—and mocktails. The restaurant’s MVP is architect Ed Seiber. He managed to create an open dining space that lets plenty of light stream into the historic building that houses Scout. 321 West Hill Street, Decatur, 404-496-6863
The number six provides the theme for this pleasantly cramped new restaurant replacing the beloved Mezza in north Decatur. Six starter bites, six appetizers, and six entrees make up chef Jason Jimenez’s menu, which is a touch repetitive (butternut squash and cauliflower everywhere). But a gently grilled shrimp salad with frisée and juicy oranges, and his bone-in pork chop with buttered cabbage and sweet skin-on carrots show a gift for restraint. Desserts—of which there are only three—are relatively uninteresting. Perhaps this portion of the menu needs the magic six treatment, too? 2751 Lavista Road, Decatur, 404-330-8336
Rize Artisan Pizza
Former Caesars Entertainment regional president John Smith opened this aggressively modern pizzeria, if you can call it that, in November. He is planning a second location in Sandy Springs and hopes to expand farther, but he should get the basics right first. Servers at the flagship engage more with the tablets they’re clutching than with customers, and eerily symmetrical pizzas are so scant on toppings they mostly resemble giant sugar cookies decorated with balsamic reduction. The salads are too wet with dressing and the pasta with pesto and meatballs is too heavy. 675 North Highland Avenue, 404-334-0500
Vegetarian (98 percent vegan, even) Asian cuisine in a cheerful, brightly lit environment is a rarity and a joy to behold. Savvy intowners are already making the pilgrimage to this restaurant in Duluth, where they can order plant-based “meat” and “seafood” packed into sushi and hot pots. Try the fried rice studded with avocado (an off-menu house special), fried okra with fresh ginger, umami-rich sautéed mushrooms with crunchy raw lotus roots, and vegan chocolate cake in a cup. There’s no bar, but with a range of teas and nonalcoholic mixed drinks to choose from, you won’t miss it. 3780 Old Norcross Road, Duluth, 770-495-8828
This article originally appeared in our March 2017 issue.