In season: 5 Atlanta restaurants with odes to okra

Get the ancient green vegetables before they’re gone for the season
Photograph courtesy of Iain Bagwell.
Photograph courtesy of Iain Bagwell.

Okra is as fickle to grow as it is cook, sometimes emerging in tough stalks or resulting in slimy preparations. And after September, the quintessentially-Southern vegetable becomes difficult to source. Before it’s too late, visit these five spots for okra that’s fried, charred, pickled, and more. With so many varying preparations, even okra-fearing diners may take a liking to this polarizing vegetable.

Fried okra at Table & Main

At the Roswell cornerstone known for serving up Southern fare with style, Table & Main chefs don’t mess around with okra. Sourcing their crop from AJ Stonehaven Farms, they fry the green stalks in a light batter and serve them with garlic aioli and a sweet medley of Georgia favorites like tomato jam, house bread, and butter pickles.

Fried okra at General Muir

Farmer Bobby Britt approached chef Todd Ginsberg with 100 pounds of freshly harvested okra and said, “Let’s make a deal.” Ginsberg’s offer won him a kitchen full of okra for pickling, charring, frying, stewing, and fermenting. Find his fried version on the menu; it’s dipped in cornmeal, flash fried, and drizzled with buttermilk-herb dressing and pickled peppers.

Spicy okra at Empire State South

Okra is a pickler’s dream because of its resilience and versatility. For the spicy okra side dish at Empire State South, executive chef Josh Hopkins roasts the vegetable with a kimchi base, which is made up of gochugaru (a Korean chili flake), fish sauce, garlic, ginger, lime juice, and scallions. The okra is sourced from local producers, including The Good Shepherd, Green Ola Acres, Woodland Gardens, and Crystal Organic Farm.

Matchstick okra fries at Chai Pani

In an effort to bring okra from side dish status to a must-have first course, Meherwan and Molly Irani have struck Southern gold. They julienne and then fry the matchstick okra before tossing them with lime, salt, and chopped masala seasoning. Black salt and hing give the fries an addicting, pungent flavor.

Charred okra at Abattoir

The chefs at Abattoir shy away from the deep frier on this one. Attempting to extract the terroir from the okra rather than masking it with breading, they brush the okra, which is sourced from Summerland Farm, with Benton’s bacon fat. Then they char each piece under the broiler and finish with a glaze of Benton’s bacon and, you guessed it, more bacon fat.