Treat Yo Self to these splurge-worthy dishes

It’s the holidays, so go ahead. In the wise words of Parks & Rec’s Tom and Donna, “Treat yo self!”

Some fitness fanatics might disagree, but I believe the holidays are all about treating yourself and those you love without remorse. So put away that Fitbit for a little nap and #treatyoself to these high-calorie dishes the next time you feel like indulging or want to take holiday eating to the next level.

The nachos ole at Red Pepper Taqueria.
The nachos ole at Red Pepper Taqueria.

Photography by Jennifer Zyman.

1. The Nachos Ole at Red Pepper Taqueria
This often overlooked Tex-Mex spot serves some crazy good nachos, piled high and loaded with all sorts of ingredients. Add beef or chicken to this mountain of crunchy tortilla chips covered in what might be the best white cheese dip in Atlanta, black beans, corn cut off the cob, shredded lettuce, guacamole, sour cream, pickled jalapenos, and tomatoes. I always start eating the chips with my hands but finish the whole lot with a fork, so I don’t miss a bite. And I normally suggest my friends order their own. 2149 Briarcliff Road, 404-325-8151; 3135 Piedmont Road Northeast, 404-869-2773

The cheeseburger at The General Muir.
The cheeseburger at The General Muir.

Photograph by Jennifer Zyman.

2. The burger and fries at the General Muir
Many burgers vie for the hearts of Atlanta, but the burger at The General Muir (created by the same person who conceived the Bocado burger) remains my favorite. The burger features two thin house-ground grilled patties, griddled with onions, slathered with American cheese, and topped with pickles. The Muir’s kitchen butters and toasts the pillowy soft buns from its bakery next door, and the bun also gets a thin layer of mayo to protect the bread from sogging up. A pile of homemade fries accompanies each order (unless you dine at lunch, when fries are ala carte). Emory Point, 1540 Avenue Place, 678-927-9131

3. The Grinder at Fred’s Meat and Bread
This spinoff sandwich concept at Krog Street Market from the same people behind The General Muir has my favorite sandwich in town: the Grinder. Fred’s loads a crusty hoagie rolls from TGM Bread with all sorts of Italian goodies, such as paper thin mortadella, provolone, salami, and porchetta, with tons of shredded lettuce, aioli, cherry peppers, olive oil, and red wine vinegar. Each bite is salty, vinegary, and full of crunch from the lettuce and bread. This is a sandwich to be eaten at the counter because, while hearty, the bread gets soaked by all of the toppings quickly and is not built for a commute. 99 Krog Street Northeast, 404-688-3733

Sorry. I was wrong. This is a better view.

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4. The Comfy biscuit at Homegrown GA
Whether you are hungover or just in the mood for a hearty breakfast, this now iconic Atlanta breakfast dish is the right way to start your day. Fluffy biscuits (somewhere in between cathead- and regular-sized) are halved and topped with fried chicken breasts loaded with black pepper. The pepper’s spiciness is muted by the generous amount of creamy pork sausage gravy. I gild the lily by adding a side of eggs and ridiculously buttery cheese grits. A counter near the register tracks every Comfy the restaurant has sold—don’t forget to log yours by smacking the button on your way out. 968 Memorial Drive Southeast, 404-222-0455

The pancakes at Bread & Butterfly.
The pancakes at Bread & Butterfly.

Photograph by Andrew Thomas Lee

5. Pancakes at Bread and Butterfly
The pancakes at this quaint Inman Park eatery kind of changed my perception of my favorite breakfast indulgence. While most restaurants provide syrup and butter for you to add to your stack, at B&B, the kitchen does it for you—and that actually makes a lot of sense. Pancakes are, essentially, bread and syrup. And butter is technically seasoning, so shouldn’t proper seasoning be administered in the kitchen? After having this stack of four thick pancakes, which must be at least a half an inch tall each, my mind was changed. When the kitchen douses the pancakes with the perfect amount butter and syrup, the entire stack marries and resembles a fluffy cake you get to have all to yourself and eat with a fork. Morning made. 290 Elizabeth Street, 678-515-4536

6. Lamb biryani at Cafe Bombay
This long-standing Indian restaurant makes a lamb biryani that has so far been unrivaled in the city. Heavy on tangy tamarind and glistening with ghee, the rice is like turmeric colored gold you mine for nuggets of tender lamb. The whole fiery lot is mixed with sweet caramelized onions and fresh cilantro. There’s a container of raita—a cucumber and mint infused yogurt—to cool the heat of the biryani and cut the fat of the lamb. I suggest drizzling the raita on top and eating it with a big piece of Bombay’s crusty, puffy bullet naan scented with garlic and chilies. 2615 Briarcliff Road Northeast, 404-320-0229

Holy shit fried Ipswich clam sammich.

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7. The Ipswich Clam Roll at Ticonderoga Club
Chef David Bies goes to the airport weekly to pick up the premium Ipswich clam bellies. After lightly breading the bellies, which have a richer flavor and springier texture than usual clam strips, they are fried and tucked into a sliced soft white bun spread with tartar sauce. The roll is served with a bag of classic Cape Cod Potato chips, a superior brand. And to dip said chips is a little dish of “Tartare Royal” sauce, a perfect addition to this soft and tasty seafood sandwich. Krog Street Market, 99 Krog Street Northeast, 404-458-4534

The empress chicken from Golden Buddha is fun to eat.

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8. The Empress chicken at Golden Buddha
A while back, after being directed here for Atlanta’s best General Tso’s chicken, I discovered the Empress, and my Chinese chicken game has never been the same. The Buddha took drummettes of chicken and pushed down the meat, exposing just enough bone for you to grab and eat with less mess. The meat is coated in a spicy and sweet mixture redolent with chopped garlic. It is a sticky, sweet, and beautiful mess. What’s better is that Golden Buddha delivers, which means I don’t even have to travel. Now my Chinese delivery game is even better than my Chinese chicken game. 1905 Clairmont Road, Decatur, 404-633-5252