The Best New Cheap Eats in Atlanta

Lunch

Walking Taco
Instagrammer to follow: @foodiebuddha
Foodie Buddha’s Ted Golden is a self-proclaimed mustard aficionado. (And his identity is top-secret.)

Photograph by Josh Meister

Walking Taco
Skyline Park
Skyline Park, on Ponce City Market’s rooftop, is meant to resemble a vintage seaside boardwalk, but this treat recalls a high school football game rather than a carnival. True to Texas tailgate form, chef Jonathan McDowell fills a mini bag of Fritos with slow-roasted beef barbacoa, then tops it with pico de gallo, guacamole, and sour cream. It’s a little bit messy, a little bit trashy, and entirely satisfying. Just don’t forget the napkins. $5, 675 Ponce de Leon Avenue, 770-999-1530

Bento Box
Tea House Formosa
Essentially a four-course meal presented in an almost translucent balsa wood container, this bento box is one of the city’s best lunch bargains. The protein rotates—there may be a crispy thin pork chop, a piece of fried chicken dusted with bread crumbs, or a few slices of pork belly—but each is served with steamed white rice, vegetables, and fish cakes or taro fries. Upgrade to the heartier “meal” option ($14) and they’ll throw in a simple broth to start, plus tea and a tiny almond cookie to finish. $10, 5302 Buford Highway, 470-349-8105

Catalan Salad
Catalan Salad

Photograph by Caroline C. Kilgore

Catalan Salad
Wildleaf
Bless Randy Lewis, formerly of the Southern Gentleman and Gypsy Kitchen, for bringing fresh take-away salads and grain bowls to Atlanta this January. Located on the ground floor of Buckhead’s Terminus 100 building, Wildleaf takes advance orders online, so by the time lunch rolls around, you can swing in and out—without paying for parking. The sweet-savory “Catalan” salad contains hardy Tuscan kale, dates, Marcona almonds, Manchego cheese, and a tart dressing made from quince paste. $9, 3280 Peachtree Road, 404-549-9302

Chicken Gyro
Halal Guys
What began as a hot dog stand in the 1990s became one of New York City’s most in-demand street food carts when Halal Guys’ three founders started offering quick, inexpensive meals for Muslim cab drivers—and anyone who appreciates a good chicken platter. Now, with a brick-and-mortar location on Buford Highway, the famous gyros are newly available in the South. Sink your teeth into a warm pita stuffed with day-long marinated chicken, crisp iceberg lettuce, and tomatoes with tangy white sauce. $7, 4929 Buford Highway, 470-268-8481

“Invincible” Dan Dan Mazeman
“Invincible” Dan Dan Mazeman

Photograph by Josh Meister

“Invincible” Dan Dan Mazeman
Ton Ton Ramen
Chef Guy Wong is a culinary tourist prone to mixing and matching various Asian cuisines. Which explains why he serves a version of Sichuan dan dan noodles at his Japanese ramen restaurant. Starting with springy ramen noodles, he adds minced pork, cucumber spears, and a soft-boiled egg. The chili oil–infused sauce gives every bite a spicy kick. $12, Ponce City Market, 404-883-3507

Soup Dumplings
Yong He Zhi Jia
Yong He Zhi Jia has the best xiao long bao, or Shanghai soup dumplings, in Atlanta right now. So slurp them while you can; in this town, Chinese chefs tend to jump from restaurant to restaurant, taking their kitchen tricks with them. Each of the delightfully chewy dumplings contains a mouthful of savory broth and a scallion-flecked pork meatball. Place it in a flat-bottomed soup spoon, nibble a hole at the top, sip out some of the soup, and then bite down on the whole thing. Bonus: You can also buy them frozen to keep at home. $7, 4897 Buford Highway, Chamblee, 470-299-8929

Cuban Sandwich
Buena Gente
A good Cuban is a compact Cuban, and Buena Gente’s is the tightest in town thanks to a brick-fortified press. While it may sound like a strange thing to praise, you’ll appreciate it when the sandwich’s ingredients (ham, Swiss cheese, mojo-marinated roast pork, pickles, and mustard) and flavors fuse perfectly together. Track the food truck’s location on Instagram at @buenagenteatl or catch them every other Saturday at Piedmont Park Green Market. $10

This article originally appeared in our April 2017 issue.