Here are 40 Georgia Voice staff picks of fare around our fair city that qualifies as “must-try” dishes.
Senior Digital Content Staffer Katie Burkholder’s Picks
White Tonkatsu Ramen
This Japanese delicacy is not just good, it’s “I would easily choose this as my last meal” good. And nowhere does it better than Wagaya. This winning combination of creamy pork broth, firm ramen noodles, tender pork belly, soft-boiled egg, and salty seaweed is sure to warm the hearts of picky eaters and foodies alike. Finish it off with a spoonful of garlic sauce and a shot of soy sauce to take this soup to the next level.
Gli Amanti Della Carne
Don’t be intimidated by the Italian name; this is simply meat lover’s pizza. This thin crust pie is topped with sweet San Marzano sauce, creamy mozzarella cheese, Neapolitan salami, meatballs, spicy sausage, and Amalfi’s out-of-this-world house-made bacon jam. The pizzeria surrounds their two wood-burning brick ovens and overlooks a beautiful Italian-inspired entryway, making the meal as ambient as it is delicious.
Pineapple Jerk Burrito
Jerk chicken (or tofu), roasted red pepper, rice, and beans are all wrapped up in this tasty burrito, but what really makes the dish is the pineapple salsa topping. The salsa combines sweetness, fruitiness, and spiciness to pair perfectly with the Jerk seasoning on the chicken. The perfect appetizer to accompany this meal is the to-die-for chips and guacamole. The cherry on top: The restaurant is located right outside the MARTA Decatur stop, making it easily accessible.
Thai 5 Roll
Thai 5 & Sushi Bar
This intricate sushi roll is full of diverse textures and tastes. Shrimp tempura, snow crab, avocado, cucumber, and tempura flakes make up this roll, and a smoke-salmon topping seals the deal. This specialty combination results in an explosion of flavor. The Japanese-Thai restaurant is located in Little Five Points and boasts a warm and intimate atmosphere while still upholding the hip eccentricity characteristic of the area. Thai 5 and its namesake roll are great for date night or Tuesday night.
Grilled Lamb Pinxtos
Barcelona Wine Bar
This Mediterranean-inspired wine bar ditches meals for tapas – small appetizers and snacks to accompany your drink of choice. The grilled lamb pinxtos reign supreme as the best tapas Barcelona Wine Bar has to offer. Although they’re tapas, these flavorful and tender grilled lamb kabobs, topped with calabrian pepper romesco and yogurt, are satisfying enough as a meal. These pinxtos can be accompanied by one of the 40 wines from Spain and South America that Barcelona has to offer.
Lemon Pepper Wet Wings
J.R. Crickets is famous for having the best wings in Atlanta, but their Lemon Pepper Wet wings take that fame to a new level. J.R. Crickets’ “Lemon Pepper Wet” were featured in season 1 of Atlanta, the FX show created by Donald Glover, for good reason. These tender wings are covered in both lemon pepper seasoning and Buffalo sauce, resulting in a unique and unmatched flavor combination and, dare I say, the best wings in Atlanta.
Mary Mac’s Tea Room
This appetizer is an unexpected treat. This turnip green broth and cornbread combination – complimentary for Mary Mac first-timers – makes for a salty and delicious side item. The broth is not enough for a meal, so add it to your Vegetable Plate (along with the Brunswick Stew and collard greens) or Fried Chicken meal. 21+ can top off the meal with the Georgia Peach Martini, made from real Georgia-grown peaches.
Asian Rib-Eye Beef Taco
Yumbii Food Truck
This taco blends Asian and Mexican cuisines to create a deliciously sweet and savory flavor experience. This flavorful Asian beef taco is topped with Yumbii’s famous Korean chili sauce and a soy-sesame vinaigrette salad. This taco cannot be eaten alone; it must be paired with their sesame fries dipped in chipotle ketchup. Because this comes from a food truck, it may be trickier to track down. Luckily, Yumbii is one of the many rotating trucks featured at the Atlanta Food Truck Park.
Fellini’s is a cheaper and more low-key pizza option, but that doesn’t mean they skimp on flavor or quality. No matter what toppings suit your fancy, their thick Sicilian crust is sure to please. Eat outside on the patio under string lights and enjoy sounds of water trickling from the fountain, or opt for indoor eating and enjoy their installation of some eclectic local art.
Eggs Rancheros a la Majestic
The Majestic Diner
A personal favorite, this dish is sure to curb your appetite. Two tortillas are topped with scrambled eggs, cheddar, pepper jack, and Chorizo sausage and are served with black beans, salsa, and sour cream. This meal is perfect for any and every meal, and because the Majestic is open 24 hours, you can enjoy it at any time of the day. For the traditionalists, their classic breakfast items – like pancakes, eggs, and bacon – are just as delicious.
Freelancer Dionne Walker’s Picks
JCT. Kitchen & Bar
There are few foods as ubiquitous, and perennially popular as the classic deviled egg. But this simple southern treat can also be quite divisive, with fans split between those favoring the simplest recipes and those enjoying the more creative varieties. JCT. hits the mark with an egg that offers the best of both worlds. Perfectly boiled egg scoops hold a delicately seasoned, creamy mixture of egg yolk, mayo, mustard, and other traditional ingredients, harkening to the southern standard. A dainty, but powerfully palate-pleasing wedge of Benton’s ham, meanwhile, adds texture and sophistication that appeals to the foodie in the bunch. A perfect mouthful.
Shrimp and Grits
JCT. Kitchen & Bar
Shrimp and grits may seem like a straightforward dish, but the truth is it’s not! Rubbery shrimp, coarse or undercooked grits – there are countless dark turns shrimp and grits can take! JCT. manages to stay on course with this classic. Buttery, creamy grits provide the perfect accompaniment to succulent, fresh shrimp. Always one to add a little extra, JCT. turns to cherry tomatoes for color and acid. A long time tomatophobe, I finally broke down and tried one after many visits. I was amazed – the hot little fruits burst in your mouth, blending with the other ingredients to create the ideal bite. A must try.
Salted Caramel Brownie
Amelie’s French Bakery
If you are, like me, a lover of the marriage of salty and sweet, Amelie’s has got an addiction in the making for you in the form of their salted caramel brownie. Imagine a thick layer of gooey caramel, reminiscent of the old-fashioned caramel cream candies in texture, spread out over a decadent, rich brownie base with just the tiniest hint of crackle. Traces of salt round out this perfect mix of bite and sweetness. It’s available in a vegan version too!
Buttermilk Kitchen Breakfast
On the short list of post-yoga eateries I look forward to haunting on a Sunday morning, Buckhead’s Buttermilk Kitchen is a clear leader. My favorite is their classic BK Platter – two eggs, two sides. I opt for fluffy eggs scrambled hard, paired with smoky sweet bacon (cooked limp – the only way to have bacon!), and a crunch-baked potato half, spangled with onion strings that add the perfect punch. The true star of the plate, however, is their biscuit – a mountain of dense perfection served with a berry compote that you’ll wish they sold by itself. Add a fresh-made lemonade and you’re golden.
Known throughout the region for its ambiance and awesome backstory (it was founded by a Navy vet with a baking bug), Sublime Doughnuts also happen to have some damned good pastries. The toffee crunch, butterfinger, and s’mores donuts come to mind as immediate winners. But the frosted croissant holds a special place in my heart. Think light croissant layers enrobed in a delectable glaze that could give Krispy Kreme reason to pause. I grab a few, take them home, and nuke them for about 8 seconds (no lie) to unlock the full taste experience!
Shrimp and Grits
Atlanta Breakfast Club
Shrimp and grits isn’t just shrimp and grits. Everybody’s is different not only in ingredients, but in presentation, as I learned on my first visit to Atlanta Breakfast Club. This relative newcomer to the Atlanta food scene sits just outside the aquarium and keeps busy slinging diner standbys with unique personality and more than little touch of homemade taste. Per usual, their version of this dish builds on creamy, moist grits. Sweet baby shrimp replace their larger cousins for a fun plot twist that makes this version of the dish spoon-ready. Very tasty and practical!
Doggy Dogg 404
When where to get a quick but gourmet bite is the question, downtown Decatur’s Doggy Dogg is one of my favorite answers. Dressing up one of America’s best-loved casual foods isn’t an easy job, but this fun spot does it well. I opt for the 404 – a snappy, all-beef weiner generously slathered in house-made pimento cheese, bacon bits, tangy honey mustard (or Dogg sauce), and a splash of hot sauce for good measure. It’s all tucked into a toasted yeast roll which, like all of their ingredients, is locally sourced and super fresh. I call them fancy dogs and I’ve been eating them for years!
My Coffee Shop
It’s a big name for a low-key location. But when you step into this minority-operated diner, it’s easy to see why it holds the personalized moniker. Besides a homey atmosphere and friendly staff, this Eastlake eatery boasts a menu of breakfast standards with a homemade flare sure to remind everyone of their grandmother. My favorite is the traditional hot chocolate. Served steaming hot in a jumbo mug, this silky blend comes topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate sauce. Dial yours up by ordering an add-on like mocha or cinnamon.
Sugar Cookie Sandwiches
Making products 100 percent from scratch and in small batches, this Atlanta confectionary has more than earned a faithful customer in me, thanks to their outrageously tasty brown butter snickerdoodle. Think two old-fashioned cinnamon cookies sandwiching a light, airy dulce de leche filling. For a salty-sweet lover, the filling has just enough of a buttery taste to get your fix. They operate a bakery where you can buy them by the dozen, but grab smaller batches at events and shops around the city. I’ve been known to pay for an event just to get to their cookies!
Prosciutto and Butter Sandwiches
I’m no huge fan of sandwiches, generally finding them dry at best and boring at worst. But Star Provisions has made me a believer in the power of a good sandwich, with every bite of their prosciutto baguette. Paper-thin sheets of the deliciously salty/sweet cured ham join sharp parmesan and creamy butter on a baguette that’s equal parts soft and crusty. The result is a little pricey, but the taste sensation is well worth it!
When it comes to shrimp, even some of the best restaurants fall short. And a good po’boy outside of New Orleans can be a hard thing to sniff out indeed. Star Provisions manages to shine on both fronts with a shrimp po’boy that will change how you view sandwiches. A pillowy hoagie roll is the base, with spicy mayo and pickles assisting. But the real star is the mountain of shrimp – perfectly flash-fried to a golden, tender perfection reminiscent of great tempura. It’s one of their most popular sandwiches and it’s easy to see why.
Pork Belly Tacos
Bacony, porky goodness collides with fluffy soft tortillas to create a delectable experience in bartaco’s pork belly tacos. Officially, pork belly is a boneless cut of fatty meat from the belly of a pig. I officially call it the best part of the pig, and bartaco (lower case, yes) makes it shine by tucking caramely, glazed bits and fresh veggies into a flour wrap. The meat is always just fatty enough and well-seasoned. Order two … or 20!
I confess, I faithfully watched this temple to sugary indulgence under construction, waiting for the day it would finally open its doors, having looked at the menu to this doughnut shop online and settled my mind on sampling their candied bacon. And it didn’t disappoint: Smokey, chewy strips of bacon are dipped in your choice of chocolate sauce or brown sugar (plain or spicy), creating the sugary and salty sensation I live for. It’s sort of like bacon candy! It’s not exactly healthy eating, but for a once in a while indulgence, a few strips are in order.
Sweet Auburn BBQ
In a city dense with taco options, it can be hard to create something truly noteworthy. But for the past few years, Sweet Auburn BBQ in Virginia Highlands has done just that with its expertly crafted taco trio. Choose from one of three: their legendary pulled pork, pear slaw, BBQ sauce, and pickles; another with brisket, corn pico, and silky avocado crema; or my personal favorite, the Korean bulgogi, marinated slices of meat paired with green papaya, sriracha aioli, and an Asian-inspired slaw.
Sweet Auburn BBQ
There are two types of wing people: fried wingers and smoked wingers. If, like me, you’re a fan of the smoked variety, sampling Sweet Auburn’s wings should be a top priority. Soft, smokey, and juicy, these wings offer all of the expert grill work that Sweet Auburn is known for, in a tasty, bite-sized package. Get them with the coconut-lemongrass sauce for a citrusy sweet shot of Indian-inspired flavor that will send your mouth into orbit.
Freelancer Conswella Bennett’s Picks
Combo Basket (choose 3)
Six Feet Under
I absolutely love seafood, and being from Mississippi where catfish reigns supreme (in my opinion,) when I have a craving for Southern-fried catfish my go-to restaurant is Six Feet Under. My favorite is a combo basket. I choose three items: catfish, calamari, and shrimp. All three are spiced perfectly and have that all-too-familiar cornmeal deep- fried crunch when you bite into them. The basket also comes with a choice of french fries, my personal favorite side item, jalepeno tarter sauce and jalapeno hush puppies. The tarter sauce, and hush puppies provide just the right amount of spice.
Shrimp and Scallops
Six Feet Under
During those times when I’m trying to avoid fried foods, but still craving good seafood, I will order shrimp and scallops. It’s baked in parchment with basil, black pepper, and lemon. This dish is packed with flavor. You can choose two sides. Despite my urge to order the perfectly golden fried onion rings, another one of my favorites, I choose the grilled asparagus and a small dinner salad when I’m eating healthy.
Grilled Street Corn
I can’t come here and not start with my favorite appetizer, the Grilled Street Corn. The plump and juicy kernals on the cob are chargrilled with a spicy garlic butter, citrus crema, and queso fresco. When you bite into the corn, the flavorful garlic butter, crema, and fresco juices spray inside your mouth, coating your tongue with yumminess. It’s a treat to be savored and pairs well with my main entrée of choice: Sante Fe Blue Corn Chicken Enchiladas.
Sante Fe Blue Corn
Craving Southwestern with a variety of food choices? Then look no further. The Sante Fe Blue Corn Chicken Enchiladas is certain to satisfy your cravings. The smoked chicken goes well with the spicy hatch green chile. Don’t let the blue corn tortilla deter you from giving this a try. This isn’t the typical enchiladas smothered in red sauce that you may be used to – this is a meaty and cheesy enchilada of pure goodness. Take a bite of flavor with each bite – it’s the thing food dreams are made of for sure.
Famous Cayenne Fried Chicken
I’m typically leery of ordering chicken breast when I go out to eat because you know – it can be dry and sometimes tasteless. This Southern girl knows her fried chicken and this one is worth every penny. Agave has elevated chicken breast to a premier meat with their spicy buttermilk-marinated breading of flavor goodness. If that isn’t enough it’s topped with a problano drizzle. This dish is lip smacking good. It comes with mashed potatoes and grilled corn. I like to get the grilled corn prepared like my favorite grilled street corn.
Raging Queso Burrito
The restaurant is known for rolling “fatties,” a popular nickname for their monster burritos. One of my favorites is the Raging Queso Burrito. It may seem strange, but I took one of the server’s advice and got it with beef brisket, and it was the best food advice I’ve gotten. It was pure goodness with flavorful and tender brisket, and my stomach was beyond happy. The giant burrito also comes with sautéed bell peppers, onions, and corn with pico and cheese. Then, to top it all off, the burrito is served on a plate covered with queso dip and pico de gallo.
Baja Fish Tacos
When I’m looking for something to eat that’s not quite so filling or heavy, I like to enjoy the Baja Fish Tacos. I like to request a corn taco shell. It’s something about a corn shell versus the typical bland flour taco that seems to bring out the Sweetwater 420 beer batter of the fish. The fish is flash-fried and topped with cabbage and a chipotle baja sauce that fills the tacos with flavor. Pico de gallo tops off the dish. The tacos are served with a garden salad or a side of beans and rice topped with salsa and sour cream.
Omigod! These aren’t your typical fries. These are the fries I dream about. They are the perfect appetizer and a great way to start my meal of Mexican and Korean fusion food. These fries are tossed in sesame oil and sweet & spicy seasoning. You can dip these delicacies in their house made chipotle ketchup.
Tempura Shrimp Basket
Everyone who knows me knows that I love shrimp. Some people may think fried shrimp is fried shrimp, so what’s the big deal? Well, this shrimp basket is one of my favorites and it’s a big deal. It’s big shrimp with a kick of spices fried in a light tempura batter. It’s a basket of crunchy, flavorful, Wild American shrimp and comes with a spicy remoulade sauce. You can choose a side to go along with this dish and nothing goes better with this basket than french fries.
All You Can Eat
Iron Age Korean Steakhouse
This is an all-you-can-eat buffet like no other. You can choose from a menu of 17 different meat dishes. The twist – you’re sitting at your table with a grill in the center and you get to cook the meat of your choice. Better yet, instead of getting up to pick your food from a buffet line, your food choices are brought to you. My favorite is the Top Blade Steak. It’s a tender cut marinated in a kalbi marinade of onions and jalapenos. It’s a sweet and savory piece of steak that melts in your mouth. My other meat choice is the Soy Chicken. Like the steak, it’s also marinated in the galbi marinade and sweet and spicy red pepper paste.
No. 1 Farm Burger
This is the premier burger to all hamburgers, and it’s the only hamburger I order cheese on. The grassfed-beef burger comes with aged Vermont white cheddar, caramelized onions, and Farm Burger sauce. I also like to add red onions, lettuce, and pickled jalepenos. Typical of a great burger, this one can be a little messy to eat. But, it tastes so good so who cares if a little Farm Burger juices ooze onto your shirt? No one if you enjoy a good burger.
The hamburger is often the main course for me – so good it needs no sides to accompany it or take its shine. However, when my love of onions take over, I order a side of onion rings. These delectable rings are hand-cut, panko-crusted and fried to a perfect golden brown. To get the full ring effect, I take a bite and dip the ring into the smoked paprika dip. Delicious!
Half Rack Rib Plate
Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q
This Mississippi girl loves some ribs. My favorite ribs are the St. Louis style ribs. A hint of hickory wood smoke gives these a full-body flavor complete with the Fox Bros. barbecue sauce. The rib meat falls off the bones with each bite. Yes, they can be a little messy to eat, but you won’t need napkins because you’ll be licking away some of the best barbecue sauce in Atlanta. Ribs aren’t complete unless I’ve got a side of their creamy and cheesy macaroni and well-seasoned collard greens.
Empanadas Argentinas (chicken)
Las Margaritas Restaurant
Whenever I need a little snack, one of my favorites are the empanadas. I prefer the chicken but these also come in beef. They are the perfect hand-held meat pie filled with familiar Latin spices. The flaky crust wraps the spicy chicken in a little pie crust of goodness. I like to break them in half and dip them into one the verde salsas. Sometimes I make these my dinner by eating three or four of these alone or ordering the Mexican Elote.
Joe’s on Juniper
Typically, I don’t order salad as my main course. But, I made an exception during one of my many healthy eating binges. The salmon was cooked perfectly, well-done for me, but not dry at all. It’s a simply seasoned piece of fish. It’s accompanied with red onions, avocado, tomoatoes, hard-boiled eggs, and bleu cheese crumbles. All this comes on top of a mixed green salad complete with a balsamic vinegar dressing to top it all off. I crave this salad and make a trip to Midtown specifically for this – yes, a salad!