A guide to the Atlanta Restaurants with the most awards
Voted one of the best cities in the nation for food-lovers by Travel + Leisure, Atlanta is home to many impressive restaurants—in fact, in 2015 alone, our delicious city had nearly a dozen semi-finalists on the James Beard Award roster. From farm-to-table goodness to elegant and sophisticated Japanese cuisine, we’ve broken down the very best the Big Peach has to offer, as awarded by the country’s most notable publications. Whether you’re looking for the perfect place to celebrate an occasion or to impress your business partners, or you just want a great meal on a Tuesday night, check out our list for the most award-winning restaurants in Atlanta:
Story by Savanna Sturkie
The impossible-to-ignore and beyond consistent winner, Bacchanalia was voted the best restaurant in Atlanta by Atlanta Magazine. A 2015 James Beard Semifinalist for outstanding restaurant, Bacchanalia has been gaining steady praise since opening in 1993. There you can find an entirely organic menu of highly-varied and creative plates of contemporary American cuisine. Much of the produce used even comes straight from Anne Quatrano’s (one of the pioneers of fine dining in Atlanta) personal farm, Summerland, where she first developed her passion of cooking with her grandmother. Plates such as Jamison Farm Lamb, Red Gulf Snapper and even a caviar service are all a part of the five-course prix fixe for $85 a person with an impressive wine selection.
Cakes & Ale
Voted the best farm-to-table restaurant and second overall by Atlanta Magazine, Cakes & Ale was opened in 2008 by owner and chef Billy Allin. Though the local menu draws on seasonal ingredients and thus changes regularly, one of the consistent favorites is the wood oven whole-roasted trout with bacon mayo. The charming and welcoming restaurant boasts a unique interior layout with a marble bar featuring collected vintage glasses and facing a wall of windows, opening out onto a small sidewalk patio. Cakes & Ale has received some impressive national attention, as well--Bon Appetit named them one of the best new restaurants in America, and chef Allin was named a James Beard Foundation semifinalist for best chef in the Southeast.
Opened in Fall 2009, Miller Union has received plenty of local and national accolades for their authentic yet modern Southern cooking, everywhere from Bon Appetit to Food & Wine and The New York Times. Co-owned by executive chef Steven Satterfield and general manager Neal McCarthy, the two work together to create a cozy environment within the industrial warehouse building, each room boasting a different interior feature like nooks, high ceilings, chandeliers and a breezy patio. Don’t miss the farm egg baked in celery cream—they sell 250 a week. Farm-style cooking and the use of mostly local ingredients aside, Miller Union is especially known for their wine, even being featured in Wine Enthusiast as one of the 100 best wine restaurants in America in 2013 and being named a 2015 James Beard Semifinalist for outstanding wine.
The General Muir
Chef Todd Ginsberg, named a 2015 James Beard Semifinalist for Best Chef in the Southeast, and his deli-inspired restaurant seem to always be in the press, for everything from their famous burger to their interior design. They burst onto the scene in January 2013, being named one of the best new restaurants by Bon Appetit, and have only grown since. The General Muir has been praised by Atlanta Magazine, Southern Living (as one of the best restaurants in the South), and Creative Loafing, among many others. While their burger is famous, their hand-rolled and boiled bagels, pastry chef Chris Marconi’s creation, are their best sellers.
Gunshow combines the serving styles of Brazilian churrascaria and Chinese dim sum (some of the best in the country according to Travel + Leisure) to create a one-of-a-kind taste that Esquire named one of the best new restaurants in country in 2014. Pricing is a la carte, and the chefs personally hand-deliver each dish to customers tables to describe the taste, technique and inspiration, making turning down a plate near impossible. Though Gunshow relies on in-season ingredients and changes their menu weekly, some of their continuously popular items include the Closed on Sunday Chicken Sandwich (a tribute to Chick-fil-A’s sandwich) and Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts.
Bruce Logue has been in the restaurant business for almost thirty years, spanning everywhere from Italy to New York. He opened his neighborhood restaurant BoccaLupo in April of 2013, where he handmakes every noodle in-house daily. Since opening, BoccaLupo has gained a special place in Atlanta’s heart with many local awards, including recognitions by Atlanta Magazine for best Italian in the city, Creative Loafing and the AJC. If you decide to visit the bungalow-style hotspot, make sure to try Logue's legendary squid ink spaghetti with calabrese sausage and red shrimp—they sell over 100 every week.
When Ford Fry opened this oyster bar in 2012, it exploded onto the scene and was immediately named Esquire’s Restaurant of the Year. Intricately designed from an old ham-aging facility into a nautical fish camp, The Optimist has two distinct spaces: the primary restaurant and a beach-inspired oyster house. They sell over 5,000 oysters a week, and executive chef Wesley True enjoys combining Asian ingredients to add an unexpected umami quality to dishes like fish sauce in the gumbo and miso black garlic puree with hanger steak. The Optimist was also recognized as one of the best new restaurants in the country by Bon Appetit in 2013 and Travel + Leisure as one of the best seafood restaurants in the U.S.
Though Gerry Klaskala’s local gem has been open since 2000, it has not ceased in gaining praise for their menu, updated nightly. Voted best dessert in Atlanta and ninth overall by Atlanta Magazine, Aria offers a manicured and elegant interior design with a main dining room and the option of a more intimate upper balcony. While their dessert is difficult to ignore—we’re looking at you, chevre cheesecake with fresh blackberries—the butter-braised Maine lobster and the pan-seared jumbo New Bedford sea scallops are not to be missed.
When most think of steak in Atlanta, Bone’s likely comes to mind. Awarded the best restaurant in Atlanta by Zagat in 2014 and the number one steakhouse in America sixteen years in a row, the five-star, critically-acclaimed seafood and steak restaurant has been wow’ing meat-lovers since 1979. Take a page from Atlanta magazine, who awarded Bone’s the place to go if you’re eating on business, and take your colleagues out for an expertly dry-aged rib eye, paired with a selection from the beyond-robust wine list, featuring everything from affordable and classic Californian pinot noir for around $33 to $500 Cristal for the finest of ocassions.
One of the best restaurants in Atlanta according to Atlanta magazine, this high-class Japanese sushi mecca has a sophisticated and elegant space designed by artist Todd Murphy, who followed the wabi principle of Axel Vervoordt to create a harmonic balance. Opened in 2013, Umi is arguably the best sushi in all of Atlanta and was founded by co-owner and chef Fuyuhiko Ito. Umi’s signature dish is the Yellowtail Jalapeno—selling about 300 orders a week—made of expertly-sliced yellowtail spiked with fiery jalapeno chiles, bright cilantro and tangy ponzu sauce. But it’s hard to order something displeasing, as Umi flies in their highest quality fish from all over the world on a daily basis.
Restaurant Eugene and Holeman & Finch
Linton and Gina Hopkins are perhaps the restaurant power couple in Atlanta. He, the chef, and she, the sommelier, created both Holeman & Finch Public House—the home of the very best burger in town—and Restaurant Eugene—the third ranked restaurant in Atlanta by Atlanta magazine. Restaurant Eugene, a fine dining spot revered for their service and elegance, takes Southern ingredients to create a delicate and refined taste, with dishes such as lamb sweetbreads with English mustard, apple and honey; while Holeman and Finch, burger aside, offers more casual southern classics like Nashville hot chicken sliders, pimiento cheese and housemade charcuterie.