While it flies a bit under the radar compared to other Southern food destinations like Charleston and New Orleans, Atlanta's culinary scene is one of the best in the country. Among the Southern staples—no one does fried chicken and the classic meat and three like Busy Bee Cafe—you'll also find plant-based burgers, world-class sushi, Lao street food, and bagels and lox that rival any New York City deli.
And while Atlanta—particularly Buckhead—has its share of fine dining, the city's gastronomy really shines in chef-driven, low-key neighborhood spots, be that Maricela Vega's vegetable-forward small plates at 8ARM or Bruce Logue's house-made pastas at BoccaLupo. And no trip to Atlanta is complete without a visit to Buford Highway, a four-lane highway in the northeast part of the city where you'll find tacos, dim sum, and other international fare.
Here is a list of 16 of the best restaurants in Atlanta.
Miller Union is understated Southern fine dining at its best. Housed in a former warehouse on the Westside, the restaurant's kitchen is helmed by James Beard award-winning chef and Georgia native Steven Satterfield, whose simple yet composed dishes let the ingredients—sourced primarily from local farmers—shine. While the menu changes seasonally, one year-round, can't-miss dish is the farm egg, which swims in rich, silky celery cream and is served with thick wedges of crusty bread. Other standouts include the vegetable plate, the expertly curated wine list, and the house-made ice cream sandwiches (available at lunch only).
This Atlanta institution has been serving up the city's best soul food to residents, including Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., since the 1940s. Along with arguably the city's best fried chicken, the Westside restaurant specializes in classic Southern fare like BBQ ribs, fried catfish and pulled pork sandwiches, and fried shrimp served with all the sides: think candied yams, broccoli cheese casserole, and fresh collard greens.
Located in a former train depot just off Decatur Square, Kimball House is known for its top-notch bivalve sourcing and award-winning cocktail program. Yes, the weekday $1 oyster happy hour is worth the trip alone, but don't sleep on the rest of the menu, which features understated yet expertly composed dishes that make the most of the restaurant's large garden. Want to splurge? Try the $110 steak dinner or the caviar with Carolina Gold rice middlins.
Celebrities and locals alike flock to this no-frills Reynoldstown spot, which dishes up hearty portions of Southern classics like biscuits and gravy, cheese grits, and pimento cheese sandwiches seven days a week. Try one of the city's most iconic dishes, the comfy chicken biscuit—a juicy fried chicken topped with thick sausage gravy and served on a perfect flaky biscuit.
This Doraville restaurant is dedicated to Lao street food, with many of the recipes passed down for generations from chef Thip Athakhanh's family. The menu includes flavorful, vibrant dishes ranging from curry puffs and larb (meat salad), to noodles and pho, to main dishes like lemongrass wings and mok pha (steamed herb fish wrapped in a banana leaf). Save room for dessert, which includes mango sticky rice and nam van as well as iced coconut milk topped with fruit and tapioca jelly.
Even five years after its opening, reservations here are still some of the hardest in town to secure. Chef Ryan Smith's eight- to 10-course tasting menu is both innovative and artfully plated, making the most of hyper-local ingredients and the restaurant's backyard garden. Regardless of season, some staples remain, like the chicken liver tart. Know that dining here not only tastes good, but does good: Staplehouse is the for-profit subsidiary of Giving Kitchen, a non-profit that provides emergency assistance to food service workers in times of crisis.
Comfort food and classic technique collide at chef Deborah VanTrece's Westside restaurant. Expect Southern staples with a global twist, like the black-eye pea salsa served with house-made chips, or the pork steak and scallion dumplings. For a heartier meal, opt for the fried chicken plate: Topped with sweet potato apple chutney, the juicy and tender meat pairs perfectly with three-cheese macaroni and a braised jalapeño collard green roll.
A New York-style deli in the heart of Atlanta? That's exactly what you'll find at The General Muir, whose homemade bagels, latkes with applesauce, and towering sandwiches (try the Reuben) are worth the wait, especially for weekend brunch. The restaurant's burger, with American cheese, shaved onion, and pickles, is arguably the city's best, while the cheesecake is made in-house. In a hurry? Grab a cup of coffee and a pastry or bagel with lox to-go from the counter adjacent to the bar.
Not even a fire can slow down pitmaster Bryan Furman of B's Cracklin'. While his Riverside restaurant is temporarily shuttered, Furman is still serving up his pecan wood-smoked heritage-breed pork, brisket, and chicken along with all the fixings at the Kroger adjacent to the Eastside Beltline. Don't skip the sides, like collard greens, Carolina hash with rice, and baked beans as well as hearty desserts like classic banana pudding.
Looking for a low-key, high quality neighborhood spot? Look no further than BoccaLupo. Located inside a bungalow on a nondescript corner of Inman Park, the intimate Italian-American spot excels at creative homemade and extruded pasta. Try the black spaghetti with red shrimp, hot Calabrian sausage, and scallions, or opt for the 20-yolk tagliatelle with wild mushrooms and Tuscan kale kimchi. Or just order from Chef Bruce Logue's tasting menu. The cocktails and wine list are stellar here as well.
Searching for a splurge-worthy meal? Head to Sushi Hayakawa on the city's famed international thoroughfare, Buford Highway. It's $185 to get a seat at the chef's sushi counter, but that's a small price to pay to watch the master Atsushi “Art” Hayakawa work while enjoying a 14-course, 2.5-hour omakase. For a similar experience with a smaller fee, try the $95 or $135 tasting menu at the sushi counter.
This James Beard Foundation semifinalist consistently lands on the city's best restaurant lists. The atmosphere is elegant but never stuffy, the globally-focused wine list tight but comprehensive, and chef Gerry Klaskala's new American fare (think slow-braised Berkshire pork and crisped boneless duck confit) is hearty without being overwhelming. A seven-course tasting menu is available every night, but if you can't snag a reservation, belly up to the bar for an à la carte menu highlighting some of the restaurant's best dishes.
Chef Maricela Vega's commitment to ethical sourcing and her Mexican heritage shine through in 8ARM's carefully curated menu, which is comprised primarily of small plates—many of them vegan and vegetarian. In addition, the restaurant has not one, but two bars: one an outdoor, neon-hued shipping container that wouldn't be out of place in South Beach, and the other an intimate 20-seat wine bar. Both offer top-notch cocktails and wines by the bottle and glass.
Skip the rest of the chaos at Krog Street Market and tuck into a booth at this intimate, award-winning bar. Menu highlights include the Cobb salad, the clam roll sandwich, and the indulgent Chuck Wagon—a 48-ounce steak that's prepared sous-vide and big enough to feed five hungry diners. Don't sleep on Sunday brunch, which is one of the city's best.
Root Baking Co. has been milling Southern heirloom grains in-house at Ponce City Market since moving from Charleston in 2017. Founded by husband and wife duo Chris Wilkins and Nicole Lewis-Wilkins, the small bakery serves some of the city's best sandwiches and pastries while also supplying bread to other local restaurants. Don't miss their pop-up, Pizza Jeans, which the couple plans to turn into a brick-and-mortar spot in the future.
Vegans and non-vegans alike line up hours in advance for a taste of Pinky Cole's plant-based burgers at both the original location in Westview and the Jonesboro outpost. Cole's approach to healthy eating is playful, provocative, and downright tasty. Take the One Night Stand, a plant-based patty with vegan bacon and cheese, caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato, and a special sauce—held together with a vegan Hawaiian bun. All burgers come with fries, but we recommend ordering an extra side of "skinny dippers," NOLA-style fried pickles with tangy blackberry mayo sauce. Come prepared to wait: Lines often snake around the block.