Atlanta — the city and the show — has a love affair with chicken wings. And while we can tell you where to get the best lemon pepper wet wings (hint: it's J.R. Crickets) and other varieties of chicken in Atlanta, the city's vibrant and diverse culinary scene extends far beyond the humble bird.
So whether you're in the mood for a steaming bowl of pho, deep dish Detroit-style pizza (yes, in Atlanta) or a decadent, juicy burger, here are the 13 local foods you need to eat while visiting the Peach State's capital city.
Once limited to only 24 burgers at 10 p.m. at the original Holeman & Finch Public House in Buckhead, the city's first burger to achieve cult status — and arguably one of its best — is now more readily available. Get the house-ground chuck and brisket double stack with melted American cheese, red onion and house-made pickles on the restaurant's signature bun at H&F Burger at Ponce City Market or the Battery at SunTrust Park and at the original restaurant, which now offers just 24 burgers each at lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. First come, first served.
While J.R. Crickets has 15 Atlanta area locations, we recommend hitting up the Midtown outpost, a few blocks from where this go-to wings spot launched in 1982. Order the lemon pepper wet like Paper Boi and Darius in season one of FX's "Atlanta," or try your drums or flats with the "Crickets Hot," "Southern Sweet Style BBQ" and more than ten delicious sauces. And don't forget the blue cheese.
Get $1 oysters from 5 to 7 p.m. weeknights during the happiest of hours at this former train depot converted to contemporary cocktail bar in the heart of downtown Decatur. The restaurant offers over 20 varietals of sustainably farmed bivalves, all accompanied by clever and detailed descriptions like "green beans and cantaloupe — for real" and "driftwood and lobster bisque," plus some of the city's best drinks like the namesake Kimball House, a Negroni riff with gin, vermouth, aperitif wine and orange bitters.
The comfy chicken biscuit isn't the prettiest or healthiest breakfast in Atlanta, but it's certainly one of the most popular. So popular, in fact, the restaurant has installed a counter to tally how many plates of the juicy fried chicken atop thick sausage gravy and perfect flaky biscuit, and oddly flanked by a solitary orange, slice have been served.
While James Beard award-winning chef Steven Satterfield's menu at Miller Union changes with the seasons, this one dish is a mainstay. The perfectly baked egg floating atop celery infused cream is as comforting as it is satisfying, especially soaked up with the accompanying slices of perfectly crusty bread.
This Beltline-adjacent Italian spot — from Anthony Spina of O4W Pizza and Billy Streck of Hampton + Hudon and Cypress Street Pint & Plate (one of the city's best sports bars) — specializes in Detroit-style pizza. Think rectangular pies with super thick crusts, tons of cheese and all the toppings. Try the "Margherita in Detroit," the restaurant's version of the Italian classic, with marinara sauce, garlic, pecorino, EVOO, house-made mozzarella, fresh basil and a deep, cheesy crust.
Fried Chicken at Busy Bee Cafe
No one does soul food better than this downtown institution, which opened in 1947. The fried chicken dinner plate includes two perfectly crispy, gold brown pieces of chicken with your choice of cornbread muffin or dinner roll and two sides, like fresh collard greens, baked macaroni and cheese and candied yams.
Hash Browns at Waffle House
The Atlanta-based chain has been bringing scattered (on the grill), smothered (with diced onions) and covered (with gooey American cheese) hash browns to night owls, hungover revelers and breakfast enthusiasts since 1955.
You can also get them diced (with grilled tomatoes), chunked (with grilled hickory smoked ham) or capped (with grilled button mushrooms). Or go crazy and get all of the above.
Not only are arepas 100% gluten free, but the savory Venezuelan staples made with cornmeal are tasty as well. Try the asado negro, made with grass-fed beef roasted for 12 hours with red wine, sugar cane and cumin served with caramelized onions and Thai chili sauce at Arepa Mia, with locations at both the Sweet Auburn Curb Market and Avondale Estates.
Have a nocturnal taco craving? Skip the Taco Bell drive-through and hit up this late night Buford Highway go-to locals swear by for their tacos, tortas, burritos, large platters and potent margaritas. El Rey del Taco is open until 5 a.m. Sunday-Thursday and 6 a.m. Friday-Saturday.
Nothing is more comforting than this Southern Vietnamese soup, and we’re partial to Pho 24, where you’ll find steaming jumbo bowls of the fragrant meat broth. Choose from combinations of noodles, raw and roasted cuts of beef, tendon, tripe, and more, all topped with sprouts, peppers and herbs.
You can't go wrong with any of the handmade pastas at this Inman Park gem, but the heat and intensity of the black spaghetti with hot calabrese sausage, red shrimp and scallions makes it a menu standout.
Chicken Liver Tart at Staplehouse
While the seasonally-driven tasting menu at this Old Fourth Ward neighborhood spot is always changing, one thing remains constant: the chicken liver tart. Sign up for Staplehouse's email list to ensure you snag a coveted reservation and know your dinner dollars support a good cause. The restaurant is a for-profit subsidiary of Giving Kitchen, a nonprofit organization that aids restaurant workers in crisis.