The best-kept food secret in the country? Atlanta. The Peach State capital is not only the place to dine on quintessential Southern fare, but it also happens to be host to a melting pot of different cuisines from around the world (hello, Thai-fusion-Southern dining). So whether you’re looking for a new local spot or just passin’ through ATL, here are 16 of our favorite eats to check out in Atlanta.
16 Things You Absolutely Must Eat in Atlanta
Aunt Bertha’s Fried Chicken At Old Lady Gang
Basically the best name for a restaurant ever, this Cranberry Hill eatery serves up traditional Southern staples, like Aunt Bertha’s signature fried chicken (a family recipe that keeps the chicken extra juicy) with a side of collard greens and “Kandi” yams. Need more of a reason to go? The restaurant is owned by none other than Real Housewives of Atlanta’s Kandi Burruss.
177 Peters St. S.W.; 404-692-4407 or oldladygang.com
The San Gennaro Pie At Antico-pizza Napoletana
There’s a reason you can almost always spot a celeb getting their foodie fix at this nondescript pizzeria. Spicy salsiccia, sweet peppers, bufala cheese and onion: It takes a lot for us to say this, but it may be the best pizza we’ve ever had…and we’ve had a lot.
Multiple locations; 404-724-2333 or centrostorico.it
Angry Mussels At Jct. Kitchen & Bar
Order the Angry Mussels with bacon, serrano chile and onion, and you'll have little to be mad about. This trendy eatery in the Westside Provisions District specializes in refined comfort food. Not full after the mussels? There's bacon mac and cheese, fried chicken and, oh yeah, did we say bacon? Just make sure to get there early for a specialty cocktail at the upstairs outdoor bar.
1198 Howell Mill Rd.; 404-355-2252 or jctkitchen.com
Carnitas Tacos At Superica
If you haven’t been to Krog Street Market (a warehouse home to dozens of amazing eats), make Superica your first stop. The Tex-Mex food is more authentically Mexican than most, and we hear the carnitas tacos made with pork belly are To. Die. For.
Multiple locations; 678-791-1310 or superica.com
Pimento Grilled Cheese At Joy Café
Home to one of the “best grilled cheeses in America” may sound like a lofty claim, but you’ll understand when you step inside this bright and cheery husband-and-wife-owned eatery in Midtown and take one bite out of the savory pimento grilled cheese with tomatoes and bacon (just ask for extra napkins to mop up all the drool from lookers-on).
1100 Peachtree St. N.W. #110; 404-996-1377 or joydelivered.com
The Hot Chicken Biscuit At Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall
Drizzled with honey and served on two of the fluffiest biscuits we’ve ever seen, this dreamy Atlanta eatery does Nashville’s hot chicken biscuit staple as good as any Tennessee joint. Strings of twinkle lights, outdoor seating and a view of the Beltline’s Eastside Trail provide atmosphere for the “elevated campfire food,” which also includes “redneck mimosas” and sticky buns to round out your brunch experience.
684 John Wesley Dobbs Ave. N.E.; 404-458-6838 or ladybirdatlanta.com
The Steamed Lobster Buns At Seven Lamps
This buzzy Buckhead establishment can do no wrong, especially when it comes to the fluffy and sweet brioche buns full of juicy knuckle and claw lobster chunks. Oh, and don’t forget dessert: bee pollen ice cream, cashew fudge bars and white chocolate mousse éclairs, oh my!
3400 Around Lenox Rd., #217; 404-467-8950 or sevenlampsatl.com
Grilled Spanish Octopus At Gypsy Kitchen
We love the tasty tendrils of cooked octopus with chili pepper glaze at this teal-and-mahogany-hued Buckhead staple. The union of traditional and modern Spanish, Moroccan and Indian influences is apparent in not just the endless tapas and shared entrées but also the pretty decor and low-lit exotic atmosphere.
3035 Peachtree Rd. N.E.; 404-939-9840 or gk-atl.com
Kale-crusted Salmon At Poor Calvin’s
“Thai fusion with Southern influences” may seem confusing, but we promise it’ll all make sense when you take your first bite of the kale-crusted salmon with risotto. The off-menu item gives the perfect amount of crunch with a hint of Thai spices and sweet miso mango cream.
510 Piedmont Ave. N.E.; 404-254-4051 or poorcalvins.com
Samosas At Chai Pani
Twenty minutes from the heart of Atlanta is all it’ll take to enter Indian street-food heaven. The second outpost of this Asheville-based Bombay eatery brings all its mouthwateringly delicious snacks, like the flaky pastries stuffed with spicy potatoes and covered in green chutney (ask for extra).
406 W. Ponce de Leon Ave.; 404-378-4030 or chaipanidecatur.com
Popcorn Ice-cream Sundae At Canoe Restaurant
Come for the abundantly green flora and fauna, outdoor bar and Chattahoochee River views; stay for the decadent dessert of popcorn-infused ice cream between layers of rich caramel and Cracker Jacks. We also hear the fried-green-tomato Benedict and she-crab soup can be a pre-game to your sundae (although we might be too eager to get anything else).
4199 Paces Ferry Rd. S.E.; 770-432-2663 or canoeatl.com
Tuna Tartare At Le Bilboquet
This fancy French restaurant in the Shops at Buckhead has all the elegant trimmings of a Parisian bistro: blue velvet banquettes, outdoor rattan seating and crisp white tablecloths. But the real magic lies in the picturesque plating of the tuna tartare with sesame dressing. One bite and you’ll think you’re in Paris.
3027 Bolling Way N.E.; 404-869-9944 or lebilboquetatlanta.com
Bone Marrow At King + Duke
The delicious starters, like the bone marrow with short rib marmalade on a bed of herb caper salad and toast, are just another reason (aside from the open-hearth kitchen and extensive wine list) to add this Buckhead favorite from renowned Southern chef-owner Ford Fry (JCT. Kitchen & Bar, St. Cecilia) to your list.
3060 Peachtree Rd. N.W.; 404-477-3500 or kinganddukeatl.com
Agnolotti At St. Cecilia
Soft pockets of agnolotti stuffed with braised beef short rib, anyone? Italian-food lovers: This glamorous high-ceilinged spot in Buckhead’s Pinnacle Building is right up your alley. Definitely make time to indulge in the traditional Mediterranean fare with abundant seafood options. But you’ve been warned: You’ll only be able to experience the exquisite homemade pastas if you can stand the long wait times.
3455 Peachtree Rd. N.E.; 404-554-9995 or stceciliaatl.com
Blue Crab Fritters At Bacchanalia
These citrus and avocado crab fritters are a delightfully tangy crossover between a traditional crab cake and a hushpuppy, and we could eat 12. OK, 13. Although the recently renovated “industrial chic” Westside restaurant is a nice distraction, the locally sourced "new American" food is the real crowd-pleaser.
1460 Ellsworth Industrial Blvd. N.W.; 404-365-0410 or starprovisions.com
The Tasting Menu At Staplehouse
Stop everything and book a reservation for this sophisticated Old Fourth Ward resto’s constantly changing tasting menu. We can’t guarantee what seasonal finds you’ll get to try, but if it’s anything like the chicken liver tart or blue crab salad, we promise you’ll be texting all your friends to do the same by the end of the meal.
541 Edgewood Ave. S.E.; 404-524-5005 or staplehouse.com