Best of Atlanta 2023: Eat

La Semilla

Photograph by Martha Williams

New Restaurant: La Semilla

Sophia Marchese and Reid Trapani turned their Happy Seed pop-up into a full-service Latin restaurant that just happens to be plant-based. Trendsetters have been flocking to the Reynoldstown spot, pairing mojitos and mai tais with lion’s mane steak and seitan beef crunch wraps. Eye-catching items, like the Cubarrito with picadillo and fried plantains, allow diners to eat with their senses while embracing the anti-inflammatory diet Marchese and Reid preach. The creative presentations and flavors bring Atlantans—vegans and nonvegans alike—back again and again. Reynoldstown

New Bakery: Leftie Lee’s

Located in a stall at the fledgling Olive and Pine development in Avondale Estates, Leftie Lee’s pays homage to Vivian Lee’s Korean American upbringing with creative pastries like the corn and cheese bun and black sesame blondie. It’s easy to pile the pastries high on a self-serve tray, but don’t overlook the sandwiches, such as the portobello shawarma with baba ghanouj and pickled red cabbage on ciabatta, or the Korean fried chicken with gochujang honey on a milk bread bun. Avondale Estates

Focaccia: Colette Bread & Bakeshop

Atlantans line up daily for baker Sarah Dodge’s cinnamon rolls, but the real winner is her focaccia. Herby and light, with a crisp, salty crust and tender interior, it’s well worth the wait. Poncey-Highland

No-Cook Option: Mercer Street Meals

A pandemic project turned brick-and-mortar, chef Lance Gummere’s Mercer Street Meals sells ready-made three-course dinners five nights a week. Preorder and enjoy chicken piccata, coq au vin, beef stroganoff, and more. East Atlanta

Bona Fide Deluxe

Photograph by Wedig + Laxton

Monster Sandwich: Bona Fide Deluxe

Nolan Wynn and his Banshee team pair massive sandwiches with bespoke cocktails at this quirky yet polished Edgewood establishment. Order the Chopped Chicken for a Mediterranean flavor or the Cold Cut for a taste of Wynn’s popular pepperoni mayonnaise. Eat in to fully appreciate the modern-diner aesthetic. Edgewood

Filipino: Kamayan ATL

From pop-up darling to Buford Highway hot spot, Kamayan has earned a reputation for its chicken adobo and halo-halo. While most dishes on the Asian Square restaurant menu are ordered a la carte, Mia Orino and Carlo Gan’s popular communal feasts—served beautifully on banana leaves—can be arranged with advance notice. Doraville

Southern National

Photograph by Martha Williams

Triumphant Return: Southern National

Duane Nutter and Reggie Washington ruled the roost at One Flew South before flying off to open Southern National in Alabama. Their upscale Southern cuisine is now available in Summerhill—along with an impressive drink list by Ticonderoga Club’s Greg Best and Paul Calvert. Summerhill

New Restaurant Design: Verdure

With its floor-to-ceiling windows, Verdure plays to its park-side location with an explosion of greenery thanks to Oliphia Studio. The canopy atop the bar is composed of both preserved and artificial plants, and a wall installation is by Olesya Panova of BloomsArt London. Other accents, like the limewash paint on the walls, natural-colored wood furniture, and green velvet booths, add to the space’s earthiness. The immersive decor sets the tone for the adventurous menu of Pan-African and French delights. Midtown

New Neighborhood Steakhouse: Aberdeen Steakhouse

Located in a new building in Milton’s Crabapple neighborhood, Aberdeen has everything you’d want from a high-end steakhouse—dry-aged and prime meats; a substantial wine list; dark midcentury decor—but with a more friendly, neighborhood feel. If it’s not busy, the owner and chef might stop by to say hello. The steaks are excellent, but don’t miss the wagyu beef tartare, paired with perfectly seasoned housemade chips, and piping-hot smashed potatoes filled with buttery goodness. Milton

Pie-Themed Restaurant: Humble Pie

Lazy Betty owner/chefs Ron Hsu and Aaron Phillips switched fine dining (though it just won them a Michelin Star) for fun at this trendy Westside spot. Standouts include a French onion hand pie that bursts with flavor, loaded baked potato pizza, and chocolate-
hazelnut mudslide pie—or any of Carelys Vazquez’s desserts, really. Westside

Chef Baul, Binky’s Eatery

Photograph by Wedig + Laxton

New Soul Food: Binky’s Eatery

Bryant Williams, aka “Chef Baul,” sometime private chef to hip-hop artists including Lil Baby and Migos, offers a concise and well-executed menu of Southern soul classics: turkey wings in gravy, baked chicken, and braised oxtails, plus daily specials like meat loaf on Thursdays and ribs on the weekends. Sides and desserts follow suit. It’s mostly takeout, but you can eat outside at nearby Underground Atlanta or Woodruff Park. Downtown

Chicago Sandwich: Tony’s

Chicago expat Tony Kerr serves one of his hometown’s iconic dishes: thinly sliced meat piled onto a jus-drenched roll with sweet and hot peppers. Popping up at venues from Sceptre Brewing Arts to the Victorian Atlanta.

Fast-Casual: Bibi

At this Ponce City Market food stall, the Delbar team takes its grand Persian fare and streamlines it for an on-the-go clientele, serving meze, kebabs, sandwiches, and pide with tender beef and lamb. Old Fourth Ward

Pop-Up: Stolen Goods

We wish they’d pop up more often, but it’s worth the wait. This collective, headed by Maximilian Hines of Breaker Breaker, features some of Atlanta’s top culinary stars, such as Scotley Innis, Claudia Martínez, and Bryan Furman—most all people of color. Don’t hesitate to sign up for one of their themed events (and grab one of their cool limited-release posters). Past events have ranged from a tribute to Edna Lewis to “Traptoria, Vol. 2,” featuring old-school Italian-American with a Dirty South twist.

The Lady Edison 36-month ham plate, right, is a little slice of hog heaven—and part of a broadly meaty menu at Holeman & Finch, which finally reopened this year in Midtown’s Colony Square.

Photograph by Martha Williams

Reboot: Holeman & Finch

Three years after closing their revolutionary South Buckhead gastropub, Linton and Gina Hopkins reopened in Colony Square and brought back signature dishes like the famed cheeseburger and the Crunchy Gentleman (their take on the classic French croque monsieur), along with craft cocktails. It’s the same “simple ingredients, done well” ethos the original was known for—just with less offal. Midtown

New Take on an Old Favorite: Bread & Butterfly

Billy Allin sold his charming European cafe to Demetrius Brown and Brandon Blanchard of Heritage Supper Club, who introduced a dinner menu inspired by the African diaspora. Evening options include soup joumou (Haiti’s national dish) and griot (lamb belly marinated in Haitian pesto). Fans of the pancakes, fear not: Breakfast and lunch remain mostly the same. Inman Park

Italian Takeover: La Panarda

Deborah VanTrece replaced her short-lived Serenidad with this soulful take on Northern Italian fare using seasonal Southern ingredients (think deep-fried smoked-mushroom manicotti in arrabbiata). Her daughter Kursten Berry follows the same fresh-forward philosophy to create Italian-inspired cocktails. The Cascade Heights community is counting its blessings. Cascade Heights

The batter for the fish and the marrowfat peas used to create the mushy peas, shown above, are imported from the U.K.

Photograph by Martha Williams

Fish and Chips: Wright’s Fish and Chips

No beer batter here—Wright’s prides itself on its authentic British fish and chips, featuring a perfectly light batter imported from the U.K., flaky Norwegian cod, thick fries, and herby housemade tartar sauce. Wright’s also serves excellent meat pies and boasts a market filled with imported British chips, candy, and other treats. Cumming

Over-the-Top Presentation: Tiki Thai

Don’t be fooled by its humble strip mall exterior—Tiki Thai takes “extra” to the next level. Drinks are housed in bronze sculptures (with tassels!); the Andaman Reef, a salmon, tuna, and ebi shrimp roll, surrounds a volcano, while the shrimp-tempura-and-yellowtail Sea Dweller is paired with a dragon ship. Westside

Ice cream sandwiches from Daydream

Photograph by Wedig + Laxton

Ice Cream Sandwich: Churros & Cream by Daydream and Poco Loco

Family-owned Daydream Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches teamed up with Nick Melvin’s Poco Loco on this hefty sandwich of creamy cinnamon semifreddo stuffed between two thin and chewy fudgy brownies. Snag ’em at Casseroles, Kelly’s Market, Candler Park Market, Grant Park Market, Little’s Food Store, and Poco Loco.

Modern Mexican: Oaxaca

Vegetable-forward and seafood-laden dishes stand out among regionally focused menu items at this Chamblee go-to, from the owners of Lawrenceville’s Oaxaca Tacos & Tequila Bar and Midtown’s El Valle. Save room for eye-catching desserts like the deconstructed corn husk meringue. Chamblee

Omakase Table

Photograph by Martha Williams

Trend: Omakase

For years, Atsushi “Art” Hayakawa drew customers to his Buford Highway restaurant for the promise of exquisite omakase dining. The reservation was notoriously hard to get, but customers who made it to the six-seat sushi bar were treated to beautiful sashimi, fresh uni, and other delights crafted in front of them by the James Beard–nominated chef. This year, the chef moved his restaurant, Hayakawa, to the Westside’s Star Metals building, where he continues to serve the intimate meals ($315 per person) that just won him a Michelin Star. It’s fitting that this omakase master moved to what has become the epicenter of this now extremely trendy experience. In addition to the popular Edomae fare at Mujo, which was just awarded a Michelin Star, Omakase Table, opened this year by chef Leonard Yu, serves a 20-course meal ($235 per person) that includes fish warmed with Japanese binchotan charcoal and an ethereal tamago flavored with sweet shrimp. Meanwhile, up at the Perimeter, the newly opened Omakase by Yun serves a 16-course meal ($185 per person) from Georgia-born chef Jonathan Yun, who trained in both Japan and the Michelin-Starred New York City restaurant Sushi Nakazawa. One unique bite, called the “Big Mac,” features four decadent layers of fish and uni. And earlier this year, James Beard–nominated chef Jason Liang added a 17-seat omakase room when he moved Brush Sushi to Buckhead Village, dropping the previous “Izakaya” name and menu and serving an Edomae-style omakase meal ($275 per person) that includes fish seared on a binchotan grill.

Japanese Steakhouse: Prefecture Japanese Steakhouse

The former Restaurant Eugene space in South Buckhead has been transformed into a sleek, trendy Japanese steakhouse with a unique tasting menu. The $175 per person omakase features eight courses that primarily focus on different preparations of wagyu steak. Other small plates are available a la carte, including oysters topped with yuzu and serrano relish. Excellent craft cocktails include the perfectly sweet Saving Grace, made with lychee, Japanese vodka, and pink guava. Beautiful presentation and a jazzy soundtrack add to the vibes. Buckhead

Biscuit: Bomb Biscuit

There’s a reason why the New York Times proclaimed Bomb Biscuits one of its top restaurants in the country: With all of these biscuits’ buttery, flaky layers, they truly are the bomb. With options like lemon pepper chicken or chicken sausage and pimento cheese on a cheddar jalapeño biscuit, the hardest part is choosing which sandwich to feast on. Inman Park

Gnudi: Little Sparrow

Tired of making fried chicken, Ford Fry replaced longtime favorite JCT Kitchen with a snazzy brasserie called Little Sparrow. Here, chef Bob Ryan’s massive cacio e pepe ricotta gnudi steal the show. Dense yet bouncy, they come dripping in butter and cheese, with shaved white truffles adding to the indulgence. Snag some bread to help soak up the sauce. Westside

Breaker Breaker

Photograph by Martha Williams

New Seafood Joint: Breaker Breaker

When Breaker Breaker’s bright yellow metal structure appears ahead of you on the BeltLine’s Eastside Trail, you know you’re in for a good time. It doesn’t matter that Atlanta is hundreds of miles from the coast—Breaker Breaker brings the saltwater ambience to us, with cheeky decor (check out the mounted sailfish and framed vintage issues of Overdrive) and fresh seafood options like ceviche, po’ boys, and charbroiled oysters. Reynoldstown

New Food Stall: TKO

The city has no shortage of food halls and, in them, a lot of repeating concepts. It was refreshing, then, when TKO went from pop-up to food stall at the Southern Feedstore in East Atlanta Village. Chef Lino Yi’s dishes are a little retro, a little indulgent comfort food, and all of them reflect his Korean American upbringing. Keep an eye out on Instagram, where he posts such OMG-need-this-now specials as the kimchi burrito with kimchi fried rice and sweet soy–marinated beef or the loaded crinkle fries with kimchi chili, nacho cheese, grape tomatoes, and gochujang sauce. East Atlanta

$3 Breakfast Sandwich: The Best Sandwich Shop

As simple as it gets, the Best Sandwich Shop’s basic breakfast sandwich features egg folded omelet-style on a barely toasted sesame hoagie. Add cheddar and bacon for an upcharge, or splurge on the oh-so-fluffy Basket Ricotta Scramble ($4.50), served open-faced with scallions on the same soft sub. Poncey-Highland

Survivor: Tyde Tate Kitchen

With South Downtown’s promised reincarnation up in the air (due to Newport’s sale to the Braden Fellman Group), foot traffic hasn’t exactly bloomed as promised. But that’s not stopping newcomer Tyde Tate from feeding the area exactly what it needs: a bright, welcoming space with authentic Thai recipes (try the panang curry beef) and tasty Thai tea. Downtown

Modern Diner: Roshambo

Sometimes you want to go where you can order French toast alongside chicken Parmesan for dinner—that’s what diners are for, and Roshambo offers an updated version of the classic eatery. Yes, it’s pricey (a goat-cheese-and-mushroom omelet with a side of Tater Tots runs about $17), but the portions are huge, the atmosphere is warm, and did we mention you can get that French toast (with mixed berries) for dinner? Peachtree Hills

Mezzelune: Indaco

This BeltLine newcomer from the team behind O-Ku, Colletta, and Oak Steakhouse serves a variety of Neapolitan pizza, but its handcrafted pasta is where it truly shines. The sweet potato–stuffed mezzalune gives off autumnal vibes with sugar and spice and everything nice. Old Fourth Ward

See all Best of Atlanta 2023 winners

This article appears in our December 2023 issue.

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