This is an intimate, detailed breakdown of my favorite restaurants in Atlanta. It is particularly focused on Georgia Tech, and only makes some regard for spending money. In terms of that, I will try to denote what everything in the guide costs, but i'll focus mainly on good quality restaurants that in my opinion are worth the cost they are categorized under.
P.S. I have done a similar list before on Reddit, see here, but this one I will focus more on the best places you can eat at, mostly because I'd like to eventually go to every restaurant on this list that I have not been to.
This all came about when a little over two weeks ago I decided, for my birthday, that i'd make reservations at Abattoir for a good dinner with my friend, and after going, I could not have enough of the place. Admittedly, I could not stop talking about it to all of my friends and how they had to go. The waiter had even asked me if I had any allergies that I'd like to inform the kitchen about, and that to me, was the first encounter I had with wonderful service. (Note: Looking back, most places do this, but as someone who was not familiar with eating out, this was the moment that got me to love the intricacies of a perfect experience when having a meal). Don't even get me started on the cuisine, their quality was outright delicious, and I of course already have it planned to return to this heaven. As I went on and on about Abattoir, a colleague of mine, a passionate foodie, said that Abattoir was one of the only places she had not visited, because there were so many other competitive options. And so it began, she handed me a page long list of restaurants that were on the top list of places I had to go to. My mouth is now watering so lets start this roller coaster of food. I will continue to add to this list, and keep in mind it is in no particular order, since I will continue to add new places. The cost sections are generally restaurants I recommend from prior experience, but after the expensive ones is my friend's list, which has now been annotated with more restaurants another friend recommended. This is a journey that I'm glad to say will never be over.
* means I have not been there.
Restaurants - Low Cost (Usually $30 for 2):
- Lee's Bakery: Oh my god. I won't rave on for hours about this place because quite frankly, its probably the best bang for your buck in town.The food isn't anything out of this world, I mean, its really good, but if there's anything that makes me put this on the list is how ridiculously cheap it is. They also sell you their bread for what seems to be spare change, pretty legit.
- Papi's: A Cuban corner -- great sandwiches and great portions, you can walk to it from Georgia Tech during the day (Ponce can be unsafe at night), and its also very affordable. As a personal recommendation, get the special for the day, and order an Iron Beer (does not contain alcohol). It's a vanilla flavored root beer from what I can taste, it is addicting.
- Blaxican Food Truck (link): I finally got to go to the Blaxican Food Truck and it was awesome. I got some very interesting mixture of food, there wasn't anything that I would say was insanely good, but it was a fun experience.
- Yeah Burger: This is a great place for a casual meal. It might get a little pricey, but I think for 2 it should remain around 30. The food is delectable, and the atmosphere is ideal. It's what every burger joint should be. Keep in mind, you order at the cashier, and then they bring your food out.
- Taqueria del Sol: I'm shocked I'm even daring to put such a good restaurant in the under $30 category. Yeah, the expenditures can go above that, but they generally don't. It's incredible quality that is definitely worth the cost. The main downside are that its hours are rather limited, so plan accordingly.
- Silver Skillet: Well, now this is an absolute classic. It's where you should be going when people tell you to go to the Varsity (which is over hyped and over fried). A phenomenal place for breakfast, albeit the service is not always perfect. They are constantly packed, which means they will ask you politely to leave if they have people waiting (understandable). I might even consider this low cost, it barely hits 30 for 2 people.
Restaurants - Medium Budget ($30 to $50 for 2):
- R Thomas: For those late nights where you want a good meal, go here. It's 24/7, and their quality is always top-notch, although the prices are a little high. It's still dear to my heart because of the unique nights when fast Chinese food didn't quite fit the 3am appetite. Extra bonus: Breakfast is served at any time.
- Takorea: This isn't always pricey depending on what you order, but i'll put it in medium because it can get to the $30 to $50 range for two. It's a great fusion of Mexican and Korean food, worth it to check it out! (website)
- Anticos: This place is a must go. It's an absolute classic for traditional Italian pizza. You can also get it to go if you'd like, but for the most part, expect a line. You can't serve authentic Italian pizza without the entire world waiting outside. Try checking it out before the peak hours of dinner and you'll be in for a real treat.
- J Christophers: Breakfast here surprised me, in a good way. They've got a wonderful atmosphere with Georgia Tech within walking distance. They are generally pretty packed, but its definitely worth to try this.
- Flip Burger: Oh Yes. These guys know how to make some delicious stuff. Order a shake, trust me. On a side note, their burgers are notoriously small, but in my opinion, the flavor and the fact that I'm drinking a shake still leaves me rather full, so I tend not to mind!
- Gordon Biersch: Delicious beer and garlic fries. The best garlic fries. Simply outstanding. They are one of the few who understand the heavenly nature of garlic but these guys get it -- you can never have too much garlic. The atmosphere is relatively fun -- its very similar to a lot of traditional American restaurants, I personally enjoy it.
- The Vortex: Great burgers, an awesome menu (read the front page of the menu), and an overall bar atmosphere filled with skulls and other intriguing curiosities. I included it on the list because its nice to have a go to restaurant for bar food.
- Cafe Intermezzo: Go here for coffee, scotch, and cheesecake. I've never been for the actual food, but I love scotch, and they have a decent collection here. Sadly the servers / bartender didn't really know about scotch and were unable to answer some rather simple questions, but its still worth the visit. My one caveat, I hate huge menus, and they have one that feels like it goes on forever, probably because it's pages are relatively small (width wise).
- Mary Macs Tea Room: Southern food at its finest. Mary Macs truly covers the flavors of the South in a welcoming atmosphere, I personally loved it, and would recommend others to go!
Restaurants - Quality is expensive ($$$):
- Abattoir: I think you already know I love this place. Make reservations. It's the best.
- *Sundial: Admittedly, I only want to go here because it rotates. For those of you who don't know, it's on top of the Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel, and spins in a circle (yes, the entire restaurant) so you get the full view of Atlanta's skyline. I really don't know about its food quality and have never been, but it sounds like something I need to try once.
- The Spence: It's a very nice spot on Georgia Tech campus. I've only been once, but I loved the atmosphere and they had great things to snack on. All in all, I would like to look at its menu more in depth, it is very accessible from GT.
- Fogo de Chao: My oh my, need I say more. They are known for their global chain of outstanding quality. Few things are better to me than a place where I know I will get full. It's all you can eat, but unlike most places, these guys serve all you can eat meat, outstanding meat.
- Veni Vidi Vici: Mind you, this was my first Atlanta restaurant, so I am a bit bias. I celebrated my birthday here a few years ago with my friends and it was lovely. The only caveat I have about it is that the two times I've been, the atmosphere is not very lively -- it seemed to be somewhat empty, but that always works perfectly for a romantic (albeit expensive) date with some good conversation over wine.
Restaurants - 'I need to go to these' list:
From here downward, its all recommendations, I believe most of them are on the higher range of cost, although they may vary. Despite cost, all of them have been recommended by colleagues / friends because of their outstanding quality so I am on a mission to visit all of these. So far I'm at 25 out of 40.
- Floataway Cafe: Oh my god. This was insane. The meals were delicious, but their sticky toffee pudding is to die for. Will be coming back again, probably just to have the dessert for all three of my meals.
- West Egg Cafe - went here with my friends for an absolutely outstanding meal. West Egg is high up on the affordable side of this list, but it is definitely a very delicious breakfast!
- Leon's Full Service - recently went here, my oh my, what a treat! I felt it was a little bit on the pricey side, but overall it was pretty good food. My personal favorite was ordering the bacon in a glass appetizer with peanut butter on the side. Loved it!
- Sotto Sotto: recently went here with my family. Absolutely outstanding, I cannot stress how amazing this place was! Loved it. They cooked sage leaves in butter for about 15 seconds on each side, and they came out incredibly crunchy, I was entranced by this recipe in particular!
- Chai Pani: Although the atmosphere is relatively loud, I really enjoyed my meal here. It's focused on Indian street food, try the Masala fries, those were a treat!
- Rosebud: Was biking from Emory back to GT and this was pretty close on my map and didn't seem to require fancy attire which tends to be what stops me from going to random places when I bike near them. Came in, there wasn't a lot of people so I decided to sit at the bar, ordered an egg + bacon sandwich with grits on the side. Oh my god. Perfectly toasted bread, incredibly crispy bacon, avocado, NOM! everything in this was outstanding. The grits were also incredibly delicious, I had absolutely no complaints. I love that they strive to get local products, makes me want to come back here often -- a great experience for a down to earth meal. Went back a second time for the salmon (lunch menu) and that was delightful as well!
- KR Steakbar: Yes. So Perfect. There's a distinction I learned about the really good restaurants and its that they plan out an experience for you. The waiter walked us through how we should order our dishes, and the dishes came out at the right moment. I thought I'd be incredibly full with what he kindly suggested we order, but my friend and I decided we'd follow along, and the puzzle pieces of dishes came together to perfection.
- Bocado: Ahh! I am upset that I didn't go here before given how close it is to Georgia Tech. Bocado was a casual environment with some great food, definitely going back!
- Miller Union: Very similar to Bocado but a bit fancier. The Apple butter icecream alongside the rice pudding tart was delightful, I was pleasantly surprised. Sitting outside cooled my food a bit too quickly though which was my only complaint (in retrospect).
- The General Muir: This place has a wonderful history. I sat at the bar and just ate a quick burger, but I think this is the perfect merge of a casual environment with good food that had a reasonable price range. It wasn't cheap but a lot of places feel like they are overpriced because of a sophisticated environment, but this was the opposite, i'd definitely come back here!
- Iberian Pig: Oh heaven. It took me back to the beauty of Barcelona. A delightful sangria, they're own spin on patatas bravas, a countless number of tapas with new specials, this was happiness. I am personally incredibly bias because of the sentimental value but in all honesty the food was delicious, could not recommend more. I need to stop going back here and try new places, but Iberian Pig takes the prize for being one of my personal favorites in Atlanta, if anything, for the wonderful memories of Barcelona.
- Fox Bros BBQ - Went a few times now, really amazing BBQ, hard to beat.
- ONE Midtown Kitchen - One of my favorites because of its atmosphere. They've always been incredibly attentive, and I love the distinct experience you get from sitting inside (incredibly lively) vs. outside (much calmer).
- Brick Store Pub - This is a pub with a fine-dining menu. The best of both worlds to me, an endless list of beers to pick from, and delectable food to pair it with.
- Bantam + Biddy - Had breakfast here, it was wonderful but a bit too pricey in my opinion (the quinoa salad I ordered was tiny).
- Ecco - How had I not been here before?! I went here with two friends and we had an outstanding time. It was just wonderful. The fried goat cheese was a hit as always, along with the stuffed peppers. I had a flat iron steak and that was cooked to a perfect medium, a great experience. Service wise, it started off a bit slow, but then the waiter became wonderfully attentive as the night carried on which I was thrilled about. Will definitely be coming back, if anything for its great location near GT campus.
- JCT Kitchen - YES. I got the opportunity to go here for Sunday supper, they had a fixed menu and I tried the catfish from a good friend of mine, and I had the pork shoulder. Both were to die for. The apple pie though, was by far the highlight. Very unique and interesting take, it was the absolute perfect combination of flavors. What a great place. I got recommendations to visit the bar upstairs, so I will have to be back for that, and definitely back to have another meal.
- Rathbun's Steak: There are certain meals that I value as experiences and not as meals. They are finely tuned to perfection to make your entire dinner one that you will not forget. I went to Rathbun's Steak with my roommate for my birthday dinner, and it was an experience that I will most certainly remember for quite some time. Everything was simply perfect.
- The Optimist - Seafood haven. They do it right when it comes to seafood, so if that's what you are looking for, you will not be disappointed. Everything was delectable!
- Restaurant Eugene - Eugene plays a specific detail to tiny ingredients to make the experience perfect. With specific wine selections to each dish, its a meal constructed to perfection, loved it!
- King + Duke - Ah, it was just quite right. King + Duke was fairly packed on the Friday night that I went which was probably my only negative review (having a reservation we got a fairly crammed table that was hard to get in / out of without having to bump into the adjacent table). That stated, I was more than pleasantly surprised with the atmosphere and overall service we received. I had a phenomenal time, definitely will have to return for more :).
- 4th and Swift - Super fun! We sat outside, I would love to go back and sit inside as it was a bit less of an atmosphere in the few tables they had outdoors but I enjoyed my time. I was a bit torn on the sticky toffee pudding, it was excellent but there was too much caramel on the plate (like a soup of it).
- Holeman & Finch Public House - This is an excellent place for a late night snack / dinner (especially with burgers at 10). I was in love with their rendition of a Toad in the hole, it was my favorite dish.
- The Painted Pin (now open!) - A better, classier, albeit more expensive Ormsbys. I love bowling and quality cooking and drinks, they have it all here.
- Gunshow - Ahh, Gunshow. I still have the menu from when I went, a stellar concept. Kevin has given a refreshing perspective to restaurant service, it felt homey, personal, and was of course delectable.
I haven't been to these but I'm working on making this list smaller:
- Rathbuns: Try the Gouda Corn!
- Empire State South: Jars appetizer
- Community Q
- Cakes & Ale
- No. 246
- Victory Sandwich Shop
- Decatur Square Pub
- Gio's Chicken Amalfitano
- Himalayan Spice
- St. Cecilia