Special Feature: Products Sally Recommends

Best Restaurants in Atlanta, GA

by Shelley Skiles Sawyer    


490 E. Paces Ferry Rd. 404-233-7673
Chef/owner Gerry Klaskala, one of the most talented toques in town, wows even the most seasoned foodie with his deliciously dead-on New American fare, served in a see-and-be-seen setting in the heart of Buckhead. Dessert fans can satisfy their sweet tooth in grand style with Pastry Chef Kathryn King’s award winning concoctions. There’s a trés romantic candle-strewn table for two (or four) in the wine cellar that’s one of the best in town. 

1198 Howell Mill Rd. 404-365-0410
This special occasion treat on the Westside from Chef/owners Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison features contemporary American cuisine crafted from pristine ingredients, many from the owners’ nearby farm. The sleek renovated factory space is fronted by a must-see gourmet retail store and take-out area. Reservations are highly recommended, but if you’re out of luck, you’re not. Downstairs sister restaurant Quinones at Bacchanalia highlights elegant Southern fare served prix-fixe in a jewel box setting, and on the other side of Midtown, country French, Mediterranean and Italian-influenced Floataway Café also showcases the owners’ culinary talents.  

Bistro VG
70 W. Crossville Rd. 770-993-1156
The fresh makeover of this long-time Roswell favorite from Christopher and Michelle Sedgwick results in a sleek white space with Old World touches. In the kitchen, small plates and inventive, mid-priced fare from Chef Eddie Garcia-Guzman take center stage. Check out their website for other delicious suburban options.

3130 Piedmont Rd. 404-237-2663
Rub elbows with Buckhead’s movers and shakers at this classic American steakhouse that’s been the bastion for beef and business meals since it opened in 1979. Seasoned waiters deliver impeccable service in the warren of rooms lined with hundreds of black and white photographs that tell Atlanta’s – and the restaurant’s – history.   

4199 Paces Ferry Rd.  770-432-2663
The deliciously delightful digs on the banks of the Chattahoochee River are rivaled only by Chef Carvel Grant Gould’s adventuresome New American fare, brought to table by a ship-shape staff that helps to steer the experience over the top. This one’s a must-see, even if it’s just for cocktails.

The Colonnade
1879 Cheshire Bridge Rd. 404-874-5642
If traditional Southern fare is your thing, head to this Atlanta legend where the fried chicken (and hard-to-find fried chicken livers, if you’re game), classic vegetables and stiff, honest cocktails are enjoyed by a mixed crowd of neighbors, gays and grays. The Cheshire Bridge space is no-frills, but it fills up fast, and don’t forget your dough since they don’t accept credit cards.

40 7th St. NE 404-347-9555
Perhaps the most stylish offering from the Fifth Group (check out their web site for the group’s superb Southern, Italian, Southwestern, and New American spots), this trendy Continental is popular for its lively bar scene as well as the fresh and fabulous fare from Chef Micah Willix. Dishes include stellar charcuterie and lots of small plates, and the Johnson Studio-designed digs feature rich woods, cutting edge light fixtures, and an open kitchen, plus a patio with great sunset views.  

French American Brasserie (aka FAB)
30 Ian Allen Jr. Blvd. 404-266-1440
Fans are breathing an “ooh, la, la” sigh of relief now that the owner and chef of beloved Brasserie Le Coze have reappeared downtown after being pushed out of Lenox Square by the expanding Neiman Marcus. Chef Kaighn Raymond’s French fare has been bolstered with additional beef and seafood offerings, but his tried and true skate wing, white bean soup and sweetbreads are all must-try dishes. The huge multi-level space isn’t exactly brasserie-cozy, but regulars of the old spot will recognize the same bright yellow tiles, art nouveau statuary and sconces from the old space. Newcomers will appreciate side-walk as well as rooftop dining, spiffy service and an outstanding wine list.  

Five Seasons Brewing Co.
5600 Roswell Rd. 404-255-5911
3655 Old Milton Pkwy 770-521-5551
As if top-notch beers weren’t enough for these brewpub siblings in Sandy Springs and Alpharetta (with a third on the way near the Westside), snazzy New American eats featuring local organic grub seduce foodies from far and wide. (And the bread made from the brew master’s spent yeast is a must!) Casual lofty digs and reasonable prices are additional reasons to toast this place.

Food 101
4969 Roswell Rd. NE 404-497-9700
1397 N. Highland Ave. 404-347-9747
These Virginia-Highland and Sandy Springs New Americans have been known for their stellar comfort food for years, but we like it when Chef/partner Ron Eyester thinks out of the box (which he does often.) Casual digs, a friendly staff, and a stellar Sunday brunch are part of the picture.

Georgia Grille
2290 Peachtree Rd. NE 404-352-3517
Atlanta legend Chef/owner Karen Hilliard has been bowling over Buckheaders with her signature lobster taco, authentic Margarita’s and wonderful wine list for years. Inspired by and graced with the artwork of Georgia O’Keefe (hence the name) this casual yet romantic Southwestern is sure to please.

The Globe
75 Fifth St. NW 404-541-1487
Lauded by foodies since day one, this Midtown New American in the heart of Georgia Tech’s Technology Square has something for everyone from talented Chef Joshua Perkins. Dine in a cozy nook, a library setting, or out on the patio with its own urban vibe. Laptop not required.

Highland Tap
1026 N. Highland Ave. NE 404-875-3673
Famous for their arctic martinis and spot-on burgers and steaks, this below-street level Virginia-Highland classic is a popular haunt for the Emory crowd and intown neighbors. The rock-walled bar can get smoky and loud, but diners can take refuge in deep, dark booths. This is also THE place for bloodies the morning after.

2285 Peachtree Rd. 404-352-3081
Hookah pipes, flamenco and tango dancing define the scene at Chef /owner Rita Benjelloun’s Spanish charmer in South Buckhead that pulses with a good vibe and great, easy-to-share small plates. If the curtained, pillow strewn booths of this spot entice, be sure to check out her husband’s lair, Imperial Fez, next door for a multi-course Moroccan meal that’s hard to forget. www.imperialfez.com

JCT. Kitchen & Bar
1198 Howell Mill Rd. 404-355-2252
Fresh from the farm and decidedly better than grandma’s, the Southern-inspired farmstead cuisine of Chef/owner Ford Fry is just what the doctor ordered. Old-fashioned tin lanterns, white-washed bead board and the occasional passing train lend ambiance, and the bar upstairs boasts expansive views of downtown and Midtown.

3290 Northside Pkwy. 404-233-3500
Chef/owner Joël Antunes (who got his Atlanta start at the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead) has earned a national reputation for his bright, fresh approach to French food with frequent Mediterranean and Asian accents. The lofty and modern Buckhead space is one of the prettiest in town.

3085 :Piedmont Rd. 404-262-0702
As the next generation of Atlanta’s most prolific restaurant family, Chef Pano Karatassos Jr. carries the torch for authentic Greek cuisine with classic French refinements at this transporting Buckhead favorite. An ocean of fresh fish displayed on ice, massive columns, flickering white candles and an azure blue ceiling glittering with stars – get the picture?

Madras Saravana Bhavan
2179 Lawrenceville Hwy. 404-636-4400
This decidedly no-frills Indian vegetarian in Decatur is at the top of the heap thanks to flawless cheap fare served in vast, spicy portions.

MF Sushibar
265 Ponce de Leon Ave. 404-815-8844
Pure, sparkling and perfect pretty much sums up the edible works of art from sushi master Chris “Magic Fingers” Kinjo (hence the “MF”) who with his mod brother Alex wow Midtown fin fans with the most sought-after sushi in town.  Look for another location in the heart of Buckhead, or, if eye-openingly authentic Vietnamese fare is your passion, check out Nam, their other Midtown spot. www.namrestaurant.com

Muss & Turner’s
1675 Cumberland Pkwy. 770-434-1114
For a bite of deli perfection with a hefty dollop of gourmet thrown into the mix, check out this Smyrna hot spot where talented chef/owner Todd Mussman shares his passion for pastrami perfection. Dine in or take out, but don’t miss it!

Nan Thai Fine Dining (Tamarind)
1350 Spring St. NW 404-870-9933
With its lofty ceilings and authentic Zen-like décor, this drop-dead gorgeous Midtown Thai is one of Atlanta’s favorites for upscale (read: not cheap) eats that are as beautifully presented as their surroundings. For a more casual yet equally delicious experience try their nearby sibling Tamarind. 

1082 Huff Rd. NW 404-350-8787
This tucked away lunch-only winner near the Westside is praised for its globally inspired sandwiches, such as Italian panini, Mexican tortas, and our hands-down favorite, the Bahn Mi – flavorful Saigon sandwiches that are worth searching out. Industrial surroundings are hip and casual, and pleasant counter service matches the friendly prices.

111 W. Paces Ferry Rd. 404-869-0777
Chef/owner Tom Catherall is back in the kitchen (taking a break from overseeing his vast empire) at this Buckhead hot spot located in the beautifully renovated residence that used to house Seeger’s. Grab a snack and people watch at the bar, or enjoy a romantic meal in the cozy dining room.

Pura Vida
656 N. Highland Ave. NE 404-870-9797
Tapas never had it so good thanks to Chef/owner Hector Santiago and his deft hand when it comes to elevating an over-done trend to a menu full of can’t-miss-mouth-fulls. Mojitos, sangria, an effervescent staff, and occasional live music are additional reasons to go to this casual Poncey-Highland gem.

112 Krog St. 404-524-8280
Given the super-star status of Chef/owner Kevin Rathbun, you would expect – but won’t find – pretense at this wildly popular New American in a Johnson Studio-designed renovated stove factory in Inman Park. The dishes sing with flavor, and the perfectly-sized sweet bites from Pastry Chef Kirk Parks (who followed Rathbun from Nava) are no-brainers. Dig into the other outposts of Rathbun’s expanding empire across the way (Krog Bar) and the newly opened Rathbun Steak just down the street.

Restaurant Eugene
2277 Peachtree Rd. 404-355-0321
Well-sourced, local and often organic products shine in the hands of Chef/owner Linton Hopkins whose passion for what he does shows up on every elegant plate. Co-owner (and wife) Gina carefully crafts a stellar wine list to compliment the fare at this foodie favorite. And there’s a rare bonus at this one – you can actually hear your dining companions.

Seasons 52
90 Perimeter Center West   (770) 671-0052
3050 Peachtree Rd., NW (404) 846-1552 
These casually upscale Dunwoody and Buckhead spots are on the cutting edge of a growing trend. Healthy yet surprisingly tasty food (including perfect shot-glass-sized desserts) and a vast selection of wines by the glass make it deliciously easy to be good and gourmet.

1029 Edgewood Ave. 404-577-4358
The original Atlanta darling of fresh and local, Shaun Doty finally holds the keys to his very own space in Inman Park where he delights fans with his seasonal New American eats, including staples such as chicken liver and watercress salad and a stellar hangar steak. The intimate neighborhood bôite is stripped down to the barest necessities, including an open kitchen, communal farm table and cozy patio.

Sia’s (Mitra)
10305 Medlock Bridge Rd. 770-497-9727
There’s no need to drive to Buckhead if you’re in the neighborhood of this suburban gift from seasoned restaurateur Sia Moshk and his superstar chef Bruce McQuain, whose spot-on cooking is worth the trip from anywhere. Anything on the menu of New American eats with occasional Asian and Southwestern accents is a fair bet. If you’re inside the Perimeter, Mitra beckons with spicy Latin charm. www.mitrarestaurant.com

Six Feet Under
415 Memorial Drive 404-523-6664
685 11th St. 404-810-0040
Overlooking legendary Oakland Cemetery in Grant Park, this stellar pub and fish house reels fans in with casual but well-prepared fin fare and burgers, and a huge selection of beers. Its popularity has spawned a new Westside location with unrivaled views of downtown and Midtown.

Sotto Sotto
313 N. Highland Ave. 404-523-6678
This small, sexy spot in Poncey-Highlands is one of the best Italians in town thanks to the refreshingly authentic fare of Chef/owner Riccardo Ullio. Reservations are recommended but if you arrive unprepared, his more casual Fritti is right next door where the wood-burning pizza oven turns out stellar, crispy-thin pies. (Ullio’s Roman-inspired empire will soon expand to include Beleza, a Brazilian juice and raw bar, as well as Cuerno, a Spanish venture.) 

Table 1280
1280 Peachtree St. NE 404-897-1280
Worthy of the fine works of art at the adjacent High Museum (and sporting a few of its own) this tasty New American and its chef Joshua Perkins offer simple, seasonal fare. The decidedly modern dining rooms and breezy bar with three glass walls overlook the impressive Renzo Piano-designed museum expansion.

Tasty China
585 Franklin Rd. #B3 770-419-9849
The buzz is as hot as the food at this affordable strip-mall dive that’s worth the drive to Marietta for the vast and varied menu of Sichuan stand-outs. Focus on can’t miss dishes such as the fish and cilantro finger rolls (an appetizer), Chen Chang beef, and roasted fish in green onion – instead of the pink walls and tacky lanterns – and you’ll be more than fine. Go early as the lines snake out the door, and don’t forget to BYO as the liquor stores in the area are sure to disappoint. 

1745 Peachtree St. NE 404-214-0641
Hearty bone-in cooking is the main draw at this expansive South Buckhead charmer from Gary Mennie (ex Canoe), but the bouncing bar scene and beautiful skyline views are additional reasons to head on over.

1425B Piedmont Ave. NE 404-874-5951
Chef/owner Ticha Krinsky neatly folds the four corners of the Latin world into her vibrant Pan-Latin fare that’s an education on a plate. The tiny Ansley dining room (with expansive patio out back) is adorned with rich colors and black and white photos of the tierra that inspires the place.

1180 Peachtree St. 404-815-3337
Three’s a charm for Concentrics Restaurants (also check out ONE. Midtown kitchen and TWO. urban licks) and this Midtown French home run featuring flawless modern offerings from Executive Chef Jeremy Lieb. Modern and light, the dining room is a see- and-be-seen spot, as is the street level bar, where talented mixologists whip up some of the city’s most mesmerizing concoctions.

406 W. Ponce de Leon Ave. 404-378-4900
A renovated garage in Decatur becomes surprisingly sophisticated in the hands of chef Scott Peacock (who was awarded 2007 Best Chef in America for the Southeast Region by the James Beard Foundation). His inspired Southern fare sings with the most perfect ingredients he can find, and many move heaven and earth to get there Tuesday nights for his famous fried chicken.

Woodfire Grill
1782 Cheshire Bridge Rd. 404-347-9055
The busy oven and grill that inspire the name here make for the most delicious smelling dining room in town, sparking appetites for Chef/owner Michael Touhy’s New American creations which include lots of fish, farm-fresh finds and selections from a well-tended cheese room.


Shelley Skiles Sawyer is an Atlanta-based freelance food writer and Managing Food Editor for Flavors - The Forum for Atlanta Food Culture and Dining, a quarterly publication.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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