five foodies coming to atlanta
I know absolutely nothing about Atlanta restaurants but need some help. We need restaurants for three nights and we're staying at the Marriott Marquis (on Peachtree ave. -- sorry, I don't know what part of town this is). We'll have a car but don't want to drive more than 10-15 mins. unless it's really worth it.
We're looking for one "southern" restaurant and then everything else is up for grabs. We want great food, and a little bit of a scene (we range in age from late-20s to mid-40s). Tapas would be good, I think, as are any other suggestions. We'll probably do one splurge night (entrees in the high $20s) and the rest we want to be economical. Any suggestions?
You must come to Watershed in Decatur; it is right outside Atlanta, very easy to find. Our Executive Chef, Scott Peacock, is nominated for the Beard Award, along with his and Edna Lewis's cookbook, The Gift of Southern Cooking. You can check out the webiste at watershedrestaurant.org for more info...I think if you want a true Southern eating experience, you should certainly come here.
I can think of so many places you would probably like to go, it's hard to narrow down to a few. For something more upscale, you could try Bacchanalia or the Floataway Cafe; for something totally off the charts, wholly delicious, and surprisingly cheap, you must go to Kool Korners deli, on 14th St. Authentic Cuban sandwiches prevail in this modest little stop-in, run by an elderly Cuban couple. For true Italian delights, go to Alfredo's on Cheshire Bridge. A cozy, unassuming environment with excellent service that allows you to forget the world outside and concentrate solely on traditional recipes and all things tomato.
If you want more info, you can email me. I'm in a rush right now to get to work, but I'd love to give you some more suggestions.
Definitely page down through the board and see what folks have written in terms of suggestions in the past.
FWIW, Maria doesn't mention that Alfredo's is very old-school Italian. It's like someone used the wayback machine to transport a 70's vintage restaurant into present day Atlanta. Or maybe it's just been there forever w/o an update. If you're interested in updated/northern Italian, there are other, better choices.
And I believe that Kool Korner has pretty limited hours, maybe just lunch and only weekdays, but it's been a while. "Modest" is an understatement- it's pretty sketchy looking from the outside, and I don't think there's anywhere to eat inside.
Maria, do you work for Watershed? No gripes about the place- it's very good. But I think it's against the board's rules to push the place that pays you.
Alfredo's does not just look like its from the 70's - it has been there since then. When I was growing up in Atlanta, this is one of the restaurants we most often went to, because it was one of my grandfather's favorites. What this meant was that I thought of Italian restaurants as places to get extremely heavy food - shrimp drowning in butter, pasta drowning in goopy tomato or cream sauce etc. The staff was very friendly, always greating our party by name and making a big deal about the fact we were there, which is why, I think, we went so often. However, we would almost always stagger out feeling a little ill. I would definitely not recommend this for someone used to lighter and more delicately prepared italian food. In fact, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, and eventually boycotted those dinners.
Oh, I didn't know that. I stumbled across this page for the first time yesterday, and the first thing I saw was this message board. So...sorry.
Oh well, no one likes my suggestions. I still think Alfredo's rules; who cares if it's got the 70's decor. I'm there for the three cheese ravioli and the Il Podrino...the heavier the better! Who's thinking about fake wood paneling when the old waiter's accent causes me to taste the wine in my mouth before it's brought?
And the mention of Kool Korners makes my mouth water immediately every time. Must be the sauce.
If you happen to be in Atlanta on a Tuesday night, I suggest going to Watershed for Scott Peacock's famous fried chicken. Another New Southern restaurant fairly close to your hotel is South City Kitchen in Midtown. For old-school Southern try Mary Mac's, on Ponce de Leon Avenue.
As for tapas, if you're looking for a festive scene, Loca Luna makes some of best mojitos in Atlanta. It also has some pretty tasty tapas. For a quieter meal, I'd head to Pura Vida. All are within easy driving distance of your hotel.
You can find all the restaurants I've mentioned on accessatlanta.com or atlanta.citysearch.com.
Since you're staying downtown, you might consider Luxe. It's fairly new, occupying the space of a dearly-loved and ultra-trendy restaurant called Mumbo Jumbo that closed last year. But Luxe has been getting good reviews--this would be a cool, "scene-y" option. Here's the Citysearch review:
Mitra is a fun new Latin-American influenced restaurant in Midtown--pretty close to your hotel. The scene is sort of trendy casual. I took my Mom and we had a lot of fun. It's become very popular, so if you want to go, make reservations early. I've also heard that Mitra has a nice patio--perfect for Atlanta in the spring.
Mitra's in Midtown. Uneven in my experience, but popular and the biggest local restaurant critic (John Kessler) ended up giving it a thumbs up.
I'd sooner go to either Tierra (pan-Latin) or Pura Vida (tapas) for a sure bet experience, but Mitra's definitely more of a scene at the moment.
South City fine for the sort of southern food that's been dumbed down (inevitably, as you can't really get the sort of food they're trying to market in a restaurant), but I'd go with Watershed. The chef is Scott Peacock, co-author with Edna Lewis of a cookbook that's been nominated for James Beard. Located in a renovated garage (that at one time held a florist that supplied the flowers for my wedding, but never mind all that).
South City is part of a group of restaurants that includes The Food Studio, located intown west in an arts center called King Plow that used to make (huge surprise) plows. Very good, and easy access from downtown.
I'm in Greenville, so not completely up on Atlanta's newest and coolest, but I'll weigh in here with another vote for Watershed. I tried it 'cause it was one of the picks in Gourmet a few years ago, and was not disappointed. Great chic/casual atmosphere, good food. I only had lunch there, but it's on my list of places to revisit the next time I'm in town. I remember having a glass of Caymus Conundrum there, my favorite white wine, and rarely found by the glass. That gave Watershed a gold star immediately.
BTW, I avoid anything w/ Buckhead Life attached to it.
I'm also quite fond of Brasserie Le Coze in the Lenox Square Mall (it is a sister restaurant to Le Bernadin).
If you're staying downtown, head to Inman Park (2 miles east). Here's what I recommend:
Breakfast/brunch: inexpensive: Highland Bakery, Thumbs Up, or Parish...Babbette's is a little more $ but great.
Wisteria hands down for a fresh spin on local southern fair, but it's not the stereotypical heart attack "southern" stuff you might be looking for a la Paula Dean.
For your splurge night, head to Rathbun's (or Rathbun's Steak down the street), Shawn's, or Sotto-Sotto for Italian.
You can keep it reasonable in a tapas way at Rathbuns with their small plates. Can't recommend Pura Vida because the bread's no good and that's the point of Tapas, right? Fritti is next door to Sotto Sotto, is the same owner, and is less expensive (gourmet pizza & good apps) with a big fun patio; very good and very consistent.
Hard to beat Highland Pub or Vortex for a burger.
That's my take and I live here!
Watershed or Restaurant Eugene for Southern, both Beard nominees and relatively close (cab distance to downtown). If you choose Watershed, have a drink afterwards on the Decatur square at Brick Store Pub. If Eugene, try Holeman and Fitch next door -- everyone's raving about their mixology skills!
Watershed is an excellent recommendation for your nice night out.
Wisteria is great, all round. One of the best values in my humble opinion. Certainly a local joint. Vortex for burgers. If you want Cuban, try Las Palmeras on 5th in residential Midtown.
Have fun! Let us know what you choose.
An awesome place for Southern Cuisine is Mary Mac's Tea Room. We took the subway to it, short walk from the terminal. Definitely worth the trip - Their shrimp and grits were amazing! The serve single entrees or "family style" dining so you can try a bit of everything with your group.
Southern food - JCT Kitchen. Wicked good.
Foodie Food - I like Vine in the Highlands. Never been to Bacchanalia, but I hear tremendous things about it. Also - Canoe is another great choice (I hear Canoe :))
Highland bakery for breakfast/brunch - Ummmmmmmmmmmmm. Helluva good.
My personal pick for Italian would be Soto Soto (313 north highland) its great, everything thats been said about Alfredo's so far is spot on - it is unusual and quirky but I dont think I would make an out of town trip there (albeit the bread is addictive!) not to mention its location (adult activity)
Floataway cafe is an excellent choice.
If you have any lunch needs you owe it to yourself to travel Buford Hwy cooridor Little Saigon had the best PHO you have eaten, its at the back of a shopping center at Dresden and Buford Hwy
Killer Korean - So Kong Dong 5280 Buford Hwy - amazing tofu soup and awesome korean bbq
Mings BBQ in asian square shopping center - true experience