Will be in Atlanta at the end of December and looking for dining recommendations for the following areas:
Perimeter Mall area
I'm looking for casual, not too expensive places that would have some vegetarian options, especially interested in Mexican, Italian, Thai, and Chinese.
There is a Thai place I really enjoyed in Virginia Highlands. It's not on the main road. I'll try to figure out the name. i went last year and I'm not sure if it's even still around, since I don't live there anymore.
The thing about the place, though, is that it seemed like a one-man show. The same guy greeted us, took us to our table, ordered our drinks and brought out all of our food. I'm almost certain he also cooked the food, because he disappeared for a while after he took our order.
Buckhead: Souper Jenny, Chipotle, Pasta Vino, Maggiano's
East Atlanta: Australian Bakery
Virginia Highlands: La Tavola, Surin
Perimeter Mall area: don't know the area
In the VA-HI area, I will second the recommendation of La Tavola. It's a warm, inviting space, and the dishes I've had there have been consistently good. For Mexican, you might consider trying Sala for creative Mexican cooking and good drinks in a lively setting. For a restaurant in a similar vein, but better than Tavola or Sala (in my opinion), I'd recommend venturing a mile or so out of VA-HI and trying Tierra, which serves delicious South American fare and features a terrific list of mostly Argentine and Chilean wines. Tierra is on Piedmont Road, about 1/2 mi. south of Monroe Drive.
In East Atlanta, my favorite inexpensive dining spot is The Earl, which serves good burgers and sandwiches in a pleasingly ramshackle setting. If you go there on the right night, you might also catch some good music. For inexpensive Mexican, I hear good things about La Casita, though I have not tried it.
You will not find particularly good Chinese food in any of the neighborhoods you listed. For the best Chinese cuisine in town, you will need to trek to Buford Highway. There are many good places in that area. Two of my favorites are Canton House (best dim sum in town) and Little Szechuan.
Canton House does respectable dim sum in a recently-renovated space, but Happy Valley's got more variety and better service.
If you've got a car and patience for traffic, forget about the long-gone-downhill Little Szechuan on Buford Highway, and make the trek out to Tasty China in Marietta for the best Chinese restaurant in the southeast.
Thanks to everyone for all the great suggestions. I did a little research on Buford Highway places and I think I'll have to make a trip out there. It looks like there are too many interesting options to pass up. After reading about Tasty China, I may have to trek out to Marietta too.
Thanks for all the good options.