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NYC chowhounds ISO Atlanta suggestions

Hey there, sorry for the long post, but here's the situation I hope you guys can help with:
3 NYC chowhounds are going to be in Atlanta for an all too short weekend, next weekend, and are trying to find some great places to try. We like pretty much anything that's great food, atmosphere, service & value. We're native NYers and eat out a lot, and always like to try what's new, maybe trendy, and good. Willing to go to more expensive places, if they are truly wonderful, but overall we want good food & good experiences. Anywhere interesting and different is always great too.

Keep hearing Rathbun's is recommended, but not sure about it. From some research, here's a list below of what seems interesting and keeps coming up. Comments, suggestions on this list, any any other excellent places please?

Two Urban Licks
Enoteca Carbonari
Bacchanalia (is it only prix-fixe available?)
element (no website? still open?)
Antica Posta
Restaurant Eugene
French American Brasserie (FAB)
atlanta fish market
Avra Greek Tavern (lunch?)

Especially intereste in hearing: If you had to pick one great dinner to have, where would it be???
If we won't be able to get to dinner until late, (9-9:30, or maybe later) one night, is there a great place that serves late?
We especially need 1 dinner place, one late lunch/very early dinner (pre-flight home), and would love some great brunch/lunch suggestions.

We will be staying in Buckhead and will have a car, so getting around isn't a problem. I've never spent any time there except taking the train thru the city once, so don't know how quick getting around will be, but we're pretty open to going anywhere.

Also, any places/stores/food related outings you can suggest we might want to go on as well?

Thanks so much for any advice! We know very little about Atlanta and want to make the most of it!

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  1. If you do a search on your topic, I am sure you will find a lot of info. One not-to-miss place may be the Dekalb Farmer's Market. It is not really a farmer's market, but it may be fun for you. Nothing you couldn't find in NCY, but it is a lot under one roof.

    As for higher-end, I would still recommend Joel, although they have just renovated and I don't know what the space is now like. Folks around here tend to like Bacchanalia ( not just prix fixe) and Quinones. Element is now closed.

    Personally, I don't recommend Rathbun's. But that is just MHO. We have found it lound and overly salty.

    You should check out atlantacuisine.com for more info.

    1. I second the suggestion to hit YDFM- it's fantastic. If you cook (which your eating out a lot may mean 'no') it'd be worth it to pack a bag w/ super cheap spices to take back. Decatur, in general, has a neat, small-town feel, though most of the chow choices are elsewhere. If you like beer at all, The Brick Store is one of the best beer bars in the country. If the weather's nice, getting lucky and grabbing one of their outside tables for lunch is a beautiful thing.

      You could also try Alon's bakery in Morningside for baked goods in general, and great take-away sandwiches in particular.

      On your list (bully for you for posting with a list instead of asking for a spoon feed), Restaurant Eugene is my most recent outing. I can't say enough good about their bar- if you're into great cocktails, they're leading the pack in ATL, I'd say. And I really enjoyed my meal, also. But it also was a pricey night out, with most of the entrees north of $30.

      As for late night eating- there was a thread back before Labor Day by someone looking for late dinner options. Search for Dragon Con (or maybe 'klingon')- that's what they were in town for.

      1. hay there :) glad to hear you're visiting our city!

        First off the bat...let me try and edit the places you shouldn't bother with. Two Urban Licks...no way. Cool space but mediocre food and service. Element would have been a great destination but it, unfortunately, closed on Thursday. The Fish Market is often considered overrated...and Feast is nothing special and a long way from Buckhead.

        I cannot speak about Avra or FAB as I have not been there...but early reports from FAB were average at best.

        Bacchanalia - and its higher priced sister, Quinones - are the best meals I've had in my years in Atlanta. They're not cheap and they are long meals...but darn are they amazing. Quinones is one set menu. Bacchanalia is prix fixe with options for each course...unless you can snag a seat at the (very small) bar where you can order a la carte.

        Eugene is also good...but the recent mumblings from there have indicate som erratic results from the kitchen. Aria is good...but a LOUD dining room and quite expensive. I have always enjoyed my meals there...but I am not sure its worth the money when you could go to Bacchanalia, etc.

        Rathbun's is a place I have always enjoyed...especially when a group of people go and order apps/small plates and drinks. The dining room is quite loud...but I have always had good experiences there and the service is quite good.

        Instead of Antica Posta (also ungodly loud and expensive, IMO), try Sotto Sotto or La Tavola for Italian. They're in Virginia- HIghlands, a very charming part of town.

        A few other dinner recommendations would be Ecco in Midtown. Everyone I know has had great meals there (have the fried goat cheese with honey or the stuffed piquillo peppers. The Globe in Midtown would be a good spot for lunch or dinner....cool interior, nice cocktails, good food. An interesting dining experience is also Pura Vida, which is unusual South American Tapas.

        For lunch, you could try Taqueria Del Sol - cheap and fast eats, great jalepeno corn chowder. There are 3 locations. Also, sandwiches from Star Provisions (the gourmet store at Bacchanalia) are always a sure bet.

        Hope this helps! Enjoy your trip :)

        5 Replies
        1. re: runningwithtweezers

          wow, thanks so much everyone- i'll have to do some more research and check eveyrthing out!

          i do actually cook a lot as well, and i do like a great cocktail, so those suggestions are all wonderful. the Dekalb Farmer's Market sounds liek a great idea too!

          is there anything special as far as brunch?

          1. re: PhishFoodie

            Runningwithtweezers is correct. I have always enjoyed Anitca Posta. I would like to add Woodfire Grill, great food there. You would like the Virginia Highlands area too.
            Have a great time in Atlanta. There is always the Ritz for brunch too!

            1. re: PhishFoodie

              I forgot to put Aria in my 2-cents worth....absolutely can't go wrong with Aria. And you would be remiss not to research Joel as a possible choice. Bones for steakhouse is great. My last great NY meal was Il Mulino.
              Please comeback and post your choices and what you thought of them.

            2. re: runningwithtweezers

              I like Avra a lot - Kyma is another Greek restaurant that's in Buckhead. Kyma is more upscale, fancy-shmancy, while Avra is a bit more low-key but still really good. (Altho had terrible service at Kyma last week.)

              Also like FAB - not quite as polished in its new incarnation, but still great food.

              Italian - Portofino or La Tavola.

              There was a post on brunch a few weeks/months back..........

              1. re: runningwithtweezers

                Thanks for saying what I was thinking about Eugene. Last meal there was spotty.

              2. Bacchanalia and Restaurant Eugene would be my 2-cents worth. Atlanta fishmarket is very tasty/fresh, but not an experience like the Bacch. and Rest. Eugene. Bacchanalia also has Star Provisions, which is a mini market, where you can puchase great bottles of wine at reasonable prices, many of which you can't find/small wineries, as well as gift shop, meats, spices, this giving you a way to kill time while waiting, also the chef owner won james beard award and continues to excell...how is that for a run-on sentence?

                1. Restaurant Eugene's chef won the Iron Chef America challenge in Atlanta against the chefs from Bacchanalia, Rathbun's and I can't remember the fourth chef. He, Linton Hopkins, is supposed to be on the show competing sometime this year?

                  1. thanks again everyone for all of the suggestions. we've been researching and trying to decide... we're going to attmept to map out our weekend later.

                    didn't realize that the Taste of Atlanta is this weekend too (a lot of foodie related stuff going on!), so we're planning to visit that for some other restaurant sampling, the Dekalb Farmer's Market & the Coke tour (must sound silly & terrible here but we love our D.C.)

                    Narrowed down our major dinner choices to Bacchanalia, Joel and Restaurant Eugene. We have a reservation at Eugene, while Bacchanalia was filled, so are sticking with that for now. It'll be one of those. My father is actually down there now and asked the hotel concierge for recs. He said Eugene was defintiely in his top 1 or 2 pics and was great. So everyone seems to be in agreement!

                    Has anyone done the tasting menu at Eugene, or know how much it runs?

                    We're thinking about some of the Italian places as well- a few have very appealing menus where it seems it'd be hard to go wrong (aria, sotto sotto & la tavola) I'm so craving braesola right now! Another choice might depend what is open Sunday and if we can have a super late lunch/very early dinner before coming home. Still need to look into that.

                    We are big steak lovers, & looked at Bones (and know there's capital grille, ruth's chris etc. down there) but figured we wanted to try some more inventive, unique places.

                    so that's where we stand now... thanks so much! if anymore breakfast/brunch thoughts come to mind, please do tell. don't really need to do the Ritz! ;)

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: PhishFoodie

                      Kevin Rathbun's Steak is a new one in town - I have heard it's a place to be seen but haven't heard as many details about the food.

                      1. re: PhishFoodie

                        The Flying Biscuit is awesome for breakfast although far far away from Buckhead. Murphy's in the VA highlands is also a great place.

                        1. re: jsss1322

                          The Flying Biscuit is HANDS-DOWN the BEST for breakfast ... and they have a new location in Buckhead. It's where West Paces Ferry meets I-75, on Northside Parkway. If they have the Sweep Potato Pancakes ... get them. Past, sausage, and eggs sounds weird ... but is EXCELLENT.

                          1. re: ATLyumz

                            The Flying Biscuit is not so great since they sold out to become a chain resto.
                            Ray's by the River has a great brunch, Canoe too, although their service can be spotty. Murphy's is great.
                            Oh and Zocalo has a Sunday brunch also, if you feel like some mexican.
                            Have a great time.

                      2. ok, so we're back & thought i would report back on the trip...

                        i ended up getting sick and not wanting to do much running around, nor was my throat (& taste buds for that matter) feeling so great, so that, combined with a number of other factors caused for some changes in our plans... so we ended up staying pretty local (Buckhead) for the most part, and after all, just was not feeling up for Eugene. Very disappointing but there were too many factors against us. I do hope to get there and/or Bacchanalia next time!

                        we got in in time for lunch, asked at the hotel and they told us to go drive towards the lenox mall b/c there was a lot that way. decided to just go to The Clubhouse Restaurant b/c it was the first thing we saw over there & were able to park near it. I wasn't expecting much, but we split a delicious carne asada cobb salad, cooked perfectly as requested, and a huge club sandwich. We loved the food, and the service was amazing- everything anticipated before we even had to ask, which was a great treat. That was just the beginning of all the great southern hospitality we experienced all weekend. I would love to have had drinks & desert at the Clubhouse, but had to go on my Coke world experience :-) I drank/tasted (or tried to) plenty there!

                        We found out there was a Seasons 52 in Buckhead, so my mom & I had to go there. We have always had wonderful experiences there and have only been able to go in Florida before. Plus, we were craving a few (many haha) small desserts after seeing & not having any at the Clubhouse. I knew they'd make me feel better . So we had a great, relaxed dinner there including some of the tomato flatbreads, a duck salad, and great scallop dish w/ asparagus & cous cous. And a new wine.

                        Found a great brunch place in the Buckhead Bread Company/ Corner cafe. It was really charming & delicious. Tried something I normally wouldn't order, so it was a good change of pace. The mini muffins they serve were a nice touch too. And coffee was good, at least I think it was... Damn my cold!

                        For dinner, after cancelling Eugene, decided some comforting Italian sounded good, so went back to the ones that kept getting mentioned: Sotto Sotto, Portofino , Ecco & la Tavola. Since it was last minute, took a quick peek at opentable & Sotto Sotto was available, so we went there, & ended up having an amazing meal, great wine & wonderful experience.

                        Loved the wine list, the waiter was helpful & knowledgeable, the manager/host was friendly as well. (we ended up talking to them for a bit afterward) it was definitely just the kind of place we like- comfortable & neighborhoody, (though a bit warm, but we did end up next to the kitchen, so...) elegant while crowded, cozy, yet upscale & delicious of course. We thought we'd be much too overdressed, but were very pleasantly surprised at the vibe of the place and the area in general.The menu was very much something we all go for, thus had to have one of everything! The neighborhood was really cute to drive through as well.

                        We started w/steamed clams, then salads (I was so craving beef bresola & it was delish (had a bit too much oil on it for me, but still great), mom had a pear salad, dad had a mista I think. Then we moved onto a pasta course (ravioli nudi(spinach gnocchi) that just melted in you mouth. We could have eaten that forever! 2 of us had the wooden plank roasted fish of the day. It was so simple & great. One had seafood risotto, which I loved too.

                        None of the deserts thrilled us (i was hoping for something like an affogato) and I was full of great food and felt a lot better, so we stopped there. I did have a chocolatey nutella martini though.

                        We also had one nice lunch at Goldfish: calamari which we enjoyed, and a seafood/shellfish sampler that was a ton of good food & great value for 3! I think it would have been almost double the price anywhere at home...

                        Also checked out the Buckhead diner, just for deserts, which we were thoroughly unimpressed by...

                        My dad ened up at One Main Kitchen ( I think that's the name?) twice over the week that he was in town and really liked that too. An associate of his with similar tastes went to Bacchanalia and said it was wonderful, and Bones, which he said was not so good. So that's the report from some NY foodies!

                        Wish I could have made Decatur/the good beer bar & the DeKalb Farmer's Market, and one more nice dinner. Thank you all for the advice & look forward to dining there again sometime! The service level / hospitality was SO wonderful nearly everywhere, though in talking to people it turned out so many were from the Northeast & NY in particular, which was amusing. People were just so friendly & helpful at all the restaurants, and our hotel & at Coke world haha. So, thanks all!

                        1. I'm so glad to hear that you had a positive experience here, despite your being under the weather. It's very true that Atlanta is turning into a city full of transplants. I don't think I know *anyone* that is an Atlanta native. I hope you get to come back and try out "the big dogs"...although Sotto Sotto is nothing to sneeze at :)