Must eat places in Atlanta
I will be coming to Atlanta in April for Steeplechase...what are some great places to go??
I gotta throw in Haven, which after my recent Valentine's dinner there is my new favorite restaurant in Atlanta. No, it's not special to the city or historic, and it wouldn't be on teh CH top 10 restaurants in Atlanta. However, it's very good, in-season food in an atmosphere without a hint of pretention. It's also not so super trendy where you can't get a table at 7:00 without a week's notice. In my opinion, that's a very hard combination to find.
The Varsity sucks. Period. It was the worst meal I ever had in the three years I lived in Atlanta, worse than school cafeteria food.
Great places include:
The Tavern at Phipps (I go there every time I'm back in Atlanta; try the "tavern chips" - six or seven varieties of gourmet nachos, the southwest shrimp and the cajun ones are the best! serves lunch and dinner, can be crowded on Friday night)
South City Kitchen (trendy upscale southern food)
Nicola's (garlicky Lebanese food)
Murphy's for brunch
Fat Matt's (best bbq)
Everybody's (great patio at the Emory location, smaller patio at the Virginia Highlands location; pizza, sandwiches, great big salads)
Your three years in Atlanta are far too few to qualify your opinion of The Varsity as one that should be trusted. If you don't like the food there, fine, but don't tell me that a visitor should not, time permitting, stop by for at least a frosted orange and some rings. Your designation of Fat Matt's as "best" suggests to me that you must have spent those short three years avoiding most of the other good BBQ spots in and around town
Wow, some of the responses here I totally disagree with. Calling Harold's or Haven or Tavern at Phipps or almost any of those listed a "must eat"?
Of course, thought, it depends on what you're looking for. Any more direction? Where are you coming from so we know what you can't get there?
Philosophical question: are there any "must eat" restaurants in Atlanta?
There was a Chowhound thread not too long ago about the "best food cities in North America", which of course covered Mexico, the U.S.A., and Canada. I don't remember Atlanta being mentioned one time, though I may be wrong. I think of Charelston, SC, a city a mere fraction of the size of Atlanta, as being a better food city than Atlanta by a country mile, and not even per capita.
That's not to say that one can't find good food in Atlanta. But there's a surprising lack of awesome food there, considering the size of the place. And I'd paint Charlotte with the same brush, though I've spent less time there.
I will say that Tasty China in Marietta is serving what I would assume to be something very close to authentic Szechuan cuisine, even to non-Chinese folk, and the food is amazing. It's hard to get Chinese restaurants to serve non-Chinese folk the "real stuff" anywhere in America, evidently, so this little place is a bit of a treasure. But be sure to ask for extra napkins: you will sweat. So, one base hit for Atlanta.
re: uptown jimmy
I was so glad, in reading along in your post, that Tasty China jumped out. It truly is a gem. While the original chef, Peter Chang, disappeared as he always does, the management showed their stuff and brought in some new chefs, directly from China I think, who picked right up where Peter left off. Great Chinese food, great food period, and a real credit to ATL.
Tasty China is amazing. We were blown away, and twice.
The chef actually stood at the kitchen doorway and smiled at us as we devoured his food. We were sweating and moaning and rolling our eyes, mopping our brows with stacks of napkins. The food is so good, so right, so real.
I had always heard about Szecuan food; it was a pleasure to experience it first-hand.
We eagerly await our return.