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Mar 23, 2008 01:21 PM

Atlanta foodie scene

I'll be moving back home to Atlanta (grew up in Alpharetta) after spending 3 years in Washington, DC. One of the things I love about our nation's capital is that it has a VERY active foodie community, between message boards, blogs, and in-person events. Can someone direct me to similar things for the Atlanta area? Thanks for the heads-up--can't wait to get to know ATL as a culinary location!

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    1. re: biskuit

      biskuit has just about done a perfect job. The only place I can suggest to add is

    2. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Atlanta is not really a "foodie town". There's good food to be had there, certainly. But I recall a recent Chowhound thread about the best food cities in North America (USA, Mexico, and Canada) and I don't recall Atlanta being mentioned even once.

      There's a place called Tasty China in Marietta that is considered to be one of the best Szechuan restaurants in the country, but there's not many Szechaun restaurants in the country to begin with. We love it, and the food seems authentic. Ask for extra napkins, as you will sweat profusely. But it's not painful, just invigorating.

      My impression of Atlanta is that most Atlantans think more highly of their food scene (and their city) than is warranted. I haven't had any of my most memorable meals there, in any genre or ethnicity. Charleston, SC, a city the fraction the size of Atlanta, has a far superior dining scene.

      12 Replies
      1. re: uptown jimmy

        While I don't think Atlanta is one of the "best food cities" in the US (it may be near the bottom of the top 10), I think Atlanta can certainly be a "foodie town." There is lots of great food to be had with a bit of exploration. The masses here certainly prefer the chains, but the lucky few get to have Tasty China, and Frank Ma's, and Floataway, and Octane, and so many places on and around Buford Highway. Atlanta doesn't have the singular food culture that a Charleston or a New Orleans has, but it does have excellent diversity.

        1. re: biskuit

          Biskuit, I posted the following yesterday, but have received no responses as of yet. It sounds like you might be a good source of information. Could you please take the time to read and respond? Thanks in afdvance.

          My wife and I will be driving over to Atlanta from Birmingham in early May to attend a concert at the Cobb Energy Centre, which I understand is quite close to Cumberland Mall.

          The concert starts at 8, so our plan is to arrive in the area in time to have dinner about 6. I guess we qualify as borderline foodies. We enjoy just about every type of food, and are comfortable eating anywhere from a little store-front to a temple of haute cuisine; all we ask is that there be clear evidence of someone who knows what they're doing in the kitchen.

          We have only two broad restrictions in choosing a restaurant for this dinner: (1) We'd prefer not to be too far away from the concert venue (within 5 miles or so), and (2) we don't want anyplace too fancy or expensive. We've had two suggestions so far: SoHo and Vinings Inn.

          We'd really appreciate receiving comments on these two places as well as any other suggestions anyone has.

          1. re: iko.iko

            Add to the list:

            Muss & Turners
            Tasty China

            1. re: ted

              In the somewhat vicinity of Cobb Center, those are probably at the top of the list. For Tasty China, do a search and read the lengthy thread. Service can be brusque and it sometimes takes convincing them that you can handle the "good stuff" (unless you're Chinese, in which case, it's relatively easy).

              1. re: biskuit

                iko.iko. - Tasty China blows away anything remotely Chinese in Birmingham. True, it's Szechuan and most places here are Americanized-Chinese, but still it's head and shoulders above the offerings here. I have no idea how close it is to your destination, except it's in Marietta.

                1. re: Dax

                  Thanks, Dax. It's only a bit over 6 miles away, so that works out perfectly. Biskuit had suggested reading the thread on Tasty China, which I did, and that pretty well sealed it for me. Unless something happens to prevent it, that's where we'll be going.

              1. re: Dax

                Oh good freaking lord. That looks really, really good. I'm there, and soon.

                I was a little confused: were all these dishes ordered days in advance, or just a few of them? Frank seems worried that non-Asian folk won't like a lot of his best stuff. How hard will it be for us to order any of those dishes when me and the wife go?

                Wow. I've never seen better food porn.

                1. re: uptown jimmy

                  Per that thread, a lot of those items seem off-menu but are perhaps available if you call in advance. It might be worth a shot. It sounds like Frank is very eager to please. There are multiple AC threads on it. Not sure about Chowhound threads.


                  1. re: uptown jimmy

                    Uptown Jimmy--that link was for a pre-arranged dinner for thirty people.

                    Frank & Amy are incredible hosts. They love to chat. Go, chat them up. Tell Frank what you've read about on the net and why you liked it. If you have a preference for 'not sweet' (Taiwan cooks can go overboard on the sugar, sometimes) or home style rather than fancy, mention them.

                    As a rule, several of the special dishes from that banquet can often be had--the Shirlihon with preserved pork belly, the oyster omelet, certainly from the regular menu get the fried pork dumplings, onion pancake, chive dumpling and beef noodle with red oil (you have to ASK for the red oil).

                    Also, ask for the Taiwan Chicken Roll. Its great, and very popular.

                    And the Xiao Lao Bao (Soup Dumplings) are an absolute MUST.

                    The Tea Smoked Duck requires 24 hour notice, but ask--sometimes there's an extra order around.

                    Conclusion--Ask away. The more you ask for, the better off you will be. And don't forget the Three Cup Chicken, Sliced Fish In Hot Oil and Lionshead.

                    BYOB. Credit cards, Closed Tue.

                    You MUST get to Frank Ma's. Its a limited run. Only about 20 months remaining.

          2. Huge disagreement that Charleston or New Orleans has any kind advantage over Atlanta with regards to ethnic joints. Buford Highway is a treasure from beginning to end. Certainly you have an argument with the rest of the food scene but not for ethnic foods - not even close. From Ethiopian to Thai to Dim Sum to noodle houses to Korean BBQ all the way up to Marietta and Pao De Mel (Brazilian bakery) down to the Cuban sandwiches at Kool Korners, the ethnic scene in Atlanta is light years ahead of any other Southern city I can think of.

            Penang, Little Szechuan, Pao De Mel, Canton House, Kool Korners, Com, Nam Chung Hong, and that's just the beginning..............

            It sounds a little silly to recommend a "common" newspaper reviewer, but Meridith Ford at the AJC has a really good sensibility when it comes to ethnic foods. Go to Access Atlanta and look up her reviews.

            1. Thanks so much for the feedback--I have been writing about the DC food scene for a while, so I look forward to exploring Atlanta and all it has to offer.