ATLANTA for 8 weeks!
Coming into Atlanta to work. Will be staying out near North Atlanta @ the W Perimeter but
will have a car. I live in Los Angeles and we eat all manner of food. The only prerequisites are quality, value and service. We eat everything. Just has to be GOOD!! Price is important but
value is too. From down home to upscale. From taco carts to Michelin and everything in
between. Looking forward to a fabulous culinary journey. THANKS!!
Wow, you can do a lot of damage in 8 weeks! I'll give you one chowhound's version of greatest hits, first, things you won't replicate in LA... Warning, none of these are particularly close to you and can be traffic pains...
Abattoir, Holeman & Finch/Restaurant Eugene, Watershed, Woodfire Grill, Cakes & Ale, Repast (which is Southern+Asian!) - all excellent choices that I would put a few notches above a bunch of other places in town with similar themes (4th and Swift, Dogwood, South City Kitchen, etc.)
Busy Bee, Carver's, The Colonnade - Busy Bee is my favorite of the bunch, more soul-foody
Dynamic Dish - even if you are not vegetarian, this is a great place
FLIP burger is a fun place with interesting alternate takes on burgers and great milkshakes, Star Provisions is a sister to Abatttoir and is an awesome gourmet market and sandwich stop for lunch - their fried seafood poboys are stellar, Fox Brothers BBQ offers some excellent Texas style BBQ, Octane and Dancing Goats for coffee
Everything else: for just about anything else, Atlanta will suffer a bit in comparison to LA. We do have lots of good places, but not mandatory Atlanta visits. Just a few of many... Korean (Honey Pig, So Kong Dong), Vietnamese (Pho Dai Loi, Lee's), Sushi (Taka), Tacos (El Rey de Taco), Italian (La Pietra Cucina, Sotto Sotto, la Tavola), Ital/Med (Ecco), etc. Buford Highway, not far from you, is the home to a great number of the city's true ethnic gems (several listed above) from Chinese to Korean to Vietnamese to Mexican to Bangladeshi and so on.
Ok, this is the take of a non-Atlantan who finds herself here about 4x a year.
Today we went to FLIP Burger Bistro for lunch. DH was quite skeptical about an upscale burger joint, and I was a tad skeptical myself after seeing the (beef) burgers--their dimensions appeared wrong to me, too thick for their diameter--and I must confess that I absolutely feel I must have mayonnaise on my burgers, and these do not . Always a sucker for lobster, I ordered the lobster burger; DH ordered the standard Flip Burger. We were seated at the chef's bar, and everything we saw come out looked fantastic, including the (to me) oddly-shaped burgers.
My doubts were unfounded. The food was terrific. DH took one bite of his burger and said, "I'm glad you brought me here. I know I want to come back." But he was really in thrall to his milkshake--chocolate mole--which was otherworldly delicious. His fries were fantastic, too. My lobster burger was, I think, more flavorful than almost any lobster roll I've ever had, and I've sampled them throughout New England and just about any where I have the chance. My french fries were fried to a perfect shatteringly crisp. All this for $34, admittedly pricey for a burger lunch, but remember I had a lobster burger ($16). We thought it was a real bargain.
Besides the beef burgers, there is a long selection of "alternative" burgers: aforementioned lobster, crab, tuna, salmon, and chickpea to name just a few. Other very interesting sides and salads.
Great concept--an "upscale" burger joint without upscale prices. Good for a quick lunch, but also a great date place with, I've heard, excellent cocktails.
I agree with Biskuit that Buford Hwy offers a treasure trove of inexpensive ethnic restaurants; we've eaten at several chinese and vietnamese places, none of which has disappointed though these are, of course, not where one goes when one is wanting ambiance.
Favorite splurge is Bacchanalia--same folks who run Star Provisions, which has fantastic take-out. (We picked up some for tonight's dinner.) But if you can do one big splurge, I highly recommend Bacchanalia, as good the last time we went a year or so ago as it was the first, many moons ago when it was in Buckhead.
We also love Rosa Mexicano for upscale Mexican. Yes, it is a mini-chain I, but we ate at the first in NYC,and have found the food consistently delicious even as it has opened outposts in DC and Atlanta, and I adore the pomegranate margaritas.
For good and reasonably healthy southern (kind of an oxymoron, "healthy" and "southern") breakfasts, we always like The Flying Biscuit Cafe. Still prefer the original funky location near Emory.
Also like the brunch at Buckhead Bread Co. Corner Cafe--and their grab-and-go sandwiches.
Both are very greasy experiences, so only go if you need lubrication.
I think both are probably about the experience more than the food. Varsity as one of the original/oldest drive-ins around. Fat Matt's for music.
If you're looking for good food, go elsewhere. Attached is a photo of the last time I bought ribs from Fat Matt's. It's just not really BBQ.
There are places in the world where people get drunk and hit each other in the arm as hard as they can until one of them gives in and says "enough".
That doesn't mean that it's something to be recommended to out-of-town visitors. We must treat our guests civilly, after all, and not punch them in the gut, so to speak.
* Rosa Mexicano - NYC's best Mexican restaurant has branched out to open a few other locations. Guacamole is best on the planet.
* Nava - Southwestern. I really love this restaurant.
* Flip - I'll second that. Get the Tuna Burger. It's delicious.
* South City Kitchen - Fantastic.
* Sundial at Westin downtown (for lunch). I've actually has a few really good lunches there!
I also like Kyma (greek), Alfredo's (Italian), Corner Bakery, Tavern at Phipps, Pricci, Flying Biscuit
I want to try Craft, Season 52, and Trader Vic's, and Copeland's Cheesecake Bistro but there aren't enough meals in the day.
I forgot about Nava, but you're right.
When you can and have lots of $, go to Craft. I've eaten at three of the iterations of Craft in NYC--all fantastic.
I would skip Copeland's, emphasis on skip!
We just made a second trip to FLIP: tuna burger was fabulous; DH had the Philly burger and loved it. I ordered the peaches and cream shake--calories be damned--and I will be sreaming about it for some time to come. Home now, but I can't wait to get back to Atlanta.
You have already received numerous excellent suggestions. Your greatest challenge will be deciding where to visit and where to skip. Eight weeks just isn't enough time to visit all of the worthwhile places.
AtlantaCuisine and Blissful Glutton are a couple of sites which will also offer excellent advise on where and what to eat.
My personal favorite is Mi Pilon on Buford Hwy at Mitchell Road (a half mile north of Jimmy Carter Blvd). They serve Dominican cuisine from steam tables with the choices varying slightly from day to day. They open every day from 11am on. Meals for $8.95 consist of a meat (chicken, pork, beef, goat, etc.) with a choice two kinds of rice and plantains. Servings are large.
For bbq, I would suggest Sam's Lost Mountain BBQ (formerly Sam & Dav'es BBQ 1) in Marietta. Fox Bros. receives more acclaim than any others. There are several other worthy bbq choices around the area.
Mary Mac's on Ponce de Leon is a worthy choice for southern fare - as are the other suggested places. Mary Mac's has more history and has regained its stature in the past couple of years. I now prefer it to Collonade.
As there will be some nights when you don't feel like hauling yourself into Buckhead or Midtown, I thought you might like some suggestions closer to your hotel. Alon's bakery makes fantastic sandwiches, right near your hotel. I love the lamb sandwich! Great cookies too. Another close-by choice is 5 Season's Brewing on Roswell at 285. You'll be here for the best weather of the year, so enjoying their home-brews on the patio with some local, seasonal food is a great treat.
Honestly, this seems to sum it up. One can certainly find really, really good food in Atlanta, even some great food. But anyone coming from one of the truly great food cities in the Western hemisphere, as the OP is, well, Atlanta is not one of the great food cities in the Western hemisphere. I can't imagine anyone having a fabulous culinary journey here.
That said, there's darned good Asian food on or near Buford Hwy, for instance. I guess I'd just readjust my radar a little lower if I were from La, or NY, or SF, or Chicago, etc. You ain't gotta suffer here, no way, but you won't go home raving to your friends, either. Just sayin'.
re: uptown jimmy
I have to admit, I once shared your prejudices about the Atlanta food scene, esp. as I am from a great food city. But after years of being in Atlanta several times a year, I can say that there are many rave-worthy restaurants in Atlanta, some darned good bakeries, and lots of very diverse ethnic food as good as that in other big cities. Several of the restaurants I first visited in NYC now have outposts in Atlanta--Craft, Rosa Mexicano, BLT Steak come to mind. (In fact, there are many top-notch steakhouses if that's one's thing). Then there's a branch of Au Pied de Cochon, hailing from Paris, that's even open all night. Bacchanalia, an Atlanta original, rivals great restaurants anywhere, imo. Watershed, Floataway Cafe, FLIP, Nava, etc.--all fabulous. I've had great Italian meals (though never great pizza, but I'm sure there's some out there somewhere) in atlanta and its environs. My mother's favorite Italian is the old-fashioned, unpretentious Scalini's in Smyrna, which reminds her of her favorite old-school NY Italian restaurants.
In the big scheme of things, would Atlanta "rank" as highly among foodies as NYC, SF, or Chicago? Probably not, but it keeps getting better, and in 8 weeks, one can definitely have a wonderful culinary journey.
If you make your way into Inman Park (south of Virginia Highlands and east of downtown), I would recommend the tried-and-true Wysteria. For something new in the neighborhood, try Serpas. Scott Serpa is the chef, and the food is along the lines creole/southern eclectic. These are both very good, and the price is right.