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Best New Southern restaurant?

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I am in Atlanta for the week and would like to go to a "New Southern" restaurant, serving the basics of Southern Food but a bit creative, a bit farm-to-table. I was so looking forward to trying Watershed, but apparently I am a week or so too late. The following restaurants have come to my attention:
- South City Kitchen
- Empire State South
- Parish Foods
- Buckhead Diner

I don't know if which of any of these are worth eating at, and there may be others I have missed. I don't worry about the cost of the meal, if the food is good.

Can you help me find the best New Southern restaurant?

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Buckhead Diner
3073 Piedmont Road Northeast Atlanta, GA, Atlanta, GA 30305

Empire State South
999 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA 30309

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  1. I should say that I am staying downtown, but I have a car and am willing to drive reasonable distances (less than 30 minutes). Though all else being equal, closer is always better.

    1. From your initial list, Empire State South is by far the best. I had a great meal there and would go back.
      Others to consider....Woodfire Grill, JCT Kitchen, Miller Union

      1. id give Buckhead diner a shot , try their veal meatloaf and blue cheese chips--- empire is also very good

        1. Thanks to both of you. Abbatoir was also suggested to me. If you were choosing between Abbatoir and Empire State South, which would you choose?

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          Empire State South
          999 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA 30309

          1 Reply
          1. re: lwinkelman

            Menu and style so different. I would check the menus yourself and decide what you want.
            I enjoyed both. Enjoyed ESS more.

          2. I'm a huge fan of Woodfire Grill's take on farm-to-table Southern food. Their blind tasting menu is always fantastic. To date I've had sixty different dishes from their kitchen and have never left a morsel on a single plate, which is something I cannot say for any other restaurant I've eaten at.

            I've heard good things about Abbatoir and it's on my list for trying in the near future. Empire State South was quite good, although I honestly didn't enjoy it as much as Woodfire, although I'll grant it cost half as much. I liked Miller Union quite a bit, although my wife didn't think the food was all that exciting.

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            Woodfire Grill
            1782 Cheshire Bridge Road, Atlanta, GA 30324