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Best hole in the wall in Atlanta

We are traveling to Atlanta for a weekend, would love to find the best "holes in the wall" for great, casual meals. Like restaurants that we probably would't step into without a rec. We've traveled a good bit, eaten a lot of great (expensive) meals, but are really happiest eating inexpensive, yummy meals. We'll eat anything, love ethnic food of any sort, and are staying in the Buckhead area, but are willing to travel 2o minutes or so. Thanks!

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  1. Ann's Snack Bar, Harold's BBQ, Silver Skillet, The Colonnade, Matthews Cafeteria.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Notaslavetofashion

      agree Silver Skilletis like a time warp back to the 60s,and Harolds is great

    2. Bankhead Fish & Soul. 1651 Donald Lee Hollowell Pky, ATL 30318. Big portions, tasty food.
      Gets my vote for best hole in the wall.

      1. Vortex for burgers
        Gu's Bistro for incredible chinese, esp Szrchuan
        Canton house for dim sum

          1. I second Colonnade & Matthews Cafeteria for Southern food. Vortex for burgers, Brickstore Pub for great pub food (take Marta to the Decatur Square...don't bother driving), Lee's Bakery for a fantastic pork bahn mi, and Manuel's Tavern for anything. You also might like Henri's Bakery in Buckhead--hard to call a French bakery a hole in the wall, but it's very old school Atlanta and fun to visit for a coffee and cheese straws. No Buckhead lady would throw a shower without their cheese straws & petit fours. Another gem in your area is Anis Bistro, although I hate to post it since word may get out and it will get packed.

            1 Reply
            1. re: ebennettatl

              My grandmother was very good friends with the owners of Henri's in the 70's and beyond, and I worked there a few summers. I still remember the Po' Boys and cheesestraws, and rave about them to this day!

            2. Might be a stretch at 20 min, but if you are looking for true hole in the wall, I would head to Chinatown food court. It can be a little tricky to find. Here's the website:


              There are numerous options in the food court including:

              - Hong Kong BBQ - Best Chinese BBQ in Atlanta IMO, good Malaysian selection.
              - Chongqing Hot Pot - Good Szechuan food.
              - Oriental Pearl - Good DIm Sum and Cantonese selection on Sunday mornings.

              1. First time post and I hope I am not breaking any rules, but Harold's is a terrible suggestion. I understand that it used to be a pretty good place and it certainly has a nice "feel" to it (it definitely looks like a BBQ joint), but the food is subpar. The past few times I've driven by, the crowds seem to have been dwindling at lunch, so the public may have picked up the decline as well.

                Ann's Snack Shop is great, assuming she still owns it (I think she was looking to sell last year).

                Silver Skillet is a good place for simple diner meals as is Matthews in Lilburn.

                if you're headed to Gwinnett, Rico's World Kitchen in Buford is an absolute must stop.

                6 Replies
                1. re: PoppasPTLClub

                  Ann's Snack Shop is still there... but you have to be prepared for how special Ann is. She can be...off putting if you are uninformed.

                  1. re: PoppasPTLClub

                    Agree on thumb's down for Harold's, especially when Atlanta 'q is on the upswing, and its outside the 20 minute rule. If you want to try bbq while in town, try heirloom, community, or Fox Bros. , all meeting your 20 minute rule. Go out Buford highway to Lee's Bakery for bahn mi & pho, and further out Buford for Korean [2 options, names escape me .....]. If you like spicy Szechuan, Peter Chang's [which is pretty near Heirloom] or Gu's Bistro, out Buford. Burgers at Farmburger, right in Buckhead, or down Piedmont at Grindhouse [and get a white russian milkshake while there ....]

                    1. re: RxDiesel

                      It's the great debate among Banh Mi fans, but I think Quoc Huong just up the road has much much better banh mi. Actually Lee's ranks pretty low in my list. If you're willing to drive a little bit further north to Jimmy Carter Blvd, I would highly recommend Huy's Sandwiches as well. As for pho, neither Lee's nor Quoc Huong do a good job. Stick with Pho Dai Loi or Pho Bac in my opinion.

                        1. re: LizATL

                          Hong's is gone now, right? I remember driving by a while back and noting that. I still tend to hit Nhu Y Deli and enjoy their banh mi.

                          I ate at the Com in Dunwoody for lunch several weeks back and was impressed by their banh mi (and by the lunchtime crowd- it was pretty packed).

                          1. re: ted

                            Yes, Hong's is gone. It's been many years since I've tried Nhu Y and at the time I wasn't too big a fan. Not that they were bad, but that there were better options around. Actually, years ago we did a fun banh mi taste off. Blissful Glutton documented it and it's still on her blog site (http://blissfulglutton.com/where-can-...).

                  2. Great thread - we're relocating to the Atlanta area and were on a scouting trip earlier this week. Fried chicken at the Collonade was a great meal, lunch at Matthew's Cafeteria was an experience. Thanks for the recs!

                    1. EATS on Ponce if you're into jerk chicken/southern sides/cheap pasta bar and ridiculously good garlic bread. Large portions, low prices. Fellini's pizza, any location (I prefer the McLendon loc because it's quieter)