Find out about the best restaurants in Atlanta and why you should consider visiting them to taste their signature cuisines and experience their atmosphere.
There are hundreds of restaurants across the city, each with bragging rights of how delicious and sumptuous their dishes are – and to be honest, the chefs in the South are famous for their exceptional culinary skills.
I have compiled a list of the ten best restaurants in Atlanta and why they are worthy of your time and money.
10 Best Restaurants in Atlanta
1. The Optimist
The Optimist is housed at 914 Howell Mill Road, in a building that was once a stark warehouse in a gritty West Midtown area.
Today, The Optimist is the Numero Uno of Ford Fry, and the Food King behind over ten restaurants. You can enjoy great tasty meals at The Optimist anytime you walk in.
One of the most delicious menu items here is the lobster roll, rated by many to be one of the best dishes in the city, period.
The Optimist also has one of the city’s best happy hours from Monday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. It also runs through Saturday and Sunday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. with $1 Oysters and $5 punch cups.
Overseen by Chef Ryan Smith, Staplehouse is still one of Atlanta’s restaurants with the hardest-to-get reservations.
While the frenzy is slowly losing momentum, now you can book just a few weeks in advance if you’re interested in eating early or late. Staplehouse opened in 2015 with a tasting menu, changed over to a la carte, and then reintroduced a 10-course tasting menu all over again.
Don’t expect the same menu from one night to the next. But some of the regulars are Smith’s famous chicken liver tart, decadent potato bread, and exceptional vegetable dishes like a light fennel soup. Others are monkfish with lemon and ginger dressing.
One of the best news about Staplehouse is that profits from the restaurant go to The Giving Kitchen (a nonprofit initiated by the Hidingers to provide support to Atlanta-area restaurant employees facing sudden hardship.
3. JCT. Kitchen & Bar’s Fried Chicken
Fried chicken is one of the iconic dishes of the South if you’re looking for the best spot to enjoy it, head for JCT. Kitchen & Bar’s Fried Chicken. How the super-tasty chicken made is stunning.
First, the Georgia-raised Springer Mountain Farms chickens are soaked overnight in a salt and herb brine, dipped in a buttermilk-egg mixture, dredged in seasoned flour, deep-fried and crisped in a cast-iron skillet. Once it’s ready, the delicious chicken served with house-made hot sauce and collard greens.
Though there are other spots in Atlanta producing great-tasty chickens (like Matthews Cafeteria and The Colonnade), JCT symbolizes the present guard of Southern-style dining with super cocktails, a lengthy wine list and excellent service all available in an industrial elegant dining room.
Umi is one of the most favorite spots for Celebrities visiting Atlanta. The restaurant has a delightful menu created by Chef Fuyuhiko Ito.
One of such tasty meals is the madai (Japanese red snapper) carpaccio, often dressed with sea salt, lemon, olive oil and yuzukosho, or the thinly sliced yellowtail, with cilantro, ponzu and jalapeno peppers.
The two tasty meals are outstanding examples of Ito’s command and skill. If you don’t enjoy raw, you can order the lobster toban-yaki, which is served with its petite griddle over blue-hot flames.
You can also enjoy nuggets of sweet lobster meat soaked in creamy soy-butter sauce and left to sizzle until golden and caramelized. And guess who the restaurant’s pastry chef is? Chef Ito’s wife, Lisa! She is famous for her legendary green tea soufflé.
5. Antico Pizza Napoletana
Always emulated but never fully equaled, the pies at Antico are famous for being legendary. The experience is often described as being Classic Naples, which is true since the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. The restaurant’s founding brothers Giuseppe and Giovanni Di Palma’s family are from Italy.
The restaurant’s kitchen wall is lined with three custom wood-burning Acunto ovens, each producing a blazing heat of 900 degrees, so the pizzas only need just 60 seconds to get the charred crust and airy light interior.
Even more, the classic margarita glitters with D.O.P. buffalo mozzarella, basil and garlic, San Marzano tomatoes, and the San Gennaro is a crowd-pleaser with mozzarella, red peppers, Italian sausage, and caramelized onions.
You can pluck some crisp basil, sprinkle some imported olive oil and take a seat wherever you can get anywhere in or outside the kitchen. The pizza lasts until the final batch of dough ends up in the oven.
Bon Appétit named Spring as one of America’s best new restaurants in 2017. But when you visit the restaurant, you may find it hard to believe that you’re in the right spot.
The famous restaurant is sheltered in the bones of a 1,000-square-foot former train depot, and just a few blocks away from suburban Marietta Square, and you can spot the white sans-serif lettering “Spring.”
Amazingly, Spring only has 14 tables, each lit by a single Edison bulb, and leave you in awe; there’s no bar. So what makes the restaurant so unique? Chef Brian So uses classical French techniques to produce entirely made, Iconic Southern dishes that keep both city slickers and locals returning for more.
The restaurant’s delicately selected list of wines is intended for pairing with So’s gorgeously composed meals. Interestingly, many of the wines are biodynamic, organic, and not the usual ones you find on retail.
7. Woo Nam Jeong Stone Bowl House
Housed in Seoul Plaza on Buford Highway, this restaurant serves traditional Korean fare created by its famous chef Young Hui Han, fondly called grandma. Regulars who enjoy Korean dishes never hesitate to order for its custom dish: dolsot bibimbap.
The meal is served in a scorching hot cast iron stone bowl, which allows the rice to turn out nice and crispy before it is mixed. You should also taste the banchan, which “grandma” makes each day.
Other tasty foods on their menu include the haemul pajeon (seafood scallion pancake) and gujeolpan, a sumptuous Korean royal court dish made up of nine types of food served with crepes in a wooden platter.
8. 04W Pizza
Owned by Anthony Spina, 04W Pizza is a Jersey-design pizzeria housed in historic downtown Duluth that got its name from its previous location in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood, which is on the east side of Atlanta.
Nonetheless, the restaurant still serves its most widely-known pizza – the Margherita-style “Grandma Pie.”
The famous pizza is produced with fresh mozzarella, fresh oregano, marinara, extra-virgin olive oil, Pecorino-Romano and crowned with fresh basil. Most of 04W Pizza pies lean mostly on the meat with tangy sauce. Nonetheless, the restaurant also serves vegetarian and glutton free pizza options.
9. Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours
Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours is located in Westside and widely known as the spot where the South’s most tasty dishes meet the command of legendary trained chef Deborah VanTrece.
The legendary chef’s global tour, as well as her three decades of cooking as an expert, are reflected in the menu and quality of service rendered here.
The restaurant strikes that hard balance between casual and fine dining with convenience.
So, when you walk in, look forward to amuse bouches such as tasty bite of chicken salad, shared meals like black-eyed pea salsa fresca that is served with fresh tortilla chips and decently plated entrees like Cajun-spiced roast chicken on the top of a bed of red beans and rice.
Redbird is housed in the former space of Bacchanalia in the Westside Provisions District.
The space is redesigned with neutral colors and illuminated with vibrant lights which extend from the tall windows that looks out to the bridge above the train tracks and spread across the open kitchen that allows the chef to have conversations with everyone in the restaurant.
Redbird’s concept is fanciful and free-spirited. The restaurant’s cuisine leans heavily on the creative flair of the chef mostly in the treatment of veggies and plants. So who is the chef behind the restaurant?
Redbird is owned and run by Chef Zeb Stevenson, who has earned profound respect around Atlanta’s restaurant industry for his exceptional culinary skill and endless creativity.
But Redbird isn’t Stevenson’s first attempt at running a restaurant. Stevenson was well-known for running the kitchen at The Livingston, Parish, and Watershed, to mention a few.
Steven is also famous for winning an episode of “Chopped in 2012. Furthermore, Stevenson once had five-course, blood-themed dinner that became an instant hit.