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Food & Reviews

The restaurants below are recommended, some for the specific reasons named below. Remember that restaurants sometimes close without warning – always call before going. Questions, comments, suggestions? Please contact us. Check back often for updates.

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4th & Swift

Atlanta

December 2008

Chef Jay Swift (formerly of South City Kitchen) serves up New South specialties in this cool, cavernous space (once the Southern Dairies’ engine room) in the Old Fourth Ward. Service and and some dishes can be uneven, but the small plates, “Three Little Pigs” plate of pork belly, loin and housemade sausages, as well as inventive cocktails and affordable, largely American wine list, make it a must-try. 621 North Ave. (just east of Glen Iris), 678-904-0160.

Full review on Georgia Trend website

Abattoir

Atlanta

February 2010

At this newest, meat-centric spot from celebrated power chefs Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison, I convinced a reluctant colleague to try the potted chicken liver and foie gras, and soon we were fighting to clean out the small jar with the last crusts of Abattoir’s excellent baguettes. A crisp salad of bitter lettuce laden with shredded duck confit and ribbons of al dente butternut squash was the perfect foil. We drained the last drops of our wines – a memorably smoky Powers cab, and a fruit-forward La Linda Malbec – while dipping spoons in the dense chocolate pot de crème. (On another visit, a neighboring table insisted we try their bacon beignets – a diabolical invention that trapped crusty, salty, piggy bits inside inflated, sugar-dusted fried dough.) Clearly, Abattoir won’t charm vegetarians or picky eaters of any age. After two visits with slightly squeamish companions, I want to go back and venture deeper into the meaty mysteries of Abattoir’s rabbit galantine; the house-ground beef and pork burger with fries; the fried chicken livers’ the charcuterie and the always-impressive cheese list. (The boisterous bar looks like an inviting spot for a solo flight.) With prices for most small plates in the single digits, and entrees topping out at around $20, it’s a budget-friendly way to go whole hog. 1170 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta. (404) 892-3335.

Full review on Georgia Trend website

Bone's

Atlanta

September 2005

If a city’s best steakhouse is its leading economic indicator, Atlanta is still thriving. This smoothly professional wait staff, the clubby masculine environment and steaks as thick as Schwarzeneggar’s bicep add up to a classic, signature city dining experience. The place to go if you wanted to be counted among Atlanta’s movers and shakers – or if you need a shoeshine during lunch. 3130 Piedmont Road (near Peachtree), 404-237-2663.

Full review on Georgia Trend website

Carver's Country Kitchen

Atlanta

May 2009

The old-fashioned meat-and-three (now more often a meat-and-two) is going the way of the pay phone. The few good ones left include Matthew’s Cafeteria, in Tucker (don’t miss Thursdays’ turkey and dressing), and my favorite, Carver’s Country Kitchen in Atlanta’s old blue-collar neighborhood of Howell Station. Husband-and-wife team Sharon and Robert Carver once had a small lunch operation inside their store; the hearty food has been so popular that tables now crowd out the eccentric selection of goods. You won’t go wrong with anything here, but my favorites include the caramelized fried corn, baked ham and Coca-Cola cake. Get it while you can! 1118 W. Marietta St., NW, Atlanta. (404) 794-4410.
 

Flip Burger Boutique

Atlanta

April 2009

Former Top Chef finalist Richard Blais turns the American classic on its, um, bun. This “gourmet burger boutique” somersaulted onto Atlanta's daunting scene with the panache of a 5-year-old’s “Ta-da!” Right now, everybody is looking for good food at the right price, but also something that doesn’t feel like you’re skimping. We want some kind of communal life-raft to cling to – preferably one with a party on board. Flip delivers on all counts, with house-ground, wildly ambitious burgers, fries and shakes, in single-digit prices. Try the bacon cheeseburger (butter-griddled brioche buns from Alon’s Bakery, Benton’s bacon, American cheese, housemade pickles, with onion, tomato, ketchup and Flip’s own secret sauce), the lamb burger with “raisin ketchup”; the rBQ (brisket, coleslaw and barbecue sauce); the pate melt (veal, pork, Swiss cheese, cornichons) or... we haven't even gotten to the shakes or sides! Just go. 1587 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta. 404-352-FLIP (3547).

Full review on Georgia Trend website

Holeman & Finch

Atlanta

October 2008

This bookend to chef/owner Linton Hopkins’ Restaurant Eugene is one of the smartest, most fun entries to the Atlanta dining scene we’ve seen in a long time. The “public house” tavern concept really works, with inventive cocktails that match the classics for sweet-tart balance. The Southern-hunt food is as elemental and revelatory as a late afternoon thunderstorm, from the fried Tybee shrimp to the hen of the woods mushrooms and marrow gratin. Go early to snag one of the few tables. 2277 Peachtree Road, Atlanta. 404-948-1175.

Full review on Georgia Trend website

Leon's Full Service

Atlanta

March 2010

Ah, Decatur -- once the “nice girl” little sister to prom queen Atlanta; now the sophisticated graduate student appalled at her sibling’s suburban sprawl. (“You’ve just really let yourself go,” she tut-tuts, speed-walking to the farmer’s market in scuffed Birkenstocks.) 131 East Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur. 404.687.0500.
 

Full review on Georgia Trend website

Nam

Atlanta

March 2004

Brothers Alex and Chris Kinjo first took the city by storm with their tiny, whip-smart MF Sushibar (the "MF," they said, stood for "magic fingers"). Nam was the logical next step for the half-Japanese, half-Vietnamese brothers, who wanted to showcase their mother's cooking as much as their father's culinary heritage. Bowing to traditional noodle dishes, Nam also pays tribute to the depth and diversity of Vietnamese cooking, with Cornish hen, clay pot shrimp, sweet-spicy caramel sauces and "shaking" filet mignon. The rice flour tamales pull Nam miles ahead of its closest competitor: Banana-leaf envelopes open to reveal a postcard-sized panel of steamed, rice-flour pabulum, topped with minced pork, shrimp and scallion. You top it with more potent, saline sauce, flecked with Thai peppers, eating it with a large spoon. If you like dim sum, you'll like these grown-up baby food textures and flavors.The grilled Japanese eggplant is the best I've ever had anywhere - you scoop the beautifully white, ginger-scented soft flesh from the collapsed purple skin onto your plate. This restaurant reminds me why Atlanta is such an exciting place to live - we get to witness the birth of the next generation's American dream. 931 Monroe Drive, Atlanta. 404.541.9997

Full review on Georgia Trend website

Repast

Atlanta

May 2007

Husband-and-wife chef/owners Joe Truex and Mihoko Obunai’s brainchild in the ground floors of Ponce Springs Lofts sweetly, seamlessly combines New World and old school cooking without seeming remotely “fusion.” Instead, it’s an original, all-American creation fired in a convection melting pot. (See, for example, the “foie gras hot dog.”) Both chefs are have worked in some of the best kitchens in New York (including the James Beard House); their touchstone is the quality and freshness of their ingredients. 620 Glen Iris Drive (at North Avenue), Atlanta. 404-870-8707.

Full review on Georgia Trend website

Sushi Hayakawa

Atlanta

December 2009

Atsushi “Art” Hayakawa is not your typical solemn, monklike sushi-chef, bent over his craft in penitent silence. Personable, affable, even a bit of a ham, Hayakawa plopped down next to us first-time customers at the sushi bar, made several menu suggestions, and walked us through the options on the shochu menu. The fish, flown from Tokyo’s Tsukiji market, is bracingly fresh. Nigiri (finger-sized pieces of raw fish on rice) are the perfect bite-size; the sashimi (raw sliced fish) as prettily arranged as a peony’s petals. Hayakawa’s creativity comes to the fore with a long list of daily specials, which on our visit included a delicious miso soup with blue crab claw (a Japanese man next to us recommended the littleneck clam miso, which we’ll try next time) and marinated and lightly seared tuna (tuna tatami) with garlic sauce. 5979 Buford Highway, Atlanta. (770) 986-0010.
 

Full review on Georgia Trend website