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Best Of Atlanta 2008 Oral Pleasures Large


Oral Pleasures

This election year has brought up some fascinating food-related biases in America. Who knew that a candidate’s healthy eating practices could be a detriment in some people’s eyes? Or that someone’s preferred salad green could mark him as elitist? (See below for our Best of Atlanta exit-poll respondents’ social-status-representing salad greens of choice) Thankfully, quality was a campaign booster for Atlanta’s restaurants. 2008 has been a banner year for new restaurants, better restaurant trends and better food all around. For the first time this year, Creative Loafing has named a Restaurant of the Year, a development we find exciting. And as always, we’ve scoured the city to find Atlanta’s absolute best eats. We offer our congratulations to the victoriously delicious candidates.

– Besha Rodell

Best Breakfast

West Egg West Egg Cafe
In the quest for a perfect breakfast, the question is always sweet or savory. WEST EGG ingeniously solves this problem by serving cinnamon butter alongside its impossibly rich and fluffy biscuits, so you can have your eggs and bacon and your dose of sweet relief as well. Or you could go for the heartymore...
In the quest for a perfect breakfast, the question is always sweet or savory. WEST EGG ingeniously solves this problem by serving cinnamon butter alongside its impossibly rich and fluffy biscuits, so you can have your eggs and bacon and your dose of sweet relief as well. Or you could go for the hearty and comforting Irish oatmeal, topped with a fresh fruit compote. The breakfast sandwiches also hit the spot, and the friendly atmosphere and good coffee make this the most solid all-around morning – or afternoon (breakfast is served all day for you lazy britches) – spot in town. less...

Best Cheap Eats

Your Dekalb Farmers Market Your DeKalb Farmers Market
The setting, inside a no-frills alcove next to the freezer section, is less than ideal. But people don’t come to the cafeteria at YOUR DEKALB FARMERS MARKET for the ambiance. They come for the grub. Nowhere else in Atlanta can you fill yourself up with sweet spicy lentils, tangy rosemary-roasted mushrooms,more...
The setting, inside a no-frills alcove next to the freezer section, is less than ideal. But people don’t come to the cafeteria at YOUR DEKALB FARMERS MARKET for the ambiance. They come for the grub. Nowhere else in Atlanta can you fill yourself up with sweet spicy lentils, tangy rosemary-roasted mushrooms, juicy Parmesan-toasted fresh squash, a grouper fillet, baked beets in ginger syrup, and creamy baked mac-n-cheese, while paying less than $4. For $1.25 extra, you can have one of the restaurant’s legendary samosas. Stuffed with beef, lamb, vegetables or lentils, they’re a meal by themselves. The same plate of food, served on china in a prettier setting, would cost 20 bucks. less...

Best Pizza

Pizzeria Fortunato Pizzeria Fortunato
Driving to Smyrna for a slice of New York pie may seem mad given the outrageous gas prices, but PIZZERIA FORTUNATO is worth the trek. There are plenty of pizzas to choose from, but the Neapolitan cheese is the best of the bunch because of a stellar crust that’s never soggy and always flavorful, a perfectlymore...
Driving to Smyrna for a slice of New York pie may seem mad given the outrageous gas prices, but PIZZERIA FORTUNATO is worth the trek. There are plenty of pizzas to choose from, but the Neapolitan cheese is the best of the bunch because of a stellar crust that’s never soggy and always flavorful, a perfectly balanced tomato sauce that tastes fresh, and a good amount of quality mozzarella. The pizza earns extra marks for being as good on the reheat as it is fresh out the oven. less...

Best Restaurant Trend

Farm-to-table cooking
The hottest trend this year is also the best: FARM-TO-TABLE COOKING has finally taken off like wildfire, from such swank establishments as Home to neighborhood eateries such as the Shed at Glenwood. Both our Restaurant of the Year and Best Overall Restaurant have farm-to-table cooking as the underpinningmore...
The hottest trend this year is also the best: FARM-TO-TABLE COOKING has finally taken off like wildfire, from such swank establishments as Home to neighborhood eateries such as the Shed at Glenwood. Both our Restaurant of the Year and Best Overall Restaurant have farm-to-table cooking as the underpinning of what they do, and it’s likely you’ll see more and more of this in the coming months. What does it mean for you, the diner? Better, fresher food; less of your money leaving the state and going toward fuel costs; and a stronger food community. less...

Best Sandwiches

Parish Food and Goods
We’ve been waiting a long time for a truly fantastic po’ boy in this town, and now PARISH FOOD AND GOODS has finally given us one – actually, it’s provided three. Served on crackly fresh-baked French bread, the sandwich comes with a choice of shrimp, sweet sausage or our favorite, friedmore...
We’ve been waiting a long time for a truly fantastic po’ boy in this town, and now PARISH FOOD AND GOODS has finally given us one – actually, it’s provided three. Served on crackly fresh-baked French bread, the sandwich comes with a choice of shrimp, sweet sausage or our favorite, fried oysters. The downstairs market also makes a mean BLT, with locally raised pork belly flanked by fresh red and fried green tomatoes. If you’re in serious carnivore mode, the muffuletta with salami, mortadella, ham and provolone should fit the bill. less...

Best Vegetarian

Dynamic Dish
David Sweeny’s DYNAMIC DISH would be one of our favorite restaurants even if it weren’t healthy and meat-free. The Old Fourth Ward cafe has the look and feel of a modern European hangout, with clean lines and midcentury accents. But Sweeny’s 100 percent organic, often vegan cooking is the realmore...
David Sweeny’s DYNAMIC DISH would be one of our favorite restaurants even if it weren’t healthy and meat-free. The Old Fourth Ward cafe has the look and feel of a modern European hangout, with clean lines and midcentury accents. But Sweeny’s 100 percent organic, often vegan cooking is the real revelation. Outrageous intensity of flavor is the common theme, surfacing in soups such as ginger carrot with so much ginger it would cure a cold. Unexpected uses of ingredients (fig sandwich, anyone?) and an eye for design on the plate make this one of Atlanta’s true treasures, for carnivores and veg-heads alike. less...

Best Barbecue

Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q

Best Cocktails

Beleza
The art of mixing cocktails has made a quantum leap in Atlanta over the past year, with mixologists presenting us with ever-yummier ways to get our drink on. But the fresh fruit concoctions available at BELEZA make us swoon and drool simultaneously (not pretty, but still high praise). House-made infusionsmore...
The art of mixing cocktails has made a quantum leap in Atlanta over the past year, with mixologists presenting us with ever-yummier ways to get our drink on. But the fresh fruit concoctions available at BELEZA make us swoon and drool simultaneously (not pretty, but still high praise). House-made infusions and an emphasis on tropical and often organic fruits take us way beyond the basics. Last season’s watermelon pisco punch was pure summer in a glass, and the grapefruit, gin and tupelo honey martini is the most refreshing buzz around. less...

Best Cuban

Palomilla’s Cuban Grill House
What makes the Cuban cooking at PALOMILLA’S CUBAN GRILL HOUSE special? For one thing, its chef, Javier Salas, is Peruvian. Tidier than the usual cafe, Palomilla’s offers some don’t-miss dishes, such as the appetizer tamal, truly redolent of corn, served with a big tangle of pulled, roasted pork.more...
What makes the Cuban cooking at PALOMILLA’S CUBAN GRILL HOUSE special? For one thing, its chef, Javier Salas, is Peruvian. Tidier than the usual cafe, Palomilla’s offers some don’t-miss dishes, such as the appetizer tamal, truly redolent of corn, served with a big tangle of pulled, roasted pork. Papa rellena, usually shaped into globes, is also somewhat deconstructed, with a free form from which a spicy picadillo erupts. Prices are cheap, especially at lunch, when daily specials are served. Among our favorites is Monday’s chicken fricassee. less...

Best Southern

Restaurant Eugene Restaurant Eugene
New Southern cooking is a trend we applaud, and this year has certainly seen a rise in the number of chefs and restaurants embracing regional cooking. But chef Linton Hopkins of RESTAURANT EUGENE was one of the first, and nowhere can you see the marvelous results better than in his $29.50 three-coursemore...
New Southern cooking is a trend we applaud, and this year has certainly seen a rise in the number of chefs and restaurants embracing regional cooking. But chef Linton Hopkins of RESTAURANT EUGENE was one of the first, and nowhere can you see the marvelous results better than in his $29.50 three-course Sunday suppers. Elegant comfort food, such as Creole fried chicken livers, fried chicken or bacon-wrapped Georgia trout, make you proud to live in the South, in a city that’s taken local cooking to such fantastic heights. less...

Best Veggie Meal at a Nonvegetarian Restaurant

JCT Kitchen
Vegetables are not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the new Southern cuisine served at chef Ford Fry’s JCT KITCHEN & BAR. Fried chicken? Yes. Shrimp and grits? Absolutely. But the vegetable plate is one of our favorites. The kitchen serves up a generous plate of expertly cookedmore...
Vegetables are not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the new Southern cuisine served at chef Ford Fry’s JCT KITCHEN & BAR. Fried chicken? Yes. Shrimp and grits? Absolutely. But the vegetable plate is one of our favorites. The kitchen serves up a generous plate of expertly cooked Georgia farm-stand vegetables atop pillowy-soft potato dumplings in a delicate, buttery sauce. A perfect meal when paired with a chilled glass of white wine. less...

Best Vietnamese

Pho Dai Loi Restaurant Pho Dai Loi #2
There’s little more satisfying than a big bowl of pho, and PHO DAI LOI RESTAURANT makes the best. The broth is clear with no sediment or heavy anise flavor, and the noodles never stick together. Other items such as the spring rolls and the bun (a large bowl of cold rice noodles topped with meat and/ormore...
There’s little more satisfying than a big bowl of pho, and PHO DAI LOI RESTAURANT makes the best. The broth is clear with no sediment or heavy anise flavor, and the noodles never stick together. Other items such as the spring rolls and the bun (a large bowl of cold rice noodles topped with meat and/or seafood, herbs, lettuce and nuoc cham sauce) are consistently delicious alternatives. Fresh lemonade fizzy with soda water, traditional Vietnamese iced coffee with condensed milk, and fun bubble tea drinks filled with tapioca pearls are a welcome departure from that tired old glass of Coca-Cola. less...

Best Wine List

Joel
Chef Joel Antunes may have left his namesake restaurant for the challenges of New York City, but the wine list at JOEL hasn’t suffered in the least. The 30-plus-page list overseen by sommelier Perrine Prieur covers all the bases, but what we love about it are the nooks and crannies where lesser-knownmore...
Chef Joel Antunes may have left his namesake restaurant for the challenges of New York City, but the wine list at JOEL hasn’t suffered in the least. The 30-plus-page list overseen by sommelier Perrine Prieur covers all the bases, but what we love about it are the nooks and crannies where lesser-known gems can be found. French varietals are exhaustive enough to cover many of the great Burgundies and Bordeaux, but what wine geek could fail to love a list with room for three savennieres? A fantastic selection of dessert wines, magnums and half bottles pops our cork as well. less...

Best Chinese

CAFE 101 Cafe 101
CAFE 101 hasn’t had as much attention as some other places, but absolutely deserves its share of the spotlight. Located in the quintessential Buford Highway ruins of a defunct restaurant, this eclectically decorated Taiwanese restaurant serves stellar Szechuan specialties such as chewy Szechuan dan-danmore...
CAFE 101 hasn’t had as much attention as some other places, but absolutely deserves its share of the spotlight. Located in the quintessential Buford Highway ruins of a defunct restaurant, this eclectically decorated Taiwanese restaurant serves stellar Szechuan specialties such as chewy Szechuan dan-dan noodles drizzled with a spicy sesame and garlicic-laden sauce, confitlike fish filets with soft tofu in a hot bean sauce packed with fresh ginger, and gigantic mountains of finely shaved ice topped with everything from beans to fresh kiwi. less...

Best Desserts

Southern Sweets Bakery Southern Sweets Bakery
Nancy Cole’s family-run SOUTHERN SWEETS BAKERY remains a favorite thanks to her staff’s dedication to creating home-style sweets minus the muss and fuss. Rustic cherry pie covered in crushed sugar cubes, creme freche coffee cake with a thick layer of pecans, and any of the towering layer cakes –more...
Nancy Cole’s family-run SOUTHERN SWEETS BAKERY remains a favorite thanks to her staff’s dedication to creating home-style sweets minus the muss and fuss. Rustic cherry pie covered in crushed sugar cubes, creme freche coffee cake with a thick layer of pecans, and any of the towering layer cakes – such as the chocolate coconut or Key lime – are sure to please the most discerning sweet tooth. The bakery makes a large selection of vegan cakes even the most ardent carnivore would savor. And if you happen to be there around lunchtime, Southern Sweets also serves up a mean sandwich. less...

Best Italian

Sotto Sotto

Best Middle Eastern

Rumi’s Kitchen
Not all cities can boast about their fantastic Persian cuisine, but Atlanta is lucky enough to be home to RUMI’S KITCHEN, where the food of Iran is not only exotic, it’s delicious. Grilled meats and hearty stews sing with vibrant spices. The sweet-and-sour flavor of pomegranate is wonderfully apparentmore...
Not all cities can boast about their fantastic Persian cuisine, but Atlanta is lucky enough to be home to RUMI’S KITCHEN, where the food of Iran is not only exotic, it’s delicious. Grilled meats and hearty stews sing with vibrant spices. The sweet-and-sour flavor of pomegranate is wonderfully apparent in Rumi’s version of dolmeh – ground beef and rice wrapped in grape leaves. Don’t miss the kashk badenjoon appetizer, a rich and addictive blend of eggplant and onion topped with cream of whey, fried onion and mint. less...

Best Patio Dining

Shaun’s
There’s an Old World charm to the courtyard at SHAUN’S. Snugly enclosed by aged brick walls and climbing vines, the 50-seat patio is a fitting backdrop for chef Shaun Doty’s classy, Southern-meets-Mediterranean cuisine. It’s also a great place to delve into the restaurant’s clever cocktailmore...
There’s an Old World charm to the courtyard at SHAUN’S. Snugly enclosed by aged brick walls and climbing vines, the 50-seat patio is a fitting backdrop for chef Shaun Doty’s classy, Southern-meets-Mediterranean cuisine. It’s also a great place to delve into the restaurant’s clever cocktail menu while whittling away a lazy Sunday afternoon (or hazy weekend night). The vibe is more relaxed than in the restaurant proper, evoking a slow, European pace more common to the piazzas of Rome. Patrons trend toward the young and hip, and the menu toward the chic but unfussy – the chicken-liver fettuccine and the sockeye salmon with Anson Mills grits are both standouts. The patio experience is complete when punctuated on the half hour by the clanging church bell at the 19th-century sanctuary next door, just like in the old country. less...

Best Steaks

Bone’s Restaurant
When it comes to steaks, sexy and sleek contemporary digs are all well and good, but there’s something to be said about old-school steakhouses that have the marks of a boys’ club. BONE’S RESTAURANT is that place: loads of wood, men downing a scotch at the bar after a long day of work, seasonedmore...
When it comes to steaks, sexy and sleek contemporary digs are all well and good, but there’s something to be said about old-school steakhouses that have the marks of a boys’ club. BONE’S RESTAURANT is that place: loads of wood, men downing a scotch at the bar after a long day of work, seasoned servers in dapper jackets – but the steaks here are the real draw. The experienced kitchen churns out thick cuts of prime beef that are expertly cooked and always juicy thanks to a proper resting period. Notable steaks, such as the bone-in dry-aged New York strip, are extremely flavorful and even better with a glass of wine from the stellar list. less...

Best Veggie Burgers

Burger Joe’s
Veggie burgers are like decaffeinated coffee, nonalcoholic beer and Paul McCartney’s music since the Beatles – even when you’re enjoying them, it’s hard not to feel like you’re settling for second-best. The veggie burgers at BURGER JOE’S live with the same handicap that all veggiemore...

Veggie burgers are like decaffeinated coffee, nonalcoholic beer and Paul McCartney’s music since the Beatles – even when you’re enjoying them, it’s hard not to feel like you’re settling for second-best. The veggie burgers at BURGER JOE’S live with the same handicap that all veggie burgers do: They’re not meat. But that’s overcome here with burgers that are every bit as juicy and sloppy as their meaty counterparts. We couldn’t find the nutritional info, but the taste and the grease stains on our napkins hint that a Burger Joe’s veggie burger topped with blue cheese, mushrooms, mayo and ketchup is as caloric and indulgent as a ground-beef burger. It certainly doesn’t taste any less so.


Multiple metro-Atlanta area locations

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Best Best-Looking Waitstaff

Nam Nam
Beauty and elegance congregate at NAM. This contemporary Vietnamese restaurant has a uniquely beautiful interior whose art celebrates the female form. The servers are immediate incarnations of that – gorgeous women in exotic garb who seem to drift through the dining room. The slender, mainlymore...
Beauty and elegance congregate at NAM. This contemporary Vietnamese restaurant has a uniquely beautiful interior whose art celebrates the female form. The servers are immediate incarnations of that – gorgeous women in exotic garb who seem to drift through the dining room. The slender, mainly Asian staff may have you speechless, but don’t fret – they’re also helpful in describing menu items and, if asked, will give you their own (sometimes strong) opinions. We love women who aren’t afraid to speak their minds – which are, we’re sure, just as beautiful as their exteriors. less...

Best Korean

Hanil Kwan
Korean food – especially barbecue – has become one of our city’s most prevalent cuisines, but where do you go when the choices are so copious? HANIL KWAN leads the pack with its bright and spotless digs, friendly English-speaking servers, well-marinated meats and the preferred usemore...
Korean food – especially barbecue – has become one of our city’s most prevalent cuisines, but where do you go when the choices are so copious? HANIL KWAN leads the pack with its bright and spotless digs, friendly English-speaking servers, well-marinated meats and the preferred use of glowing charcoal instead of gas cooking. Another thing that sets the restaurant apart is its large menu of other Korean specialties such as a sizzling dolsot bibimbap (a bowl of rice topped with vegetables, tofu, meat, spicy chili paste and an egg) served in a large, shallow stone pot. less...

Best Locally Brewed Beer

5 Season’s Brewing
Glenn Sprouse’s love of beer came from his childhood visits to Germany. After he became an engineer, he began to brew his own beer in an effort to replicate what he’d drank there as a kid. Now the brewmaster at 5 SEASONS BREWING in Sandy Springs, Sprouse has parlayed his love for European beer intomore...
Glenn Sprouse’s love of beer came from his childhood visits to Germany. After he became an engineer, he began to brew his own beer in an effort to replicate what he’d drank there as a kid. Now the brewmaster at 5 SEASONS BREWING in Sandy Springs, Sprouse has parlayed his love for European beer into a career. Behind the bar is an open window that looks onto several of the huge copper vats where Sprouse works his magic. Our favorites are the 7 Sisters Munchner, which is bittersweet and packs a punch of flavor, and the Big O, an organic ale that’s rich and robust with a lightly sweet flavor that comes from caramel malt. less...

Best Coffee

As commonplace as it is, a tremendous amount of work and skill goes into making a perfect cup of coffee. Slight fluctuations in water temperature, brew time or the grinding process can ruin your cup. And of course, there’s the bean. Even the highest-quality beans will leave you with a cup of bitter,more...
As commonplace as it is, a tremendous amount of work and skill goes into making a perfect cup of coffee. Slight fluctuations in water temperature, brew time or the grinding process can ruin your cup. And of course, there’s the bean. Even the highest-quality beans will leave you with a cup of bitter, caffeinated mud if they’re not roasted just right. That’s why we love BATDORF & BRONSON coffee, served at places such as Aurora, as well as B&B’s own Dancing Goats Coffee Bar in Decatur. Batdrof & Bronson’s deft roasts deliver more of a bean’s natural flavor than any local roaster. Sip and sniff the Kenya AA or the Dancing Goats blend and you’ll pick up a whiff of berries. That’s not artificial flavoring. B&B roasts coffee so skillfully, it reminds you that, oh yeah, coffee beans actually are fruit. less...

Best Cookies

Cookie Studio

Best Ice Cream

Morelli’s Gourmet Ice Cream

Best Indian

Udipi Cafe
Decatur is an Indian-food paradise, and while many neighboring restaurants battle to be the Raj, no restaurant creates more exciting and satisfying Indian fare than UDIPI CAFE. Thali plates (a variety of dishes served in small, stainless-steel bowls neatly arranged on a round platter) for the indecisive,more...
Decatur is an Indian-food paradise, and while many neighboring restaurants battle to be the Raj, no restaurant creates more exciting and satisfying Indian fare than UDIPI CAFE. Thali plates (a variety of dishes served in small, stainless-steel bowls neatly arranged on a round platter) for the indecisive, addictive coconut rice with shreds of chewy coconut, complex chutneys, and mouth-watering channa batura (a balloonlike bread served alongside a curry of plump chickpeas) offer plenty of flavorful options at dirt-cheap prices. less...

Best Japanese

Nakato Japanese Restaurant

Best Restaurant For Late-Night Dining

Top Flr Top Flr
Late night is all about attitude, and the best attitude in town can be found at TOP FLR, where the clientele is cool and the staff is even cooler. The friendly, quirky folks who run the place are joined by a friendly, quirky menu perfect for late-night nibbling. We especially love the light and silkymore...
Late night is all about attitude, and the best attitude in town can be found at TOP FLR, where the clientele is cool and the staff is even cooler. The friendly, quirky folks who run the place are joined by a friendly, quirky menu perfect for late-night nibbling. We especially love the light and silky fried tofu with tangy pomegranate sauce, and the salad with goat cheese and lavender dressing remains one of the best examples of bunny food in the city. But the late hours and laid-back hipster vibe are what make this such a cool spot – people eat, they drink, they make out, they laugh and eat some more. There’s a grown-up liveliness that simply can’t be found anywhere else at this hour. less...

Best Spanish

Cuerno
Finally, Atlanta has a Spanish restaurant that takes the food way beyond the tapas trend. CUERNO opened this year with rich and filling paellas, entrees that manage to nod both to the modern and the traditional cooking of Spain, and wonderful drinks (the white sangria is a must). Try anything from themore...
Finally, Atlanta has a Spanish restaurant that takes the food way beyond the tapas trend. CUERNO opened this year with rich and filling paellas, entrees that manage to nod both to the modern and the traditional cooking of Spain, and wonderful drinks (the white sangria is a must). Try anything from the plancha grill and be rewarded with the intense flavors of garlic, olive oil and fresh seafood cooked perfectly. less...

Best Sushi

Chef/owner Takao Moriuchi’s Buckhead sushi bar, TAKA, is a favorite among sushi connoisseurs for its affordability, artistry and quality. He consistently sources pristine fish and manipulates it into thoughtful dishes with whimsical additions, such as red grapes in his sashimi salads. Taka also makesmore...
Chef/owner Takao Moriuchi’s Buckhead sushi bar, TAKA, is a favorite among sushi connoisseurs for its affordability, artistry and quality. He consistently sources pristine fish and manipulates it into thoughtful dishes with whimsical additions, such as red grapes in his sashimi salads. Taka also makes home-style Japanese dishes such as the (off-the-menu) sticky natto salad, crunchy curry-laced homemade vegetable and potato croquettes, and a soothing chawanmushi (a steamed Japanese egg custard with creamy uni and bright green edamame at the center). less...

Best Tacos

El Rey del Taco
There are three components that make a taco superb: the tortillas, the filling and the salsa. TAQUERIA EL REY DEL TACO gets them all right. Pat yourself on the back if you’re lucky enough to catch one of the tortilla mavens making handmade tortillas that emanate the unmistakable smell of fresh masa.more...
There are three components that make a taco superb: the tortillas, the filling and the salsa. TAQUERIA EL REY DEL TACO gets them all right. Pat yourself on the back if you’re lucky enough to catch one of the tortilla mavens making handmade tortillas that emanate the unmistakable smell of fresh masa. When it comes to tacos, the chivo (goat) and cabeza (beef cheeks) are standouts, and the salsas – although limited – are pure picante perfection. A chilled glass of horchata (a drink made with cinnamon, rice, milk and other ingredients) is a refreshing addition to your meal. less...

Best Thai

Tamarind Seed
There are about a zillion Thai restaurants in town and most of them taste alike. One notable exception is TAMARIND SEED, owned by chef Nan Niyomkul and her husband, Charlie. (They also operate the glitzier Nan Thai Fine Dining.) What sets chef Nan’s cooking apart isn’t the dishes themselves. Mostmore...
There are about a zillion Thai restaurants in town and most of them taste alike. One notable exception is TAMARIND SEED, owned by chef Nan Niyomkul and her husband, Charlie. (They also operate the glitzier Nan Thai Fine Dining.) What sets chef Nan’s cooking apart isn’t the dishes themselves. Most of them are classics, such as masaman and panang curries (the green curry is particularly delicious). It’s the complexity of sauces and layers of unexpected flavor that distinguishes the food here. There’s also an energetic staff and, if you’re lucky, Nan might be in the kitchen. The woman is a classy beacon of good feelings, and the food is suffused with her personality. less...

Best Waitstaff

The National
OK, we know THE NATIONAL is in Athens, and this is Best of Atlanta, but we love the waitstaff there so much we’re asking that you bear with us. Led by Chris Luken, the National’s servers manage to hit that perfect note of friendly service with formal underpinnings – timing, knowledge andmore...
OK, we know THE NATIONAL is in Athens, and this is Best of Atlanta, but we love the waitstaff there so much we’re asking that you bear with us. Led by Chris Luken, the National’s servers manage to hit that perfect note of friendly service with formal underpinnings – timing, knowledge and hospitality are all as good as it gets. To prove the point that personality is a major factor in good service, waiters wear street clothes instead of uniforms, reminding us that behind every great dining experience is a real person, not a drone we can order around. less...

DARK HORSE: Best Restaurant of the Year

Holeman and Finch Holeman and Finch Public House
This is the first year we’ve named a Restaurant of the Year. HOLEMAN AND FINCH prompted us to add the category. The Buckhead gastropub represents a new way of dining, where passion and fun collide, where the old-fashioned mode of dining (appetizer, entree, dessert) is obsolete, where bartenders andmore...
This is the first year we’ve named a Restaurant of the Year. HOLEMAN AND FINCH prompted us to add the category. The Buckhead gastropub represents a new way of dining, where passion and fun collide, where the old-fashioned mode of dining (appetizer, entree, dessert) is obsolete, where bartenders and chefs make the rules, and the customers gleefully follow along. And because it was such an obvious choice for so many of our Best of Atlanta picks, we decided to roll Holeman and Finch into this umbrella award. We’d certainly have picked it for Best New Restaurant. It also takes the award for Best Burger – the off-menu burger served after 10 p.m. is a masterful example of how to do an American classic right – no gourmet bells and whistles, just sloppy deliciousness. And Greg Best absolutely deserves the award for Best Mixologist, bringing his chemistry-geek mind to the task of getting us liquored up, with winning results. Holeman and Finch represents what’s great about dining in Atlanta in 2008. less...

FAVORITE SON: Best Overall Restaurant

Bacchanalia Bacchanalia
The flagship restaurant of Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison still delivers like nowhere else in town. BACCHANALIA serves pristine ingredients, many of them from Quatrano’s and Harrison’s own farm, cooked with a precision that’s breathtaking. Vegetables are coaxed to a platonic ideal of texturemore...
The flagship restaurant of Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison still delivers like nowhere else in town. BACCHANALIA serves pristine ingredients, many of them from Quatrano’s and Harrison’s own farm, cooked with a precision that’s breathtaking. Vegetables are coaxed to a platonic ideal of texture and flavor. Meats and fish are coddled and fussed over. A crab cake in citrus broth is so light and fluffy it almost floats off the plate, but is grounded by the high, pure notes of orange and lime. Service is crisp, confident and totally flawless. All of this comes together in one of the most understatedly elegant rooms in the city – who knew there was such a thing as industrial opulence? Bacchanalia is the shining star in the night sky of Atlanta’s dining scene. less...

Best Appetizers

Ecco Ecco
[http://www.flickr.com/photos/kajjers/2608950139/|]

Best Bakery

Alon’s Bakery and Market

Best Biscuits

And multiple metro Atlanta locations.

Best Caribbean

Bahama Breeze Bahama Breeze
And multiple metro Atlanta locations.

Best Cheap Eats

Eats Eats
[http://www.flickr.com/photos/kajjers/2623824087/|]

Best Coffeehouse

Joe’s East Atlanta Coffee Shop

Best Cupcakes

The Atlanta Cupcake Factory

Best Ethiopian

Queen of Sheba

Best French

Cafe Alsace Cafe Alsace
[http://www.flickr.com/photos/26173690@N05/2583145420/|]

Best Grits

And multiple metro Atlanta locations.

Best Mexican

Nuevo Laredo Cantina Nuevo Laredo Cantina

Best Sandwiches

Alon’s Bakery and Market

Best Steaks

Kevin Rathbun Steak Kevin Rathbun Steak

Best Tacos

Taqueria del Sol Taqueria del Sol - Westside
And multiple metro Atlanta locations.

Best Chinese

Chin Chin Chinese Restaurant
And multiple metro Atlanta locations.

Best Coffee

And multiple metro Atlanta locations.

Best Dim Sum

Canton House Chinese Restaurant

Best Japanese

Nakato

Best Locally Brewed Beer

Sweetwater Brewery SweetWater Brewery
[http://www.flickr.com/photos/amerikongis/2556563605/|]

Best Restaurant for Late-Night Dining

Majestic Diner Majestic Diner
[http://www.flickr.com/photos/96683394@N00/2356601310/|]

Best Thai

Nan Thai Fine Dining Nan Thai Fine Dining

Best Biscuits

The Flying Buscuit Cafe Flying Biscuit Cafe - Candler Park
and multiple metro-Atlanta locations

Best Brew Pub

Twain’s Billiards and Tap Twain's Brewpub & Billiards
[http://www.flickr.com/photos/26173690@N05/2492900163/|]

Best Brunch

And multiple metro Atlanta locations.

Best Buffet

Golden Corral
And multiple metro Atlanta locations

Best Desserts

Cafe Intermezzo Caf

Best Korean

Hae Woon Dae

Best New Restaurant

Home Restaurant and Bar

[http://www.flickr.com/photos/ddanzig/2691516030/|]


Editor’s note: Richard Blais was chef at Home Restaurant and Bar at the time of voting. He has since left the restaurant.

Best Restaurant When Someone Else is Paying

Bacchanalia Bacchanalia
[http://www.flickr.com/photos/ddanzig/2722504346/|]

Best Tapas

Pura Vida Pura Vida

Best Cookies

Alon’s Bakery and Market

Best Deli

Bagel Palace Deli and Bakery

Best Ice Cream

Jake’s

Best Restaurant to Bring the Kids

Osteria 832 Pasta and Pizza

Best Seafood

[http://www.flickr.com/photos/kajjers/2426414043/|]
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Best Appetizers

Ecco Ecco
[http://www.flickr.com/photos/kajjers/2608950139/|]

Best Bakery

Alon’s Bakery and Market

Best Biscuits

And multiple metro Atlanta locations.

Best Breakfast

West Egg West Egg Cafe
In the quest for a perfect breakfast, the question is always sweet or savory. WEST EGG ingeniously solves this problem by serving cinnamon butter alongside its impossibly rich and fluffy biscuits, so you can have your eggs and bacon and your dose of sweet relief as well. Or you could go for the heartymore...
In the quest for a perfect breakfast, the question is always sweet or savory. WEST EGG ingeniously solves this problem by serving cinnamon butter alongside its impossibly rich and fluffy biscuits, so you can have your eggs and bacon and your dose of sweet relief as well. Or you could go for the hearty and comforting Irish oatmeal, topped with a fresh fruit compote. The breakfast sandwiches also hit the spot, and the friendly atmosphere and good coffee make this the most solid all-around morning – or afternoon (breakfast is served all day for you lazy britches) – spot in town. less...

Best Caribbean

Bahama Breeze Bahama Breeze
And multiple metro Atlanta locations.

Best Cheap Eats

Your Dekalb Farmers Market Your DeKalb Farmers Market
The setting, inside a no-frills alcove next to the freezer section, is less than ideal. But people don’t come to the cafeteria at YOUR DEKALB FARMERS MARKET for the ambiance. They come for the grub. Nowhere else in Atlanta can you fill yourself up with sweet spicy lentils, tangy rosemary-roasted mushrooms,more...
The setting, inside a no-frills alcove next to the freezer section, is less than ideal. But people don’t come to the cafeteria at YOUR DEKALB FARMERS MARKET for the ambiance. They come for the grub. Nowhere else in Atlanta can you fill yourself up with sweet spicy lentils, tangy rosemary-roasted mushrooms, juicy Parmesan-toasted fresh squash, a grouper fillet, baked beets in ginger syrup, and creamy baked mac-n-cheese, while paying less than $4. For $1.25 extra, you can have one of the restaurant’s legendary samosas. Stuffed with beef, lamb, vegetables or lentils, they’re a meal by themselves. The same plate of food, served on china in a prettier setting, would cost 20 bucks. less...

Best Cheap Eats

Eats Eats
[http://www.flickr.com/photos/kajjers/2623824087/|]

Best Coffeehouse

Joe’s East Atlanta Coffee Shop

Best Cupcakes

The Atlanta Cupcake Factory

Best Ethiopian

Queen of Sheba

Best French

Cafe Alsace Cafe Alsace
[http://www.flickr.com/photos/26173690@N05/2583145420/|]

Best Grits

And multiple metro Atlanta locations.

Best Mexican

Nuevo Laredo Cantina Nuevo Laredo Cantina

Best Pizza

Pizzeria Fortunato Pizzeria Fortunato
Driving to Smyrna for a slice of New York pie may seem mad given the outrageous gas prices, but PIZZERIA FORTUNATO is worth the trek. There are plenty of pizzas to choose from, but the Neapolitan cheese is the best of the bunch because of a stellar crust that’s never soggy and always flavorful, a perfectlymore...
Driving to Smyrna for a slice of New York pie may seem mad given the outrageous gas prices, but PIZZERIA FORTUNATO is worth the trek. There are plenty of pizzas to choose from, but the Neapolitan cheese is the best of the bunch because of a stellar crust that’s never soggy and always flavorful, a perfectly balanced tomato sauce that tastes fresh, and a good amount of quality mozzarella. The pizza earns extra marks for being as good on the reheat as it is fresh out the oven. less...

Best Restaurant Trend

Farm-to-table cooking
The hottest trend this year is also the best: FARM-TO-TABLE COOKING has finally taken off like wildfire, from such swank establishments as Home to neighborhood eateries such as the Shed at Glenwood. Both our Restaurant of the Year and Best Overall Restaurant have farm-to-table cooking as the underpinningmore...
The hottest trend this year is also the best: FARM-TO-TABLE COOKING has finally taken off like wildfire, from such swank establishments as Home to neighborhood eateries such as the Shed at Glenwood. Both our Restaurant of the Year and Best Overall Restaurant have farm-to-table cooking as the underpinning of what they do, and it’s likely you’ll see more and more of this in the coming months. What does it mean for you, the diner? Better, fresher food; less of your money leaving the state and going toward fuel costs; and a stronger food community. less...

Best Sandwiches

Parish Food and Goods
We’ve been waiting a long time for a truly fantastic po’ boy in this town, and now PARISH FOOD AND GOODS has finally given us one – actually, it’s provided three. Served on crackly fresh-baked French bread, the sandwich comes with a choice of shrimp, sweet sausage or our favorite, friedmore...
We’ve been waiting a long time for a truly fantastic po’ boy in this town, and now PARISH FOOD AND GOODS has finally given us one – actually, it’s provided three. Served on crackly fresh-baked French bread, the sandwich comes with a choice of shrimp, sweet sausage or our favorite, fried oysters. The downstairs market also makes a mean BLT, with locally raised pork belly flanked by fresh red and fried green tomatoes. If you’re in serious carnivore mode, the muffuletta with salami, mortadella, ham and provolone should fit the bill. less...

Best Sandwiches

Alon’s Bakery and Market

Best Steaks

Kevin Rathbun Steak Kevin Rathbun Steak

Best Tacos

Taqueria del Sol Taqueria del Sol - Westside
And multiple metro Atlanta locations.

Best Vegetarian

Dynamic Dish
David Sweeny’s DYNAMIC DISH would be one of our favorite restaurants even if it weren’t healthy and meat-free. The Old Fourth Ward cafe has the look and feel of a modern European hangout, with clean lines and midcentury accents. But Sweeny’s 100 percent organic, often vegan cooking is the realmore...
David Sweeny’s DYNAMIC DISH would be one of our favorite restaurants even if it weren’t healthy and meat-free. The Old Fourth Ward cafe has the look and feel of a modern European hangout, with clean lines and midcentury accents. But Sweeny’s 100 percent organic, often vegan cooking is the real revelation. Outrageous intensity of flavor is the common theme, surfacing in soups such as ginger carrot with so much ginger it would cure a cold. Unexpected uses of ingredients (fig sandwich, anyone?) and an eye for design on the plate make this one of Atlanta’s true treasures, for carnivores and veg-heads alike. less...

Best Barbecue

Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q

Best Chinese

Chin Chin Chinese Restaurant
And multiple metro Atlanta locations.

Best Cocktails

Beleza
The art of mixing cocktails has made a quantum leap in Atlanta over the past year, with mixologists presenting us with ever-yummier ways to get our drink on. But the fresh fruit concoctions available at BELEZA make us swoon and drool simultaneously (not pretty, but still high praise). House-made infusionsmore...
The art of mixing cocktails has made a quantum leap in Atlanta over the past year, with mixologists presenting us with ever-yummier ways to get our drink on. But the fresh fruit concoctions available at BELEZA make us swoon and drool simultaneously (not pretty, but still high praise). House-made infusions and an emphasis on tropical and often organic fruits take us way beyond the basics. Last season’s watermelon pisco punch was pure summer in a glass, and the grapefruit, gin and tupelo honey martini is the most refreshing buzz around. less...

Best Coffee

And multiple metro Atlanta locations.

Best Cuban

Palomilla’s Cuban Grill House
What makes the Cuban cooking at PALOMILLA’S CUBAN GRILL HOUSE special? For one thing, its chef, Javier Salas, is Peruvian. Tidier than the usual cafe, Palomilla’s offers some don’t-miss dishes, such as the appetizer tamal, truly redolent of corn, served with a big tangle of pulled, roasted pork.more...
What makes the Cuban cooking at PALOMILLA’S CUBAN GRILL HOUSE special? For one thing, its chef, Javier Salas, is Peruvian. Tidier than the usual cafe, Palomilla’s offers some don’t-miss dishes, such as the appetizer tamal, truly redolent of corn, served with a big tangle of pulled, roasted pork. Papa rellena, usually shaped into globes, is also somewhat deconstructed, with a free form from which a spicy picadillo erupts. Prices are cheap, especially at lunch, when daily specials are served. Among our favorites is Monday’s chicken fricassee. less...

Best Dim Sum

Canton House Chinese Restaurant

Best Japanese

Nakato

Best Locally Brewed Beer

Sweetwater Brewery SweetWater Brewery
[http://www.flickr.com/photos/amerikongis/2556563605/|]

Best Restaurant for Late-Night Dining

Majestic Diner Majestic Diner
[http://www.flickr.com/photos/96683394@N00/2356601310/|]

Best Southern

Restaurant Eugene Restaurant Eugene
New Southern cooking is a trend we applaud, and this year has certainly seen a rise in the number of chefs and restaurants embracing regional cooking. But chef Linton Hopkins of RESTAURANT EUGENE was one of the first, and nowhere can you see the marvelous results better than in his $29.50 three-coursemore...
New Southern cooking is a trend we applaud, and this year has certainly seen a rise in the number of chefs and restaurants embracing regional cooking. But chef Linton Hopkins of RESTAURANT EUGENE was one of the first, and nowhere can you see the marvelous results better than in his $29.50 three-course Sunday suppers. Elegant comfort food, such as Creole fried chicken livers, fried chicken or bacon-wrapped Georgia trout, make you proud to live in the South, in a city that’s taken local cooking to such fantastic heights. less...

Best Thai

Nan Thai Fine Dining Nan Thai Fine Dining

Best Veggie Meal at a Nonvegetarian Restaurant

JCT Kitchen
Vegetables are not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the new Southern cuisine served at chef Ford Fry’s JCT KITCHEN & BAR. Fried chicken? Yes. Shrimp and grits? Absolutely. But the vegetable plate is one of our favorites. The kitchen serves up a generous plate of expertly cookedmore...
Vegetables are not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the new Southern cuisine served at chef Ford Fry’s JCT KITCHEN & BAR. Fried chicken? Yes. Shrimp and grits? Absolutely. But the vegetable plate is one of our favorites. The kitchen serves up a generous plate of expertly cooked Georgia farm-stand vegetables atop pillowy-soft potato dumplings in a delicate, buttery sauce. A perfect meal when paired with a chilled glass of white wine. less...

Best Vietnamese

Pho Dai Loi Restaurant Pho Dai Loi #2
There’s little more satisfying than a big bowl of pho, and PHO DAI LOI RESTAURANT makes the best. The broth is clear with no sediment or heavy anise flavor, and the noodles never stick together. Other items such as the spring rolls and the bun (a large bowl of cold rice noodles topped with meat and/ormore...
There’s little more satisfying than a big bowl of pho, and PHO DAI LOI RESTAURANT makes the best. The broth is clear with no sediment or heavy anise flavor, and the noodles never stick together. Other items such as the spring rolls and the bun (a large bowl of cold rice noodles topped with meat and/or seafood, herbs, lettuce and nuoc cham sauce) are consistently delicious alternatives. Fresh lemonade fizzy with soda water, traditional Vietnamese iced coffee with condensed milk, and fun bubble tea drinks filled with tapioca pearls are a welcome departure from that tired old glass of Coca-Cola. less...

Best Wine List

Joel
Chef Joel Antunes may have left his namesake restaurant for the challenges of New York City, but the wine list at JOEL hasn’t suffered in the least. The 30-plus-page list overseen by sommelier Perrine Prieur covers all the bases, but what we love about it are the nooks and crannies where lesser-knownmore...
Chef Joel Antunes may have left his namesake restaurant for the challenges of New York City, but the wine list at JOEL hasn’t suffered in the least. The 30-plus-page list overseen by sommelier Perrine Prieur covers all the bases, but what we love about it are the nooks and crannies where lesser-known gems can be found. French varietals are exhaustive enough to cover many of the great Burgundies and Bordeaux, but what wine geek could fail to love a list with room for three savennieres? A fantastic selection of dessert wines, magnums and half bottles pops our cork as well. less...

Best Biscuits

The Flying Buscuit Cafe Flying Biscuit Cafe - Candler Park
and multiple metro-Atlanta locations

Best Brew Pub

Twain’s Billiards and Tap Twain's Brewpub & Billiards
[http://www.flickr.com/photos/26173690@N05/2492900163/|]

Best Brunch

And multiple metro Atlanta locations.

Best Buffet

Golden Corral
And multiple metro Atlanta locations

Best Chinese

CAFE 101 Cafe 101
CAFE 101 hasn’t had as much attention as some other places, but absolutely deserves its share of the spotlight. Located in the quintessential Buford Highway ruins of a defunct restaurant, this eclectically decorated Taiwanese restaurant serves stellar Szechuan specialties such as chewy Szechuan dan-danmore...
CAFE 101 hasn’t had as much attention as some other places, but absolutely deserves its share of the spotlight. Located in the quintessential Buford Highway ruins of a defunct restaurant, this eclectically decorated Taiwanese restaurant serves stellar Szechuan specialties such as chewy Szechuan dan-dan noodles drizzled with a spicy sesame and garlicic-laden sauce, confitlike fish filets with soft tofu in a hot bean sauce packed with fresh ginger, and gigantic mountains of finely shaved ice topped with everything from beans to fresh kiwi. less...

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