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Best of Atlanta 2017 Index

Poets Critics Dolls Main Large





2017 Index of Winners

Best mural

I Miss Buckhead by Chris Veal

Best gallery

Whitespace Gallery

Best art exhibition

Andy Warhol: Prints from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation High Museum of Art

Best stand-up comedian

Mia Jackson
Not many comedians can say they’ve performed at Philips Arena, but to be fair, there aren’t many comedians like MIA JACKSON. The calm, cool and collected stand-up exudes likability on stage, spreading her hilarious wisdom on life, dating and the dangers of stepping on someone’s biscuit. The versatilemore...

Not many comedians can say they’ve performed at Philips Arena, but to be fair, there aren’t many comedians like MIA JACKSON. The calm, cool and collected stand-up exudes likability on stage, spreading her hilarious wisdom on life, dating and the dangers of stepping on someone’s biscuit. The versatile comic has become a favorite of Amy Schumer, but Jackson’s been a favorite of ours for way longer. She makes this nerve-racking craft look easy on stage at a bar, a club, a college, a theater, or on NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” (where she was a semi-finalist in 2015). This summer, the bona fide Georgia peach was named a New Face of Comedy at the biggest industry festival, Just For Laughs Montreal. Consequently, it’s only a matter of time until everyone else knows what savvy Atlantans have know for years. www.miajackson.com.

photo by: Ransom Rockwood

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Best comedy night/show/late-night marathon

Monday Night Comedy at Star Bar
There’s no place in the world where Monday’s met with excitement — nowhere but Little Five Points. MONDAY NIGHT COMEDY AT STAR BAR, the longest-running comedy show in the A, has been stuffing the smoke-tinged rock venue with the city’s funniest comedians, the up-and-comers, and the doe-eyed first-timersmore...
There’s no place in the world where Monday’s met with excitement — nowhere but Little Five Points. MONDAY NIGHT COMEDY AT STAR BAR, the longest-running comedy show in the A, has been stuffing the smoke-tinged rock venue with the city’s funniest comedians, the up-and-comers, and the doe-eyed first-timers to a passionate crowd for more than a decade. It’s where many dipped their toes in the water for the first time and it’s where they later recorded their first albums. Rodney Leete has been MCing this free weekday marathon of who’s who in not just our local comedy scene but the whole country, as the show has become a favorite drop-in destination for famous funny people like Hannibal Buress, Rory Scovel, Vanessa Bayer and more. 437 Moreland Ave. N.E. 404-500-4942. www.rotkneepresents.com. less...

Best Instagrammer

Tiny Doors ATL
It’s amazing how small artwork can make such a big impact. Of course, we’re talking about the folks at TINY DOORS ATL. The much-loved group behind miniature art installations all over town is dedicated to inspiring “curiosity and exploration” — and its corresponding Instagram page, with moremore...
It’s amazing how small artwork can make such a big impact. Of course, we’re talking about the folks at TINY DOORS ATL. The much-loved group behind miniature art installations all over town is dedicated to inspiring “curiosity and exploration” — and its corresponding Instagram page, with more than 30,000 followers, plays a big role in spreading this message. Just about every day on the ’gram, the organization posts images of the tiny picnic baskets, tiny books, tiny bricks and, you guessed it, tiny house projects it constructs. It’s not high art, but it sure does make people happy. And that’s cool. www.instagram.com/tinydoorsatl. less...

Best chef

Rafih Benjelloun

Best bakery

Proof Bakeshop Proof Bakeshop

Best seafood

The Optimist The Optimist

Best Thai

L'Thai West Organic Cuisine & Wine Bar

Best tacos

Taqueria del Sol Taqueria Del Sol

Best sandwiches

Victory Sandwich Bar Victory Sandwich Bar

Best new chef

Parnass Savang
At only 27 years old, Lawrenceville-raised chef PARNASS SAVANG boasts an impressive resume: early years spent in his father’s Thai-American restaurant, Danthai; a diploma from the Culinary Institute of America; stages at some of the world’s best Thai restaurants; and cooking experience at Empiremore...

At only 27 years old, Lawrenceville-raised chef PARNASS SAVANG boasts an impressive resume: early years spent in his father’s Thai-American restaurant, Danthai; a diploma from the Culinary Institute of America; stages at some of the world’s best Thai restaurants; and cooking experience at Empire State South, Staplehouse and Kimball House. But now, with pop-up restaurant Talat Market, Savang has created something entirely his own: the first-ever “Georgian Thai” dining concept. Every weekend night since May, inside the tiny open kitchen of Candler Park’s Gato Bizco Café, Savang and sous chef Rod Lassiter have been churning out intricate dishes that blend traditional Thai techniques with Georgia-grown, seasonally driven ingredients. Here, you might find a classic spicy Thai salad packed with local peaches or a yellow crab curry with sweet potato greens. Savang has brought a whole new level to Thai food in our city, and Talat Market manages to stand out in a culinary landscape crowded with fantastic pop-ups. Rumor has it a brick-and-mortar version is coming soon, and we’re more than a little excited. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, 6-10 p.m. Gato Bizco Café, 1660 McLendon Ave. N.E. www.instagram.com/talat_marketatl.

photo by: Eric Cash

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Best restaurant reinvention

Bacchanalia Bacchanalia
When California-trained chef duo Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison opened BACCHANALIA inside a repurposed Piedmont Road cottage back in 1993, they became one of the very first restaurants in Atlanta to embody the concept of farm-to-table. By 1999, they’d expanded to a former meatpacking plant onmore...

When California-trained chef duo Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison opened BACCHANALIA inside a repurposed Piedmont Road cottage back in 1993, they became one of the very first restaurants in Atlanta to embody the concept of farm-to-table. By 1999, they’d expanded to a former meatpacking plant on the Westside, where they solidified their reputation as Atlanta’s fine dining standard-bearer. Quatrano won a Best Chef: Southeast award from the James Beard Foundation in 2003 for her dedicated use of hyperlocally sourced ingredients, masterful techniques and gorgeous plating. Then, last year, the couple announced they’d be moving once again — this time to a purpose-built monolith of glass and wood designed in collaboration between the proprietors and design firm Perkins+Will. The new space opened this spring, complete with an attached gourmet market, Star Provisions and onsite herb garden. Today, newly appointed executive chef Jonathan Kallini keeps Bacchanalia’s prix fixe menu as strong as ever, and still just as dedicated to local sourcing: Much of the produce comes directly from Quatrano’s own Summerland Farm in Cartersville. Nearly two decades after it opened, amid an entirely new and entirely more crowded culinary landscape, Bacchanalia remains both relevant and fresh. 1460 Ellsworth Industrial Blvd. N.W. 404-365-0410. www.starprovisions.com/bacchanalia.

photo by: Joeff Davis/ CL File

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Best barbecue

B's Cracklin' BBQ
Originally based in Savannah, B’S CRACKLIN’ BBQ pitmaster Bryan Furman came to the A and sweet-talked us with his no-frills culinary ode to Georgia: mustard-based and vinegar barbecue sauces made with peaches. Then we tasted the heritage breed whole hogs he smokes over oak and cherry wood. Furthermore...
Originally based in Savannah, B’S CRACKLIN’ BBQ pitmaster Bryan Furman came to the A and sweet-talked us with his no-frills culinary ode to Georgia: mustard-based and vinegar barbecue sauces made with peaches. Then we tasted the heritage breed whole hogs he smokes over oak and cherry wood. Further swooning. His dry-rubbed brisket has that red badge-of-honor smoke ring interior and dark, flavorful bark, and he leaves it to guests to sauce the expertly smoked chicken, slabs of ribs and chopped pork. Even more poetic is his hash over rice: no-waste meat gravy made from uber-fatty hog’s heads sent through a sausage grinder with smoked shoulder and burnt ends. Made-from-scratch sides are just as soulful, and hoecake-style cornbread sops up any leftover bits. Just make sure to save room for the banana pudding. 2061 Main St. N.W. 678-949-9912. www.bscracklinbbq.com. less...

Best ’hood for vegans

West End
As the Beltline’s Westside Trail opens and the developers descend upon Atlanta’s WEST END, many longtime residents feel wary, and rightfully so. The historically Afrocentric enclave has long been a nucleus for education, spirituality and culture, welcoming an array of religious groups and arts andmore...

As the Beltline’s Westside Trail opens and the developers descend upon Atlanta’s WEST END, many longtime residents feel wary, and rightfully so. The historically Afrocentric enclave has long been a nucleus for education, spirituality and culture, welcoming an array of religious groups and arts and wellness communities since the late 1960s. New development inevitably begets gentrification, and the community has a lot to lose. In the early ’90s, the West End became home to Soul Vegetarian, a vegan soul food cafeteria led by the local chapter of the Hebrew Israelite Community of Jerusalem. The restaurant became a catalyst for newer plant-based concepts, and today the neighborhood boasts half a dozen meat-free eateries within walking distance of each other, including Tassili’s Raw Reality for raw yet hearty wraps, Healthful Essence for Caribbean classics and KarbonStar Vitality for house-made soups and vegan pizzas called “Sizzlas,” and more.

photo by: Joeff Davis/ CL File

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Best casual steakhouse

The Federal The Federal
The steakhouse genre too often comes in the form of overly stuffy bastions of masculine excess. THE FEDERAL does no such thing. It’s tempting to call Shaun Doty and Lance Gummere’s new Midtown spot a simple bistro, but the steak offerings at the heart of the menu stretch the definition. From hand-cutmore...
The steakhouse genre too often comes in the form of overly stuffy bastions of masculine excess. THE FEDERAL does no such thing. It’s tempting to call Shaun Doty and Lance Gummere’s new Midtown spot a simple bistro, but the steak offerings at the heart of the menu stretch the definition. From hand-cut Iowa filets ordered by the ounce to massive yet attractively priced porterhouses, the Federal tempts with well-sourced cuts cooked simply in cast iron. Plus, there’s the option of expertly prepared sauces like au poivre, béarnaise and chasseur on the side. A three-course steak frites prix fixe for $30 offers the best bargain on the menu, available from 5-7 p.m. at the bar, Monday through Fridays only. 1050 Crescent Ave. N.E. 404-343-3857. www.thefederalatl.com. less...

Best dessert revolution

Sweet, Sweet Syria
Last year, after fleeing war-torn Syria, Ruwaida, Khaled and their two young children came to Atlanta through local refugee resettlement nonprofit New American Pathways. As they struggled to acclimate to their new surroundings, they found community in a new neighbor, Amanda Avutu, who wrote a Modernmore...
Last year, after fleeing war-torn Syria, Ruwaida, Khaled and their two young children came to Atlanta through local refugee resettlement nonprofit New American Pathways. As they struggled to acclimate to their new surroundings, they found community in a new neighbor, Amanda Avutu, who wrote a Modern Love essay for the New York Times about the tight bond that eventually developed between them. Over the past months, that bond has led to SWEET, SWEET SYRIA, a supper club and bakery. Already a skilled chef in her home country, Ruwaida now hosts pop-up dinners and sells traditional Syrian cookies based on her mother’s recipe. The company is working on setting up an e-commerce system on their website, but cookies are currently available by preordered pick-up at Decatur’s Kavarna on a weekly basis. Stay tuned to the Sweet, Sweet Syria website and Facebook page for updates and future pop-ups. www.sweetsweetsyria.com. less...

Best barbecue

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

Best local political figure

John Lewis
johnlewis.house.gov

Best scam

Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Sure, MERCEDES-BENZ STADIUM is shiny and new, and we’d be fine with it if it was done strictly with private money. But the use of at least $700 million of public money that will primarily benefit a football team owner with a net worth upward of $3.4 billion seems shady at best, especially when so manymore...
Sure, MERCEDES-BENZ STADIUM is shiny and new, and we’d be fine with it if it was done strictly with private money. But the use of at least $700 million of public money that will primarily benefit a football team owner with a net worth upward of $3.4 billion seems shady at best, especially when so many local projects could benefit from that type of funding. While the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation has “donated” upward of $20 million to the impoverished Westside neighborhoods next to the stadium, that hardly makes up for the hundreds of millions of dollars in public money that has gone to the stadium construction increasing the value of the Atlanta Falcons. At the end of last year the Falcons had already inked deals worth $900 million in stadium sponsorships! Imagine the impact if the public money used for construction was directed to neighborhood organizations in the poorest areas of the city. Or imagine the impact on Atlanta if 700 small businesses were given $1 million each to grow their businesses. We can only dream of a society where individuals and small businesses are more important than large corporations and billionaires. less...

Best thing to come out of the new stadium deal

Westside Works
Like we said, the deal to build Mercedes-Benz Stadium was incredibly lopsided in favor of the rich guys, but one good thing did come out of it: WESTSIDE WORKS. The long-term training program was designed to prepare residents of Westside neighborhoods (such as Vine City, Castleberry Hill and more) formore...
Like we said, the deal to build Mercedes-Benz Stadium was incredibly lopsided in favor of the rich guys, but one good thing did come out of it: WESTSIDE WORKS. The long-term training program was designed to prepare residents of Westside neighborhoods (such as Vine City, Castleberry Hill and more) for jobs in construction, the culinary arts and education, among other fields. And according to data captured by Westside Works, it looks like the program is having a positive impact, with more than 500 people receiving training and 78 percent of them retaining a living wage after one year. Time will tell if these changes will truly alter the lives of the students who have participated and the neighborhoods they live in, but for now, it’s looking like a success story. www.westsideworks.org. less...

Best zen nature spot within 17 miles of Downtown Atlanta

Sweetwater Creek State Park Sweetwater Creek State Park
A quick drive west on I-20 from the connector delivers you to a serene environment that feels far, far away from the chaos of Atlanta’s urban center. At SWEETWATER CREEK STATE PARK you can find your bliss in myriad ways: Rent a canoe and go out on the 215-acre reservoir and contemplate the interconnectednessmore...

A quick drive west on I-20 from the connector delivers you to a serene environment that feels far, far away from the chaos of Atlanta’s urban center. At SWEETWATER CREEK STATE PARK you can find your bliss in myriad ways: Rent a canoe and go out on the 215-acre reservoir and contemplate the interconnectedness of us all or take a hike and praise the creator of your choice (or none at all, if that’s your thing). The best hike combines the White Trail with the Red Trail, leaving the visitor center and heading counterclockwise for a 4.5-mile loop jaunt. Starting with a warning not to disturb rattlesnakes about a mile in before winding through a forest past a turtle pond and climaxing with a roughly 2-mile ramble on the red trail, hugging the whitewater swells of Sweetwater Creek beside you. The sounds alone will provide salvation. Bathe in the water for a rebirth, with plenty of deer checking you out in the brilliant afternoon light. Whatever your chosen journey, Sweetwater Creek will deliver the zen you seek. 1750 Mount Vernon Road, Lithia Springs. 770-732-5871. www.gastateparks.org/SweetwaterCreek.

photo by: Joeff Davis

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Best hope for fighting homelessness

Affordable Housing
AFFORDABLE HOUSING. We need more of it. Like, a lot more. And mandatory inclusionary zoning — something, perhaps, to watch for in mayoral candidates’ commitments — is legislation that, in other cities, has been a catalyst for the creation of affordable housing. Such an ordinance would mandate thatmore...
AFFORDABLE HOUSING. We need more of it. Like, a lot more. And mandatory inclusionary zoning — something, perhaps, to watch for in mayoral candidates’ commitments — is legislation that, in other cities, has been a catalyst for the creation of affordable housing. Such an ordinance would mandate that some percentage, generally between 10 and 30 percent, of housing be affordable, which has been defined as 60 percent of Atlanta’s area median income (or $60,219). Now, some say “affordable” should be based not on area median income but on what someone who works full-time making minimum wage can actually afford. But we’ve got to a draw a line in the sand at some point. Let’s get this done. less...

Best florist

Candler Park Flowers Candler Park Flowers

Best yoga studio

Kashi Atlanta

Best martial arts studio

Sung Ming Shu Dojo: Cuong Nhu Martial Arts

Best craft beer store

Hop City Craft Beer and Wine

Best skate shop

Stratosphere Skateboards Stratosphere Skateboards

Best store for antiques and estate-sale gems

Brick + Mortar Brick + Mortar
David Kowalski is a master at curating old and new at his store, BRICK + MORTAR, which began as a pop-up at Paris on Ponce before becoming a full-blown shop at Westside Provisions District. Inside, blouses by local designers like Megan Huntz sit alongside home décor items, such as the boutique’s eponymousmore...

David Kowalski is a master at curating old and new at his store, BRICK + MORTAR, which began as a pop-up at Paris on Ponce before becoming a full-blown shop at Westside Provisions District. Inside, blouses by local designers like Megan Huntz sit alongside home décor items, such as the boutique’s eponymous line of candles. But the antiques and estate-sale finds are what truly shine — and hearing Kowalski’s tall tales about them is part of the fun. He recently acquired an antique model steamboat from Natchez, Mississippi, formerly used in theatrical productions that retails for $1,500. But you can find more affordable gems, like vintage road maps, for a mere $5. Kowalski checks out 10-15 estate sales a week, mostly in the Southeast, so you can always expect to find new, old treasures. 1170 Howell Mill Road, Suite 106. 404-492-9207. www.thisisbrickandmortar.com.

photo by: Lindsey Max

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