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Best of Atlanta 2017 Oral Pleasures

 

Oral Critics Bacchanalia 2000x


Oral Pleasures

In these absurd and horrifying times, I sometimes feel a little silly writing about food. In a previous life, working as managing editor for a magazine in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I spent most of my ink on human rights abuses, religious hypocrisy and vanishing indigenous cultures. I wrote about food, too, but it was always a separate, secondary interest. When I moved back to the states — just a few days before Trump announced his candidacy for president (nobody’s ever accused me of great timing) — and eventually nabbed the food editor gig at Creative Loafing, I was thrilled at the opportunity yet hesitant to box myself in. And as I watched the darkest parts of our national ethos advance with more and more impunity, my hesitancy remained. Neo-Nazis are marching the streets, for chrissakes. Who cares about the consistency of one’s crème brulée?

What I’ve learned over this past year, however, is that food can be political. Rather than a box, it’s an entry point. After all, everybody eats. Just ask the poor shmuck responsible for serving our tangerine fuckwad-in-chief’s well-done steak with ketchup every day.

With this notion in mind, we at CL have tried to use food as a lens to explore local issues like gentrification, homelessness and refugee rights. The 2017 edition of Oral Pleasures, positioned within this year’s overall theme of Evolution/Revolution, recognizes those within our culinary community who do the same.

Atlanta is a city of revolutionaries. We can and will fight the powers that be. We can and will evolve. Now, let’s eat.

— Hilary Cadigan, CL Food Editor


Featured


Best desserts BOA Award Winner

Sweet Charlie's

Best Caribbean BOA Award Winner

Papi's Cuban and Caribbean Grill

Best Japanese BOA Award Winner

Nakato

Best oysters BOA Award Winner

Best local farm BOA Award Winner

Love is Love Farm

photo by: Joeff Davis

Best Cuban BOA Award Winner

Papi's Cuban and Caribbean Grill

Best veggie burger BOA Award Winner

Grindhouse Killer Burgers
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Best place to feast when you’re stoned BOA Award Winner

Buford Highway has long been a bastion for fantastic Asian cuisine, but one of its most recent arrivals takes the scene to new heights. Uber-modern Malaysian food hall-style eatery FOOD TERMINAL has been racking up accolades ever since chef Amy Wong and partner Howard Ewe of bakery mini-chain Sweet Hutmore...
Buford Highway has long been a bastion for fantastic Asian cuisine, but one of its most recent arrivals takes the scene to new heights. Uber-modern Malaysian food hall-style eatery FOOD TERMINAL has been racking up accolades ever since chef Amy Wong and partner Howard Ewe of bakery mini-chain Sweet Hut opened doors this past spring. And when you have the munchies, there’s really no better spot to make your feasting fantasies come to life (trust us). The glossy, magazine-style menu boasts 50 pages of pan-Asian food options, from unctuous bone marrow ramen to barbecue pork noodles to a sizzling skillet of tomato-braised, Spam-studded rice covered in melty cheese that puts whatever brand of delivery chain pizza you ordered in college to shame. There are pictures of every item and a convenient menu form to fill out that cuts down on anxiety-inducing human contact, plus cold and creamy Thai tea for your dry mouth. Oh happy daze. 5000 Buford Highway, Chamblee. 678-353-6110. www.foodterminal.com. less...

Best gas station snack BOA Award Winner

Rap Snacks
Although obvious genius James “Fly” Lindsay invented RAP SNACKS in Philadelphia back in 1994, the self-described “official snacks of hip-hop” didn’t go mainstream until last summer, when a regional re-launch brought them to shelves up and down the East Coast (including Atlanta). Migos, ourmore...
Although obvious genius James “Fly” Lindsay invented RAP SNACKS in Philadelphia back in 1994, the self-described “official snacks of hip-hop” didn’t go mainstream until last summer, when a regional re-launch brought them to shelves up and down the East Coast (including Atlanta). Migos, our hometown heroes, helped with the brand’s reinvention, lending both their faces and an auto-tune-happy promotional jingle dubbed “Dab of Ranch” to accompany their signature potato chip flavor: Sour Cream with a Dab of Ranch (naturally). Best of all, each bag of snacks features a uncanny valley likeness of its namesake rapper plus an inspirational quote on the back like this one from the Migos: “Dabbin’ is a lifestyle.” The newest crop of Rap Snacks includes Lil Yachty’s Owee crunchy curls and Trina’s honeydew cheese puffs. Yes, honeydew cheese puffs. We just love Rap Snacks so much. www.rapsnacks.net. less...

Best French BOA Award Winner


Best chef BOA Award Winner

Rafih Benjelloun

Best food festival or event BOA Award Winner

Taste of Atlanta

Best bakery BOA Award Winner

Best seafood BOA Award Winner

Best sushi BOA Award Winner

Umi

Best Thai BOA Award Winner

L'Thai West Organic Cuisine & Wine Bar

Best tacos BOA Award Winner


Best new chef BOA Award Winner

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 BOA Award Winner

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 BOA Award Winner

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 BOA Award Winner

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 BOA Award Winner

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 BOA Award Winner

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 Soul Food BOA Award Winner

Best barbecue BOA Award Winner

Best desserts BOA Award Winner

Sweet Charlie's

Best Caribbean BOA Award Winner

Papi's Cuban and Caribbean Grill

Best Japanese BOA Award Winner

Nakato

Best oysters BOA Award Winner

Best local farm BOA Award Winner

Love is Love Farm

photo by: Joeff Davis

Best late-night hangout BOA Award Winner

Midtown’s BON TON is as seat-of-the-pants as a restaurant gets. The mode here is house party, and the décor is pure kitsch in the retro den of fictional founder Hoa Nguyen and his most interesting mashup of Louisiana-meets-Vietnam cookery. A cheeky neon sign reads “Fancy Service” as fried basketsmore...
Midtown’s BON TON is as seat-of-the-pants as a restaurant gets. The mode here is house party, and the décor is pure kitsch in the retro den of fictional founder Hoa Nguyen and his most interesting mashup of Louisiana-meets-Vietnam cookery. A cheeky neon sign reads “Fancy Service” as fried baskets of seafood, boiled peanuts and banh mi sandwiches roll through the dining room until 2 a.m. Maybe Prince comes through the speakers, maybe Otis Redding. All music pairs well with their frozen versions of Pimm’s Cups and Vietnamese Irish coffee, served in color-changing plastic vessels, of course. Though the Bon Ton family tragically lost their head bartender, the talented Patrick Kuhen, late last month in a road accident, they celebrated his life in true Nola fashion: with a second line led by a brass band through the streets of Midtown. 674 Myrtle St. N.E. 404-996-6177. www.bontonatl.com. less...

Best new café BOA Award Winner

In a recently restored, periwinkle-painted edifice on Memorial Drive in Cabbagetown sits PETIT CHOU, a French-meets-Southern café that backs up its cozy ambiance with a serious commitment to local sourcing and a deeply felt mutual respect between management, staff and customers. Chef Diana Presson Ellermore...
In a recently restored, periwinkle-painted edifice on Memorial Drive in Cabbagetown sits PETIT CHOU, a French-meets-Southern café that backs up its cozy ambiance with a serious commitment to local sourcing and a deeply felt mutual respect between management, staff and customers. Chef Diana Presson Eller has called it her “little idealistic, egalitarian-dream, feminist anarcafé” and serves up an array of sandwiches, salads and house-made craft sodas with ingredients like hyssop and cardamom. At breakfast, there are hearty grit bowls, avocado toast and Croque Monsieurs, and the chicken liver mousse — available any time of day and served with house preserves, toast and seasonal produce — is a must-order. Currently open only for breakfast and lunch, Petit Chou will eventually expand to dinner hours with a full bar program. 662 Memorial Drive S.E. 470-270-8996. www.petitchouatl.com less...

Best unsung hero BOA Award Winner

Decatur’s Kimball House has a dedicated oyster room with a viewing window. In this lovely nook, about 5,000 oysters from around the world are shucked each week, and more than half of those (like, 3,500) get shucked by a hero. No really: His given name is HE RO, and for obvious reasons, he goes by Hero.more...

Decatur’s Kimball House has a dedicated oyster room with a viewing window. In this lovely nook, about 5,000 oysters from around the world are shucked each week, and more than half of those (like, 3,500) get shucked by a hero. No really: His given name is HE RO, and for obvious reasons, he goes by Hero. Part of the Karen ethnic group, Hero was born in war-torn Burma but spent most of his childhood in a Thai refugee camp near the border before arriving in the U.S. at age 15. Watching him swiftly and deftly open bivalves today, it’s hard to imagine Kimball House without him, and one would never guess he’d never even touched an oyster before joining Kimball House in September of 2013. So, next time you are slurping during oyster happy hour (5-7 p.m. every weekday) clink a glass for our culinary hero, Hero. 303 E. Howard Ave., Decatur. 404-378-3502. www.kimball-house.com.

photo by: Joeff Davis

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Best brunch BOA Award Winner

Rising Sun
Whether you’re hankering for a pile of pork chops with two eggs and grits or a healthful vegan grain bowl with seasonal veggies, the search ends at RISING SON, tucked away in the Tudor village of Avondale Estates. This mellow spot is soaked in familial comfort, with husband-and-wife team Kathryn andmore...

Whether you’re hankering for a pile of pork chops with two eggs and grits or a healthful vegan grain bowl with seasonal veggies, the search ends at RISING SON, tucked away in the Tudor village of Avondale Estates. This mellow spot is soaked in familial comfort, with husband-and-wife team Kathryn and Hudson Rouse focusing on vegetables from local farms, friends and even their own garden. In season, their tomato sandwich tastes like home, and you can always order from the meat-and-three menu. Standouts include a fried chicken, bacon and cheddar biscuit; chorizo tacos; fried trout over cheese grits; and crispy breakfast dumplings with ginger, cilantro, and maple soy glaze. Rising Son is a calm oasis amid the chaos of Atlanta brunch culture: satisfying but not sloppy, sophisticated yet chill. 124 N. Avondale Road, Avondale Estates, 404-600-5297. www.facebook.com/RisingSonavondale.

photo by: Lindsey Max

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Best biscuits BOA Award Winner

Erika Council
Known for her famous pop-up Sunday Supper Club, ERIKA COUNCIL’s biscuit recipe (and perhaps her graceful charm) comes by way of her grandmothers. Lately, she has been popping up at B’s Cracklin’ BBQ, mixing and folding flour, butter, shortening (or B’s famous lard) and buttermilk into layersmore...
Known for her famous pop-up Sunday Supper Club, ERIKA COUNCIL’s biscuit recipe (and perhaps her graceful charm) comes by way of her grandmothers. Lately, she has been popping up at B’s Cracklin’ BBQ, mixing and folding flour, butter, shortening (or B’s famous lard) and buttermilk into layers by hand. The softest, fluffiest biscuits and her iced Cinn-rolls draw long queues and early sellouts. Council’s grace extends to her pretty blog, Southern Souffle, where she shares her recipes and stories of the South. We crown her our Biscuit Queen. www.southernsouffle.com. less...

Best Atlanta beer BOA Award Winner

Perhaps the most-talked-about craft beer trend of 2017 was the New England-style India Pale Ale. An easy-drinking riff on craft’s most popular style, NE IPAs prioritize tantalizing hop aromas and juicy flavor profiles over bitterness and the “hoppy” wallop generally associated with IPAs. Wreckingmore...
Perhaps the most-talked-about craft beer trend of 2017 was the New England-style India Pale Ale. An easy-drinking riff on craft’s most popular style, NE IPAs prioritize tantalizing hop aromas and juicy flavor profiles over bitterness and the “hoppy” wallop generally associated with IPAs. Wrecking Bar’s one-off JUICE WILLIS IPA SERIES — which the Little Five Points brewpub started in January — has been a joy to behold in that regard. They’ve released a new beer every few weeks (nine variations and counting at press time), each time adding new recipe tweaks and a new Bruce Willis pun for the name. It’s rare to see a local beer that’s so on trend, delicious and admirably exemplifying brewing innovation all at once. Check @wreckingbarbrewpub on Instagram for the latest batch. Wrecking Bar Brewpub, 292 Moreland Ave. N.E. 404-221-2600. www.wreckingbarbrewpub.com. less...

Best new brewpub BOA Award Winner

In burgeoning Chamblee, HOPSTIX brewer and owner Andy Tan has blessed us with a concept both inventive and unprecedented. His Asian fusion brewpub, with its wood-laced, rustic chic interior, boasts a tap list of Georgia craft breweries alongside an array of consistently solid IPAs, wheat beers, portersmore...

In burgeoning Chamblee, HOPSTIX brewer and owner Andy Tan has blessed us with a concept both inventive and unprecedented. His Asian fusion brewpub, with its wood-laced, rustic chic interior, boasts a tap list of Georgia craft breweries alongside an array of consistently solid IPAs, wheat beers, porters and pilsners that Tan brews onsite. But it’s the food that separates Hopstix from the rest of Atlanta’s many breweries, thanks to executive chef Dony Raymond. An exposed kitchen showcases professionally garbed cooks filleting five-foot-long cuts of tuna, robata-grilling numerous satay variations, plating fried rice topped with Alaskan king crab and rolling fresh sushi to pair with the brewpub’s impressive array of suds. 3404 Pierce Drive N.E., Chamblee. 678-888-2306. www.hopstixbrewing.com.

photo by: Joeff Davis

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Best Cuban BOA Award Winner

Papi's Cuban and Caribbean Grill

Best veggie burger BOA Award Winner

Grindhouse Killer Burgers
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