Best Of Atlanta 2014 Oral Pleasures (largel)

Oral Pleasures

The last 12 months in Atlanta food could be described in one word: aspirational. Thanks to a rash of mega-mixed use developments in the works, dozens of new restaurants are headed our way. A handful of these will be flagship restaurants, such as Hannah Chung's Simply Seoul Kitchen and the Cockentrice from the team behind the Spotted Trotter, our 2014 Readers Pick co-winners for Best farmers market food stall.

More common are side projects and sister restaurants from top dogs such as Bacchanalia chef Anne Quatrano's Dub's Fish Camp, Linton Hopkins' H&F Burger in Ponce City Market, and Cakes & Ale owner chef Billy Allin's Bread & Butterfly Café in Inman Park.

The mood has been anticipatory, we, the food obsessed, stuck in a holding pattern awaiting the onslaught of shiny and new. It's easy to let a future as bright as Atlanta's distract from the present, but there is so much worth celebrating here and now.

The success of chef Jarrett Stieber's edgy Eat Me Speak Me pop-up (Critics Pick for Best pop-up) serves as a barometer for the city's robust, food-friendly startup scene.

Kimball House, this year's Critics Pick for Best new restaurant, wowed locals with its revolutionary cocktail and oyster programs, ultimately earning a spot on Bon Appétit magazine's 5 Best New Cocktail Bars in America 2014 list.

The East meets South Decatur diner Sobban (Critics Pick for Best creative diner food) and Buckhead newcomer Lusca (Critics Pick for Best breath of fresh air) each had breakout years, winning praise locally and beyond for inventive, culture-crawling cuisines.

This year, we tried to pull the curtain back to shed light on where the wonderful food in front of us comes from and who put it there. We deconstructed the best, most impeccably sourced local vegetable plate in town — find out what makes Restaurant Eugene's Seasonal Vegetable Tasting a triumph. We also caught up with expert knife sharpener Geoff Edges, who shares what it's like to maintain one of a chef's most beloved and important tools.

The future of Atlanta dining is bright. Here's to all those working to give us something to look forward to.

— Stephanie Dazey