The ATL Hit List: The Best New Restaurants In Atlanta guide image

ATLGuide

The ATL Hit List: The Best New Restaurants In Atlanta

From an ornate Lebanese spot to a jumping seafood joint, these are ATL’s best new restaurants.

The Hit List is where you’ll find our favorite new food and drink experiences in ATL. We track new openings across the city, and then visit as many as we can. While this is by no means an exhaustive list of every good new spot, one thing you can always rely on is that we’ll only include places that we have genuinely checked out.

Our goal is for this list to be as diverse as the city itself—inclusive of a wide range of cuisines, price points, neighborhoods, chefs and owners of all backgrounds, and the multifaceted communities within the industry. If you think we missed a great new place, we want to hear about it. Shoot us an email at atl@theinfatuation.com.

Whether you’re looking for in-person dining, takeout, or delivery, The Hit List is here to help you find a great new spot to support. Read on to find your new favorites.

New to The Hit List (as of 01/19):

THE SPOTS

Dorian Gray review image
8.4

Dorian Gray

$$$$

111 W Paces Ferry Rd NW, Atlanta
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The Buckhead building on the corner of West Paces and East Andrews has seen its share of popular restaurant concepts (Yebo—relocated, and Coast—which fell with the H2SR empire). Keeping the beachy-feeling outdoor patio and the same divided dining room and bar as the others before it, new occupant Dorian Gray is on track to bring buzz back to the venue with DJ’s playing house music, vintage Buckhead–meets-St. Tropez vibes, and well-garnished cocktails. Now, adorned with Victorian artworks and stark white tablecloths, Dorian Gray offers a coastal European menu, in which everything can be upgraded with $50 shaved truffle. And all their menu items–from veal bolognese to wagyu carpaccio—are enjoyable, but the well-seasoned ribeye (grilled then finished in a cast iron skillet) is the best reason to make this your new date night go-to.

Even for Buckhead, everything about Zakia is excessive. It reminds us of an old MTV Cribs episode–sure, we’d never decorate our house that way, but for Zakia, everything feels appropriately grand. There are four dramatic chandeliers and giant pillars lining the dining area that have us Googling the breadth of ancient Rome imperialism (yes to Tyre, but et tu, Buckhead?). Zakia’s classy interior mirrors Buckhead's many bougie spots, but their food stands out from the pack, thanks to excellent takes on Lebanese staples like fried kibbeh, impossibly fresh baba ganoush with pomegranate seeds, and crispy batata harra.

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The new, lively Sea Salt (there’s another in Virginia Highland) is bringing an exciting sit-down dining option to the dated Walmart plaza in Howell Mill. The bright, booth-filled space dishes out crab cakes, snapper, and other things wrangled from the water. All-day hookah and music approaching Music Midtown decibels will be standard here. But so is consistently good food. We enjoy the salmon, which is well-seasoned and comes with a shareable side, and the Sea Salt Dip (cheesy ecstasy brimming with seafood chunks).

We’ve found our favorite weekend hang at Westside Motor Lounge, which revamped three auto repair shops to create a spacious eat-and-play complex that features two bars, a roomy seating area, and sprawling green space with yard games. We love that they’ve embraced the auto theme with strong cocktails like their bourbon-heavy Hubcap Halo and the frozen Pink Cadillac Margarita while retaining a few repair shop remnants like glass garage doors and a neon ‘Service’ sign. There are also shuffleboard and cornhole games, but in true hater form, we just prefer to heckle other players between bites of the creamy, five-cheese mac—our favorite thing on the menu thanks to the addition of jalapeño cornbread crumbles that add a tiny burst of spiciness and crunch. Our runner-up is the juicy smash burger, which has a good-sized patty despite being smashed on the grill.

Now Atlantans can rap along to Drake lyrics about Nobu while they dine on signature creations like the yellowtail jalapeño crudo at the world-renowned Japanese restaurant and hotel chain, which just opened behind Phipps Plaza in Buckhead. And it largely delivers the experience you expect would be worthy of several Drake name drops—celebrity sightings, sleek interiors that mix textures like wood and onyx, and boldly-flavored dishes like their iconic sweet miso-glazed cod, which barely needs chewing.

photo credit: Tabia S. Lisenbee-Parker

Three Arches review image

Three Arches

While we’d never recommend roaming to the back of Lenox unless you’ve got a questionable hookup on Bloomingdale's goods, Three Arches at the Hyatt Centric has pan-Mediterranean cuisine and a cocktail list that’s reason enough to make your way here. We’re big fans of the Pan-Manhattan, which incorporates figs and Metaxa, a Greek wine-based spirit, and other Mediterranean staples like Greek yogurt, pistachio, and pine nut make interesting appearances in more specialty drinks.  Bring a small crew and order several small plates and shareable sides, including a creamy yogurt mint sauce and the super smooth baba ghanoush with a tangy tomato salad. The quiet, spacious venue also has a large outdoor patio with a central fire pit, where we intend to plant ourselves with lots of housemade sangria on chilly fall nights.

With a new minimalist-chic look and roomy dining room, Urban Hai (from the owners of Hai Authentic Cuisine in Decatur and Urban Wu in Buckhead) takes over the BurgerFi space in Midtown with a lengthy menu of mostly Sichuan-style dishes. With several large tables and fast kitchen service, you can head over with coworkers on a lunch break and share an order of the whole roasted Peking duck (their specialty) along with several shareable small plates like their Dry Fried Cauliflower (very spicy for the light weights) and Hot And Numbing Flounder (pieces of fried, tender flounder soaking in a spicy broth with cabbage and other vegetables). 

Serenidad is a Latin-inspired eatery that brings a jolt of new culinary life to the limited dining scene in Cascade Heights thanks to rising star chef and owner Deborah VanTrece (Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours and Oreatha’s at the Point, also in Cascade). With a snazzy bar, furry lights, and buckled-pillow booths, Serenidad is as fun and eclectic as VanTrece’s other food fusions. We like inventive dishes such as the Lomo Saltado, a flavorful take on steak frites, consisting of stir-fried ribeye and a bed of fries smothered under sauteed vegetable and drinks like Mama Coco (rum, Mexican corn liqueur, agave, and vanilla bitters).

Named after a tree venerated for its healing properties, Palo Santo brings the flavors of wood-smoked cuisine to the Westside. The dimly lit dining area is one room with furry lighting fixtures that remind us of Cousin It. Just a little. The menu features a blend of Japanese and Mexican cuisine, which is perfectly represented in their hamachi tostada, a mix of dry miso, uni, and hamachi with burnt avocado and charred serrano yuzu mayo on top of a crunchy tostada. Dinner options like tlayuda, poblano rice, and grilled octopus are paired well with their P.S. Margarita and other tequila-based cocktails.

Started as a pop-up, Gigi’s now has permanent digs in Candler Park. With red gingham tablecloths, colored Christmas lights, wax-covered candelabras, and randomly incorporated plastic green vines, Gigi’s feels like a Quentin Tarantino diner scene at a Disney theme park Italian restaurant. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but from the moment you sit down, there’s a  slow buildup of excitement—a feeling from the smells and sounds of the open kitchen that some eventful sh*t is about to go down. And yes, and no. The flavors might not hit you over the head like a Tarantino fight scene, but you will really, really appreciate the stripped-down moments, like the tasty simplicity of the poached snapper and their fried, chewy polenta strips topped with cream and caviar.  The space can fit a cozy 25 to 30 diners at a time, so get here as soon as they open to secure a table since they don’t take reservations. 

Atlanta was a little late getting on the trendy hot chicken train, but as the new Hattie B’s squeezed onto a tight Westside corner hints, the city is onboard now. With fried chicken doused in sauces ranging from “Southern” (zero sauce) to “Shut the Cluck Up” (hotter than Georgia asphalt in July), take your tastebuds on any journey you like. Counter the heat with the chunky, old-fashioned cole slaw. Go with the crusty, not-too-sweet peach cobbler to ensure your meal ends on the right track.

The rose-covered installation by the entrance seems like the required social media photo stop before you head deeper into the venue. But there are far more stunning sights throughout—from big photorealistic paintings to a cozy, back-lit wicker egg chair in the back corner. But this fancy Buckhead spot isn’t all show. The Mediterranean menu delivers on the substance, too. Start with a Mezze Trio of hummus, babaganoush, and atom—establish any rules against double-dipping beforehand because the smokey yogurt dip is pretty hard to resist. With several small plates and big shareable entrees like tender scallops and fire-roasted lamb chops, we advocate filling your table with a range of tastes until you’re stuffed.

We shed a tear at the pandemic loss of Baraonda, the former midtown fixture that we all hit for Italian food before a show at the Fox. If you were fans of their wood-fired pizza like we were, head to É Ke in Vinings, where the former Baraonda owners serve up their familiar, super soft pizzas, along with salads and sandwiches. And just like before, we like the classic Margarita pizza and the pesto-rich Burrata salad.

Colorful NFL quarterback Cam Newton and brother C.J. opened this Castleberry Hills barbecue spot as a place for sports fans to congregate on game days and for hungry folks to gather just about every day. For the sports fans, the tone is set with ESPN-glued TVs, a full bar, and a generally festive energy. And for the latter, Smokey Stallion scores big with tender rib tips, turkey legs, and ranch-sprinkled Dirty Bird wings.

Sorry, 5Church at Colony Square, 5Church in Buckhead is the younger, prettier sibling. In the typical younger sibling dynamic, this new location got all the cool things without asking—the lush garden-themed sunroom with hanging vines and all the attention on social media. The menu is roughly the same as the original, with steaks, seafood, and pasta options. But the Buckhead location does have a few individual standouts, like the baked brioche on their brunch menu, which is like a thick, square slice of french toast casserole topped with a heap of fresh cream and fruit compote.

For years, One Flew South was the only reason we raced to the airport hours ahead of our departure time. Now, thanks to their Eastside BeltLine location, we no longer need a boarding pass to dive into their sushi rolls, cold noodle salads, or any other longtime favorites from the  Asian-fusion restaurant. Start with the DIY deviled egg appetizer, which you can assemble with a sticky bacon jam, crunchy radishes—and even caviar. Then, we highly suggest ending with their rice pudding dessert, made with black forbidden rice cooked in coconut milk and topped with sweet, chewy mango cubes. 

If the exposed brick walls, foliage-draped bar and Sofía Reyes tunes don’t transport you to a cantina in central Mexico, this Summerhill taqueria’s take on the region’s cuisine just might. Bask in the tidy menu of fundamental (ribeye tacos on hand-pressed corn tortillas) and fun dishes (crema de frijol, a pasty, black bean dip that works well) from the colorful dining room or one of the outdoor fire pit tables. No matter your seat, fluffy churros make any meal here complete.

Virgil’s in College Park has always been a scene, and the Midtown Virgil’s does a good job recreating that same vibe with strong cocktails that remind you of vacation getaways and pulsating music that transforms this normally uneventful West Midtown strip into a hotspot. We like the watermelon salad and she-crab soup, which feels like a spoonful of Charleston—not too heavy with just the right amount of tang. Just watch out for the dangerously good Geecheeritas (their house margarita made with Hennessy and Grand Marnier). 

If you never learned to share back in kindergarten, don’t go to Tio Lucho’s in Virginia Highlands. Every dish, from the aptly named shareables like crispy potatoes with a mix of Peruvian sauces to the large plates like crispy fried shrimp, is designed to be divvied up at your table. The menu features all the staples of Peruvian cuisine from ceviche and causa to lomo saltado. There are house plants adorning every surface and a mix of Latin music and pop hits rolling from the speakers as you sip on their pisco sour (topped with a foam Peru flag) and sample the crab hushpuppies. With food this good, it’s hard to remember how to share.

With all the congestion and construction, we understand why you’ve avoided Midtown lately. But if exciting restaurants like Hartley Kitchen & Cocktails keep at it, you’ll want to return. The signature eatery at the new Kimpton Shane Hotel, Hartley doesn’t just look the part—the stylish lobby establishment has light wood floors, black leather banquettes, and a lively connected bar—but its tastes are on point, too. Small plates like skillet cornbread (please liberally apply the sweet tomato jam) and fried chicken skin cracklins illustrate a sophisticated kitchen that isn’t ashamed of its Southern roots. By the time your fork touches sorghum butter-topped carrots and roasted chicken that’s been brined in sweet tea, you realize the cooks are just showing off.

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