ATLGuide

The Best Things We Ate This Month

Spring has sprung. And so has our newfound love for these dishes.
rib with spicy Korean tofu, mac and cheese, kimichi slaw and pickled radish

photo credit: Mhandy Gerard

We forget passwords at an embarrassingly high rate. And good luck asking us to remember our neighbor’s son’s name. But if you need us to meticulously recall the most memorable bites we’ve had recently, we can recite the details like a savant. In fact, the following dishes were so damn good that, for a split second, they made us forget about everything else going on in our lives.

APRIL 2024

photo credit: Jacinta Howard

American

Decatur

$$$$Perfect For:Date NightDinner with the Parents
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Vegetables From Our Friends 

"This vegetable plate from The Deer and The Dove has a mix of locally sourced carrots, turnips, mushrooms, radishes, and more. And every single item is delicious. But the star is the pesto hummus, which is smooth and velvety like an ’80s Luther Vandross ballad."—Jacinta Howard, senior staff writer

Breakfast Sandwich

“Kinship is a whole animal butcher, and I can confidently say they make my favorite breakfast sandwich in Atlanta. They have some of the best bacon and sausage I’ve ever had. Then, soft bread from Leftie Lee’s bakery holds the meat together with fluffy eggs, fresh arugula, and melted cheese. A little Duke’s mayo keeps the sandwich moist and gives it some tang. And since this breakfast sandwich is available all day long (until 4pm), I can get it for any meal of the day."—Juli Horsford, staff writer

MARCH 2024

photo credit: Mhandy Gerard

Mac And Cheese

"I finally got to try Heirloom Market BBQ, and it did not disappoint. And while the smoked meats live up to the hype (they made our best barbecue guide), what I love most about this tiny takeout joint is their side of mac and cheese. A small bowl is filled to the brim with a pile of cheesy shell noodles. The large shells, tilted on their sides, provide little pockets where excess cheese can gather. And it's hard to eat the entire bowl without having at least one epic cheese pull as cheese clings to the shells and your fork simultaneously. This is a contender for best mac and cheese in the A."—Juli Horsford, staff writer

Who Wants Beef Son

"It's seriously hard not to love a burger named Who Wants Beef Son, just on GP. But this burger is so good—the patties are well seasoned and have a crispy char, plus the bun is soft to contrast that griddle-made crunch. Is this the best smash burger in Atlanta? Possibly." –Jacinta Howard, senior staff writer

FEBRUARY 2024

Sofrito Squash

“This dish from Birdcage in Grant Park will convert you into squash’s No. 1 fan. I’m talking about donning a foam finger and painting your face—it’s that good. Slightly charred squash sits on top of a smoky red crema sauce. Toasted pumpkin seeds add a much-appreciated crunch, and queso fresco crumbles (cheese is my favorite food) top it all off. All of these things combine to enhance the sweet, nutty flavor of the squash. It sounds simple. And the dish doesn’t look particularly pleasing. But one bite made me love the gourd vegetable so much I’m taking up all things squash related, including the sport. Catch me on the courts.”—Juli Horsford, staff writer

JANUARY 2024

Damn Dog!

“Pepper’s is my favorite pop-up right now. They offer a few signature hot dogs and the chance to create your own with a variety of dogs (chicken, beef, or vegetarian) and toppings (chili, cheese, etc.). But why bother building your own when they’ve already created the perfect hot dog? That would be the Damn Dog served on a potato bun. It’s got melted mozzarella, caramelized onion, and jalapeños for a nice spicy kick. Plus there’s a truffle aioli on top that makes the whole thing feel like you should be eating it with heirloom silverware.”—Juli Horsford, staff writer

Temporada de Lluvias

“My scallop obsession has reached new heights with this dish from Pata Negra in Buckhead. When the Temporada de Lluvias was first placed in front of me, it looked like an overwhelmingly boring beige pile of mush. But all that changed when I took the first bite. Three scallops bathed in butter sit atop a bed of creamy, cheesy huitlacoche risotto with bits of poblano peppers and corn scattered throughout. The extreme cheesiness of the risotto is so heavy and rich, which is balanced by each tender bite of a scallop.”—Juli Horsford, staff writer

DECEMBER 2023

Bourbon Lobster

M is a new omakase counter inside of Umi in Buckhead. Courses like oysters in spicy cauliflower puree, flash-seared wagyu, and fatty slabs of nigiri are all fantastic small bites (which is why M makes our Hit List). But it’s the lobster dish, which comes midway through the 21-course meal, that makes me want to pause the fast-moving parade of plates so I can have a moment. It’s a sweet, tender chunk of lobster tail cooked in a red bourbon sauce and topped with fresh chimichurri and a zing of yuzu zest. Next visit, I’ll beg our neighbor to trade us their lobster in exchange for a few cups of sake.” — Nina Reeder, senior editor

photo credit: Juli Horsford

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Baked Scallops Tempura

"Scallops are one of my seafood obsessions, so I didn't think twice when I saw these on the MF Sushi menu. These tender bay scallops are baked to a light brown color, and sit on a pool of Japanese mayo that gives this dish a creamy casserole feel. Masago and eel sauce on top provide a salty and sweet contrast. This is a simple dish that won't win any awards at a beauty pageant. But it's now my default memory whenever I think of scallops." —Juli Horsford, staff writer

NOVEMBER 2023

photo credit: Juli Horsford

The Deer and The Dove image

The Deer and The Dove

$$$$

Bone Marrow + Snails

"Atlanta isn't a snail town, but maybe The Deer and the Dove will change that. And the Decatur restaurant is a good starting point if you're escargot-curious. These slippery little suckers are served pre-plucked from their shells and drenched in a rich, buttery bordelaise sauce. Then capers give the dish the perfect amount of tang. Scooping the extra marrow straight from the bone is just a fun (and tasty) bonus." —Juli Horsford, staff writer

OCTOBER 2023

photo credit: Mhandy Gerard

Chochoyotes

“La Semilla is known for their vegan take on a certain fast food chain’s Crunchwrap. But the menu is stuffed with other fun dishes like the chochoyotes—fried masa balls that sit in a coconut-corn broth. The corn-poblano sofrito on top gives you a nice fresh burst of flavor from vegetables, and the roasted pumpkin seeds sprinkled throughout the dish add a fun crunch. But the fried masa is still the star of the show, giving comfort food vibes that I dig year-round.” —Juli Horsford, staff writer

Fried Red Snapper & Grits

“Yes, the jazz pianist playing Stevie Wonder numbers behind me set the mood. But the forkful of cornmeal-fried red snapper was the only thing I needed to start singing along to “Knocks Me Off My Feet.” Fish and grits are a dime a dozen in Atlanta. But Grits & Eggs in Vinings has some spectacular creamy grits topped with a tomato parmesan sauce and truly amazing fried snapper.”—Nina Reeder, senior editor

Ramen

“This place is rightfully known for their birria tacos (they even made our best tacos guide). But the unsung hero on the menu is their ramen, which is made with the same broth they use for their consomé. Tons of tender shredded chicken, onions, and cilantro make this ramen bowl a hearty meal. And the Mexican spices make this a fantastic fusion of our two food favorites.—Juli Horsford, staff writer

SEPTEMBER 2023

photo credit: Juli Horsford

Prefecture Japanese Steakhouse image

Prefecture Japanese Steakhouse

$$$$

Beef Tartare

"Bad beef tartare can sour you on the dish for a lifetime. But really good tartare, like the one at Prefecture in Buckhead, can spark an obsession. First off, their tartare is made out of gold-grade wagyu, but a fun surprise is the chopped bits of Fuji apples mixed in with the beef. They add a sweet flavor and some crunch for a nice texture variety. Lastly, it's topped with a quail egg and sits in a pool of wasabi crème fraiche (there are some big flavors going on here). It all combines for a nearly perfect beef tartare that I may or may not have had dreams about." — Juli Horsford, staff writer

photo credit: Amy Sinclair

Firewall image

Firewall

$$$$

Fertile Crescent

“The last time I had a pita this good was, ummm… hell, I don’t recall. The Fertile Crescent at this West End pizzeria is unbelievable. It has grilled chicken, crunchy pickled carrots, leafy greens, raisins, mango, and a zesty sauce all stuffed into a woodfire oven-toasted pocket. The sandwich has so much flavor I’m already planning another on next week’s lunch schedule.” – DeMarco Williams, staff writer

Breakfast Burrito

"I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. If I could marry this breakfast burrito, I would. It’s absolutely stuffed with scrambled eggs, home fries, pickled onions, and the freshest salsa verde I’ve ever had. Plus, it’s grilled, so the tortilla doesn’t get soggy or rip apart from the sheer weight of the contents packed inside. The Daily in Inman is always crowded in the morning, but I’d stand in line for hours just for a bite of this damn burrito." — Juli Horsford, staff writer

AUGUST 2023

Lamb Ragu Hummus

"It’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite menu item at Zakia because everything at this Buckhead Lebanese restaurant is (makes chef’s kiss motion) 'muah.' But I wish they’d bottle up their lamb ragu hummus and sell it in bulk. Ground lamb topped with chickpeas as a garnish sits in a bed of incredibly creamy hummus. Aleppo pepper sprinkled on top gives a tiny burst of flavor to complement the lamb and hummus. And their fresh baked, light and fluffy pita bread is the perfect vessel to devour the dip in about two seconds." — Juli Horsford, staff writer

JULY 2023

Bobotie Crepes

"This South African dish is easily the best thing on the menu at Yebo in Buckhead—and in the running for best crepe in the A. It’s packed with flavorful curried ground beef while sweet apples and raisins deliver a pleasing contrast. The whole crepe is drenched in hollandaise sauce, which is one of my all-time favorite condiments. Pardon me, bougie Buckhead, while I lick my plate clean." — Juli Horsford, staff writer

Lamb Burger Helper

“I’ve never been a decent cook, but one thing I did learn to make during my fiscally challenged years is a solid Hamburger Helper. No matter how well I seasoned my ground turkey, not once did the dish ever come close to the deliciousness of the Lamb Burger Helper at Southern National, a rousing new entry to Summerhill. With ziti and tender, seasoned lamb canoodling under a bed of melted mozzarella and parmesan, the skillet is a simple yet sublime trip down memory lane that gets better by the bite.” – DeMarco Williams, staff writer

Coco-Rum Tres Leches 

"Normally when I go to Ticonderoga Club, it’s to throw back a Ticonderoga Cup and then launch into a Pirates of the Caribbean tirade of, “But why is the rum gone?” when I finish. But instead of a second round of drinks, I'm happy to dig into the Coco-Rum Tres Leches cake. It's spongey and light and topped with a whipped sweet cream and toasted coconut shavings. And the best part is the little sprinkle of lime salt that gives it a fun blast of tang." — Juli Horsford, staff writer

Bread Basket

“My pick is also from the newly opened Southern National. With a bread basket as good as this, my tablemates better be quicker to the draw—or just order a separate basket for themselves. Between the gentle spice of the jalapeño griddle cakes and the moist, almost cake-like biscuits, I am not trying to share all this salty, buttery, carby goodness.” — Nina Reeder, senior editor

JUNE 2023

Meatball Flight

"I’ve had countless beer flights at some of Atlanta’s best breweries. I’ve even had an insanely good slushie flight at Wild Leap. But until Grana, I had no idea a meatball flight was even a thing, and now I’ll be a regular on their Morningside rooftop. All six meatball varieties are delicious, but the standouts are the Crispy Veal (it’s fried, hence the name) topped with a spicy mayo and Nonna’s—a pork ball with a sweet currant mustarda on top that was so tasty I’d eat spoonfuls of it plain."–Juli Horsford, staff writer

photo credit: Juli Horsford

Carmel image

Carmel

$$$$

Tuna Tartare

"Carmel is the newest restaurant in Buckhead Village. And while it didn’t make our Hit List, it still has a few dishes that are hits for your taste buds, and the tuna tartare is one of them. With a fresh flavor and a sprinkle of citrus, you'll flash back to your last Yucatan vacation. It’s topped with a thin, rice chip that provides a nice contrast of textures for the tartare. Now if they could just bring the beach to Atlanta." –Juli Horsford, staff writer

Basil Caramelized Sea Scallops

“Between me and you, Divan would be one of my favorite Midtown restaurants even if the food was just okay. The spot-on service and ambience of the 1910-built structure are that impactful. But the fact that Persian dishes like the sea scallops are prepared so precisely makes a night out here a no-brainer. While four scallops are sprinkled with basil and soaked in beurre blanc, it’s the wonderfully charred mound of cauliflower that’s the literal and figurative centerpiece. It’s a shareable item, but you won’t want anyone else’s fork anywhere near your plate.” –DeMarco Williams, staff writer

photo credit: Juli Horsford

Vice Taco Truck image

Vice Taco Truck

$$$$

Carne Asada Tacos

"You’ll most often find this taco truck at the Atlanta Dairies on Memorial. But if I could, I would get this truck to sit outside my house permanently. Everything on the menu is solid, but the tacos (especially the carne asada) are next level. On the surface, these blue corn tortilla tacos are super simple with heaps of cilantro, onions, and a creamy avocado sauce. And when those three ingredients combined with the flavorful spices of the tender carne asada, the tacos pack a huge punch. Sometimes simplicity is king." –Juli Horsford, staff writer

MAY 2023

Carolina Trout

"Being born and raised in Southwest Atlanta, I’m confident my ATL card won’t ever be revoked. Still, having never previously eaten at local fine dining institution South City Kitchen, a small part of me felt incomplete. The Midtown restaurant’s magnificent Carolina trout makes me feel even worse about the years of neglect. Tucked between a small bunch of tender collards (an asparagus substitute) and a tangy hazelnut pesto, two trout filets manage to stand out amongst all the green. The fish couldn’t have been charred any better if that was the chef’s lone job in life. Whipped potatoes, cornbread, and sweet-but-not-offensively-sweet tea perfectly round out a meal I’ve never had before but somehow came off warm and familiar." –DeMarco Williams, staff writer

Soft Shell Crab Sandwich

"As much as I’m drawn to familiar favorites like pizza, I’m always inclined to try the specials at Staplehouse because they never steer me wrong. And the fried soft shell crab sandwich just reinforces that decision. The soft shell crab is perfectly seasoned, battered, and fried just hard enough to flavor the shell without drowning out the subtle sweetness of the crab meat insides. And I’m usually not a fan of egg salad (that’s a story I’ll share another day), but the saucy, herby salad along with some frisée greens create the perfect texture combo in each bite. The warm, toasted bun is the hug to bring it all together." - Nina Reeder, senior editor

APRIL 2023

Lobster Fried Rice

"I’m a stubborn old-school guy who generally feels newer things must earn their stripes before words like 'classic' or 'iconic' can be attached to them. But Buckhead’s Snap Thai is making me reconsider that way of thinking with each visit. The fresh spot’s latest lure is the lobster fried rice. The generous portion of onion- and carrot-packed rice topped with a sizeable cold-water tail looked good at first glance, but in no way hinted at being the culinary highpoint of my week. But from the moment I dug into the chunky, semi-sweet lobster meat and perfectly cooked rice, it was clear that any future mentions of this restaurant would require the words 'new classic' attached." -DeMarco Williams, staff writer

The Dogzilla from Manuel’s Tavern

"Manuel’s Tavern in Poncey-Highland is the kind of place that encourages people from all walks of life to sit down with a beer and stay awhile, which is perfect because after consuming the Dogzilla you’ll need to stay seated for a few hours. This half-pound hot dog means business (like demolishing your hunger pangs the way Godzilla attacked Tokyo). It takes up half a plate with cheese oozing down the sides, and I recommend adding chili, slaw, and kraut for the full effect. It’s so big you might have to take it down with a fork and knife, but if you can manage to eat it with your hands, I salute you."  -Juli Horsford, staff writer

MARCH 2023

Cajun Creole Gulf Shrimp, Fish, and Grits

"The thing I love most about Gocha’s is their consistency. The lively Cascade restaurant is open from 9am to 3pm every day. Weekends are always packed. And the best thing on the menu, the Cajun Creole Gulf Shrimp, Fish, and Grits, never misses. When the order gets to your table, it’ll look like a lot. Because it is. But somehow the plump grilled shrimp, expertly-fried flounder, and semi-spicy sauce all sitting atop a plate of hot, creamy grits just works. But I like to opt for the jalapeño grits to give our bayou breakfast even more kick."-DeMarco Williams, staff writer

photo credit: Amy Sinclair

Firewall image

Firewall

$$$$

Flying V

"I actually came to Firewall in Westview to try out their pizza, and this Flying V sandwich was an impulse purchase that completely stole the show. The pita bread is cooked in the same wood-fired oven they make the pizzas in, so you get that subtle smoky flavor in the bread. Then, it’s stuffed with Israeli-style hummus, seasoned roasted cauliflower, pecans, and pickled vegetables, which give the sandwich a pleasant tang with each bite. I now want to go back and eat every single sandwich on the menu." -Nina Reeder, editor

FEBRUARY 2023

Oyster Po'Boy

"The po’boys at Just Loaf’in will make you rethink everything you know about food stops at gas station shopping centers. The small Mardi Gras-colored eatery off the Boulevard exit on I-20 is now my new favorite place to grab a bite before hitting rush hour. And their amazing oyster po’boy makes any horrific commute more enjoyable. The tender, fried oysters would normally be a touch too salty on their own, but paired with a tangy remoulade and soft french bread, I barely came up for breaths between bites." -Nina Reeder, editor

Focaccia Ripiena

"You’ve had focaccia before. But I’d be willing to bet you haven’t tasted the Italian bread quite like how InterContinental Buckhead’s standout restaurant Americano does it. A circular brown loaf, the size of a bread-and-butter plate, this focaccia has a distinguishing green pesto spread on top. Once you cut a slice and bite into it, the stracchino cheese and herbs dance so brilliantly together it'll remind you of the best pizza pocket you ever had. But if there is a downside to devouring the whole thing, it’s that your main course may be an afterthought." -DeMarco Williams, staff writer

Debris Po'Boy

"It’s messy! That’s the warning label for the Debris Po’Boy on the menu at the Po'Boy Shop in Decatur. And they aren’t lying. Most of the mess comes from the brown gravy that oozes out the sides of the sandwich everytime you pick it up. But the gravy doesn't overshadow the tender, slow-roasted beef nor the bread with a slightly crusty exterior and incredibly soft interior that makes the perfect vessel to carry the contents. Along with a little bit of horseradish sauce, which provides a spicy kick to accentuate the beef, everything works together like a finely-tuned brass band. Bypass napkins here and just lick your fingers because wasting any precious drip is unforgivable." -Juli Horsford, staff writer

Eye of Round Beef Pho

"I'm still working on forgiving We Suki Suki in EAV for only being open for lunch three days a week. But my anger subsides every time I get a taste of their Eye of Round Beef Pho. Their broth marinates for a full 24 hours, so it’s a blast of flavor with every slurp. The beef is served medium rare, and the thin rice noodles are cooked to perfection. It has the same ingredients as every other pho in town (cilantro, Thai basil, bean sprouts, and green onions), but somehow they magically combine to form the perfect mix. I can’t actually pinpoint what makes it so damn good, but the constant line out the door means we aren’t the only ones who are obsessed." -Juli Horsford, staff writer

photo credit: Mhandy Gerard

La Semilla image

La Semilla

$$$$

Crunchwrap

"Look, we all hit Taco Bell once in a while to snag a Crunchwrap when options are few. But I’d rather just go to La Semilla, which has perfectly recreated the iconic fast food staple with one catch—no meat. Even with their solely plant-based menu, this Crunchwrap tastes better than the real deal. And this dish contains the perfect amount of seitan beef, sour cream, nacho cheese, and lettuce in every bite (yes, I'm directing shade toward the Bell). Now all they need is a drive thru." -Juli Horsford, staff writer

JANUARY 2023

Coconut Tres Leches

"By George in downtown’s The Candler Hotel feels like an out-of-era experience because the restaurant sits in a regal turn-of-the-century building that looks out toward the path of the Marta trolley car (which none of us have gotten used to). And I’d like to say dessert at By George feels like old elegance, too—this fluffy dessert is already among the best of them. But soaked in the sweetness of tres leches, this cake feels more like a spoonful of spongy coconut cream. If the Greek gods ever had the opportunity to re-appropriate a dessert that should actually have the name of ambrosia, we're pretty sure this would be their pick." -Nina Reeder, editor

Lomo Saltado

"The Lomo Saltado at Tio Lucho’s in Virginia Highland is one of their most popular dishes for good reason. Perfectly cooked tender sirloin steak with beefy brown sauce, steak fries, smashed heirloom tomatoes, and hunks of onions sit in a large bowl mingling with salty juices and flavors—along with a side bowl of rice, of course. When steak is served with french fries and rice, I’ll gladly take it and excuse it as carb-loading for a big marathon (yes, I mean a movie marathon). If I happen to have on pants with the elastic waistband, I'll contemplate ordering seconds."  -Juli Horsford, staff writer

Big Earl

"There are a lot of great burgers in the A, like the legendary H&F or General Muir’s double-smash cheeseburger, but I have to call attention to a burger that has unfairly slipped under the radar. Reminiscent of the Big Mac, this burger is massive with two quarter-pound patties and three sesame seed buns, caramelized onions, and American cheese spilling out the sides. It’s easily an eight-napkin meal because you can’t dig into it without cheese and Thousand Island sauce dripping down your chin. This giant, messy burger makes The Earl dive bar a must-stop in EAV." -Juli Horsford, staff writer

Wood-Fired Roasted Cauliflower

"I understand if you don’t like cauliflower. It can be bland, it has a peculiar odor, and sometimes it’s just too much roughage. As a matter of fact, the last time I semi-willingly ate cauliflower, it was flown on an airplane spoon with accompanying motor sounds. But the cauliflower appetizer at Palo Santo in West Midtown might just change your mind. Peek into the kitchen, and you’ll see cauliflower stalks hanging above an open flame, roasting to perfection. Miso caramel drizzled on top gives the crunchy stalk a sweet taste, and the fresh, creamy jalapeno sauce is perfect for dunking the roasted florets. It might be time to call moms to apologize for ever dissing (or spitting out) this white veggie." -Juli Horsford, staff writer

Sizzling Salmon

"With couples and corporate types frequenting this Buckhead restaurant, conversation fills the dining room. That is, until the waiter brings your Sizzling Salmon to the table. Thanks to a crackling that’s part Chili’s fajita and part campfire, a silence will fall. This fairly simple dish—a decent cut of salmon tossed with peppers and pineapples over a bubbling hot sauce served on a cast iron skillet—masters the complex art of being sweet but not offensively so. The dish will be so damn good you’ll throw civility to the wind and dump your fluffy rice onto the plate." -DeMarco Williams, staff writer

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