A guide to some of the best restaurants in Atlanta
If you're considering a trip to Atlanta, first of all, you should definitely come here. But not necessarily for any of the reasons you think. You should come here because of the food.
Wait, hear me out. I am not talking Southern food. Yes, it's true we were once known for fried chicken and collards, and every restaurant in town tried to Southernize its menu. But a new crop of chefs and a more open mindset has turned the food scene on its ear.
Atlanta's restaurants now represent many countries whose food you would want to eat, from Argentinian to Malaysian cuisine. Our chefs are racking up nominations for James Beard awards, and our restaurants are featured on national food shows. Case in point: we recently attracted acclaimed chef Marcus Samuelsson, who has won 8 James Beard awards and was guest chef at President Obama's first state dinner.
So here are 5 reasons you have to take your next trip to Atlanta. But don't just take my word for it - all of these restaurants have received "best of" awards or national recognition.
And if you already live here, here are some restaurants to bookmark/try as soon as possible, if you haven't already. And lucky you, you get to come back to these restaurants whenever you want.
1. Best burger in America at Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q.
Seriously, the best burger in the country? Says who? Well, says Yelp and the people who leave reviews. The burger at Fox Bros. just made the no. 1 spot nationally based on the number of Yelp reviews and ratings. First off, you might have noticed this is a barbecue restaurant. And it's a really good one. So you start with angus brisket instead of ground beef. From there, the possibilities are endless. Maybe the meat goes on a house-made everything-bagel seasoned potato bun. Add some bacon and melted pimento cheese. Or put it on brioche with mustard and Texas chili. So good.
And if you want a plant-based burger, try Slutty Vegan, another Atlanta phenomenon, which made no. 3 on Yelp's list. Yeah, we win when it comes to burgers.
2. Krog Street Market, "one of the world's best food halls"
Oh yes it is. This is an updated version of the mall food court, without the chain stores. Travel + Leisure labeled it one of the world's best food halls, and we couldn't agree more. Once a popular stove factory in the 1800s, this historic site was later turned into a film studio for producer Tyler Perry (another Atlanta best). It now hosts 16 stalls with so many good local restaurants that you'll find it hard to choose. So we'll make it easy. First stop should be Soul Food and Culture for their fried green tomatoes (had to get some Southern in there, right?). Next, feast on authentic Chinese dumplings at Gu's. Then the Philly cheese steak from Fred's Meat and Bread. For dessert, pick out a flaky French pastry from Little Tart. And be sure to take home some handcrafted dark chocolate from Xocolatl, sourced from farms around the world. And if you want a sampling of Krog Street Market and some other seriously good restaurants, join our Food and Street Art Tour of the Atlanta BeltLine.
3. Best lobster roll at Beetlecat
Their lobster roll was declared the best in the nation, according to the state of Maine. And Maine knows lobster. The restaurant owners say the secret ingredient just might be Duke's mayonnaise. The dining room upstairs has an airy nautical-themed interior, but you absolutely should check out the quirky basement bar, a throwback to the 1970s, complete with vintage board games.
4. Fried Chicken at Folk Art, with Guy Fieri's stamp of approval
My boyfriend and I were watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives one day and were thrilled to see our favorite brunch spot appear onscreen. Folk Art is a few blocks off the Atlanta BeltLine, and while there's generally a wait at any restaurant for weekend brunch in Atlanta, we usually get a table within 15 minutes at Folk Art. You simply have to order the fried chicken - whether it's served as Folk Southern Fried, with fried eggs and sausage gravy - or benedict style, on a waffle, or as a sandwich. It will change your life. But I promised you more than Southern food, and Folk Art has it. Try the Lobster Benedict or the Pork and Chile Verde for a meal that will have you wishing you lived here to come back for more.
5. Lee's Bakery, named a top banh mi by New York Times
A Vietnamese banh mi starts with a crispy baguette. Then pile on thinly sliced pork, or maybe tofu or chicken, add some fish sauce, carrots and cilantro. Lee's does it right because the New York Times named it frontrunner for the best banh mi in America. That was in 2011, and it's still as good. Located in the most diverse part of the city, Lee's is on a long strip of road called Buford Highway. While it's outside the touristy districts, it's worth the 20-minute drive from Midtown. This is where you can find restaurants representing two dozen countries from around the world - including Korean, Mexican, Chinese, Columbian, Argentinian, Peruvian and more.
Want to taste more of Atlanta's best restaurants? Join our Food and Street Art Tour of the Atlanta BeltLine. You'll get a firsthand taste of some of the city's most delicious restaurants and uncover the hidden stories behind the BeltLine's vibrant street art. And for all the dog parents out there, our newest event, Barks & Bites: Doggie Food Crawl on the BeltLine, is the perfect opportunity to help your fur baby live their best life. Book today before they sell out!
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An Atlanta native, Nicole Gustin is the Founder and CEO of BiteLines, which offers walking Food and Street Art Tours on the Atlanta BeltLine. She considers the BeltLine her backyard, and is excited to see how Atlanta is reinventing itself. To sample some of Atlanta's best restaurants and street art, join us on our fabulous Food and Art Tour of the Atlanta BeltLine. Or bring your fur baby on Barks & Bites: Doggie Food Crawl on the BeltLine. Follow on TikTok and Instagram @bitelinesatl.