mkgallery’s roundup of the best restaurants in Atlanta, from a casual joint from Top Chef finalist Richard Blais to an Asian from a Grammy winner. For more great restaurants, check out our guide to the best places to eat in the country.
Plus: Southern Recipes
Lamb burger. Photo courtesy of JCT. Kitchen & Bar.
Ford Fry’s Southern is named for the railroad junction directly beside it. Fry adapts his signature chicken and dumplings depending on the season: In summer, the dumplings are made with sheep’s-milk ricotta; in winter, they become potato gnocchi. His $24 Sunday Suppers, Atlanta’s best deal, are a fun riff on the traditional Southern “meat and three,” with a choice between five meat entrees (like excellent roast chicken or meat loaf); three side dishes served family style; corn bread and biscuits; and red velvet cake.
Tom Chef’s Richard Blais. Courtesy of Home.
Richard Blais is famous nationwide for his turn on Top Chef Season 4, but Atlantans have known the faux-hawked cook since he opened Blais in 2003. At his upcoming burger boutique, Blais will practice molecular gastronomy at a liquid-nitrogen milk-shake bar (look for the Krispy Kreme shake) and prepare unusual burgers in varieties like lamb and wagyu beef with foie gras. In the future, he plans more Flips around the country.
Plus: Top Chef Recipes
Caipirinha. © Craig Brimanson
Piedmont, Italy, native Riccardo Ullio’s first two hit restaurants in the area, Fritti and Sotto Sotto, specialize in Italian food. But his new Beleza and Cuerno (both on the same Midtown block) are based, respectively, on his travels in Brazil and Spain. Beleza has a 150-square-foot wall of plants in the dining room; a healthy Brazilian menu featuring a superlative ceviche trio and shrimp moqueca, a stew made with coconut milk; and a long list of expertly prepared cocktails (like the caipirinha, left). Cuerno’s standout dishes include croquetas de jamón (ham croquettes) and any of the paellas: lobster, rabbit and snail or vegetarian.
© Iain Bagwell
Kevin Rathbun ate his way through five Chicago steak houses in 24 hours to research the newest addition to his restaurant empire (which includes Rathbun’s and Krog Bar). Cuts like porterhouse for two and a huge 22-ounce cowboy rib eye are topped with salted butter and served with decadent sides, like jalapeño creamed corn that doesn’t skimp on the cream.
Chicken potpies are a specialty. Photo courtesy of Serenbe.
Few places are as strict about their farm-to-table philosophy as The Hil in Serenbe, a chic eco-development 35 minutes southwest of Atlanta. Chef Hilary White gets most of her produce from Serenbe Farms, a few hundred yards from her kitchen. She tops pizza Margherita with just-picked tomatoes and basil, and adds local vegetable to her chicken potpie.
This terrific Singaporean place is the unlikely collaboration between West Coast chef Chris Yeo (he has three Straits in California) and East Coast Grammy winner and actor Chris “Ludacris” Bridges. Named for the Strait of Malacca, the restaurant offers Asian dishes like kung pao chicken “lollipops” (Ludacris’s favorite) and sea bass baked in an origami-style paper box. 793 Juniper St. NE; 404-877-1283.
Chef Linton Hopkins brings the same ingredient-obsessed cooking he’s known for at Restaurant Eugene to his casual new place next door. The menu is divided into sections like “plates” (dishes such as pasta carbonara), “meats” (Southern specialties like fried bologna) and “parts” (items like souse—Hopkins’s version of headcheese). Many people come just for the burger, made with beef ground in-house daily (it’s not on the menu and available only after 10 p.m.). Greg Best’s marvelous cocktails are as much of a draw as the food.
At this Japanese sister restaurant to Midtown’s MF Sushibar, servers shave fresh wasabi with a sharkskin grater and sommelier brothers Toshi and Kiyo Kojima pour sake. The menu from Chris “Magic Fingers” Kinjo features fish flown in from Tokyo’s Tsukiji market, such as mirugai (giant clam), as well as Japanese black cod cooked on MF’s robata grill. The long-awaited omakase room opens this month; once a week, Kinjo will prepare as many as 35 courses tableside for a few diners for up to $600 per person.
Plus: Japanese Recipes