For focaccia and bowls of pasta at the bar

I stick close to home on Friday evenings, opting to dine within my Westside neighborhood. The bumper-to-bumper traffic along Howell Mill Road and Northside Drive is a daily struggle, but it’s particularly difficult on Friday. A favorite Westside dining spot for me is a seat at the bar at Donetto on Brady Avenue. While I’ve had other dishes here, it’s hard to pass up the lumache tossed in tangy ragu all’amatriciana paired with a glass of barbera from the Piedmont region of Italy. There’s just something about the acidity of this Roman-inspired sauce that just does it for me. Pro tip: never pass up the opportunity to consume Donetto’s beautifully baked (and super fresh) focaccia served with parmesan butter, olive oil, and an addictive smattering of caponata (a sort of eggplant salad) for spreading on the bread. 976 Brady Avenue NW, Suite 110, Atlanta — Beth McKibben, Eater Atlanta editor

For down home fried catfish and a strong old fashioned

We live in the South, meaning that decent fried catfish, in theory, should be widely available and delicious. Except, it’s not. Thankfully, Bon Ton is here to scratch that itch. The restaurant serves up some amazing fried fish. Order a basket and make it a meal. Top the whole thing off with an RX old fashioned (secretly one of the best drinks in the city.) Seriously, it’s worth braving their nightmarish parking situation in Midtown. 674 Myrtle St NE, Atlanta — Ryan Hughley Eater Atlanta contributor

For a special, off-menu ramen

We’re lucky in Atlanta to have several spots to choose from around town for legit ramen. That’s important as we’ve finally welcomed fall. Order the special, off-menu Tokyo tonkotsu at Jinya Ramen Bar. This particular bowl used to be a special on their menu, but it can still be ordered by request here. Do this. They start with a pork broth base and layer on pork chasyu, a seasoned ramen egg, kikurage mushrooms, green onions, and bonito (fish) flakes. Ask for a (free) side of fresh garlic to hand-press into the ramen, too. Make sure to also add one of the soy and spicy accompaniments provided at each table for an extra bit of umami in your ramen. 5975 Roswell Road, Suite B217, Sandy Springs (also in Buckhead) — Sarah-Ann Soffer, Eater Atlanta Contributor and Instagram Manager

For lunchtime sushi from a food truck in Midtown

Back when food trucks were first rolling out in Atlanta, an often-repeated joke from people who weren’t familiar with these mobile kitchens was that sushi would be a bad idea, as if you couldn’t put a refrigeration system on wheels. Anyone who still believes it can’t be done should try the spicy ponzu tuna bowl from the Gekko Sushi Food Truck. At $14 a bowl, it’s not the most inexpensive sushi in town, but it’s also kind of amazing considering it came from a sushi bar on wheels. You get a deep bowl of flavorful, bright pink, sushi-grade tuna alongside crab and seaweed salads, lettuce, avocado, and wasabi. The bowl is enough for two servings, which makes the cost seem quite reasonable. Catch Gekko once a week near the “Midtown” sign at Colony Square on Peachtree Street. 3795 Presidential Parkway, Atlanta — Mike Jordan, Eater Atlanta contributor

For Sichuan-style beef swimming in hot chili peppers

La Mei Zi, located in Asian Square on Buford Highway, may be known more for its sprawling buffet and rarely empty dining room, but do yourself a favor — order off the menu on occasion. I ventured there one Saturday for the lunch buffet but ended up grabbing a menu instead, landing on the Sichuan-style beef. The dish arrives at the table filled with thick slices of tender beef in a bubbling spicy, chili pepper sauce, topped with whole chilis and cilantro. For me, it encompasses the best components of my Nana’s New England beef strew mixed with the numbing comfort of the flavors of Sichuan. Make sure to tell your server not to tone down the heat in this dish. 5150 Buford Highway NE, #C-310, Doraville — Beth McKibben, Eater Atlanta editor


For an in-town Thai food fix...

We all know Buford Highway is king when it comes to finding food from around the globe. From Chinese to Japanese, Bangladeshi to Mexican, there’s nothing more satisfying than the food coma following a trip to Buford Highway. But, Atlanta traffic sometimes means that trek north simply isn’t possible and you need an in-town fix. Enter Surin of Thailand. This Virginia-Highland mainstay has been serving up delicious (and consistent) Thai food since 1990. My go-to every time I head to Surin is the pad see ew — referred to on the menu as pad see-u. This comforting Thai dish features thick, perfectly oiled, flat rice noodles sautéed with egg, broccoli, garlic, and Thai soy sauce. You can add a number of proteins, but I prefer the beef, which is served in juicy, generous portions. Make sure to ask for a side of peanut sauce. It really adds a nice kick of flavor to the dish. 810 North Highland Avenue Northeast, Atlanta — Sarah-Ann Soffer, Eater Atlanta contributor and Instagram manager

For a spot of tea and duck salad sandwiches...

Now that summer has officially overstayed its welcome in Atlanta, I’m doing everything I can to push fall to the forefront by sheer force of will. For me, that means curling up with a good book and a hot cup of tea. These days — drizzly afternoon or not — you’re most likely to find me at Tipple & Rose Tea Parlor in Virginia-Highland with a cup of bourbon vanilla rooibos or a rich chai paired with a warm scone made by owner Doria Roberts. I prefer to drop in for an individual pot of tea, but Tipple & Rose also puts on a high tea service rivaling any London tea house. Reservations are required. The shop, which Roberts owns with chef Calavino Donati — the two are married — also features local food products like Honeysuckle Gelato, Golda Kombucha, and sandwiches from their sister restaurant and bodega, Urban Cannibals on 5th Street in Midtown. Tipple is just great for a laid back afternoon snack or even a light lunch. The tea-brined duck (salad) sandwich is a thing of beauty — especially paired with one of the hearty soups. 806 North Highland Avenue, Atlanta — Robbie Medwed, Eater Atlanta contributor

For chicken and beer at the airport...

Atlanta chef and cookbook author Todd Richards (Richards’ Southern Fried) can do no wrong these days. But, it’s pretty remarkable what he and the rest of the kitchen team at Ludacris’ Chicken + Beer are pulling off at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson. Yes, an airport restaurant. While you’ll probably find at least one or two dishes on the menu elsewhere at Hartsfield, you can’t front on the differences in quality and flavor found at Chicken + Beer. Take C+B’s “Hot’lanta” whole wings. They’re a stand out for me due to the well-balanced heat and crispness. The same goes for the the salmon croquette sliders topped with zucchini slaw which is spiked with spiced vinegar for zip. However, I found the best new dish to be the collard green bowl. The potlikker from the greens doesn’t wet down the crunch of the fried chicken, even as it moistens the cornbread and keeps the greens soaked. Add a picked egg slice, and you have something flyer than “a G6 jet,” as Luda would say. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Concourse D — Mike Jordan, Eater Atlanta contributor

For low-key breakfast burritos on Buford Highway...

I’ve said it before — I’m not big on breakfast. I find bacon and eggs boring and am not particularly hungry first thing in the morning, opting instead for lighter fare like berries and granola and strong, black coffee. There are a few exceptions to this breakfast embargo. One of those exceptions is most definitely the breakfast burrito at Taco Veloz on Buford Highway. There’s nothing more satisfying than sitting on the tiny patio with a tightly-wrapped burrito filled with chorizo, eggs, spicy salsa, refried beans, and onions while sucking down several ounces of the sweet goodness of a horchata. I douse my burrito in extra hot sauce — especially on Saturday mornings when I’m likely to be a bit bleary-eyed from a long week of writing or Friday evening cocktails. Taco Veloz has six other locations in metro Atlanta, but the food and low-key vibe (and the drive-thru) at their Buford Highway locale is hard to beat. 5084 Buford Highway NE, Atlanta — Beth McKibben, Eater Atlanta editor


For game-changing foie gras and a sneak peek at an upcoming restaurant...

I’ve never enjoyed foie gras, or any liver dish, to be honest; it’s always been too gamey for me. That said, the peanut-butter-flavored foie gras at chefs Ronald Hsu and Aaron Phillips’ Lazy Betty supper club pop-up was a game-changer. Hsu will open Lazy Betty as a restaurant in Poncey-Highland early next year. For now, he and Phillips are hosting monthly dinners at the neighboring Poncey-Highland Cafe for $105 per person. Don’t trip on the price, even though it’s BYOB. Green’s liquor store is right down the street. Before attending the dinner last week with a friend, we dropped by Green’s for bottles of prosecco and valpolicella ripasso. The menu that evening included: Gulf red snapper tartare, cucumber cannelloni, fig jam-stuffed duck liver (foie gras,) a mushroom terroir and black truffle casserole, a wagyu version of Waffle House’s steak and eggs, and a cherry mousse dessert. The dessert was immaculately sculpted to resemble an actual cherry with a dark chocolate stem. If you can possibly make it to the next Lazy Betty supper, hustle up and get tickets now. 640 North Highland Avenue NE, Atlanta — Mike Jordan, Eater Atlanta contributor

For irresistible bucatini alla bolognese...

I can’t seem to get enough pasta lately, and the bucatini alla bolognese at Old Fourth Ward’s Italian restaurant A Mano hits the spot. It’s hearty without being too rich, and the ricotta adds this irresistible creaminess that makes sharing the pasta dish with my husband difficult. Give me that and a glass of their house-made strawberry soda, and I’m a happy gal. Beyond the pasta, I’m simply charmed with their cozy atmosphere; the wooden two-top booths are particularly intimate for date night. It actually feels like a neighborhood restaurant — even if I have to drive over 30 minutes to get there. 587 Ralph McGill Blvd NE, Atlanta — Lia Picard, Eater Atlanta contributor

For a night in with Netflix...

Next time you’re having a Netflix night, carry out a bounty of the excellent Chinese food at Tasty China, where beloved chef Peter Chang’s cult-like following congregates to worship at the altar of “hot and numbing” peppers. Start with the succulent bamboo fish and the infamous (for a reason) dry-fried eggplant. But, the Szechuan delicacies go on for pages, and nearly everything, including staples like tofu and lo mein, are outstanding. If you haven’t been in awhile, put it back on your radar. It’s worth the trip. 585 Franklin Road SE, Marietta, 1860 Atlanta Road SE, Smyrna, 4920 Roswell Road NE, Sandy Springs — Jess Graves, Eater Atlanta contributor

For when you’re in a pizza state of mind...

You’ve heard it all before. There are two things that can’t be recreated outside of New York City: bagels and a classic New York-style pizza slice. As a native New Yorker, I’d be inclined to agree. Some claim it’s the water that makes all the difference. That’s why one of my favorite discoveries in Atlanta is the pizza at Il Bacio Pizzeria & Trattoria. Located in a completely unassuming shopping mall off Sydney Marcus Boulevard in Buckhead, Il Bacio offers legit New York-style pizza by-the-slice until 4 p,m. daily. But, you can still order an entire pie. With a thick, airy crust, sweet tomato sauce, gooey cheese, and a bit too much oil, nothing gets better than this slice of perfection for me. The owners hail from Queens, where they used to own a bagel shop. Rumor has it they import the dough made with real New York City water, which might be why it tastes like the real thing. I’m certainly a believer. 2571 Piedmont Road NE #120, Atlanta — Sarah-Ann Soffer, Eater Atlanta contributor and Instagram manager

For a never-ending parade of banchan and piping hot Korean stews...

One evening, after dropping our daughter off at a friend’s quinceañera in Norcross, my husband and I ventured further north to Jang Su Jang for dinner. It’s been a minute since I’d made the 21-mile trek from Atlanta to Duluth to one of my favorite Korean restaurants. We love their pork belly bossam, for which they’re known, along with the never-ending parade of banchan that keeps appearing on the table. But, it’s the steaming pot of their “boodae stew” or budae jjigae that keeps me coming back. As a native New Englander, it reminds me of the hearty stews and soups I ate as a child on cold winter evenings. This spicy mixture of all the good things consists of Spam, hot dogs, ramyeon noodles, and kimchi and is seasoned with gochujang or red chili paste. It’s heat two ways, and it hits the spot. One more shout out for the seafood pancake here, too. Prepare to wait for a table during dinner. 3645 Satellite Boulevard, Duluth — Beth McKibben, Eater Atlanta editor


For the perfect (early) date night...

I recently went to Ford Fry’s Italian and seafood restaurant St. Cecilia and tried their new happy hour offerings. The menu doesn’t seem like the typical happy hour bites, though. There’s so many options, and the portions are generous. It’s pretty affordable, too — a real luxury in Buckhead. My dining companion and I easily made a full meal out of the dishes we ordered. The highlights for me included an overflowing plate of fritto misto — lightly battered, sprinkled with crunchy salt, and served with a grilled lemon for squeezing and the punched potatoes covered in crème fraîche and smoked trout roe. We also enjoyed the squash blossoms stuffed with mozzarella on a bed of pureed anchovies and raw cobia served with charred corn, shishito, and trout roe. That last dish is served with house made Carta Di Musica crackers. The happy hour menu is not only available on weekdays, but on the weekends, too. It all pairs perfectly with a $5 spritz. 3455 Peachtree Rd NE, Atlanta — Sarah-Ann Soffer, Eater Atlanta Contributor and Instagram Manager

For an insanely addictive oyster shooter...

I recently attended a progressive dinner through Ponce City Market’s food hall. The dinner made stops at Biltong Bar (absolutely one of the ATL’s top five bars,) W.H. Stiles Fish Camp (“Dub’s”,) Minero for tacos and margaritas, and finally ending at Bellina Alimentari for grappa and desserts. Obviously, there’s not a lot of secret stuff happening in one of Atlanta’s most popular eating destinations — Ponce City Market. But, I want to commend the work of Dub’s executive chef Eaksuree Poonsiripukdeekul, who made what has to be the best oyster shooter I’ve had in the city. Poonsiripukdeekul, who hails from Thailand, created an insanely addictive, super-citrusy shooter using bivalves chef-owner Anne Quatrano’s team source for the restaurant’s raw bar. And, if you haven’t had the shrimp po’boy, I highly recommend ordering that, too — if you don’t overdose on those oyster shooters first. 675 Ponce de Leon Avenue, Atlanta — Mike Jordan, Eater Atlanta contributor

For a last taste of summer...

I’m taking full advantage of these last few weeks of warm patio weather in Atlanta. One of my favorite patios to sit on and decompress with a glass of wine in the evenings is at chef Hugh Acheson’s Empire State South in Midtown. For me, it’s a quadruple threat: fresh, unaffected food from chef Adam Waller (formerly of Bocado), superb cocktails by the sensational Kellie Thorn, an insane wine list from Steven Grubbs, and a patio which captures the summer breezes. On a recent Thursday night meet-up with friends, I ate some of the last summer beans of the season. Acheson doesn’t dig fancified names for dishes on his menus, opting instead for straightforward language that’s as unaffected as the ingredients used to create dishes. The summer bean salad comprised of lady peas and butter beans is complemented by watermelon radishes, crisp red onions, mint, and cubes of Thomasville tomme cheese. I paired it with Grubb’s by-the-glass wine special that evening, a super-surprising (and really good) Georgia red blend from a small, boutique wine producer near Hiawassee in the North Georgia mountains. It sipped like a juicy cote du rhone. Surprising indeed; especially in a state known more for its whiskey and beer than its wines. 999 Peachtree Street NE #140, Atlanta — Beth McKibben, Eater Atlanta editor


For fluffy bao and fried cauliflower nuggets

I’m smitten with Mushi Ni at We Suki Suki in East Atlanta Village. Chefs Tanya Jimenez and Michael Le run the stall in the micro-food hall together and whip up japchae and grain bowls daily. But, their baos are the real gem. Fluffy and airy, the baos come stuffed with the filling of your choice. If I want to keep things light, I get the cauliflower bang bang with sweet and spicy fried cauliflower nuggets. There are great options for carnivores, too, like the Vietnamese pork belly. Jimenez and Le are opening Braise next year—their permanent restaurant in Fayetteville’s Pinewood Forest. I can’t wait to see what magic they create there. 479-b Flat Shoals Avenue SE, Atlanta — Lia Picard, Eater Atlanta contributor

For cheeseburgers in beer paradise

Downtown Decatur’s Brick Store Pub isn’t exactly a secret, and using beer as an excuse to escape the heat is never a bad idea. But, you know what’s a great way to restore energy lost from hours of geeking out over books and catching interviews and panels during the Decatur Book Festival this weekend? It’s a cheeseburger so good, you’ll get emotional. That’s the cheeseburger calibre at Brick Store Pub. They don’t even have a plural selection of burgers on their menu—just the one, with freshly-ground beef, American cheese (the superior burger cheese), bread and butter pickles, iceberg lettuce, and a special sauce which might induce vocalizing certain Jimmy Buffet lyrics while cradling one of the most perfect burgers created. Yes, it is a cheeseburger in paradise. 125 East Court Square, Decatur — Sarra Sedghi, Eater Atlanta contributor

For a good redemption story

5Church in Midtown had an iffy launch in Atlanta. The restaurant lead an intense PR campaign prior to opening; which included mini La Marca prosecco bottles with their logo engraved on the neck. The campaign built big anticipation for a restaurant daring to set up shop on prime Peachtree Street real estate. I dined there in 2016 after the restaurant opened. It was underwhelming. One chef shuffle later, I gave 5Church another shot recently with my mother and stepfather in tow for brunch. Chef Scotley Innis (formerly at Ormsby’s) has completely turned things around for me. I don’t eat much shrimp and grits, but Innis’s dish employs a rich tomato gravy that’s still unmistakably Southern. The drinks are also great; though I’d suggest the Viper or Holy Water bourbon cocktail over the bloody at brunch. If you’re like me and were underwhelmed by your earlier dining experience, give 5Church another try. 1197 Peachtree Street NE #528, Atlanta — Mike Jordan, Eater Atlanta contributor

For Vietnamese beyond pho and banh mi

With the weather starting to (slowly) dip and the rain coming in more often, sometimes a good bowl of pho from one of the many Vietnamese restaurants along Buford Highway just does the trick. But, there’s more to Vietnamese food than pho and banh mi. And, there’s no better place to discover that fact than Nam Phuong. Start with an order of glazed chicken wings in fish sauce—arguably some of the best wings in the city. The wings come with rice and veggies, and are a steal at only $8.95. Follow the wings with pan-fried rice cubes topped with a fried egg, and finish with sautéed seafood with mixed vegetables nestled on top of a thick basket of crispy egg noodles. Ask for white wine vinegar to really punch up the flavor. 4051 Buford Highway NE, Atlanta. — Sarah-Ann Soffer, Eater Atlanta Contributor and Instagram Manager

For the numbing comforts of papaya salad

I crave spicy food more than I care to admit. Sometimes it’s simply to cure what ails me. Other times my palate needs a reset that only the heat of a spicy dish offers, balanced by chewy sticky rice or the cooling comforts of cucumbers. Papaya salad (tum mak hoong in Laotian) embodies all of this in one dish. On a recent Saturday, I found myself craving the numbing powers of papaya salad and ventured south to Pho Lanxang Lao Thai on Jonesboro Road in Forest Park. The salad is made from unripened green papaya, hot chilis, and vegetables like cherry tomatoes, peppers, or snake beans tossed in garlic, padaek (Lao fish sauce), and shrimp paste. The dish comes with sticky rice and usually a side of raw vegetables like cabbage and cucumbers to curb the heat. The version at Pho Lanxang is likely one of the best I’ve had in Atlanta. Other dishes of note here: the green curry, Laos sausage, spicy kao poon soup, and beef larb. 4571 Jonesboro Road, Forest Park — Beth McKibben, Eater Atlanta editor


For a good time and better pasta
Old family photos and paper lanterns brighten the seriously-old-school atmosphere at Il Localinoin Inman Park. It’s a blend of novelty and warmth against an aural backdrop of 1980s hit songs. Try the Linguine alla Don Michaele’s topped with enough garlic to take out a vampire. The picatta with whatever meat is chosen is always on point here. But, don’t skip the classics at Il Localino like spaghetti and meatballs or chicken parmigiana. 467 N. Highland Avenue NE, Atlanta — Sarra Sedghi, Eater Atlanta contributor

For Atlanta’s best sweetbreads
Ok, so not everyone is into eating organ meat or offal, but make an exception for the lightly breaded, slightly chewy yet tender veal sweetbreads (made from the pancreas of a calf) on the menu at Ticonderoga Club. The dish has become a mainstay on the menu since the restaurant opened at Krog Street Market in 2015. This Eater editor likes to pair her sweetbreads with a glass of the sparkling wine du jour any T-Club bartender recommends. 99 Krog Street NE, Atlanta — Beth McKibben, Eater Atlanta editor

For fried oysters and roast airline chicken
This is going to trip you out. A few months ago when Watershed’s ownership changed and my man chef Zeb Stevenson left, I admit to having side conversations with more than a few concerned Atlantans—including the city’s food media—about the situation. Remember the $350 plate of French fries? I recently met up with my friend and fellow ATL food writer, Christopher Hassiotis, at the reimagined Watershed and met chef-owner Matt Marcus. I have to say, I was impressed. Everything from the fried oysters, scallop ceviche, wild mushrooms, and roast airline chicken was seriously delicious. Sure, it was splashy to arrive with the noise Marcus made when he took over the Atlanta dining institution (formerly owned by Emily Saliers of Indigo Girls.) However, I can say, it’s still a great experience. 1820 Peachtree Road NW, Atlanta — Mike Jordan, Eater Atlanta contributor

For cold coffee during a blazing hot summer
Last summer I fell in love with a drink. Specifically, a cold coffee drink mixed with sparkling water, vanilla, and lemon—San Francisco Coffee’s SF Spritzer. Cold brew always comes with a risk (those dangerously high amounts of caffeine, heart palpitations, a buzz that’s too damn strong,) but the SF Spritzer’s mixings mute that power to create a coffee drink that’s both refreshing and hydrating, saccharine and just zesty enough to endure the remaining sunlit hours on a summer evening in Atlanta. San Francisco Coffee has three locations in Atlanta. — Sarra Sedghi, Eater Atlanta contributor

For rejuvenating soup for breakfast
During a recent trip up Buford Highway, I stumbled upon the Colombian restaurant Las Delicias De La Abuela in Doraville. Las Delicias offers a handful of traditional Colombian breakfast dishes like the calentado made with rice, beans, and sweet plantains. The dish typically sees the home cook reusing rice and beans from the previous night’s dinner which are then repurposed for breakfast. However, the dish that caught my eye on the morning I dined was the changua or egg and milk soup. The eggs are basically poached in the milk stock as it simmers. The soup comes with bread, which can be dunked or soaked in the bowl. It was everything I was looking for: comforting, filling, and rejuvenating. Las Delicias is open at 8:30 a.m. daily and has another location in Duluth. 5600 Buford Highway NE, Doraville — Beth McKibben, Eater Atlanta editor


For Taiwanese that warms the bones while preserving the wallet: This week’s storms brought in some dreary temperatures, and now Instagram is flooded with bowls of ramen. Over at the Midtown Promenade shopping center, Ah-Ma’s Taiwanese Kitchen serves ridiculously affordable and perfectly sized dishes that warm the bones and lull diners to sleep like a real-world Goldilocks. Find the porridge equivalent in the bone broth congee (topped with dried pickled radish, shiitake, scallions, a shredded egg, and fish floss) or the lu rou fan; slow-cooked minced pork served atop rice and adorned with shiitake, fried shallots, pickled daikon, a braised egg and cilantro. 931 Monroe Drive Northeast #A108, Atlanta.— Sarra Sedghi, Eater Atlanta contributor

For the best chicken biscuits around: The secret is definitely out about Erika Council—aka the “biscuit whisperer”—and her Saturday biscuit breakfast pop-ups at B’s Cracklin’ Barbecue in Riverside. For those who don’t know, mark the calendar for Saturday, August 4 at 9 a.m. and head to B’s for superbly fried chicken sandwiched in-between one of Council’s fluffy, buttery biscuits with a side of hash browns. Word is the pimento cheese and country ham biscuit is back this Saturday, too. Sorry, Chick-fil-A, your chicken biscuit just doesn’t compare to these #bombassbiscuits. Breakfast is served 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Follow southernsouffle on Instagram for future dates. 2061 Main Street NW, Atlanta. — Beth McKibben, Eater Atlanta editor

For seriously good, budget-friendly tacos and wings: Like the long-standing taco chain in Atlanta, walk-up taco stand Taco Pete in East Point leads with its tortilla-enveloped edibles. Unlike the tacos and wings at Taco Mac, however, the tacos at Taco Pete are actually great. But, Taco Pete is “burying the lede” -- they also have seriously good, very budget-friendly buffalo wings, turkey burgers, and burritos, too. Hence the ever-present line to order. 2957 Main Street, East Point. — Mike Jordan, Eater Atlanta contributor

Come for the banh mi, stay for the egg noodle soup: Located in the Asian Square shopping center on Buford Highway, lies the unassuming Vietnamese restaurant Quoc Huong best known for their banh mi. But the small restaurant offers so much more. Try their egg noodle soup with seafood and wontons. Doughy wontons float in an airy broth among generous portions of crab meat, shrimp, and fish balls and the freshest, thick egg noodles in town. Order an iced Vietnamese coffee, too. If ordering banh mi, make it the barbecue pork or special combination served on La Petite France Bakery bread loaded with pickled, shredded carrots, cucumbers, jalapenos, and a rich aioli. The shop is cash only, but everything on the menu is extremely affordable. Sandwiches average around $3.00 per. Order five bánh mì, and the sixth one is free. 5150 Buford Hwy NE Atlanta. – Sarah-Ann Soffer, Eater Atlanta Contributor and Instagram Manager

CLOSED: For dumplings and baos galore, and beef noodle soup, too: Much like the debate over where to find the best burgers or barbecue in Atlanta, people love to argue about where to find the best dumplings in town. Atlantans would be remiss not to make the short trek up Buford Highway to Yong He Zhi Jia in Chamblee. Located in the Orient Center shopping plaza, this Taiwanese restaurant serves some righteous Shanghai juicy buns or xiao long bao. Make it a full-on feast and add in an order of pork and leek dumplings, pan fried pork bao, and crab meat juicy buns. For a bowl of pure comfort, absolutely try the Taiwanese beef noodle soup with tender, stewed beef and fat, chewy noodles swimming in a light, steamy beef broth. Yong He Zhi Jia has an extensive frozen section with its soups, dumplings, and baos for sale. 4897 Buford Highway NE, Chamblee. — Beth McKibben, Eater Atlanta editor

JULY 20/July 27

For unbelievably good coconut soup: Simply Thai is located in the middle of a small, crowded plaza of restaurants in Dunwoody just north of the Perimeter (I-285). It competes for diners with a Chinese restaurant and two Indian eateries located nearby. But, focus and walk straight into Simply Thai. Order the largest bowl of the tom kha kai (coconut soup) they sell, because it’s just so good. The creaminess of the coconut milk broth flavored with lemongrass and spiced with galangal (like ginger) and kaffir lime leaves is unbelievably well-balanced. And, the chicken is so fresh, people might think those birds live behind the building! It’s a fantastic Thai restaurant for other dishes, too, but don’t leave without ordering that soup. 4639 North Shallowford Road, Atlanta.— Mike Jordan, Eater Atlanta contributor

For an old school steak and martini on a budget: Sure, Buckhead’s CHOPS Lobster Bar and Bone’s both offer the classic pairing, but with a pretty hefty price tag. Budget-minded steak dinner seekers should wander over to the Highland Tap in Virginia-Highland. After more than 28 years, this longtime Atlanta staple takes care to honor the martini and its meaty companion. Custom order that martini with gin or vodka, dirty or dry with a twist. It comes with a personal sidecar to top off the cocktail while sipping. Pair the martini with a New York strip or an 8-ounce center cut filet for less than $30 bucks. The atmosphere is as chill as the unpretentious crowd here, and the servers and bartenders are always friendly. 1026 North Highland Avenue NE, Atlanta. — Beth McKibben, Eater Atlanta editor

For decadent desserts in Atlanta: Word is out that the unexpected jewel in the Hotel Clermont crown is Tiny Lou’s pastry chef Claudia Martinez. Her rotating dessert menu will change again next week, so get there this weekend to try the strawberry mousse with almond sponge cake and a basil-lime sorbet. The savory black pepper crumble is an electric finish to the pastry’s wave of milky sweet and sharp acid. Also worth ordering: the homage to the Clermont Lounge’s favorite—and most notorious—performer, the beer-can-crushing Blondie. The dessert is aptly named the “Ode to Blondie”. It’s a brown butter blondie with hazelnut cremeux, curried bananas flambé, and buttermilk sorbet. 789 Ponce De Leon Avenue NE, Atlanta. — Jess Graves, Eater Atlanta contributor

For a fried shrimp basket: Nothing against oysters, but ignoring the crustacean selection at Fontaine’s Oyster House in Virginia-Highland is criminal. In lieu of (or in addition to) bivalves, order a fried shrimp basket. Fontaine’s fried shrimp is a perfect specimen: thin, crispy batter and a juicy interior enveloped in a marriage of grease and salt. The philosophy’s the same with their crab cakes; which come slathered in remoulade. As far as the boiled department goes, the crab legs and peel-and-eat shrimp are also instant pleasers. 1026 1/2 North Highland Avenue Northeast, Atlanta. — Sarra Sedghi, Eater Atlanta contributor

For summertime nostalgia and soft serve ice cream: Summertime in Atlanta just doesn’t seem complete without consuming at least one vanilla soft serve ice cream cake cone dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with nuts. And, that means a trip to Zesto’s Drive-In on Piedmont Road. Zesto’s has been an Atlanta institution since the first location opened in 1949 on Peachtree Street. That location is gone, but the Piedmont Road shop, opened in the 1950s, is still offering their real deal vanilla and chocolate soft serve in a cake or waffle cone. 2469 Piedmont Road NE, Atlanta. — Beth McKibben, Eater Atlanta editor


For a stellar lunch deal (or just a stellar lunch): All-you-can-eat culture has given buffets a bad rap, but Your Dekalb Farmers Market in Decatur and their cafeteria-style restaurant redeems any trash talk. The pay-by-the-pound buffet is split, with hot meals and an extensive salad bar on opposite sides. Toppings include fresh guacamole, chilled beets and lentil salad with peppers, while various meat and vegetable dishes rotate through the hot bar. The buffet keeps a stable of hot dishes, namely samosas, pizza and Southern fare. 3000 Ponce de Leon Avenue, Decatur — Sarra Sedghi, Eater Atlanta contributor

This is straightforward, no-nonsense pho (and bánh mì): Pho Bac in Chamblee may not get as much attention as Nam Phuong, Pho Dai Loi, or Lee’s Bakery when it come to the Vietnamese noodle soup, but it definitely should. The restaurant, located in the Orient Center, offers a super straightforward menu which includes pho, bánh mì, and a variety of traditional Vietnamese dishes. As for pho, order the rare steak, well-done brisket, flank, tendon and tripe combo or the seafood noodle soup with shrimp, fish cake, and squid. Pho Bac opens at 10 a.m. daily. It’s the perfect time to pop in for breakfast pho and a bánh mì. 4897 Buford Highway NE, Ste 105, Chamblee — Beth McKibben, Eater Atlanta editor

For super-legit tacos head to this buffet: Most people have no idea there’s such a thing as a Mexican buffet. But, it exists in Hapeville, just down the road from Porsche HQ. Don Chon is not a fancy setup. The restaurant is a straight meat-and-three with food served from stainless steel chafing dishes (those rectangular pans found at buffets). The tacos, though. Don Chon’s corn shells are strong enough to hold the onions, cilantro, and whatever proteins are desired (lengua, chorizo, chicken, etc) but moist enough to let the diner know those shells were made right there in-house. This might be Atlanta’s best kept taco secret. 616 South Central Avenue, Atlanta — Mike Jordan, Eater Atlanta contributor

The best lunch in Buckhead is actually at Nordstrom: Nordstrom Café Bistro is never going to win an award, and it doesn’t care if people Instagram their meals. But, it consistently delivers on service in a pleasant environment with speed and efficacy. The cafe’s straightforward menu alone is enough to endear the trend-weary diner. However, the fact is, the food is actually good. The classic niçoise salad is a standout — with the requisite lightly-dressed greens, perfectly tender green beans, and no shortage of briny olives — but served with a healthy portion of wild salmon in lieu of tuna. Looking for pizza at Phipps? Skip that other place and head here instead, where the pies are flavorful, crisp and big enough to share. 3500 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta — Jess Graves, Eater Atlanta contributor

Dining at Staplehouse doesn’t necessarily require reservations: Monthly reservations for the tasting menu at Staplehouse go fast. But, the restaurant offers walk-in dining on their covered, garden-level patio. Lit by string lights complete with summer breezes (and enclosed during winter), an evening on the Staplehouse patio feels like hanging out and sharing a meal with friends in the backyard. The abbreviated menu includes a couple of chef Ryan Smith’s biggest hits, like his highly-Instagrammable chicken liver tart and Grandma Lillian’s potato bread. At least one nightly item is entree-size—and it’s all meant for sharing (with bottle service). The patio menu is also available upstairs at Paper Crane Lounge. This is relaxed, eat-at-your-own-pace, al fresco dining. The full tasting menu isn’t available here, but that’s not what people are after when head to this garden oasis on Edgewood. 541 Edgewood Avenue SE, Atlanta — Beth McKibben, Eater Atlanta editor

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