The year is drawing to a close and, as is tradition, Eater Atlanta surveyed several Atlanta food writers and dining experts on everything from where they love to eat when not in pursuit of a story to their best meal in 2018. Responses are cut, pasted, and (mostly) unedited. Be sure to check back throughout the week for more Year in Eater coverage.

Here, Atlanta’s dining authorities name their regular restaurant standbys for off-duty dining.

Let us know the restaurants you frequented this year in the comments below, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Mara Davis — Radio and TV personality for WABE, The Bert Show, and Atlanta Eats

Special occasion: Aria
Neighborhood Italian: La Tavola
Super underrated and terrific: Whiskey Bird for fun, creative food and excellent service 
Pizza: Varuni Napoli
Kimball House: never misses
Miller Union: cannot be beat

Mara Shalhoup — Deputy editor for Atlanta Magazine

I hardly ever get to eat off the clock, and when I do I almost always have my toddler in tow. One of the only places we felt compelled to visit multiple times in 2018 was Mary Hoopa’s House of Fried Chicken & Oysters. I love Robert Phalen’s cooking, and I appreciate that this restaurant tolerates mildly unruly children—yet doesn’t dumb down its food. I see other parents eating with their kids there (sometimes after 8 p.m.!) and feel a wave of relief.

Gray Chapman — Freelance food and drinks writer at New York Times, Atlanta Magazine, Atlas Obscura, Vice, and Vox

Wrecking Bar is a standard-bearer for me: the food, beer, and cocktails are always equally on point, and I love the dungeon-y vibe. For special occasions or a slightly fancier-than-usual weeknight drink, Empire State South can do no wrong in my eyes. Ticonderoga Club is always a treat, with an exceptional (and still highly underrated, IMO) kitchen. I cannot believe how lucky we are to have LanZhou Ramen and Food Terminal right around the corner from each other. And I’d lay down in front of any developer’s bulldozer to protect Little’s Food Store, Elliott Street Deli & Pub, or Homegrown.

Muriel Vega — Atlanta food and culture writer at Atlanta Magazine, AJC, The Bitter Southerner, and more

When all else fails, you can find me at LanZhou Ramen, hypnotized by the chef making the hand-pulled noodles that will end up in my duck soup. That spot is a one-of-a-kind gem we should cherish in Atlanta. Well, that and their Shanghai pan-fried pork buns, of course.

Mike Jordan — Digital program director for V103, Thrillist Atlanta editor, Eater Atlanta contributor

It was a big year for tacos in my mouth, and speaking of standbys, I stand by my assertion that the Tri-Cities/Airport District is home to the trifecta of ATL’s best tacos: Don Sige in College Park, Taco Pete in East Point, and Don Chon in Hapeville.

Ryan Hughley — Eater Atlanta contributor, freelance food writer

After moving here from Los Angeles almost two years ago, I have to admit, I wasn’t really expecting much in the way of food (ignorant I know.) However, since making Atlanta my home, I’ve completely fallen in love with restaurants like Bread & ButterflyBonTon, and Eight Sushi Lounge. Throughout the year, these are the restaurants that kept showing up on my credit card statements.

Beth McKibben, Eater Atlanta editor

The nature of my job at Eater prevents me from being a true regular anywhere. However, you might find me some weekends at Ticonderoga Club, Kimball House, Storico FrescoBoccaLupo, or Ration and Dram for dinner and drinks. For a quick lunch, I’m always down for the pork or duck hand-pulled noodles and soup dumplings at LanZhou Ramen and love ordering dishes from multiple stalls at Atlanta Chinatown’s food court. Gato for breakfast and for whatever owner Nicholas Stinson lets pop up in the kitchen on weekend evenings. It’s been an essential dining retreat for me. Currently, he’s running his own pop-up, Gato Nights, creating takes on dishes from southern Mexico and the Yucatán. Go.

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