Whether you’re a local or a transplant, Atlanta has so many great restaurants that it’d be near impossible to visit them all. Luckily, our own Mara Davis made her own Atlanta bucket list spots, so you can visit Atlanta’s most iconic restaurants and get a slice of the city. Read below for more.
“Number 1, you’ve got to get a hot dog at The Varsity. It may not be delicious, it may not be your favorite thing, but…”
“You’ve got to get a doughnut from Sublime Doughnuts. You’ve got to get that oreo doughnut, that’s the crazy thing”
“You’ve gotta go to Gunshow. You’ve got to experience that with Chef Kevin Gillespie – that’s his concept that he started. And it’s southern dim sum – so they walk around and they present all the different food to you and it’s something completely, uniquely Atlanta. You really don’t see this anywhere else.”
“And Snack Bar – you’ve gotta get that Ghetto Burger. In Kirkwood, it’s not fancy and you know, Miss Anne she passed away a couple of years ago but her world famous burger is still living on. This is the burger, the onions – it is like the Atlanta classic burger, where people just go out of their way to get this burger. It’s been written up in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, so that is an Atlanta classic.”
“You’ve got to get a popsicle from King of Pops. That is something that you have to have. The chocolate sea salt is my favorite one. It’s one of the best Atlanta food stories ever. Now you see them everywhere and they’re still delicious, and who would have ever thought we’d be paying $5 for a popsicle.”
“The quick version of their story is they went to South America, and they tried these popsicles and thought they were great. They sold them on the street – they were just selling them in the cart over there on Ponce. You know where Ponce where the Buddy’s is – where Manuel’s Tavern is? So they were just selling the popsicles there and it was a little experiment and it’s just exploded. It’s two brothers – the Carse brothers who started it. When you first saw it was that little cart on North Highland. But now King of Pops is at your party, it’s at Willy’s – they’re everywhere.”
“You’ve got to get the Oysters at the Optimist. If you’re on the West Side the Optimist I think is one of the classic Atlanta restaurants. It’s part of the Ford Fry culture – Ford Fry is a chef in Atlanta who really brought so many restaurants to Atlanta including JCT Kitchen, Superrica – the list goes on and on. Beautiful restaurant design. You should cross that off your list.”
“Buford Highway you’ve got to go there. Nam Phuong is my favorite place for Vietnamese. You get the shaking beef – that’s what you do.”
I did talk about burgers – there’s a couple of iconic burgers. My favorite is at One Eared Stag – the Meat Stick.
Restaurant Eugene is on Peachtree kind of near where Watershed is. There’s so much art and care and this is one of the places that’s so iconic in the Atlanta dining scene and what gets us attention and makes us a culinary city.
I want to talk about Heirloom Market BBQ. THere’s a lot of BBQ places but why this should be on your bucket list is it’s Korean meets Southern and that’s really really unique that you don’t see anywhere else.
For cocktails you’ve got to go to Kimball House. You go to a place where they have – i call it a-hole ice (large ice cubes) – it keeps your drink a lot colder for longer. Even though it is quite pretentious, it is important in cocktail culture that you do that, and Kimball House no one does that ice better than they do.
If you want fried chicken, some of the staples are the Busy Bee Cafe, Colonnade, Mary Mac’s. For a steakhouse, Kevin Rathbun Steak. Kevin Rathbun is the guy behind the culinary scene on the belt line. He was the first guy there.
I also want to give a mention to Buckhead Diner. Now you’re gonna see the restaurant on our show Atlanta Eats – when everything started in Atlanta, as far as being a culinary scene, Buckhead Diner was the place to go. That’s where you went – it was elevated diner food. And it is still there, it’s still delicious, it’s still kitschy. Just like I mentioned Ford Fry, Buckhead Life group had a big part of that too – with Pricci, they had Nava back in the day and of course Chops is an iconic steakhouse. So these are some of the restaurants that you must must go to.