The Holidays can be a stressful time of the year, especially when it comes to dining out with out-of-town guests. You want to make a great impression, don’t want to break the already dented bank, and you want to show off your great taste in food…so where do you go? We’ve compiled some of the best places to take your family, in-laws, and old college friends. So that’s one detail you don’t have to worry about.
Kevin Rathbun is a bona fide rock star chef. Since he defeated Iron Chef Bobby Flay in 2008, his reputation as one of the best chefs in the country has sky rocketed and his restaurants are perennially mentioned among the best in the country. Along with Krog Bar and Kevin Rathbun’s Steak, Rathbun’s is the third of the chef’s eateries on Krog Street in the Old Fourth Ward, located halfway between the iconic Krog Street Bridge and the entrance to the Eastside Beltline Trail.
4th and Swift
4th and Swift is a beautiful restaurant. Caught somewhere between modern American and upscale speakeasy, there are high ceilings, exposed brick, and a bar that boasts some of the best cocktails in town. A look at the menu at 4th and Swift tells you that Chef Jay Swift walks tall with a small footprint: braised pheasant from Tanglewood Farms in Canton, cheeses from Thomasville, and wood-grilled shrimp from Tybee Island. Even the food that comes from other states and countries has its origin listed as precisely as possible.
The Vortex Bar and Grill
Of all the restaurants in all the towns in all the world, The Vortex might be the best representative of the neighborhood it resides in. At the heart of Little 5 Points (L5P), a giant laughing skull rises out of the pavement and a set of “policies” on the menu tells you, “We grill the best damn burgers in Atlanta.” They might be right.
The Flying Biscuit
From the Vortex it’s a short drive to The Flying Biscuit, one of Atlanta’s most beloved breakfast and brunch restaurants. Although the original location on McLendon Avenue in Candler Park, with its vibrant purple and orange decor holds a special place in the hearts of Atlantans, there are now 13 Flying Biscuits across the south-east.
Planted in the midst of Merchant’s Walk in East Cobb, Seed Kitchen & Bar serves chef-driven, modern American cuisine alongside an expansive collection of boutique wines and creatively crafted cocktail classics. Diners enjoy dishes made with the finest locally sourced, seasonal ingredients in a sleek, vibrant setting. The menu is packed with popular plates – crispy calamari, hanger steak frites, and seared scallops – each with a culinary twist that takes it to a whole new level.
Six Feet Under
This seafood restaurant’s new original location (the original original location was where Tin Lizzie’s is now, just a few yards away) in Grant Park has an awesome rooftop patio with a dramatic view of historic Oakland Cemetery. Not a hotspot for people watching, unless you are the little boy in The Sixth Sense.
Named Esquire’s New Restaurant of 2012, Ford Fry’s elegant Oyster Bar in West Midtown has been a huge hit with culinary critics and diners. Chef Adam Evans moved from JCT Kitchen in the Westside Provisions District (another of Ford Fry’s restaurants) to create an irresistable menu of high-quality, sustainable seafood.
Nestled against the Chattahoochee River in Vinings you’ll find Canoe. While the front of the building doesn’t look like much, when you walk out into the massive garden that leads down to the river, the beauty of the setting is unmatched in Atlanta. Whether it’s Chef Carvel Grant Gould’s jumbo lump crab cake with yuzu dressed slaw, or Hickory Grilled New York Strip with creme fraiche potatoes, broccoli rabe, and black garlic butter, Chef is a serious culinary player.
Chad Clevenger’s last foray into the Atlanta dining scene was with Cabbagetown’s Agave, and with Alma Cocina on Peachtree Street near Peachtree Center Marta Station, he returns to his modern Mexican roots. Like many of this year’s new restaurants, there is a large community dining table among the small tables and booths, which can turn dining into an opportunity to make a new friend. This is the South, after all.
Rico’s World Kitchen
At Rico’s World Kitchen, comfort food gets a cultural awakening from chef and owner, Rico Cunnington, whose knack for creative flavor combinations has put this Pure-gas-station-turned-restaurant on Atlanta’s radar…big time. Rico pulls from a boundless amount of international influences to create menu items like Nett’s Lumpia, a Filipino-style egg roll, Andalucian-inspired Chicharrones, and arguably some of the best fried green tomatoes in the city.
Bell Street Burritos
In August, Matt Hinton announced that Bell Street Burritos in West Midtown would close. Then he announced that he was opening a location in the Irwin Street Market in the Old Fourth Ward, right next to the entrance to the Eastside Trail of the Beltline. Friday is tamales day, and you can expect a line through the door from lunchtime, and if you go for dinner, be prepared for the tamales to be sold out. They’re that good.
Photo Credit: Diego Sinning