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Atlanta’s Most Iconic Dishes

It’s hard to distill Atlanta’s diverse dining scene into just a few dishes. There are so many fantastic plates around Atlanta, but only a few have stood the test of time and made it to icon status. Here’s our take on those icon status dishes! Items listed below in alphabetical order. 

Ann's Snack Bar - Ghetto Burger | Photo: Yelp
Ann’s Snack Bar – Ghetto Burger | Photo: Yelp

Ann’s Snack Bar’s Ghetto Burger

Few places in Atlanta are as venerated and nationally famous as the Ghetto Burger at Ann’s Snack Bar. It’s homegrown, it’s messy, and it was served faithfully for 27 years until Ms. Ann Price’s passing in 2015. Her sister took up the mantle afterwards–however, unfortunately, the restaurant has been temporarily closed since the pandemic. Figures crossed this Kirkwood gem is back in action soon. 

Antico‘s Margherita D.O.P. 

It’s so tough hosting out-of-town guests, because you have to explain to them that it’s not only Southern food we do well here but pretty much all types of cuisines. There’s no doubt that Antico’s hot-out-the-800 degree oven stands up to the best pies across the country. And while all of their flavors are fantastic–we’re especially partial to the truffley Sophia pizza–their Margherita pie is classic.

Busy Bee Cafe - Fried Chicken | Photo: thebusybeecafe.com
Busy Bee Cafe – Fried Chicken | Photo: thebusybeecafe.com

Busy Bee Cafe‘s Fried Chicken 

When you’re looking for the best fried chicken in town, you might as well go for a veritable Atlanta institution. Busy Bee Cafe has been operating in Atlanta since 1947, opened up at the height of the segregation era by self-taught cook, Lucy Jackson and is still Black-owned today by restaurateur Tracy Gates!

Fox Bros BBQ’s Chicken Fried Ribs

Atlanta is home to many a great ‘cue–but it’s Fox Bros BBQ that’s arguably the most renowned across the Southeast (and a favorite of our host, Steak Shapiro!) Owned by twin brothers Jonathan and Justin Fox, these Texas natives marry together Texas heat and Southern spice for some of the best BBQ in town and beyond. Try their chicken fried ribs for a perfect example of that Southern cuisine + Texas BBQ combo. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Gu’s Kitchen’s Szechuan Dumplings 

Gu’s Kitchen, along with other institutions like Chong Qing Hot Pot and Tasty China, was one of the first spots to put Szechuan cuisine on the map in Atlanta. But arguably, it’s their Zhong Style Dumplings that are the most popular dish in ATL. Get it at Gu’s Kitchen in Chamblee or Gu’s Dumplings in Krog St. Market and Halcyon in Alpharetta. 

Home Grown‘s Comfy Chicken Biscuit 

It’s Southern at its best! Home Grown is a hugely popular brunch and biscuit spot in Reynoldstown. The dish is so popular, Home Grown installed a a comfy chicken biscuit counter that you press when you order one and the number of biscuits they’ve made is well into the thousands! The line is often out the door but the wait is worth it! 

J.R. Cricket‘s Lemon Pepper Wet Wings 

Atlanta is a wing town. Buffalo, lemon pepper, even Korean Fried Chicken style–we love it all. And we have to hand it to J.R. Cricket’s for being one of the first to start to install that wing love in ATL back in the 80’s. While buffalo is perhaps what they do best, it’s their lemon pepper wet wings that have become legendary thanks to the show Atlanta from Donald Glover. Despite the name, they’re more a wet buffalo wing with a dash of lemon pepper seasoning. It’s American Deli you’ll have to visit for a true wet lemon pepper wing. 

Grilled Octopus from KYMA

Kyma’s Wood-Grilled Octopus 

We’re really proud to have a chef like Chef Pano in Atlanta. He even beat celebrity Chef Bobby Flay pretty recently with his signature lamb pie! A part of the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, a favorite among well-heeled Atlantans, Kyma and Chef Pano’s fresh and modern take on Greek cuisine has been delighting Atlanta for years. The wood-grilled octopus is a signature,  but we’re especially partial to the massive prawns and eggplant stew side. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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LanZhou Ramen‘s Hand-tossed Noodles 

It’s dinner and a show, all-in-one, and a not so hidden gem but pretty darn popular spot on Buford Highway. We love the taste of this place’s hand-pulled and knife-cut noodles, as well as their pan-fried and soup dumplings, but it’s getting to watch the chef make these noodles by hand that makes this place so much fun. LanZhou is also a great cheap eat

Peanut Butter and oreo pie at Mary Mac's Tea Room
Peanut Butter and Oreo pie at Mary Mac’s Tea Room | Photo: Facebook/marymacstearoom

Mary Mac‘s Tea Room’s Fried Chicken 

Mary Mac’s is an Atlanta instituion. Opened up in 1945 post World War II by Mary Mackenzie, “tea rooms,” or women-owned restaurants, were becoming a thing in the South. Dig into their crispy fried chicken and other Southern favorites, and we also love the mac n’ cheese. It was super creamy, cheesy, and baked to perfection! Crispy on top, made with a sinfully indulgent mix of cheeses. 

Varsity Atlanta
The Varsity – Sign

The Varsity‘s Chili Cheese Dog 

What’ll ya have? Every Atlantan has probably been to this Atlanta institution at least once and tucked into a chili cheese dog and/or frosted orange. It’s been open and operating since 1928, and their claim to fame is being the world’s largest drive in. A good cheap eat and a must-do for any tourist! 

Vortex - Super Stack Challenge
Vortex – Super Stack Challenge

The Vortex‘s Quadruple Coronary Bypass 

Atlanta has long been a burger and steak town, and the Vortex was one of the first that really tapped into that love for burgers and took it to a whole new level. Their quadruple coronary bypass is postively iconic and totally befitting of the name. 4 griddled patty melts, 8 slices of Texas toast, 28 slices of American cheese, 20 ounces of tots. This dish clocks in at an estimated 9k+ calories, and you can also enjoy it as an eating challenge and get the meal free if you eat the whole thing in 30 minutes. 

Waffle House - Hashbrowns
Waffle House – Hashbrowns

Waffle House‘s All Star Special 

It’s not Waffle House, it’s Waffle HOME. Is there a restaurant as wildly beloved as Waffle House in Atlanta?  The smothered, covered hashbrown and of course, the waffles keep us coming back time and time again. But it’s the all star special that’s probably the most iconic. You get toast, you get grits, you get eggs, bacon, and a waffle. Name a better value–we’ll wait! 

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