Atlanta may be the fast food capital of the nation, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have gourmet eats. From authentic Southern barbecue to the King of Pops(icles), here is a list of the 50 things to eat in Atlanta before you die.
1. Pulled Pork Sandwich at Neighborhood Eats
This Buckhead restaurant describes itself (hesitantly) as “surprisingly good” for food coming out of the lobby of an office building. Trust us when we say it’s phenomenal. The minute you walk in, you’ll get an introduction to their menu along with some recommendations, usually from the owner himself. Get the Pulled Pork Sandwich to complete the Southern hospitality experience.
2. Build-a-Bop at Takorea
Takorea in Midtown is the love child of Korean and Mexican food. If you’ve never had Korean food before, this is a great place to ease your way into it through familiar Mexican dishes. Get the Build-a-Bop to customize your bibimbap or choose a pre-planned option if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed. Be prepared for a spicy dish, though.
3. Flat White at Octane Coffee
Right across the street from the historic Oakland Cemetary, Octane Grant Park serves coffee and cocktails in a open-space loft. With locally sourced milk and beans roasted on location, Octane takes pride in keeping things local. Grab a flat white and try something at the Little Tart Bakeshop that they share the loft with.
4. Any Doughnut at Sublime Doughnuts
Sublime Doughnuts’ logo is a doughnut with wings. It’s fitting given their heavenly, high-end dougnuts. The founder of Sublimed studied at the Culinary Institute of America and the American Institute of Baking, so you know it’s going to be good. With specialities like s’mores, Reese’s peanut butter cup, and salt and vinegar, it’s hard to choose a favorite. So why not try all of them?
5. The “Big Tuna” at Six Feet Under
Six Feet Under recently got named one of Travel + Leisure magazine’s Top 30 American Outdoor Bars and, with a view like this from their patio, who is doubting that? Grab a draft and the “Big Tuna” platter with some friends and enjoy a sunset over the skyline on their patio.
6. Lobster Fried Rice at Poor Calvin’s
For Thai fushion with Southern influences, there is no restaurant better than Poor Calvin’s. This downtown “oasis” boasts an owner and chef trained at a culinary institute in Germany. Get the lobster fried rice and save room for one of their signature cocktails.
7. Red, White, and Blue Waffle at West Egg Cafe
West Egg Cafe boasts many impressive brunch options that make it hard to decide, but we recommend getting this antioxidant-filled fruit waffle. To miss the loud brunch crowd on weekends, try going for breakfast during the week.
#SpoonTip: West Egg serves breakfast until 4 pm for those of us not inclined to wake up early.
8. Fruit Tart at Sweet Hut Bakery and Cafe
Sweet Hut might actually be the Asian bakery of our dreams. With more than a hundred types of pastries, buns, and baked goods from all over Asia, they have treats you didn’t even know you wanted. If this is your first adventure to Sweet Hut, we recommend starting slow with something like the fruit tart.
9. Sashimi Assortment at Craft Izakaya
Don’t know much about Japanese food? Well, Craft Izakaya comes to the rescue because their restaurant features color pictures of every dish on their menu. Why not get the sashimi assortment to try a little of everything?
10. Bocado Burger Stack at Bocado
While most of Bocado’s menu changes with the seasons, their Bocado Burger Stack is always available. Stop by for one of the best burgers in Atlanta and maybe grab one of their dishes featuring local produce. Nominated “Best New Restaurant” by Atlanta Magazine, they’ll be sticking around for a while.
11. Sifrina Arepa at Arepa Mia
Arepa Mia’s founder started making and selling arepas as a child in Venezuela. This traditional cuisine is the perfect lunch break while downtown. Get the Sifrina Arepa with shredded chicken, tomato, lettuce, avocado, thai chili, and fried sweet plaintains. Their produce is locally sourced and all of their arepas are gluten-free.
12. Tempura Avocado Tacos at Hankook Taqueria
Hankook Taqueria actually started as a taco truck, but it was turned into a fast mix of Korean and Mexican flavors. Try the tempura avocado tacos and make sure to get a side of sesame fries.
13. Cone at Zesto
Zesto has been in Atlanta since 1949 so if you haven’t visited by now, then it’s time to see why it’s been around this long. We recommend stopping for some of their famous soft-serve ice-cream, but it’s up to you if you want chocolate, vanilla, or swirl.
14. Oysters at The Optimist
If you’ve never tried oysters, there’s no better place in Atlanta than The Optimist. Their oysters are fresh from the Alabama coast and are part of the restaurant’s sustainable seafood drive. Pair the oysters with some of their other fantastic dishes like their lobster roll and don’t forget to get a pitch of their tea-infused fish house punch.
15. Belly Benedict at Sun in My Belly
Atlanta has no shortage of brunch places, but Sun in My Belly should be at the top of your list. They offer a bit of everything, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as catering. We recommend getting the Belly Benedict, but strongly encourage stealing bites from everyone else’s plates as well.
#SpoonTip: Sun in My Belly only serves their Belly Benedict on weekends.
16. Any Taco from Bartaco
Bartaco is one of the most aesthetically pleasing taco joints in Atlanta. When you sit down to order, you’ll realize they divide their menu into “tacos” and “not tacos,” so that’s your first sign that this place is serious. We know it’s hard to pick just one when there’s options like pork pastor and sesame ribeye, so we recommend getting a variety.
17. Fried Chicken Gumbo at Miller Union
Martha Stewart loves Miller Union, so there’s a good chance you will as well. Described as “simple, sustainable, Southern fare,” you can’t do much better for farm-inspired Southern food. We recommend the fried chicken gumbo with a glass of wine. Did we mention they’re in Wine Enthusiast‘s Top 100 Wine Restaurants in the US?
18. Royal Milk Tea at Honey Bubble
For someone not acquainted with bubble tea, Honey Bubble’s completely customizable menu might be a little overwhelming. They source their tea from 21 different places, use only honey and dark brown cane sugar to sweeten, and they make your drink fresh-to-order. For your first time, go with their signature Royal Milk Tea, then go back for a more adventurous flavor.
19. Toasted Hot and Blue at Reuben’s Deli
Reuben’s has been ranked the best deli in Atlanta and top 10 in the U.S. for a reason. Dedicated to making every sandwich a “masterpiece,” you’re definitely getting your money’s worth. Order the Hot and Blue, which has cajun roast beef, bbq chicken, pepper jack cheese, and blue cheese dressing, and grab a seat by the window to watch the Georgia State University students walk by on their way to class.
20. Pork Dumplings at Gu’s Dumplings
The list of awards for Gu’s Dumplings is so long that it’s not possible to write out in this description. This smaller scale version in Krog Street Market of Gu’s Bistro is an instant favorite. We recommend the pork dumplings, but make sure to try their famous Zhong-style dumplings as well.
21. S’mores Cookies with Chocolate Slap Yo Mama Ice Cream Sandwich at Jake’s Ice Cream
In their origin story, Jake’s Ice Cream describes their first location as “across from three crack houses” in a building without a roof, “no windows, [and] no plumbing.” While they’ve gotten more than a few renovations since their 1999 opening, they’ve still got fantastic ice cream. We recommend getting an ice cream sandwich, specifically the S’mores Cookies with Chocolate Slap Yo Mamma Ice Cream Sandwich. If not for the name, then entirely for how it will change how you think of ice cream forever.
22. Grilled Mac+Chee at Tom+Chee
For classic comfort food, go no further than Tom+Chee. While they have vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options, we recommend to go for the Grilled Mac+Chee which is exactly what it sounds like, a grilled cheese sandwich, made with mac and cheese.
23. Slab of Ribs at Fat Matt’s Rib Shack
Fat Matt’s has been around since 1990 serving fantastic barbecue. They have live blues performances nightly which only adds to the Southern restaurant atmosphere they’ve got going. Get the slab of ribs and as many sides as you think you can handle.
24. Shrimp and Grits at The Food Shoppe
If you’re looking for NOLA-style food in Atlanta, this hole-in-the-wall spot is the one for you. The portions are huge so we recommend getting the shrimp and grits, but honestly anything on their menu will probably be the best thing you eat in Atlanta.
25. Smoked Salmon Benedict at Egg Harbor Cafe
Egg Harbor Cafe prides itself on its gourmet breakfast and lunch food. Its founders traveled the country visiting various breakfast houses to find the perfect atmosphere for their own creation. Get the Smoked Salmon Benedict when you stop by.
26. Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwich at Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q
Fox Bros. started as a simple backyard friendly gathering and has grown to be featured on Good Day Atlanta, CBS, Fox News, TLC and the Food Network. If you’re not feeling hungry enough for the “Everything Platter” with four meat sections, settle for the Montreal smoked meat sandwich instead.
27. Soup of the Day at Souper Jenny
Souper Jenny’s menu changes daily so it’s hard to pin down exactly what will be served that day. What you’ll know is that there will always be gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegans options to choose from, usually with all of their options being locally sourced. Get the soup that’s featured that day and grab a couple quarts to take home and eat later.
28. Spanish Mokka at Cafe Intermezzo
Based on German coffeehouses, Cafe Intermezzo prides itself on being a “distinct and wonderful refuge in the ever-expanding world of fast-food.” Their beverage book menu with hundreds of choices is very overwhelming for a first-time buyer, so don’t fret and get the Spanish Mokka.
29. Double Scoop at Jeni’s
Jeni’s mission statement claims that ice cream is what gets them out of bed in the morning. With the quality of their product, it’s not hard to believe. Mix and match your favorite flavors when you’re getting your double scoop.
30. “The Argentinian” at Joy Cafe
Joy Cafe’s owner was born and raised in South Georgia, learning all that she knows about traditional Southern cooking from her great-grandmother. Stop by for a fantastic brunch, and make sure to order the Argentinian.
31. Custom Pizza at Your Pie
Inspired by the brick oven pizzerias of Naples, Italy, Your Pie’s founder believes making pizzas is an art, not a science. Everything is custom-made as you’re ordering. Choose your dough, your sauce, your cheese, and your toppings until you have the perfect custom pizza.
32. Aloha Burger with Lotus Chips at Ssam Burger
Ssam Burger is a Korean restaurant with a modern twist. While they offer Ssam bowls which are much closer to traditional Korean food, we recommend getting the Aloha Burger with lotus chips. It’s a Korean BBQ angus beef patty with bacon, caramelized pineapples, and sriracha mayo, and it will rock your world.
33. ATM Cupcake at Sprinkles Cupcakes and Ice Cream
Whether you’re in the neighborhood or you’re making a special trip, stopping by the Cupcake ATM will always be magical. The cupcake you choose is almost unimportant because the experience itself is why you’re going. When else can you get fresh cupcakes from an ATM?
34. Chili Dog & Onion Rings at The Varsity
If you visited Atlanta and didn’t go to the Varsity, did you even visit? They’ve been an Atlanta staple since 1928, so stop by to get asked the ultimate question: “What’ll ya have?” To which you should reply, a chili dog and onion rings. Bonus points if you get a Frosted Orange shake.
35. Blueberry Biscuit at Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit
Originally from Charleston, South Carolina, this Southern eatery has made its mark for brunch in Atlanta. As their name suggests, they’re known for their biscuits, so it only fits that you should get the blueberry biscuit when you visit.
36. Pho at Pho Dai Loi Restaurant
Pho Dai Loi might have the best pho in Atlanta, so you should definitely check it out while you’re in the ATL. While you’re there, make sure to grab one of their “Asian-Style Shakes.” They’ve got flavors like jackfruit, durian, and avocado.
37. Korean Tacos at Blossom Tree
Unless you’re a Georgia State student (or you work near Broad Street), you’ve probably never heard of Blossom Tree. You’re seriously missing out, though. Their Korean tacos are addictive, and they have carry-out, so you can take some more home with you.
38. Cappuccino at Dancing Goats Coffee
If not just for the name Dancing Goats, visit this coffee shop for the fantastic outdoor seating. Stop by early enough to get one of the massive swinging benches. We promise that an hour or two curled up on the bench sipping coffee while reading a book would be a fantastic way to spend the day.
39. The Lunch Special at The Hungry Peach
The Hungry Peach’s menu changes often, but any of their specials are downright call-home-worthy masterpieces. Known as a gourmet boxed lunch and catering company, this little cafe is a cozy break in the middle of Buckhead.
40. Caramel Bacon Donut at Revolution Donuts
Choosing just one donut at Revolution is a true act of will, but if you must, then go with the Caramel Bacon. If it’s a treat-yourself day, we recommend also grabbing the Revolution Cream Pie and the Salted Caramel, too.
41. Poptail at King of Pops Bar and Good Grub
King of Pops isn’t just street-side popsicles anymore. Stop by their Bar and Good Grub to grab a Poptail. We recommend the R.L.V., Raspberry Lime Vodka with a Raspberry Lime pop dropped in.
42. Deluxe Acai Bowl at Kale Me Crazy
Kale Me Crazy isn’t just a place to buy overpriced juice. They’ve also got some seriously Instagram-worthy acai bowls. Grab the deluxe acai bowl with a friend (or eat both for yourself, we don’t judge).
43. Maza Platter at Cafe Agora
For authentic Mediterranean food in Atlanta, look no further than Cafe Angora. With a blend of Turkish, Greek, Persian, and Arabic cuisine, they’ve got the best to offer. Start off with the mixed maza platter, then eat kabobs to your heart’s content.
44. Cinnamon Toast Crunch Boozy Milkshake at Pallookaville
Relive childhood in the best way at Pallookaville with a Cinnamon Toast Crunch boozy milkshake. Make sure you get a pirate flag, as they will always tell you if you’ve got a “big kid” milkshake.
45. Margherita D.O.P. at Antico Pizza
Antico has the best authentic Italian pizza in Atlanta with an owner from Naples, Italy. We recommend getting the Margherita DOP and fighting anyone that wants you to share.
46. Tom Ka Soup at Little Bangkok
Little Bangkok is a pretty unassuming restaurant from the outside, but the food will blow you away. We recommend the Tom Ka Soup which comes out literally blazing to your table.
47. The Bloody Best at The Nook
The Nook on Piedmont Park should be at the top of your brunch list immediately. While most people know Nook for its fishbowls (a gallon-sized bowl full of alcohol), we recommend getting The Bloody Best. It’s 32 ounces of Bloody Mary topped with tater tots, steak, eggs, and a bunch of other goodies.
48. Caramelized Banana Pancakes at Ria’s Bluebird
Ria’s Bluebird looks like the breakfast diner you see in movies, minus the dramatic dialogue. Stop by and get the caramelized banana pancakes. It’s got a banana so it’s healthy, right?
49. French Macarons at Amelie’s French Bakery
Amelie’s is originally from North Carolina, but their Westside Atlanta location opened in 2014. Don’t be overwhelmed by the shelves of dessert choices when you walk in. Just go for some of their french macarons and a café mocha.
50. Comfy Chicken Biscuit at Homegrown
Sometimes you just want Southern food that feels like it was handmade by your grandmother. Homegrown can do that for you, and it might just be better than grandma’s (don’t tell her). Order the comfy chicken biscuit and you might just want to move in.