Teri and Allen have only visited Emory twice: once to move me in, and just recently for family weekend. Imagine my excitement when they asked me to pick the restaurants for their second visit to Atlanta.

The Albus family loves to travel, so the expectations were not exactly baseline; we’ve critiqued Gordon Ramsey’s burgers in Vegas, we’ve sipped on some of the finest piña coladas in Cabo, and—like proper Illinoisans—we’ve had enough Portillo’s chocolate cake to induce a collective heart attack.

Below are the restaurants that I selected to satisfy my parents’ expectations. Though I aimed to impress them, this was not a selfless mission by any means. A broke college student always appreciates a paid-for Uber, a quality meal, and a guilt-free scoop of Jeni’s Ice Cream. Thanks, Mom and Dad.

No. 246

Who doesn’t love to carb load on vacation? I chose No. 246 solely based on their Instagram feed, which drew me in by the tantalizing amount of parmesan pictured in each dish. Selfishly, I was looking for a fix of rigatoni alla vodka, and let me tell you it did not disappoint, but my parents ordered with more of an open mind.

Teri: “The black spaghetti was some of the best I’ve ever had. A noodle cooked in squid ink sounded odd at first, but it gives the dish a new texture and a brinier taste. That chopped up shrimp in the marinara tasted like a bolognese sauce. No one can tell me ATL isn’t a place for seafood dishes now that I’ve had this pasta.

Allen: “Honestly, I loved my bolognese, but the meatball starter was my favorite. It was coated in this vibrant marinara, and the meat itself was juicy, soft, and easy to share—even though I didn’t really want to.

Pancake Social

A staple to Ponce City Market, Pancake Social is trendy, friendly, and always worth the wait. I was craving some banana oat pancakes, but was ultimately most satisfied with my side of potatoes and oat milk vanilla latte (props to the barista—that latte art was gorgeous)

Teri: “The apple cinnamon pancakes were by far some of the best I’ve ever had. The rich maple syrup paired perfectly with the warm toppings. A stack of three pancakes was a lot, so next time I will plan on splitting some and ordering my own sides.”

Allen: “My french toast was pretty great. The berries on top were a nice touch, but I was just happy to eat the toast and maple syrup by itself. These tasted great with my eggs and bacon, which sounded basic, but were cooked perfectly.”

JCT. Kitchen

With locally-sourced ingredients filling up the menu, I hoped that JCT. Kitchen would offer a true taste of southern cooking to these Midwesterners. Needless to say, these chefs delivered, even if the only soul food we ordered was the mac and cheese.

Teri: “JCT. had the creamiest, most flavorful mac and cheese I’ve had in a long time. The bits of bacon inside were thick and rich, but were really enhanced by the white cheddar. Thank God we shared it with the table, or else I would have eaten the whole bowl by myself along with my burger.”

Allen: “That wood grilled burger was great. Cooked perfectly, garnished with just the right amount of caramelized onions, and paired with a side of some really nice and thin fries. I’m glad I substituted the bleu cheese for white cheddar. You could definitely tell that the cheese was not your typical processed cheese.”

Though my parents give off major tourist energy, I was happy to eat my way through ATL with them, even just for a few days. All in all, a great family weekend was made even more special by the some delicious food and a handful of memories made at every new table.

And, of course, the paid-for Ubers—really appreciate it, Allen.