About halfway through my freshman year at Emory, a senior passed down a list of 100+ Atlanta restaurants she'd been to, categorized by cuisine type and price range. This led me on a year-long adventure to find the best food in Atlanta. So, for the last 12 months I've worked my way down that list, and this article is my top 10. 

Before I get into the list, I feel like it’s important for me to share some background about my food journey and the kinds of food I love. I was born in Dallas, Texas and raised in Portland, Oregon. Both of those cities are known for their (very different) food scenes, and always being in one city or the other led me to the food obsession I still have today. My Texas roots taught me that almost any issue can be solved with tex-mex, while living in Portland showed me that food could be a form of art. I’ve tried pretty much every type of food imaginable in Atlanta, but this list reflects my absolute favorites (be prepared for a lot of Mexican and Italian!).

Moving to Atlanta allowed me to explore a new city’s foodscape, and combined the most essential aspects of both Texas and Oregon that I’d come to love. I think by now I've definitely tried some of the best food in Atlanta, and it's obvious why people commend this city's food scene. So, without any further ado, here is my list of the top 10 restaurants in Atlanta.

10. Pure Taqueria (Mexican)

Let’s start this off with the fact that I’m absolutely obsessed with Mexican and tex-mex food, and this city has some of the best. I think it would be wrong to talk about the best food in Atlanta without mentioning Mexican at least once. Pure Taqueria is amazing, and also home to one of the best ambiances I know of. This has become one of the staples in my diet when it comes to eating out in Atlanta, and reminds me more of comfort food from home than any other place I’ve been in the city. Pure does everything on their menu well, but my favorite things include the queso and the taquitos. I think I’ve genuinely tried most Mexican restaurants in Atlanta, and Pure is easily the favorite.

9. Eclipse di Luna (tapas)

In all fairness, I’ve only been to Eclipse di Luna once or else I’m sure it would rank higher on this list. It’s a modern twist on a traditional tapas restaurant, and is definitely done best with large groups so that you can sample lots of different things on the menu. The food is amazing and the restaurant is also very well decorated, which makes the whole experience fun and enjoyable even before food comes.

8. Bellina Alimentari (italian)

Bellina Alimentari is one of the restaurants on the bottom floor of Ponce City Market, and it’s definitely my favorite food in the place. When I moved here, I made it a personal mission to find the best carbonara in Atlanta, and this one might take the cake. Everything on their menu is amazing, but it’s also a fun place to eat when exploring the market, going shopping on the upper floor, or a fun place to stop if you’re walking the beltline for a quick and easy dinner

7. Antico (pizza)

Grace Wetsel

Every time I’ve asked someone what their favorite pizza in the city is, Antico has been in the top three. I think it’s some of the best pizza I’ve ever had, and my parents reserve one night for Antico pizza every time they come to visit Atlanta. It consistently ranks in lists of the best food in the city, and for very good reason. The pizza itself is amazing, but in non-coronavirus times the dining room is also a fun place to eat and there is a whole cart full of olive oils, parmesans, and pepper flakes to put on top. 

6. Muchacho (brunch/ coffee)

Grace Wetsel
Grace Wetsel

I’m very into fun brunches, and Muchacho is definitely one of my top brunch spots. Their coffee is amazing, their breakfast tacos are addictive, and they have some of the most delicious avocado toast I’ve had anywhere. They also have blue matcha, which is yummy and insanely photogenic (if you’re into taking pictures of your food as well as eating it). Not only is everything they make aesthetically pleasing, it's also, in my opinion, some of the best food in Atlanta. The restaurant itself is beautiful and has a ton of natural light, and is an amazing place to go with friends on the weekends for a more casual and quick brunch.

5. Taqueria del Sol (mexican with a twist)

Taqueria del Sol always has an insane line outside, and it’s some of the only food I’d be willing to wait in a 30 minute line for. It’s also Mexican, but less traditional than Pure Taqueria. They say that their menu incorporates a “cross-cultural flair”, which definitely describes everything I’ve had there. My favorite thing on the menu is the enchiladas with lemon cream sauce, which sounds counterintuitive for Mexican food, but elevates the flavor profile in a really fun way. They also do more traditional Mexican food, but it’s always fun to try the things you don’t see on a menu anywhere else.

4. South City Kitchen (brunch) 

Grace Wetsel
Grace Wetsel

For a more traditional brunch experience, South City Kitchen is my favorite pick. I don’t think I’ve ever gone out to brunch in Atlanta without comparing it to this place, because it’s definitely the peak of Southern brunch. They do traditional Southern breakfast foods (think chicken & waffles and biscuits & gravy) with a gourmet twist. This is another place that my family has designated as a required stop when they visit Atlanta, and I’ve never had anything less than amazing on the menu. I know that they do lunch and dinner as well, but I’ve only ever been for brunch.

3. Iberian Pig (tapas)

Grace Wetsel

Iberian Pig is another restaurant I feel like a lot of people have heard about, but it’s absolutely worth the hype. Seeing as it’s a traditional tapas place, it’s done better with a bigger group so that you can split lots of smaller dishes. I think I’ve tried most things on the menu, and every time I go I decide I have a new favorite dish (some of the regular favorites include the bacon-wrapped dates, the mac n cheese, and the lomo). It's a fun place to eat, the food is amazing, and it definitely is home to some of the best food in Atlanta. 

2. Bartaco (street-mexican)

Another favorite among the Emory student body, bartaco perfectly puts a twist on traditional street Mexican food. I’m pretty sure that between my friends, and I, I’ve had absolutely everything on the bartaco menu at least once, and none of it disappoints. Their guacamole is some of the best I’ve ever tried, and I would be lying if I said I hadn’t ordered their street corn on postmates (more than once) as comfort food on a big study night. That doesn’t even begin to touch on their tacos, which are tiny and customizable, and absolutely melt in your mouth.

1. No. 246 (italian)

I’m pretty sure this restaurant is on most Emory students’ radar, but that’s not without good reason. 246 not only has the best cacio e pepe I’ve ever tried, but also has amazing pizza, a perfect ambience, and won’t make too big of a dent in your wallet. This was actually the first restaurant I ever went to post-freshman move-in, and we sat out on their patio on a warm summer night playing ping-pong. I look for any excuse to go to no. 246, including taking every family member or friend who visits Atlanta. They also accommodate vegetarian and gluten free diets, which makes it easy for absolutely everyone.