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15 restaurants vital to Atlanta

A photo of Red logo
by Su-Jit Lin
Updated March 27, 2023

Atlanta’s restaurant scene is kaleidoscopic. The city’s greatest dining destinations represent the many histories and cultures of the Big A. Many have long histories of their own, and they all shine with the street cred they’ve scooped up no matter how long they’ve been around.

An iconic luncheonette downtown dishes up some of Atlanta’s best fried chicken. In Buckhead, the city’s oldest Japanese restaurant gets fish flown in from Japan multiple times a week. A former post office and general store in Vinings dazzles with sophisticated spins on Southern classics.

What makes a great restaurant in Atlanta changes depending on mood, budget, occasion, and palate. Read on for a guide to 15 spots that have stood the test of time and critique.

A photo of Canoe restaurant
4.7
4.7 (10668)
$31 to $50
American
Vinings
About the restaurant

A manicured lawn is all that separates diners from the banks of the Chattahoochee River, making Canoe ideal for a special occasion brunch or dinner. The vibe here is modest luxury, as unhurried as the nearby water. Canoe’s executive chef Matthew Basford is from Australia and brings a gourmet influence to the game selection, which includes peppercorn-crusted kangaroo, slow-braised rabbit, maple-marinated duck breast, and meticulously sourced finfish. No matter how full you are, don’t miss the photogenic popcorn ice cream sundae crowned with Canoe’s signature candied popcorn and chantilly cream.


Top review
PatsyDvip
Dined 4 days ago
Always wonderful and staff are s the best. Kevin is an incredible manager.
A photo of Bones restaurant
4.8
4.8 (9681)
$50 and over
Steak
Buckhead
About the restaurant

In this “pictures or it didn’t happen” era, a meal at this cell phone-free steakhouse, founded in 1979, might have you questioning if it was all just a dream. Perhaps this level of privacy drove Zagat to name Bones the nation’s best steakhouse. Feast on A4 Japanese wagyu, 35-day dry- and wet-aged steaks, veal rib chops, and loin lamb chops. There’s also exceptional seafood that includes live lobsters brought in daily. All pair excellently with a selection from one of the largest wine lists in Atlanta. The attentive staff—which includes 40-year veterans—can guide you through with expertise.


Top review
MikeY
Dined 2 days ago
Simply the best in Atlanta. They never have a bad day. Always perfect.
A photo of Nakato 'Hibachi' Japanese Restaurant restaurant
4.6
4.6 (1185)
$30 and under
Hibachi
Morningside-Lenox Park
About the restaurant

Half a century is a long time by any measure, but when a restaurant passes that milestone in especially tumultuous times, there’s no mistaking its place in the hearts of its city. Tetsuko Nakato’s legacy—the oldest Asian restaurant in Atlanta—continues to thrive under the stewardship of her granddaughter Sachiyo Nakato Takahara. Choose between a lively hibachi experience or a more tranquil omakase meal. The fresh seafood here is flown in from Japan several times a week and fileted onsite by expert chefs. It’s one of the many reasons this restaurant continues to stand out from the crowd.


Top review
Bocak
Dined on Jan 1, 2023
Food was good. The only issue was server did not appear to refill our drinks until we had finished our meal.
A photo of Nan Thai Fine Dining restaurant
4.8
4.8 (4029)
$31 to $50
Thai
Midtown
About the restaurant

This 16-time AAA Four Diamond award-winning legend, with accolades as bright as the sunlight that streams into its contemporary dining room, is an Atlanta icon. Bangkok-born Nan Niyomkul dishes up culinary stunners with showstoppers such as fried whole snapper. But don’t let signatures deter you from standbys such as pad thai and pineapple fried rice, all enhanced by premium ingredients including jumbo tiger prawns, crispy lobster tail, and pan-seared sea scallops.


Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 4 days ago
Exceptional. It was our second time eating at Nan. The first was fantastic. The second was stupendous. Simply just perfect. Bon was an amazing server. The entire place is just calming and relaxing. From the greeting to the valet delivering our car after dinner, it could not have been better. The food is beautifully plated and even more delicious. Every bite we had was spot on. I'm not one to gush on and on about a restaurant but Nan is deserving of high praise indeed.
A photo of Anis Cafe and Bistro restaurant
4.8
4.8 (5058)
$31 to $50
French
Buckhead
About the restaurant

Anis Café is enchanting for its transportive superpowers, which was the intent of owner Arnaud Michel when he first opened its doors in 1994. The charming venue recreates the casual French bistros of Montpelier and whisks you to the Mediterranean coast, courtesy of an outdoor patio strewn with plants and colorful umbrellas. The menu prioritizes quality ingredients and seasonality, rich with French wines, cheeses, and meats such as saucisson and pâté. Larger plates include a classic trout meunière and a traditional croque monsieur. The mussels are a signature favorite that channel Michel’s seaside memories—another example of excellent execution by chef Jeff Gomez, who has been cooking in the kitchen since the early 2000s.


Top review
PaulC
Dined 2 days ago
Best foodie spot in Atlanta, don't miss this French restaurant !
A photo of Old Vinings Inn restaurant
4.8
4.8 (2616)
$31 to $50
Southern
Vinings
About the restaurant

This historic Vinings building has had more lives than a cat. It was formerly a post office, a general store, and a filling station before it became a restaurant in 1990. Yet it’s hard to imagine it as anything but its current incarnation: an elegant curtained dining room, exuding plenty of Southern charm. Expect comfort food with a sophisticated spin such as Dr. Pepper-barbecued lamb ribs with crispy Brussels sprouts and a grilled Cheshire pork chop with roasted sweet potatoes and jalapeño bacon gravy. Dinner here comes with a show: Catch live tunes or a comedy act at the popular Attic Bar upstairs.


Top review
CleasieH
Dined 5 days ago
Everything was great. Even though it was crowded, the service was prompt.
A photo of Paschal's Restaurant restaurant
4.6
4.6 (1579)
$30 and under
Southern
Castleberry Hill
About the restaurant

This iconic and historic restaurant was the little luncheonette that could when it debuted in 1947—brothers James and Robert Paschal started by taxiing in their hot food from Robert’s home and grew that into a mission to create the best fried chicken in the city. Now a grand venue around the corner from its original location, Paschal’s features industrial touches such as stairs naturally lit by warehouse-style windows. What hasn’t changed, though, is the soul food that made it famous. The secret recipe for its famous fried chicken still draws crowds, and diners continue to flock here for the comfort of shrimp and grits, meatloaf, mac and cheese, and a lauded peach cobbler.


Top review
Krun
Dined 5 days ago
Loved the atmosphere (decorations, sound, etc.), great/friendly service, excellent appetizers, a few side items were not what I had hoped but overall I was very pleased with my meal selections and experience.....
A photo of Iberian Pig - Decatur restaurant
4.8
4.8 (5057)
$30 and under
Spanish
Decatur
About the restaurant

Atlantans can “pig” out at either location of this Spanish restaurant: Buckhead or the original Decatur. Both boast the same distinctly moody and romantic atmosphere, complete with dark woods, dim lights, and lots of meat and cheese. Inspired by the fine markets of the Iberian Peninsula, the menu features jamon Iberico and Manchego cheese, among other rare delights. MVPs on the tapas lineup include citrusy broccolini with herbed goat cheese and pimenton oil and braised veal shank ravioli with rioja cherry cream sauce, black truffle creme fraiche, and wild mushrooms. These accompany classics such as patatas bravas and a killer pan con tomate. But if you want to go big, the suckling pig at the Buckhead location is a memorable way to party with six to 15 of your hungriest friends.


Top review
Darn
Dined 4 days ago
Lovely tapas and drinks. Quiet enough to have a nice conversation. Recommend highly!
A photo of Murphy's Restaurant restaurant
0 (0)
$30 and under
English
Griffin
About the restaurant

This oversized VaHi staple is best known for its brunch, thanks to Southern-inspired dishes such as shrimp and cheddar grits and malted waffles. But one doesn’t keep winning OpenTable Diners’ Choice recognition for a single meal service alone. The versatile neighborhood spot also churns out a hearty dinner, where appetizers, such as the meaty panko-crusted crab cakes, are meals in their own rights. Other highlights include spinach and sausage meatloaf, a consistently perfect roast chicken, and Carolina trout with truffle vinaigrette and wild mushrooms. Come for the homey vibes and stay for the top-notch farm-to-table fare.


A photo of Amore e Amore restaurant
4.6
4.6 (936)
$31 to $50
Italian
Inman Park
About the restaurant

Everything about this festive Italian spot says “celebration.” Amore e Amore’s colorful balls and baubles change with the seasons and its tinseled, over-the-top décor has earned Instagram darling status. The sparkly ambiance makes a fun backdrop for feasting on superb seasonal dishes made with straight-from-Italy ingredients along with bounty from local farms. Choose standbys such as chicken parm and fettuccine alfredo or get adventurous with carefully calibrated family recipes including cioppino and lamb osso bucco.


Top review
mshzy
Dined 3 days ago
We had a really wonderful evening the service and the food were equally outstanding !! Such a great way to kick off the holiday season 🎄✨
A photo of Atlanta Fish Market restaurant
4.6
4.6 (13341)
$31 to $50
Seafood
Buckhead
About the restaurant

Seafood is the undeniable focus at this Buckhead Life Restaurant Group staple, marked by the massive bronze fish sculpture that graces its entrance. The eclectic coastal decor continues inside, all potted palms and nautical accents. The market’s menu changes with the tides thanks to fish that’s flown in daily. Though you can always get the fresh catch sauteed, broiled, blackened, or prepared Hong Kong-style with sherry soy, scallions, and ginger with a scoop of sticky rice.


Top review
MBH007vip
Dined on Jan 1, 2023
Consistently delicious. Our go to restaurant for special occasions. Always good food and good service.
A photo of Poor Calvin's restaurant
4.8
4.8 (6911)
$31 to $50
Fusion / Eclectic
Downtown
About the restaurant

Poor Calvin’s chef-owner Calvin Phan was born in Vietnam but raised—and classically trained—in Germany. He honed his cooking skills in Switzerland before making his mark in the U.S. Phan put his globetrotting background on display when he opened this genre-defying restaurant in 2012. It all comes together in Southern and Asian-inspired dishes such as deviled eggs with chorizo and caviar and the restaurant’s famous lobster fried rice, which was featured on Food Network. Brunch is especially inventive: Expect chicken with a pandan bacon waffle and shrimp and grits with toppers such as fried egg, Cajun sausage, and Thai curry.


Top review
SeanD
Dined on Jan 1, 2023
Excellent food and service. Better make a reservation though…
A photo of Milton's Cuisine and Cocktails restaurant
4.8
4.8 (5379)
$31 to $50
American
Alpharetta
About the restaurant

This country escape is all about precisely prepared New Southern cuisine. An expansive onsite vegetable garden fuels many of the plates here. Executive chef Derek Dollar’s creations include chicken-fried bacon with local pecans, andouille sausage gravy, and Nashville hot maple plus a parmesan crisp-studded Caesar salad with prosciutto cracklins’, among other down-home delights. Even cocktails, such as the pickled peach-forward Milton Mule, are rich with local flavors. Warm up by the blazing fireplace or soak in the sun on the enclosed porch or heated patio in the 150-year-old farmhouse Milton’s calls home.


Top review
HeatherW
Dined on Jan 1, 2023
Great place! We sat in a quiet room with a fireplace. Food & drinks were awesome!
A photo of Agave restaurant
4.7
4.7 (3361)
$30 and under
Southwest
Cabbagetown
About the restaurant

Agave is arguably one of the best Southwestern spots in Atlanta. And its rustic-chic historic setting—the former Cotton Mill general store—adds plenty of charm. Classics get creative twists in dishes such as signature meatballs with veal, chorizo, and Hatch green chiles in a red chile gravy and cayenne buttermilk-marinated fried chicken with roasted poblano sauce. Specialty margaritas make worthy companions to meals and they’re best sipped slowly as you enjoy the action from the open kitchen.


Top review
CJohnvip
Dined 2 days ago
Always consistent… Agave is always great at seating you right away with your reservation. The appetizers, entrees and drinks are always impeccable. The food is always fresh and delicious.
A photo of Rumi's Kitchen - Sandy Springs restaurant
4.8
4.8 (6192)
$31 to $50
Persian
Sandy Springs
About the restaurant

Rumi’s Kitchen owner and head chef Ali Mesghali has led the charge on Middle Eastern cuisine in Atlanta since the 1990s when he opened Persepolis. Mesghali channeled that experience into his follow-up venture in 2006. Rumi’s swiftly earned local favorite status for its luxe interiors and flavorful family-style dishes. Consider grabbing a saffron or cardamom-accented cocktail at the bar and watch fresh-baked flatbread emerge from traditional ovens. Luckily, there is no shortage of dips to pair the pita with, including a stellar smoky eggplant and tomato option. But try not to fill up—there’s a reason the mains are listed under a section called “Feast” on the menu, full of succulent kabobs made from chicken, beef, lamb, and Cornish hen.


Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined on Jan 1, 2023
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