Travel

Georgia Restaurants

Establishment neighborhood
Talat Market
1660 McLendon Ave., NE; Candler Park
Tucked into a barebones diner in Candler Park, Talat Market is not-so-quietly serving up some of the best Thai south of the Mason Dixon line. (A James Beard nomination doesn’t hurt, either.) Every Friday afternoon, Chef Parnass Lim Savang snaps an Instagram of the menu, and people line-up around the block to add their name to a list posted on the door just as the restaurant opens at 6. Regulars will grab a six-pack or bottle of wine next door at Candler Market and hang out on the sidewalk. Inside, chef serves up his take on "Georgian Thai"—recreating traditional dishes from his childhood using ingredients from local farms like Woodland Gardens or Review Farms. Dishes change regularly, but often include crispy seafood pancakes, a five spice tofu stew, or red curry beef. Everything is meant to be shared. For dessert, don’t pass up the vanilla ice cream sandwich made with sweet sticky rice, which is as crazy good as it sounds.
Storico Fresco Alimentari
3167 Peachtree Rd., NE; Buckhead
Come here for a cacio e pepe that rivals anything you’d get in Italian trattoria. It probably has something to do with the fact that chef Michael Patrick not only makes all his own pasta but he also sources his own meat from local farms and grows his own herbs. Those adept in the kitchen will be happy to know that many of the ingredients—the olive oil, the tuna, the dried pasta from a factory south of Naples, as well as meats and cheeses—are for sale in their adjacent storefront. Take note: Wooden tables and bare walls mean it gets noisy pretty fast.
Flora Bar
945 Madison Ave., Midtown
On the ground floor of the still-buzzy Met Breuer (the contemporary art annex of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, several blocks away from the main building), Flora Bar is the latest project from the team behind downtown favorites Estela and Café Altro Paradiso. But here’s the real reason it’s great: Flora Bar is the opposite from the sterile, often mediocre restaurants that are typical at many of the big museums. The space itself is striking: soaring ceilings, huge windows that overlook the expansive outdoor seating area and the modest garden. The menu is a mix of Japanese- and Spanish-influenced tapas, like scallop crudo with Asian pear and ramps, snow crab with miso mayonnaise, and lamb ribs with yogurt and mojo verde (a mixture of garlic, cumin, cilantro, and olive oil).
Marcel
1170 Howell Mill Rd., Home Park
Named for the vivacious French boxing champion Marcel Cerdan, Ford Fry’s take on a classic French brasserie has all the trappings: luxe red banquettes, white-tablecloth-ed booth seating, and a dramatically lit bar. The menu focuses on meticulously sourced, heavy-hitting steaks; in fact, Marcel is the only steakhouse in the city that exclusively serves hormone-free beef. A meal like this comes with a price tag to match, so we like it best for special occasions—or just stop by for a glass of wine and an order of frites, best enjoyed near the patio fireplace.
Miller Union
999 Brady Ave., Home Park
Occupying the old Miller Union Stockyards, this is one of Atlanta’s most celebrated restaurants—early on, they had a review in the New York Times and were finalists for a James Beard Award—but even the most cynical locals will tell you that the food lives up to the hype. Co-owners Neal McCarthy (the general manager and sommelier) and Steven Satterfield (the chef) have an extraordinary commitment to sustainability, so the menu changes daily, but you can always count on fresh vegetables, including the Southern vegetable plate, to be crowd-pleasers. The wine list, made up of exclusively organic and biodynamic bottles, is one of the city’s best.
The Optimist
914 Howell Mill Rd., Home Park
Optimist’s dining room is actually separated into two distinct sections, divided by a nautical, blue-and-white striped curtain. In the traditional dining room, chef/owner Ford Fry serves a southern-inspired seafood menu featuring lobster rolls, peel-and-eat Georgia shrimp, and excellent hushpuppies. On the other side, a smaller oyster bar offers raw or roasted oysters (imported straight from the Alabama coast) and Fry’s signature punch. From there, you can also access the open-air turf patio, which has a few mini-golf holes and room for a live band.
Ria’s Bluebird
421 Memorial Dr., Grant Park
Ria Pell, the original owner of this cozy neighborhood breakfast joint, was something of a local hero—not only for her insanely good pancakes, but for the diverse, welcoming community she created at the diner. When she suddenly passed away a few years ago, ownership of the restaurant transferred to long-time manager Julie Pender, who operates the place in honor of Pell’s memory, serving her famous pancake recipe unchanged. Lines can get long here on Saturday and Sunday mornings, but the wait is more than worth it.
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