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.
Cakes & Ale
155 Sycamore St., Decatur
This beloved Decatur restaurant and attached café was the first concept by chef Billy Allin and wife Kristin Allin. (They later opened Bread & Butterfly and Proof Bakeshop in Atlanta.) The dishes, while creative, never sacrifice taste for art—whether it’s a veg-forward dish like carrots, mushrooms, mustard greens with a crispy egg, or lamb ragu gnocchi with turnip greens.
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.
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.
4051 Buford Hwy., Brookhaven
Nestled in a strip mall on Buford Highway, Nam Phuong is a major local favorite for authentic Vietnamese food. Everything on the—huge—menu is fresh and well-prepared, but we’re partial to their specialty, the Ba Vi: a make-your-own-summer-rolls platter that comes with shrimp balls, grilled pork, and beef with a slew of veggies and sauces and rice-paper rolls (which you dip into a specialty holder before rolling, for stickiness). Kids love it.
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.
2277 Peachtree Rd., Buckhead
This is our pick for a fine-dining, white-tablecloth experience in Atlanta—Chef Linton Hopkins is known for locally sourced ingredients, delicate plating, and sophisticated flavor profiles, all delivered by a supremely knowledgeable and attentive staff. While ordering à la carte is an option, you’ll be in good hands with their seven-course tasting menu.
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.
313 N. Highland Ave., Inman Park
An Inman Park staple since 1999, this is the kind of classic Italian restaurant every neighborhood should have. The wine menu is Italian through-and-through, and their most famous dish is actually a dessert: a Belgian-chocolate soup. For the main course, opt for the pastas and risottos, each of which can be ordered in a half-size so you don’t have to pick between favorites.