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100 Hottest Restaurants 2015

Our new-and-improved rundown of the most talked-about restos of the moment!

Another packed night at Umi's (#1) bustling bar, a fave among A-listers like Drake, Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth and Usher

11. King + Duke
3060 Peachtree Road NW |
 Buckhead | 404.477.3500 | $16-$86 | @kingandduke | B R P

Ford Fry’s reign as Atlanta’s culinary king continues with King + Duke. Think early-American cuisine with a wood-fired char, helmed by Executive Chef E.J. Hodgkinson. Menu highlights include the coal-roasted onion soup; rabbit pate; and The Duke: a house-ground burger crafted from carefully aged cuts, with coal-roasted onion and Gruyere. And for dessert? The sinful flourless chocolate cake with sweet cream, blood orange and cocoa nibs is to die for. Wash it all down with The Beautiful and The Damned cocktail while taking in the who’s who of Buckhead on the resto’s ever popular patio. Hey, if it’s good enough for Usher, we’re in!

12. Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant
240 N. Highland Ave. | Inman Park | 404.589.1010 | $4-$25 | @barcelonawineba | B R P F

Serving small and large Spanish plates and some of the most fabulous cocktails in town, this Inman Park resto offers up something for every palate. With this year’s addition of Executive Chef Helton da Silva, tantalizing tapas like sunchokes a la plancha, and Mussels al Diablo with crushed tomatoes, chile flakes and grilled bread are standouts. If you’re dining with a group, try the paella, which feeds two or more. The first come, first seated patio is always packed, so plan ahead for an alfresco dining experience, or take a seat in the dark, sultry wooden bar area and order a signature cocktail like the Bees Wings or the Hot Dahlia.

13. The Optimist
914 Howell Mill Road | Westside | 404.477.6260 | $21-$33 | @theoptimistatl | R P

When visitors stop by A-Town and ask for seafood recommendations, The Optimist quickly rolls off the tongue of most ATLiens. Why, you ask? For starters, this Westside haunt is the brainchild of Ford Fry and Executive Chef Adam Evans. Seafood gumbo with garlic bread, a pickable crop of shell-on Georgia shrimp a la plancha in a creamy white-wine sauce with sopping toast, and hearth-roasted fish will all have you singing the praises of these culinary kings. Insider tip: “Ask for a chef-prepared fish collar. We always have some interesting cuts,” divulges Evans.

14. New York Prime
3424 Peachtree Road NE | Buckhead | 404.846.0644 | $29-$60 | @newyorkprime | R P

It’s no coincidence that New York Prime has snagged a top spot in our “100 Best Restaurants” feature since 2003. It’s clear upon arrival at this renowned steakhouse that owner Greg Greenbaum, operating partner Michael Smith, managing partner Bobby Donlan and their hospitable team work hard to imbue everything from atmosphere to drinks, with a clever sophistication only found at this Buckhead staple. And the steak? Each one must be certified to the USDA’s highest standards, then aged, cut and charred on a special 1700-degree Southbend broiler. VIP treatment from start to finish, my friends.

15. Yebo
3500 Peachtree Road NE | Buckhead | 404.467.4988 | $7-$19 | @yeboatl | R P

Head to Phipps Plaza for a taste of South Africa. Yebo, the second concept from 10 Degrees South owner Justin Anthony, is a chic safari-style tapas spot with delicious indigenous dishes and wines. Mouthwatering opts include the Bobotie, a bread bowl filled with curry and topped with an egg; The Gatsby, a french fry and sirloin sammie; and the Georgia shrimp, with panseared grit cakes and spicy Chakalaka sauce. All of these pair perfectly with, what else? South African wine. Elevate date night by stopping by Wednesday to Sunday for live music, or go big by booking up to a 30-person party in the concept’s private dining area.

16. Bistro Niko
3344 Peachtree Road NE | Buckhead | 404.261.6456 | $19-$30 | @bistroniko | B R P

To step into Buckhead’s Bistro Niko is to step back in time to 1920s Paris. French art adorns the walls, alongside photos of the Parisian brasseries that inspired the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group’s Karatassos family when they created the bistro. True Francophiles will delight in chef Gary Donlick’s authentic delicacies like foie gras with brioche croutons or a simple but delicious classic coq au vin—chicken in red wine, Parisian mushrooms, pearl onions and steamed potatoes. Don’t forget to head outside, where a prime view of Peachtree awaits. Take it all in with a Moscow Mule in hand and profiteroles on deck.

17. JCT. Kitchen & Bar
1198 Howell Mill Road | Westside | 404.355.2252 | $15-$30 | @jctkitchen | R P

After almost eight years, Ford Fry’s Westside resto continues to please locals with its menu of modern Southern cuisine. The truffle Parmesan fries are an indulgence that can’t be passed up, while the angry mussels are a game-changing app, thanks to the addition of serrano chiles. True to Southern form, the fried green tomatoes and deviled eggs are killer, and the famed fried chicken is so good that’ll it make you want to slap your mama. After dinner, head up to the chic second-story bar for a signature JCTea, and be sure to check out the schedule of weekly live music on the terrace.

18. Shake Shack
3035 Peachtree Road NE | Buckhead | 470.809.9201 | $5-$10 | @shakeshack | P F

Don’t let the chain pedigree of Shake Shack force you to pass it over. There’s a reason this Buckhead Atlanta newbie always has a line out the door! The trademark Shackburger is decked out with H&F rolls and Angus beef patties, but the sweets are where the real action lies. Frozen custard shakes are the perfect evolution of the roadside milkshake (try the ATL-only Peachtree shake), and a curtailed list of house beers/wines lift Shake Shack out of the fast food realm and solidly into hangout dining. A custom-crafted selection of dog treats, plastered right there on the menu, drives the point home: You’ve found your new neighborhood burger joint.

19. Thirteen Pies
250 Buckhead Ave. | Buckhead | 678.791.1313 | $9-$17 | @thirteen_pies

Thirteen Pies for the win. Twelve highly-crafted opts from margherita and pepperoni, to more adventurous incarnations with Spotted Trotter meats, spices and farm-fresh veggies make up the core menu with pastas and salads playing second fiddle. The last, the Thirteenth Pie—a wild card that shows up day-of and can run the gamut of local farm-to-table fare to clever mashups—is what sets Thirteen Pies apart from the rest. The warm, wood-clad interior is surrounded by a massive oven churning out pies to order with a bar that’s stocked with an impressive list of Italian wines and bourbon-heavy cocktails. The slice is right!

20. Hal’s
30 Old Ivy Road NE | Buckhead | 404.261.0025 | $40-$70 | R P

The atmosphere: relaxed elegance with a dash of New Orleans chic. The food: classics like baked escargots, oysters bordelaise and swordfish steak, washed down with an expertly crafted cocktail. You: there. Any questions? This old-school eatery keeps patrons of all generations coming back for more, with a sexy, intimate ambience, first-class service and throwback furnishings that evoke a vintage, black-and-white movie-style vibe. VIPs pack in on the reg (Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is a fan!) to get their drink and dine on. Don’t let the crisp white tablecloths fool you—Hal’s is a cut above.

21. STK
1075 Peachtree St. | Midtown | 404.793.0144 | $24-$89 | @stkatlanta | R

This Midtown hot spot’s swanky-sexy vibe ushers in some of ATL’s hottest on the reg, by poppin’ Magnum bottles of Champagne every Monday and dishing out some to-die-for fare. Executive Chef Mark Alba offers seasonal fare as well as signature faves. The tuna tartare and lamb loin tataki are flavor-packed. And don’t forget to peruse the raw bar, or, better yet, order a shellfish platter for the table. A strawberry-cobbler cocktail and desserts like the banana cream pie in a jar provide a perfectly sweet finish. Plus, STK has recently partnered with Belvedere and is now offering a new $7 specialty cocktail menu. Bottoms up!

22. 1Kept
2293 Peachtree Road | Buckhead | 404.254.1973 | $18-$27 | @1kept | R

We’ve seen our fair share of reclaimed hardwood and exposed lighting, but seldom is the combination as cozy as it is at 1Kept. Tucked away from the foot traffic of Peachtree (secret alleyway entrance included), this eatery impresses with a tactfully conceived menu that pays homage to the local protein-focused ingredients it features. But the cocktails—that’s where the talent truly shines. Innovative sippers dot the menu, making this one of our favorite new bars if we’re in the mood for something different. Experimentation is what it’s about here: In other words, don’t leave without inquiring about the pickling lab.

23. Big Sky Buckhead
3201 Cains Hill Place NW | Buckhead | 404.481.5168 | $8-$13 | @bigskybuckhead | B P

Buckhead Triangle. Saturday Night. Barkeep, give us a shot of Buckhead with a Wyoming prairie chaser. Big Sky actually shouldn’t work: as worldly as we are, we would have never pegged Cain Street as the location for a blend of sports bar-meets-hunting lodge, but hey, you just can’t beat the sunsets. Stop by for the wings on Thursday, but make sure to throw an order of sliders into the mix (Chef Hector Santiago knows his stuff). Then, gather around in one of three patios for a pitcher of SweetWater. Big Sky is all about the vistas. Aaron Paul and Waka Flocka are fans, and so are we.

24. The IVY Buckhead
3717 Roswell Road | Buckhead | 404.941.3081 | $10-$13 | @theivybuckhead | B P

There’s no mistaking why The IVY is on the list whilst partaking in whatever version of the Great Buckhead Bar Crawl your crew has deemed fit. Cold drinks? Check. A great, old hardwood manor style of decor that was born for bar use? Check. Some of the hottest bartenders in town? Check on that. But as much as a nightspot as The IVY has come to be, you can’t forget a thoroughly capable kitchen. Juxtaposing the multiple bars is a rundown of utterly tasty pub fare, like the pimento burger, the fried green tomato BLT and a delightful brunch menu. Let the feasting (and imbibing) commence.

25. Tin Lizzy’s Cantina
Multiple locations | @tinlizzys | $4-$10 | P

Mexican meets Southern at these buzzy little cantinas located in seemingly every hot spot in town (the newest pops up in Duluth this season). The tater tots app is served with a side of queso, and nachos come with barbecue pulled pork and chili roja sauce. Maybe it’s because the locals behind this joint own The Big Ketch Saltwater Grill and Smokebelly BBQ too. Whatever the reason, fried pickles sharing space on the menu with $4 house margaritas and 20-plus specialty tacos seems to make sense here. Maybe that’s why Southerner Justin Timberlake has dropped in. Rumor has it he rocked a burrito until the break of day.

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