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100 Hottest Restaurants 2015
By The Editors | Photo: Angie Mosier | With contributions from Alison Abbey, Wendell Brock, Austin Holt, Stephanie Davis Smith and Chris Watkins | January 16, 2015
Our new-and-improved rundown of the most talked-about restos of the moment!
26. Antico Pizza Napoletana
1093 Hemphill Ave. NW | Westside | 404.724.2333 | $18-$21
It doesn’t get much more auténtico than this, y’all—from foodies to A-list celebs, guests of all kinds flock to Antico. As the first of several ventures owner Giovanni Di Palma has opened in his West Midtown “Little Italia” district (Gio’s Chicken Amalfitano, Caffe Gio, Bottega Luisa Italian market, Bar Amalfi and the brand-new super exclusive 27), the Naples-style resto boasts pies (with fresh, Italian-sourced ingredients) baked in a 900-degree oven, brought out on large trays in the snag-a-seat-when-you-can dining area that’s shared with the open-air kitchen. Prep yourself for a true taste of Italy, and BYOB, baby!
112 Krog St. | Inman Park | 404.524.8280 | $15-$42 | @rathbuns | R P
From sea scallop Benedict to crispy duck breast, dishes at Rathbun’s are anything but ordinary, thanks to Chef de Cuisine Nick Anderson and owners Kevin Rathbun, Kirk Parks and Cliff Bramble. Plus, the cocktail menu is just as inventive: Try a Bell Tolls for Thee, featuring hibiscus-infused Shellback silver rum. Both the dining room and the patio offer up industrial-inspired decor with a glam twist, so whether you indulge inside surrounded by exposed brick walls and the hum of a bustling bistro, or on the patio under the cover of the Stove Works portico, you’re in for a treat.
28. The Tavern at Phipps
3500 Peachtree Road NE | Buckhead | 404.814.9640 | $10-$29 | @tavernatphipps | R P
Whether you’re experiencing post-shopping fatigue, in desperate need of an after-hours cocktail on a spacious patio, or just like dining among some of the city’s hottest singles, The Tavern at Phipps has you covered. The see-and-be-seen set flocks here for the high-energy bar, live music (country nights are a new Saturday and Sunday staple) and, naturally, the eats. Think a classic Reuben stuffed with Carnegie Deli pastrami, filet mignon salad and its signature Tavern chips in Cajun and Thai chicken varieties among others. Breeze through the revolving doors, into the shower of napkins, and prepare to be served by their sexy staff.
29. Smokebelly BBQ
128 E. Andrews Drive NW | Buckhead | 404.848.9100 | $9-$25 | @smokebellybbq | R P
Step into this modern saloon and slide into a green tufted-leather booth for some of the city’s most delicious pulled pork sliders, brisket chili and ribs. A group of guys behind Gypsy Kitchen, The Big Ketch and The Southern Gentleman came together to launch the chef-crafted ’cue joint and recently hired Nagib Sued to helm the pit. The Astroturf’d front porch draws an attractive Buckhead crowd in the warmer months for a selection of 30-plus craft beers. Those watching the cals, will love their Skinny Fixin’s, while barbecue devotees can belly up to the sauce bar for housemade flavors like Cherry Cola and Alabama White.
30. Buckhead Diner
3073 Piedmont Road NE | Buckhead | 404.262.3336 | $16-$30 | @buckheaddiner | B R
With its stylishly old-school decor and modern menu, Buckhead Diner has become an Atlanta icon, visited by both locals and celebs alike. Nick Jonas and Ryan Gosling both stopped by for dinner in the last few months! (Hopefully they did so on Wednesdays or Sundays, the only nights the famed fried chicken is served.) Other faves include Maytag blue cheese chips, the housemade pastrami sandwich and the James Beard Award-winning white chocolate banana cream pie. Finish it all off with The Rol & Rye (Aperol, Old Overholt rye whiskey and a splash of soda) and toast to the good life!
31. The One Sushi +
2523 Caldwell Road NE | Brookhaven | 404.869.6988 | $11-$26 | @onesushiplus | R P
At the end of the hip Dresden Drive strip sits this upscale sushi joint. Owners Mali Hu and George Muh, along with chef Jason Liang, are keeping fans like rapper Ludacris and TV chef G. Garvin coming back for superfresh sushi and creative faves, which include misoyaki Japanese black cod, pineapple shrimp and playful yellowtail jalapeno shots. Inside you’ll find a modern, blue-lit bar and sultry dining room with tabletops constructed from Taiwanese wood, tilted glasses and metal chopsticks. Outside, sip a lychee saketini on the patio and watch all of Brookhaven’s attractive revelers roll by.
32. The Big Ketch Saltwater Grill
3279 Roswell Road | Buckhead | 404.474.9508 | $7-$24 | @thebigketch | R P
With a sand-in-your-toes philosophy, decor inspired by some of our favorite resort towns (think Rosemary Beach, the Hamptons and Nantucket) and a menu full of fresh seafood, The Big Ketch feels like destination-dining in the heart of Buckhead. Start with the hush puppies or basil Blue Moon mussels. Then, move on to one of the fresh fish entrees, the hot buttered lobster roll, the blackened grouper sandwich, or the guilt-free Asian quinoa couscous bowl with ahi tuna. And remember to do as the locals do: Hit the deck for half-priced oysters 4 to 6:30pm Monday through Friday, and for live music on the reg. This spot is a shore thing.
40 Seventh St. NE | Midtown | 404.347.9555 | $7-$29 | @eccoatl | R P
This popular, European-influenced resto features fab charcuterie and cheese boards, shareable plates, wood-fired pizzas, fresh pastas and entrees alongside an inventive beverage list. Chef Jonathan Beatty’s gastronomic gifts are on display in favorites like fried goat cheese with honey and black pepper and pancetta wrapped chorizo stuffed dates. Fresh is never a question at Ecco, thanks to a rooftop garden that produces seasonal veggies all year long. Bonus: Pastry Chef Eric Wolitzky is sweetening the deal with a selection of rotating handmade European pastries (among them a multilayer opera cake and a strawberry macaron). How sweet it is!
34. Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall
684 John Wesley Dobbs Ave. | Old Fourth Ward | 404.458.6838 | $10-$36 | @ladybirdatlanta | B R P F
Made-from-scratch cuisine meets #campvibes (their signature hashtag) at this recently opened BeltLine eatery. Get comfy on the 2,500-square-foot former cotton factory’s large patio or enclosed porch to dine on dishes from chef Kyle Schmidt, such as butternut squash souffle and grilled N.C. trout with bacon stuffing and charred broccoli salad, all with locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. Top it off with a slice of peanut butter s’mores pie, or wash it down with a seasonal cocktail at the expansive bar before taking in a game of shuffleboard surrounded by a wall-size American flag and a giant mural from local artist Sam Parker.
35. Paces & Vine
4300 Paces Ferry Road | Vinings | 404.205.8255 | $17-$27 | @pacesandvine | B R P
Some things are worth the wait. Paces & Vine is just that. As the sister concept to Va-Hi mainstay Murphy’s, the new Vinings resto is borrowing many of the flavors that have made Murphy’s an Atlanta icon. Owner Tom Murphy has tapped Murphy’s alum Executive Chef Ian Winslade to create offerings that pay homage to its predecessor’s menu faves. Maine lobster cobb salad, a hickory grilled hamburger and, of course, a focus on brunch (hello malted pecan waffles and chorizo frittatas!) are all perfectly paired with the resto’s happening bar. Seasonal cocktail highlights include the Banana Rum, Winter Margarita and the Atlantan Manhattan.
36. Katana Teppanyaki & Sushi
3345 Lenox Road NE | Buckhead | 404.869.1888 |$19-$38 | @katanaatl | R
Whether you’re craving teppanyaki standouts such as Chilean sea bass lying in a pool of tentsuyu, sizzling sesame oil, ginger and scallions or hand-selected, custom-aged certified Angus beef filet mignon, Katana Teppanyaki & Sushi has a little something special for all palates. Owner Mali Hu (who also owns Brookhaven standout The One Sushi +) has created a sleek and sexy environment featuring inventive sushi rolls (try the signature Tic Tac) and tasty teppanyaki prepped right in front of you for a truly unique dining experience. Oh, and the cocktails are amaze. Order the fruity Shisoju (or two!) featuring muddled raspberries.
37. The Iberian Pig
121 Sycamore St. | Decatur | 404.371.8800 | $9-$36 | @iberianpig | R P
Tapas-style dining is always a good time. But in a class of its own, there’s The Iberian Pig, on the square in Decatur. This cavernous, wood-lined space with a keen, laid-back demeanor conjures the ham-touting watering holes of the Spanish peninsula from which the restaurant derives its namesake. The flaky morcilla and mushroom toast is to die for; the aged, cured pork shoulder, shaved razor-thin, is a must-have app; and a standout craft cocktail list rises to the standards set by the meticulously curated list of small-batch vino.
38. The El Felix
1130 Avalon Blvd. | Alpharetta | 678.248.5239 | $12-$34 | @theelfelix | B R P
Restaurant titan Ford Fry has accomplished a lot with successful concepts from Decatur to Buckhead, and it seems that everything he puts his hands into turns to gold, with The El Felix being no exception. Holding court at shopping monolith Avalon, the Tex-Mex concept stuns with a healthy mix of industrial brick, warm tones and modern furnishings. Chef Kevin Maxey’s take on Southwestern fare favors the traditional taco and enchilada tropes (chicken tinga, braised picadillo, spiced ground beef) and heftier gourmet options. The $10 daily lunch specials, and impressive margarita and wine selection prove that Fry’s a man of many talents.
1829 Peachtree Road NE | Buckhead | 678.705.1486| $24-$45 | @luscaatl | R
With EAV’s Octopus Bar a bona fide success, chefs Angus Brown and Nhan Le have branched their eccentric, fusion-heavy approach out onto Peachtree. Lusca touts, in addition to a well-maintained, white-tiled raw bar, a short, seasonal list of main plates that take their inspiration from the sea (the chefs selection of nigiri is fun and mysterious) with a not-out-of-place nod to the charcuterie. A tactfully abbreviated bar (featuring Miller Union alum Stuart White) keeps pace with the menu’s eccentricities, and a Monday to Friday happy hour (5 to 7pm) boasts half price mollusks, so skip the surface traffic over a plate.
40. South City Kitchen
Multiple locations | $12-$36 | @sckmidtown | B R P
Everything here has been Dixie-fied. From the she-crab soup to the famous fried chicken, South City Kitchen has serious Southern charm. It’s why celebs like Jennifer Garner, Brooklyn Decker and LeBron James stop in when they’re in A-Town. But brunch is when SCK really pours on the hospitality, serving up chicken and waffles; crabcake hash; and cheddar biscuits with pepper milk gravy. Part of Fifth Group Restaurants (Ecco, Lure and more) who take their housemade desserts seriously, SCK has a honeysuckle gelato and buttermilk devil’s food cake that are all the closure you’ll ever need.