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100 Hottest Restaurants 2016

In a city as well-versed in food as Atlanta, it takes much more than a perfectly cooked steak or an artfully stacked cheeseburger to impress. That’s why we’re back with the 2016 edition of JEZEBEL’s 100 Hottest Restaurants, a list that takes into account not only what dishes we had to post on our Instagram page, but also which concepts are pulling in a fleet of posh patrons week after week. Thanks to you, our in-the-know readers, a record 30,000 votes, combined with the expert knowledge of our editorial team, has helped to create one of our most competitive lists yet (with six new concepts holding a spot in the top 10!). Read on to find out which restaurants to make a reservation at ASAP. Check, please!

Foie gras brulee with king oyster mushrooms, figs and espelette salt at Cape Dutch

KEY:
$
-Dinner entree price range
B
-Brunch available [times vary]
R
-Reservations accepted [restrictions may apply]
P
-Patio dining
F
-Furry friends welcome

11. LITTLE TROUBLE 
1170 Howell Mill Road  | Westside | 404.500.4737 | $5-$20

Atlanta scenesters have a soft spot in their hearts for this cagey drink den, tucked in at the end of an industrial alleyway. Secluded and a tad spooky—in a futuristic, revenge-of-the-robots sort of way—the neon-laced lounge is not quite a bar, not quite a restaurant, but its tongue-and-cheek drinks and quirky Asian eats more than satisfy both cravings. Victory Brands’ Executive Chef Melissa Allen (formerly of Miso Izakaya and Pura Vida) may be most revered for developing Victory Sandwich Bar’s tasty sammies. Try her Thai beef dumplings, steamed pork belly buns or pork rinds with Fresno honey.

12. ATLAS 
88 W. Paces Ferry Road NW  | Buckhead | 404.600.6471 | @atlasbuckhead | $28-$85 | R P

Himitsu’s Creative Director Shingo Gokan creates smoke from cinnamon bark and clove, which is added to the Kemuri cocktail featuring Japanese single malt whisky, Kijoshu sake, Oloroso sherry, Benedictine liqueur and bitters.

Tastes like tenderloin and lamb with sides of primo people-watching and amazing art—welcome to Atlas. The cozy resto, which is tucked away in Buckhead’s swank The St. Regis Atlanta, has become a go-to for date nights and grabbing a glass of happy-hour bubbly alike. Whether you’re looking for fancy fare like the foie gras torchon or the simple but tasty Atlas burger, Executive Chef Christopher Grossman (formerly of Napa’s luxe French Laundry) has you covered. Need something sweet? Order the Opera (an espresso-soaked sponge-cake sable cookie with almond croquant and dark-chocolate coffee cremeux). It sings to us every time.

13. BISTRO NIKO 
3344 Peachtree Road | Buckhead | 404.261.6456 | @bistroniko | $14-$38 | B R P

Looking for the perfect place to enjoy a glass of Sancerre and oysters on a patio—without hopping the pond to Paris? Voila! We give you Buckhead’s Bistro Niko. Please your palate with French fare like beef short rib bourguignon and coq au vin, courtesy of longtime Buckhead Life Restaurant Group chef Gary Donlick. See and be seen sipping on a Midnight in Paris cocktail at the bistro’s bar, which is anything but hidden. Or, treat yourself to live music and brioche French toast on Sundays at jazz brunch. Bon appetite, y’all!

14. BARTACO 
Multiple locations | @bartacolife | $3-$38 | P  

With its carafes of margaritas and tricked out tacos, this Northern transplant has won over the hearts of folks all over ATL. The Bartaco empire, known for its coastal-casual vibe and sweet patio scene, now has three locations around town in Buckhead, Inman Park and the Westside. Start with the grilled corn with lime, cayenne and cotija cheese, and follow with sesame rib-eye and falafel tacos while washing it all down with a La Ruleta (Flor de Cana silver rum, jalapeno, peach nectar and lime juice) or a caipirinha (Leblon cachaca, limes and fresh pomegranate). Seal the deal with the churros—they’ll leave you saying “gracias.”  

15. GYPSY KITCHEN 
3035 Peachtree Road NE | Buckhead | 404.939.9840 | @gypsykitchenatl | $6-$26 | R P  

Those who cozy up to the bar for a cocktail at this sexy spot at The Shops Buckhead Atlanta will be seduced into staying to sample a few of the tapas or one of the entrees by chef Matthew Ridgway (of NYC’s Oak Room and New Jersey’s The Pass)—all designed to share. Clock some patio time with friends over a few Seville Rose bevies and small bites like the chargrilled octopus, patatas bravas, chickpea pancakes, gulf shrimp a la plancha and lamb tartare. Happy hour runs from 4:30pm to 6:30pm, Monday through Friday and is prime time for $5 rotating wines and $4-$5 tapas. Drink (and eat) up!

16. ST. CECILIA 
3455 Peachtree Road NE | Buckhead | 404.554.9995 | @stceciliaatl | $18-$42 | R  

The baked focaccia, the mineral-forward wines, the varied crudo… scarfing down the European-inspired coastal cuisine of Executive Chef Craig Richards (one of Ford Fry’s greatest acolytes) is only half the experience at this exquisite eatery. Once we’re finished admiring the soaring ceilings, circular booths and Instagram-worthy lavatory floors, we’re routinely sold on the finesse of Richards’ housemade pastas (think pillowy ravioli stuffed with chicken liver or smoked squash) and charred octopus paired with an Italian bean salad with sun-dried tomato pesto. Return Sundays for a four-course, family style, prix-fixe feast ($35 per person).  

17. KIMBALL HOUSE 
303 E. Howard Ave. | Decatur | 404.378.3502 | @kimballhousebar | $18-$150 | P  

This turn-of-the-century-esque tavern is not a house at all, but an incredible former Decatur train depot where you can pluck oysters from shining silver platters and drip absinthe over sugar cubes at a polished wood bar manned by near-legendary cocktail maestro Miles Macquarrie. Inspired by Brooklyn’s beloved Maison Premiere, this handsome boîte boasts frosted-glass globe lights and high-back leather banquettes frequently packed with cute J.Crew types. Chef Jeffrey Wall, formerly of JOËL and La Fourchette (both defunct) never fails to dazzle with seasonally changing fare made from produce and herbs grown right on-site.  

18. JCT. KITCHEN & BAR 
1198 Howell Mill Road | Westside | 404.355.2252 | @jctkitchen | $16-$29 | R P  

This Westside Ford Fry concept is renowned for its refined comfort food—from fried chicken and deviled eggs to bacon mac and cheese and angry mussels executed under the deft direction of Executive Chef Brian Horn. The dining room is sophisticated while the upstairs bar is often swarmed with ardent demand for drinks—especially on Thursday wine nights ($6 per glass, folks!). Hip Atlantans adore catching frequent acoustic acts in this alfresco space, complete with glittering views of railroad tracks below. And they’d be loathe to ever leave without snatching an oversize Lemonhead from the table beside the host stand, so pucker up!

19. BARCELONA WINE BAR 
240 N. Highland Ave. | Inman Park | 404.589.1010 | @barcelonawineba | $15-$27 | B R P F  

Wine, bread, cheese… Barcelona is the place to indulge in all the right things. Serving up small and large Spanish small plates (the patatas bravas, beef empanadas, hanger steak and scallops a la plancha are all perfection) and sensational cocktails like gin-based Mind Your Bees & Suze, this Inman Park resto helmed by chefs Benjamin Meyer and James McDowell can do no wrong—and for good reason. It’s also quite the social scene, known to be frequented by locals and celebs alike. If you’re with a larger group, sit by the outdoor fireplace. The patio is heated year-round but is especially nice in summer and fall—and an ideal spot for birthday celebrations.

20. THE OPTIMIST 
914 Howell Mill Road | Westside | 404.477.6260 | @theoptimistatl | $24-$35 | R P  

Ford Fry’s nationally acclaimed Westside seafood spot is at once modern and rustic, dazzling us with two cool eating areas: a ginormous dining room with a bar at center and an adjacent oyster bar offering a more casual vibe. And Atlanta’s landlocked patrons can’t seem to get enough of chef Wesley True’s always-fresh seafood, which includes Georges Bank scallops in Thai passionfruit vinaigrette, duck fat-poached swordfish and whole Georgia shrimp a la plancha with chile butter and lime. Finish with Rocky Road bread pudding, and if you’re seeking a little diversion afterward, hit the three-hole Putt-Putt course right outside.

21. BRANCH & BARREL 
4100 Avalon Blvd. | Alpharetta | 678.436.5655 | @avaloninsider | $15-$23 | R P F  

This new Avalon watering hole, described as a “19th century industrial craft bar,” is putting the happy in happy hour with craft cocktails (choice ops include the Smarti Pants, Branch & Berry, Strawberry Rhubarb Runner and Big, Big Boss) and innovative fare (heavy on the homemade) by chef Todd Hogan (of Cumming’s Branchwater Restaurant). Snack on sweet potato fries paired with maple aioli and jalapeno candied bacon before moving on to star entrees like lobster mac and cheese, Kentucky Common beer-battered fish and fries or barbecued mini meatballs with cheddar potato gratin. Come hungry!

22. ATLANTA FISH MARKET 
265 Pharr Road NE | Buckhead | 404.262.3165 | @atlfishmarket | $20-$60 | R P  

Fresh seafood is flown in daily to this iconic Buckhead spot where specialty dishes include flash fried Nova Scotia lobster tail, Hong Kong style salmon and stone crab claws. With one of the largest selections of fresh wild caught fish, a sushi bar and even a retail store with newly offered to-go items, this place continues to bring in a packed house for both lunch and dinner. Don’t miss the adjoining Geechee crab lounge for a comfortable place to watch a game, catch up with friends and sip on a Dark & Stormy before dinner.

23. IL GIALLO OSTERIA & BAR 
5920 Roswell Road | Sandy Springs | 404.709.2148 | @gialloatl | $11-$42 | R  

Missing Veni Vidi Vici? Say hello to its follow-up il Giallo Osteria & Bar, from Buckhead Life Restaurant Group alums Jamie Adams and Leonardo Moura. Authentic coastal cuisine shines (don’t miss the squid ink risotto with braised calamari) while handmade pastas highlight chef Adams’ Italian mastery (a stint at Michelin-starred Locanda del Saint’Uffizio doesn’t hurt either). Sip on a classic Campari spritz or negroni while savoring every heavenly bite of gnocchi dusted with Gorgonzola cheese and crispy speck; or ravioli filled with roasted duck and fontina, and coated in brown butter, sage and pecans.

24. THE SOUTHERN GENTLEMAN 
3035 Peachtree Road NE | Buckhead | 404.939.9845 | @atlsoutherngent | $14-$45 | B R P  

Thanks to the seersucker window treatments and rotating cocktails like the Grit & Grace and the strawberry-infused Scarlet Belle, The Southern Gentleman has become a go-to drink and eat spot for ladies and gents across the city. As the name implies, this resto is all about nods to what makes the South so sweet. For example, chef Matthew Ridgway serves up a menu of delicious dishes like braised Creekstone Farm beef cheeks with bread dumplings and pickled Brussels sprouts salad. And don’t forget the Monte Cristo and the anadama toffee waffles on the Sunday brunch menu. It’s almost as good as your mama makes it.

25. ANTICO PIZZA NAPOLETANA 
Multiple locations | $18-$22  

When every celeb in town (Conan O’Brien, Drew Barrymore, Owen Wilson and more) flocks to the Westside (and now Alpharetta’s Avalon location too) for a slice of Giovanni Di Palma’s pizza, you know it must be good. Throw in a mention on Food Network’s Best. Pizza. Ever. and it’s time to pull up a communal chair in the space’s open-air kitchen, where authentic Italian pies are served straight out of the wood-burning oven. The San Gennaro (Italian sausage, sweet red pepper, Bufala cheese and cipolline onions) remains a crowd fave, but we’re also partial to the cheesy Blanca pie (fior di latte, ricotta, Bufala and pecorino). The slice is right, indeed.

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