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100 Hottest Restaurants 2016
Produced by Allison Mitchell | Photo: Cape Dutch photo by Heidi Geldhauser; Himitsu photo by Angie Mosier | Written by Kate Abney, Kelly Jordan, Kate Parham Kordsmeier, Allison Mitchell, Kelsey Ogletree, Amelia Pavlik, Elissa Rosen and Chris Watkins | February 29, 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!
$-Dinner entree price range
B-Brunch available [times vary]
R-Reservations accepted [restrictions may apply]
F-Furry friends welcome
The Iberian Pig dazzles with flavorful Spanish tapas, craft cocktails (don’t miss Black Hearts & Sunshine or In the Wind) and Spanish wines. The handsome space is an intimate one resonating with conversation and heavenly smells. Tables sit closely together and fill with a vibrant array of Executive Chef Eric Roberts’ cured meats, tapas and cheeses (you can’t go wrong with the Iberian burger, braised veal shank ravioli or the pork cheek tacos). And did we mention the bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with manchego, walnuts and romesco sauce? Heavenly. When the weather warms, tables out front offer up choice views of Decatur Square.
There is a reason why every A-lister passing through town dines at South City Kitchen (we’re looking at you Kim Kardashian). Both the Vinings and the Midtown location exude Southern charm and offer Southern-style favorite dishes like the fried green tomatoes and the Springer Mountain Farms fried chicken. The bar is also a lure with its premium bourbon, whiskeys and blends; local and regional beers; and an award-winning wine list. In fact, SCK is so popular, a Buckhead location will launch this year right on Peachtree at One Capital City Plaza. Don’t miss its epic patio!
Pizza places come and go on the daily in the A, but few stand the test of time (and expand!) the way Varasano’s Pizzeria has, thanks to co-owners Jeff Varasano and Brett Holtzclaw. After all, if The New York Times says you’re top-notch, who are we to argue? While the Buckhead outpost is still prime for views of Peachtree, we’re uberexcited about the new Perimeter Mall locale, which boasts an epic patio and TVs galore. Pull up a seat; tune in to the latest game; and try a slice of the pancetta garlic (chef’s fave!), wild mushroom truffle or spicy mussels pies—and save room for the tiramisu.
A revival of one of Atlanta’s most infamous hangouts, this Mad Men-esque lounge looks like a spaceship landed atop the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. Rotating 360 degrees around the Downtown skyline every 55 minutes, it offers four zones for enjoying chefs Thomas McKeown and Rodney Ashley’s ever-changing cuisine, which includes steak Oscar, Benton’s bacon popcorn and a blue Polaris flourless chocolate cake that looks like its namesake. Wash it down with an Old Fashioned featuring the restaurant’s resident bourbon or lovely cocktails sweetened with honey harvested at the hotel’s rooftop bee garden.
After an afternoon of retail therapy, there’s nothing that hits the spot like a glass of cab and some Kobe meatballs at this elegant but intimate Phipps Plaza pick. And don’t forget to stop by Monday through Friday as well, when Davio’s holds happy hour court from 4 to 7pm, offering half-priced hors d’oeuvres at the bar. Chef Timothy Magee (who has also manned the cooktops at White Oak Kitchen and Southern Art) has created a menu for Davio’s that will leave everyone from steak- to pasta-lovers smiling. Have a sweet tooth? Don’t miss the warm chocolate cake. Delizioso!
With the rise of exotic restaurants in the A, it’s easy to forget that former soccer star-turned-restaurateur Justin Anthony opened not only the city’s first, but America’s first South African restaurant way back in 1998. The Buckhead hot spot got a makeover in 2014—thanks to Anthony’s designer-to-the-stars wife Kelly Wolf-Anthony—upgrading the cozy dining room with modern finishes that hold court with the stellar menu. The highlights: sweet ground beef curry with chutney, giant grilled butterflied prawns bathed in lemon butter, tender red-wine-laced ostrich medallions and one of the city’s most extensive South African wine lists.
Whether it’s crispy buffalo skins, shrimp toast or a pot of chicken liver pate, Holeman & Finch Public House effortlessly executes delicious decadence. Owned by James Beard Award-winning chef Linton Hopkins, the modern menu is packed with offal, small plates and Southern-inspired cuisine. Make sure you arrive thirsty—H&F’s mixologists are constantly raising the bar on what we expect from cocktails. If you’ve heard about the resto’s legendary burger, don’t worry about waiting until 10pm to order it (the burger’s former serving time); these days, it’s a permanent fixture on the menu.
Smokebelly has changed the course for what to expect from a barbecue joint. With tufted leather seating and warm polished wood decor, the chef-driven concept has become a modern game-changer for the Atlanta ‘cue scene, bringing savory barbecue plates to the glitz and glam of Buckhead. Executive Chef Nagib Sued delivers gut-busting and health-laden options packed with flavor, whether you’re devouring a plate of Cherry Cola baby back ribs, or a barbecue quinoa bowl. Add on 20 craft beers and cocktails like the moonshine-heavy Sucker Punch and tequila happy #BasicMargarita, and the party is just getting started.
Sidle up to the ultraluxe blue-lit bar of this Brookhaven fave, where you’ll find expertly crafted sushi and innovative cocktails from owners Mali Hu and George Muh. Rolls all have cheeky names (think The #Selfie, Chanel Replica, Sex and the City and O.M.G.) and are just as tasty as they are clever. For those who aren’t a fan of raw fare, try the seared sweet miso duck, braised pork belly bun, spicy miso Korean-style soup or lemongrass lobster bruschetta. Then get your good libations on with flavored sake, wine, brews or cocktails like the Lychee saketini.
Buckhead icon, this retro, upscale diner attracts celebrities, visitors and locals for its delicious dishes and bustling scene. Whether it’s a business lunch or a date night, diners revel in favorites like the warm Maytag blue cheese chips (now available as a to-go option) and the famous fried chicken. The corner booths and bar seats—which are hard to come by—are the most desirable spots in the house. Check out the new Monday burger and beer special, crafted by Executive Chef Charles Schwab. Oh, and don’t leave without a taste of the award-winning white-chocolate banana cream pie. To die for!
It’s no secret that The IVY draws in one of the best-looking crowds around any night of the week. While its cocktails, lively atmosphere and top-notch staff have made it a staple of Buckhead nightlife, its brunch and dinner menus are equally attractive. Throw down $15 for bottomless mimosas (12:30 to 5pm on Sundays) while digging into a plate of cheese grits with a chicken gravy biscuit or PB&J French toast. The aptly named Hangover burger awaits for those who are recovering from last night’s shenanigans, while salads and wraps are available for those working on their summer bod. Dinner and drinks, check and check.
Piedmont Park’s lush surroundings and prime people-watching don’t get any better than at Park Tavern. Where else can you fit a happening neighborhood bar, restaurant, events facility and brewery into one sweet package? With a menu that spans double-handed burgers, bright tacos, health-conscious salads and even a full sushi bar, there’s something for everyone—including your pooch—at one of the most awe-inspiring patio situations in ATL. Word to the wise: Keep your weather app handy—when it rains, drafts drop to $1. Plus, with liquor-heavy cocktails like Peach on the Beach, Sneaky Tea and The Bootlegger, afternoon delight is just a sip away.
The beautiful Georgian Terrace is home to this glamorous and contemporary restaurant where Executive Chef Michael Semancik wows with innovative American cuisine during breakfast, lunch and dinner. Supper highlights include crispy smoked chicken thigh, Bangs Island mussels, six-hour hanger steak frites and seared Maine diver scallops. Wash it all down with Caruso’s Garden (Bluecoat gin, fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice, muddled lime and basil leaves) before skipping across the street to take in the latest show at The Fox Theatre. Just come back for dessert—carrot-cake Twinkies, anyone?
A trip to Phipps Plaza wouldn’t be complete without stopping at The Tavern at Phipps, where the cocktails flow and the napkins fly high. Talented barkeeps turn happy hour into a full-blown party, thanks to impossible feats of pouring liquor into 10-plus glasses at a time and live music courtesy of the restaurant’s resident piano-playing singer. The food is equally exciting and the resto’s iterations of nachos (dubbed Tavern Chips) might as well be an Atlantan requirement (think barbecue chicken, Southwestern, spinach and more). Sink your teeth into the Carnegie deli pastrami sandwich and you’ll never want to leave.
Killer food and an impressive selection of wines await at this relaxed OTP concept. Owner and chef Doug Turbush’s vision for a neighborhood wine bar is complete in all aspects, from the oval-shaped marble bar to a menu bursting with flavor and vino. Chorizo stuffed medjool dates, citrus-cured salmon tartare, lamb meatballs, Georges Bank sea scallops and the decadent Stem burger (red wine-braised shortrib, pork belly, comte, tomato onion jam) paired with thrice-cooked fries are epic. Oenophiles, take note: High-end by-the-glass fills are available via the resto’s state-of-the-art Enomatic wine system. Wine about it!