Food & Chefs: 2014: The Year in Atlanta Restaurants

Published by: David Danzig on Thursday December 25th, 2014

David Danzig

Without question, 2014 was the watershed year for Atlanta restaurants.  The groundswell had been developing for years and this year the levies exploded.  Let’s talk about the food year review…

2014: The Year in Atlanta Restaurants

Downtown Decatur just keeps keepin it weird!

Kimball House Makan (photo right), The Cask Room (wine bar) Dos Madres Cantina (Mexican), Twisted Soul (Southern cooking) and great examples of this.  Adding to a line-up that includes Cakes and Ale, Pinewood Room, One Eared Stag, Paper Plane…the list goes on.
2014: The Year in Atlanta Restaurants

Creativity and Diversity!

Ink and Elm (photo right) near Emory, The Southern Gentlemanand The Bishop in Avondale Estates are great examples of new American continental and Southern cooking—I like to call it Garden and Gun cooking.  Cooks and Soldiers and Gypsy Kitchen bring Spanish and Mediterranean.  New Le Bilboquet brings a cozy, upscale French bistro feel to Buckhead Atlanta.  Ladybird Grove and Mess Hall takes primitive wood-fired grilling—they call it “campfire” grilling—goes back to basics with smoke-infused cooking that brings out flavors you might not have tasted since Cub Scouts.  Lusca, which is the name of a mythical Caribbean sea monster, or giant, octopus in Buckhead from the guys behind theOctopus Bar is a neat, eclectic spot that has a great raw bar, charcuterie is also a 2014 standout.  I also have to give props to Thaddeus Keefe and 1 Kept and Drew Thrig at endive Publik house for easily the coolest tucked-away below the radar concepts.  Both places embody amazing cooking and the sort of intimacy where you absolutely feel like you are not in the big wicked city.
2014: The Year in Atlanta Restaurants

Ford Fry never sleeps!

St. Cecilia has been a runaway sensation, night in and night out.  AlsoThe El Felix (photo to the right) is now open up in the the Avalon develpoment and it's amazing.  Some of the most authentic "Mex-Tex" cooking you will have all made with divine ingredients.  On tap next:  Superica, another Mex-Tex operation is coming to Krog Street Market in 2015—does this guy ever rest?
2014: The Year in Atlanta Restaurants

Upscale BBQ is Smokin'!

The Smoke Ring (photo right), Smoke Belly and The Pig and the Pearl are three of the new places that are perhaps giving the ATL its signature BBQ flavor--upscale, chef-driven meats.  Twin Smokers is also coming online right about now so check that out too.

Downtown Roswell keeps rockin the suburbs!

New efforts like Osteria MatoneReal Fix Pizza1920 Tavern.  In a 1-mile radius you have such amazing quality and diversity it’s a strong argument to live OTP!

2014: The Year in Atlanta Restaurants

Pizza is hot!

Finally Atlanta has LOTS of good pizza!  Anitco Pizza, Varuni NapoliThe Real Fix (photo right), Don Antonio by Starita13 Pies in Buckhead.  Then you have Humble Pie coming to John’s CreekBig Pie in the Sky in downtown Alpharetta850 Bar Pizza in Milton, Ribalta in midtown.

2014: The Year in Atlanta Restaurants

Games Games Games!

Painted Pin (photo right)Joystick Game BarOrmsbys and Top Golf show that Atlantans are craving recreation.

Old concepts and classics are back

Polaris (photo right) and Nikolai’s Roof make their triumphant returns!  And Ray’s Rio Bravo is coming back in the spring.  Hopefully more old icons will come back to life in 2015.

2014: The Year in Atlanta Restaurants

The mega-developments are here

AvalonBuckhead AtlantaPonce City Market andKrog Street Market.  These are all just coming online and getting national press—the Wall Street Journal just did an article on PCM.  The number of quality concepts and top-shelf national chains is really difficult to imagine.  The competition is insane.  Chef Piero Premeli from Pricci told us a few months ago when asked about all the competition—bring your pots and pans!

2014: The Year in Atlanta Restaurants

Some really great chef-driven, fast-casual places

Amazing quality, originality and flavor are really starting to make their mark.  There is a new woodfire grill called Gusto! over by Piedmont Hospital.  Over by the Disco Kroger is a great place called Chow Bing, an amazing fast-casual Chinese concept.  By Emory Dragon Bowl, in Peachtree Battle, Maki Fresh, a Japanese quick concept.  For chicken, Bantam and Biddy and Chick a BiddyBell Street Burrito and the new Qing Mu (pronounced CHING-MOO) (photo right) in Buckhead Atlanta serving amazing noodle soups made fresh.   Fantastic meals, quick and for around $10-$12, are aplenty.

(Really good) Sushi making a comeback!

After MF Sushi and MF Buckhead left town, there was a dearth of world-class quality sushi in town.  Umi in Buckhead started the comeback and now with Craft Izakaya in the Krog Street Market and Katana near Lenox Mall are bringing sexy back to sushi.  Also MF Sushi will be making it’s triumphant return to Atlanta next year in a new Inman Park development.