What Food is Atlanta Known For? Try These.

What foods say "Atlanta?" Here are some of Atlanta's most famous dishes.
  • Barbecue is an Atlanta staple.
    Barbecue is an Atlanta staple.
  • Take your pick at any one of a number of spots for juicy fried chicken.
    Take your pick at any one of a number of spots for juicy fried chicken.
  • Fine Fusion: Try the sous vide tandoori octopus at Amara
    Fine Fusion: Try the sous vide tandoori octopus at Amara
  • Where's your go-to place for the best burger in Atlanta?
    Where's your go-to place for the best burger in Atlanta?

What are Atlanta's famous foods? The city's world-class dining options have evolved over time. We are a foodie city with countless options each and every night. We’ve traded white tablecloth dining for the chef’s table in order to see the chefs work their magic. Cuisine has gone from fancy and stuffy to casual and approachable while still being intriguing. Through all the changes, some food remains famously associated with Atlanta. Here they are.

  1. Barbecue – While many cities have their own style of barbecue (think mustard-based in Carolina; sweet and sticky in Kansas City; dry in Texas, where sauce is secondary). Atlanta doesn’t really have a style to call it’s own. Sure we’ve got outstanding ‘cue from places like Fox Bros., Community Q, D.B.A and Heirloom Market, but there’s no one style that defines Atlanta. Instead, Atlanta is a melting pot of the best, much like our city.

  2. Biscuits – There was a time when biscuits served at Atlanta restaurants were simply frozen and came from a food service supplier. Now, we’ve got spots like Callie’s, Home Grown and Mountain Biscuits that pride themselves on made-from-scratch biscuits. You can have a plain one (nothing wrong with that) or choose your filling. Try fillings like pimento cheese, (another Southern staple), ham, bacon, eggs or jam.

  3. Burgers – It is possible I could abstain from steak for a substantial period of time if I had to, but a burger? Nope. That’s a couple-times-a-month treat for me. And why not? So many Atlanta restaurants do it so well. Buckhead’s Holeman and Finch may have started the craze with the sell-out, only-available-after-10-p.m. cheeseburger. But there’s FLIP Burger for upscale burgers in a chic atmosphere. Or Grindhouse with simple, small burgers that are high on flavor. They have a variety of styles like the Dixie and the Apache, too. Pijiu Belly on the Westside puts an Asian spin on its burger, topping it with kimchi and a sriracha-mayo. And then there’s Zinburger, with affordable burgers, despite the Lenox location.

  4. Fried chicken – Not to be stereotypical, but this is the South after all. There must be a place for fried chicken. The good news is that you can get fancy or no frills and still have superb fried chicken in Atlanta. Whether you lick your fingers is up to you. Buckhead favorite Watershed serve its fried chicken on Wednesdays until it is gone. The atmosphere is casual at downtown's Gus’s Fried Chicken or longtime Atlanta favorite, Mary Mac’s. You’re doing it wrong if you aren’t washing it down with some sweet tea and a side of mac and cheese.

  5. Fusion – The label, "fusion," gets thrown around a lot. But Atlanta does it proud. Think about spots like Hankook Taqueria and Yumbii, which offer a marriage of Korean and Mexican, or Poor Calvin’s, which combines Asian and Southern flavors. Recently, fried grouper was served with green curry. There’s Amara in Inman Park, combining both American and Indian flavors. Tip: Get the octopus. Spots like Crawfish Shack and Bon Ton Boil House combine both Cajun and Vietnamese. Then there’s popular Gunshow, which is an eclectic mix of dim sum flavors. Which union is the best? Go to these spots and decide for yourself.

  6. Ethnic eats on Buford Highway – While our ethnic area might not be as large as those in cities like New York or San Francisco, Atlanta does represent a myriad of cultures on the 1.3-mile stretch that is Buford Highway. Here you’ll find the best Atlanta has to offer for Chinese, Korean, Mexican, Vietnamese and more. Read more about some of the best of Buford Highway cuisine here.  

Malika Bowling is the author of Culinary Atlanta: Guide to the Best Restaurants, Markets, Breweries and More!, and founder of Roamilicious. Malika also has served as a judge at various culinary competitions and food festivals, including Taste of Atlanta. Her podcast, Just a Byte, can be downloaded from iTunes. Follow her on Twitter @MalikaBowling and Instagram

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