Dine Out at Atlanta's Highest-Rated Restaurants

The people have spoken. Treat yourself to a meal at one of Atlanta's top-rated restaurants.
  • Chef Kevin Gillespie serves up delicious dim sum.
    Chef Kevin Gillespie serves up delicious dim sum.
  • Bon Appetit's best new restaurant of 2016 – Staplehouse.
    Bon Appetit's best new restaurant of 2016 – Staplehouse.
  • Aria is where you want to go for a special occasion.
    Aria is where you want to go for a special occasion.
  • Miller Union on the westside of Atlanta remains quite popular.
    Miller Union on the westside of Atlanta remains quite popular.
  • General Muir was a top pick for best restaurant in many Atlanta publications the year it opened.
    General Muir was a top pick for best restaurant in many Atlanta publications the year it opened.

There are a lot of great places to eat in Atlanta, but the city's top restaurants are far more than hometown eateries. Take a look at these ATL dining destinations that have landed in the national spotlight. 

  1. Aria – One of the most romantic restaurants in Atlanta is Buckhead’s Aria. Chef Gerry Klaskala has created a restaurant with both exquisite food and service, and none other than James Beard has taken note, nominating Aria for best service.

  2. Baccahanalia – Restaurants come and go quickly in Atlanta, but Anne Quatrano’s restaurants are steadfast, serving quality food and service, and are a favorite among both critics and diners. This Westside restaurant always seems to receive praise in every Atlanta publication, and many Atlantans say it is their go-to spot for a celebratory meal.

  3. Empire State South – Chef Hugh Acheson made a name for himself in his Athens restaurant Five & Ten, but it would be several years before Atlanta residents would know his talent. The Midtown restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Food and Wine magazine named him new chef way back in 2002. Besides being a talented chef, he’s authored cookbooks and been a judge on "Top Chef."

  4. General Muir – Being awarded one of the top restaurants by Bon Appetit the first year a restaurant is open is a huge feat. And that's what General Muir achieved when it opened in 2013 in the Emory neighborhood. Three Atlanta publications named it best restaurant the same year. My favorite item is the burger, but General Muir has fantastic deli items as well and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

  5. Gunshow – Though chef Kevin Gillespie may have risen to national fame from appearing on "Top Chef," that didn’t mean he rested on his laurels. Closing his popular Woodfire Grill, he moved on to impress guests with an entirely different cuisine – dim sum. But it’s dim sum like you’ve never had before in that various chefs create their dishes for the evening and present them to customers to accept or reject. Here you'll find everything from calamari in squid ink pasta to Vietnamese steamed buns. Gillespie also been a James Beard award finalist for several of the past years.

  6. Miller Union – For five years in a row, Miller Union has received nominations for best chef or best wine program from James Beard. Finally in 2017, Steven Satterfield took the award for best chef in the Southeast. He's also a cookbook author. His farm egg baked in celery cream always finds guests raving.

  7. Staplehouse – Though the reason for Staplehouse’s existence is bittersweet (Chef Ryan Hidinger always had a dream for his wife and himself to open a restaurant, but it was put on hold when he was diagnosed with stage IV gall bladder cancer and given six months to live), its food is beloved in Atlanta. Profits from Staplehouse support The Giving Kitchen, which offers financial support to Atlanta restaurant workers who face an unexpected crisis. Though Ryan Hidinger passed away in 2014, his restaurant came to fruition and was named the best new restaurant in America for 2016 by Bon Appetit magazine. 

Chefs

  • Ford Fry continues to receive national attention from James Beard and other organizations for his talents as a restaurateur. With a handful of restaurants in Atlanta, many with different cuisines, the best are seafood spots. His take on Italian/Mediterranean complements his eye for design with the Buckhead favorite, St. Cecilia. It was a winner for best restaurant design in 2017 by James Beard. Plus his flagship restaurant, The Optimist, was named best restaurant of the year by Esquire magazine and his Angry Mussels from JCT Kitchen were featured on Food Network.

  • Asha Gomez – Despite being nominated for a James Beard award for her savory and spicy hit of a restaurant, Cardamom Hill, Gomez decided to close it, focusing instead on her cookbooks, and "My Two Souths" (combining a love for the south of India where she is from and Atlanta) has become a hit. She’s always on the cutting edge of what’s hot and trendy in food. Keep an eye on her.

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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