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PURA VIDA, *** Pura Vida has morphed into a popular, eccentric neighborhood hang where you're all but guaranteed a jolly time. The focus is on inventive Latin-infused tapas. Great drinks, too. D. $$. 654 N. Highland Ave. 404-870-9797. www.puravidatapas.com.
Little Bangkok, *** Now it can be told: Some of the best Thai food in town is at this absurdly inexpensive hole in the wall. We know there are gourmet Thai spots in town, but they don't produce the ever-changing array of specials that Little Bangkok does. L, D. $$. 2225 Cheshire Bridge Road. 404-315-1530.
NAN THAI FINE DINING, Midtown power brokers rub Brooks Brothers-suited shoulders over lovely Thai cuisine here daily. Elegantly understated, yet thoroughly royal, Nan's dining room is the perfect spot for those who like to make people listen by whispering, not shouting. L, D. $$$. 1350 Spring St. 404-870-9933. www.nanfinedining.com.
Spoon, ** Once you've been to this Thai restaurant a couple of times, you may pause over your curry and mound of perfectly textured rice and think, "Damn. This place is really good." The tofu corn cakes should have vegetarians coming here in droves and the thick and creamy coconut soup with a hint of lime is a gem on the menu. D. $$. 768 Marietta St. 404-522-5655. www.spoonatlanta.com.
TAMARIND SEED, **** Reopened, this spawn of Tamarind is more intimate than the old space, and still retains the flawless Thai fare of the former. Exquisitely prepared dishes feature intricate and often quite spicy flavors. Whether or not you were a regular to the old Tamarind, be sure to visit for some of the best Thai food in town. Winner of "Best Thai" 2007. L, D. $$. 1175 Peachtree St. 404-873-4888.
CAFÉ SUNFLOWER, Satisfying Atlanta vegetarians for years, Café Sunflower combines cooking styles from China, India, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and the American Southwest. Winner of "Best Vegetarian" 2007. L, D. $$. 5975 Roswell Road. 404-256-1675. (Sandy Springs); 2140 Peachtree Road. 404-352-8859. (Buckhead). www.cafesunflower.com.
CENCI, From the bare, candlelit, burnt-orange walls to the gorgeous staff and cool jazz, Cenci is pure urban elegance. Located in East Atlanta, Cenci serves both vegan and less restrictive vegetarian dishes. There are straightforward vegetable dishes as well as others featuring meat substitutes such as seitan. Try the collard-green spring rolls or some of the other Mediterranean specialties. L, D. 1259 Glenwood Ave. 404-627-0533.
SOUL VEGETARIAN, One of the restaurants owned by the Kingdom Enterprises, a business run by African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem. Offers both vegetable-laden salads as well as plenty of faux-meat dishes such as tofu-based meatloaf and the specialty, roasted gluten loaf called the Kalebone. L, D. $. 652 N. Highland, 404-875-4641.
COM, *** Com took the foodie population by storm when it opened more than a year ago. What's so good? Deliciously marinated and grilled meats wrapped in grape leaves, served over rice or vermicelli with herbs and raw vegetables. Even the tofu is spectacular. Winner of "Best Vietnamese" 2007. L, D. $-$$. 4005-E Buford Highway, 404-320-0405. www.comgrill.com.
Huong Giang, ** Huong Giang specializes in the food of Hue, the central Vietnamese city that served as the capital from 1804 to 1945. Try the filet mignon cooked in vinegar or the Thai hot pot. L, D. $$. 4300 Buford Highway. 404-929-9838.
lee's bakery, At Lee's Bakery, customers come for the fresh French bread and inexpensive bowls of rice or noodle soup. Two-dollar bahn mi sandwiches, good croissants and refreshing smoothies are also a draw. $. 4005 Buford Highway, Suite C. 404-728-1008.
Nam, **** The wonder brothers behind the posh MF Sushi take Vietnamese cooking to a thrilling fine-dining level. Start your journey into this cuisine with the grilled fish, Vietnamese crepe and "shaking" filet mignon. L, D. $$. 931 Monroe Drive, Suite A-101, 404-541-9997. www.namrestaurant.com.
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