Oral Pleasures

Every night is a busy night at Holeman & Finch Public House. Burger pilgrims arrive hours early to reserve one of the limited-edition, double-patty delights in advance. They camp out at the bar or around high-top tables, waiting elbow to elbow for an amplified voice to announce that Burger Time has arrived at last. Regulars chuckle at the nightly spectacle.

Atlanta diners are an enthusiastic bunch. Hip to the latest hot spots, the fooderati flock to newly opened restaurants, always hungry for what's next. Holeman & Finch was no exception when it opened to a packed house and much fanfare back in 2008. But five years later, it's still tough to find a seat in the house that former bar manager Greg Best, Linton Hopkins, and team built.

In the last few years, we've seen Atlanta's restaurant culture evolve and reinvent itself with an explosion of exciting new restaurants. In many ways, staying power is a restaurant's true currency these days. This year, when setting out to highlight the best Atlanta has to offer, we searched for restaurants that anchor our current dining scene and will continue to mold it for years to come.

Empire State South remains a bastion of modern cooking in the South, tackling three meals a day like nowhere else. Tasty China in Marietta reminds us that we're still willing to venture OTP in the name of incredible ethnic food. We were once again seduced by the harmony of Octane Coffee and Little Tart Bakeshop. There are newcomers, too. This year we found smart, memorable cocktails at Paper Plane, daring and authentic Italian at BoccaLupo and Storico Fresco Pasta. Deft hands at the General Muir brought us a refined take on the Jewish deli.

Every year, it gets harder to create the list of Best of Atlanta winners. But having too many great restaurants to choose from is a problem we're happy to have.

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