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Cajun / Creole
REDFISH, ** 687 Memorial Drive. 404-475- 1200. www.redfishcreole.com. This new Creole bistro owned by the same folks who brought us Agave could use a touch more personality and a little more focus, but there is a deft hand in the kitchen that is capable of some truly satisfying fare. A thick, dark rich roux runs through some of the best dishes, like the gumbo appetizer, which is full of crab and okra. Desserts are strong, particularly a warm bread pudding with currants that achieves the perfect balance between bread and custard. D $$
BBQ CORNER II‚ 5150 Buford Highway, Suite C-100. 770-451-2888. There are no smoky, sweet sauces and no sides (other than white rice), but this Chinese barbecue glorifies meat like its American counterparts. Try the supple roast duck, earthy soy sauce chicken and buttery spare ribs. Their whole barbecue suckling pig will make you want to host a Chinese banquet. Winner of "Best Chinese Barbecue" 2005. L, D $
CHEF LIU, ** 5221 Buford Highway, Doraville. 770-936-0532. Chef Liu's selection of inexpensive dumplings and buns typical to Northern China's cities appeals most strongly for breakfast and lunch. That's when the crowds show up. Check out the leek pie and lamb dumplings, too. B, L, D $
CHINA COOKS CHINESE SEAFOOD, 215 Copeland Road, 404-252-6611. The best Cantonese around. Large menu includes Peking duck without the usual 24-hour call-ahead requirement. But as the restaurant's name suggests, seafood is the specialty of the house. Lobster and Dungeness crab are exceptional. $$
CHINA DELIGHT, 2390 Chamblee-Tucker Road. 770-986-0898. This place does dim sum as the finest houses in Hong Kong do. In a glittery setting, servers push carts loaded with steamed scallop dumplings, flaky taro cakes, creamy rice porridge and turnip cakes studded with sausage and griddled crisp. Winner of "Best Dim Sum" 2005. L, D $$
CANTON HOUSE, 4825 Buford Highway. 770-936-9030. Canton House is the favorite for dim sum in Atlanta's Chinese community. Few dim sums are operated with such efficiency and such a broad menu. Anything made with shrimp or barbecued pork is bound to please even the most unadventurous diner. Get the rice cooked with pork, wrapped in lotus leaves. The fragrance when it is unwrapped is worth the price. Winner of "Best Dim Sum" 2006.
FOOD COURT AT CHINATOWN SQUARE, 5383 New Peachtree Road. 770-458-6600. Got a hankering for a giant bowl of brothy seafood noodles or soy-lacquered duck that melts in your mouth? This food court offers six outstanding fast-food spots to satiate your Asian cravings for around $7. Winner of "Best Cheap Eats" 2005. L, D $
AURORA COFFEE, 468 Moreland Ave., 404-523-6856. www.auroracoffee.com. Atlanta was nothing but perked dishwater until Aurora opened here in 1992. Its two shops, were never designed as cozy hangouts, but the baristas still receive the best training in town and the quality of the coffee drinks shows it. Winner of "Best Coffee" 2006.
INMAN PERK COFFEE, 280 Elizabeth St. NE 404-523-7774. www.inmanperkcoffee.com. Coffee isn't the only reason to visit this Inman Park coffee shop. Artwork from local artists line the walls and occasional food offerings from local vendors, such as homemade ice cream, appear as specials. With almost every form of coffee drink, hot and cold teas and fruit smoothies, Inman Perk is the archetype for hip neighborhood coffee shop. $
JOE'S EAST ATLANTA COFFEE SHOP, 510 Flat Shoals Ave. 404-521-1122. In funkadelic East Atlanta, this coffeehouse serves an A-plus cup of java and features an ambiance that wasn't ordered from a corporate headquarters. You can lounge on the comfy, retro furnishings, hear live music now and then, and connect to free Wi-Fi. Winner of "Best Coffeehouse" 2005. $
OCTANE, 1009-B Marietta St. 404-815-9886. www.octanecoffee.com. It's rare for a place to be so hip and so comfortable. We love the industrial vibe, the cool but not too cool staff, the locally produced art on the walls, the pastries and cookies from Alon's and, of course, well-crafted coffee drinks and high-quality teas. Winner of "Best Coffeehouse" 2006.
FABIANO'S ITALIAN DELI, 985 Monroe Drive. 404-875-0500. www.fabianosdeli.com. There's much to love at this Midtown deli, but you can't do better than the #1, a daunting stack of prosciutto, capicola and pepperoni with provolone or fresh mozzarella. Winner of "Best Sandwich/Sub" 2005. L, D. $
KOOL KORNERS, 349 14th St. 404-892-4424. Order a classic Cuban sandwich from the counter, and relish every last bite. Roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, tomato and pickles pressed between slices of warm, crusty bread -- there's simply no better sandwich in town. Winner "Best Sandwich" 2006.
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