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BLT Steak

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Judged without price in mind, the experience, revolving around big, bloody prime steaks and assuredly seasoned sides, is rife with pleasure. The restaurant's signature popovers, huge muffin-shaped poufs of bread laced with Asiago cheese, tempt you into ruining your appetite before the meal's even begun. And who could deny the gratification of a hulking rib eye? They serve manly, classic meals. It's just that the customer base, man-boy CEO types paying with their expensive accounts, makes this restaurant a tad unbearable.

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The location has been vacant for a while, having opened as the Harlem Bar in 2006. What's so cool about Spanish Harlem? The decor, for starters. It draws on the pervasive Catholic imagery of Latin America. In some places it's explicit, like a line of those tacky illustrated devotional candles. Elsewhere, it's abstracted, like a gigantic color-changing cross behind the equally colorful tile bar. Chef of the new restaurant is Freddy Perez, who was last at Purple Rain in Duluth. He is Puerto Rican and his menu is mainly Caribbean-inspired and full of large portions of affordably priced food you'll want to split. Perez's version of papas rellenas is one of the best you may encounter.

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Max's is another restaurant in the Concentric's empire, notable for owning the first coal-burning pizza oven in Georgia, which cooks the pizza at close to 1000 degrees. Boasting hearty toppings and huge portions, the pizzas are good -- not earth-shattering, but good.
Room at Twelve

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Leave it to Concentrics Restaurants to take a trendy concept (steak/sushi/cocktails), fit it into the constraints of a hotel, and do it exactly right. Chef Nick Oltarsh has opted for a "modern steakhouse" menu with winning results. The quality of sushi is far beyond what you'd expect at a place that mainly specializes in steak and schmooze. Speaking of steak, the cooks here manage to tap into that alchemy that can turn a piece of meat into lusty satisfaction.

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Serves salads, fish, hot wings, hot and cold sandwiches, plus combo meals.
Atlanta Grill

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The less formal cousin to the now defunct Ritz-Carlton Buckhead's Dining Room, this still-pricey restaurant offers upscale Southern cuisine and an unparalleled balcony view of the weirdness on Peachtree Street at night.

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German booze, spirits, and cuisine.
Grindhouse Killer Burgers - Downtown

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This burger stall in the Sweet Auburn Curb Market skips the pretense and gets straight to the beef. You choose your patty (certified Angus beef, turkey, or bean and quinoa veggie), how many patties you want (one is more than enough), a style, sides and a drink. Nothing fancy. Just plain burgers with some personality on pillowy potato buns. Each patty is ground and cooked to order, so don't expect a turn-and-burn pace.

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American restaurant staple.
Legal Sea Foods

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With an impressive view facing downtown Atlanta, it is easy to see why Legal Sea Foods has captured the hearts of many tourists. Freshness is the name of the game at this restaurant, and some dishes, such as the steamers, truly benefit from this philosophy. The problems, however, are with the unmanageably large dining rooms (that's right, this place has two giant dining rooms) and menu. The servers are often overwhelmed, and the food is often overcooked. Leave the entrees to the tourists and go for the vast selection of wine, oysters, and the lobster rolls.
Nikolai's Roof

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Rooftop dinning on the top floor of the Hilton Atlanta. This is where your parents would take you to celebrate if you ever got that master's degree they've been bugging you about.

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Southern dining.

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Stationed downtown in Rio Bravo's ex-location, Ray's in the City typically attracts business and convention types. Ray's has a substantial variety oceanic options ranging from horseradish-crusted grouper to oyster bar and sushi offerings. Ray's won't give your wallet a workout, though some of the dishes lack that taste bud-kicking zing. That being said the raw bar rocks and the service is spectacular.

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Bar and grill in downtown Atlanta that's part of Ted Turner's national chain.

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Though the restaurant's commitment to locally-sourced ingredients may not be original in Atlanta, there's no doubt that Terrace at Ellis Hotel is making an earnest attempt to highlight the best Georgia has to offer, both in terms of its produce and its emerging cuisine. The menu boasts a variety of vegetarian dishes that far surpass the tired vegetable plates and omnipresent field greens that usually serve as a menu's meat-free selections. Among them is a pleasing and perplexing tofu entrée, coated in herbs and crunchy breading and served over a risotto-like smoosh of Carolina Gold rice, sugar snap peas, carrots and almonds. As for the meatier dishes, a pork belly appetizer served with a jalapeño cornbread waffle touched on all the right notes, both on the palate and culturally. But other dishes weren't as enjoyable. An appetizer of pearl barley risotto with wild mushrooms and wilted arugula was oddly bland — a problem that popped up with some frequency over the course of meals at Terrace. Still, in a part of town that's a bit of a wasteland for decent dining, Terrace, with its lofty ambitions, is fully worthy of our attention.
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