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Oral Pleasures

There will come a day when what’s trendy now will be thought of as timeless. Timeless plasma-screen TVs. Timeless minimalist, throbbing music. Timeless stick-thin waitresses in teeny-tiny uniforms that wouldn’t pass dress code at most high schools.

OK, perhaps some of what’s trendy now will just one day become passé. But you can bet Atlanta’s restaurant scene will have moved on, and in the blink of an eye whatever is trendy in the future will be exactly what the city’s eateries are offering up.

Atlanta is a city of history and a city obsessed with trends. While Atlanta’s restaurants strive to become ever more modern and to-the-moment, they’re also embracing their Southern roots. And beyond barbecue and soul food, we’re a city with restaurants that embody the classic dining experience, from outstanding service to perfectionism in the kitchen.

In this year’s Oral Pleasures, we look at the trendy and the timeless and celebrate both. And for once, we celebrate where they meet in the middle — check out this year’s Best Trend winner to see a perfect example of the past and present colliding in the most pleasing fashion.

As always, we are exceedingly proud to live in a city with such a varied and exuberant dining scene. So whether you’re a trendsetter or a classicist, there’s plenty here to tempt your palate.


— Besha Rodell

Best Appetizers

Floataway Cafe

Pure, fresh, simple — those are the guiding principles for the cuisine at FLOATAWAY CAFÉ. The appetizers are particularly exemplary of the style of cooking »more

Best Bakery

Bread Garden

Not only does BREAD GARDEN provide bread to some of Atlanta’s best restaurants, it sells its perfect loaves directly to the public as well. The »more

Best Bar Food

Tap

Pubs in Atlanta have been increasingly devoted to providing decent food as well as booze. Now we have an out-and-out gastropub, TAP, another project of »more

Best Barbecue

Daddy D'z

Not only does DADDY D’Z have the best barbecue in town, it also has one of the most pleasingly grungy atmospheres, lovably attitudinal waitresses and »more

Best Beer Selection

Brick Store Pub

A great place for intense conversation and incredible libations — or vice versa — the BRICK STORE PUB has been a Decatur institution for the »more

Best Breakfast

Java Jive

Open for more than 10 years now, JAVA JIVE is especially popular on weekends, when there’s always a wait. The Midtown diner has a retro »more

Best Cheap Eats

Eats

It’s seriously hard to find a decent inexpensive meal in Atlanta these days. EATS has been around about 15 years — long enough that it »more

Best Chef

Arnaud Berthelier

ARNAUD BERTHELIER is deeply symbolic of the Ritz-Carlton’s tradition of bringing Atlanta its best chefs (Guenter Seeger and Joel Antunes also once held the head »more

Best Chinese

Tasty China

The much-lauded chef Peter Chang has left TASTY CHINA, but the kitchen staff hasn’t missed a beat. In fact, they’ve introduced a whole new slew »more

Best Coffee

Counter Culture Coffee

There’s a new coffee company in town: COUNTER CULTURE COFFEE. The owners are so devoted to java that they’ve opened a training center in the »more

Best Coffeehouse

Octane

If you’re one of those coffee snobs who proclaims loudly that since your visit to Italy you simply can’t abide American cappuccino, then head over »more

Best Cuban

Palomilla's

Atlanta was lucky to take in a huge wave of Cuban immigrants in the ’70s, and we’re still reaping the culinary rewards. Ironic, then, that »more

Best Deli

Muss & Turner's

MUSS & TURNER’S is much more than a classic deli, but even if you strip away the cooking classes, the vacuum-sealed gourmet meals and the »more

Best Dim Sum

East Pearl

If eating gloppy rice soup with bits of pork and mushroom in a mountain chalet appeals to you, then EAST PEARL is your place. The »more

Best French

Trois

Both traditional and modern French are represented on the menu at TROIS, so whether you’re in the mood for beef bourguignon or wild salmon with »more

Best Gumbo

Pappadeaux

Gumbo is one of those rare dishes where the more stuff you add, the merrier: shrimp and crab and oysters, chicken and duck and andouille »more

Best Hamburger

The Earl

THE EARL is frequently praised for its bar food, partly because of the now-legendary Earl Burger, which this past year earned kudos in a much-cited »more

Best Ice Cream

Hank's

The bad news is that HANK’S lost its lease in Grant Park. The good news is that the Houston-based company is looking for a location »more

Best Indian

Madras Saravana Bhavan

A vegetarian restaurant (where you won’t miss the meat), MADRAS SARAVANA BHAVAN is so popular that owner Narenda Patel opened a meat-serving restaurant at the »more

Best Italian

Sotto Sotto

Riccardo Ullio, the owner and executive chef of SOTTO SOTTO in Inman Park, is a perfectionist who hasn’t conceded to the Americanization of Italian cuisine. »more

Best Korean

Hae Woon Dae

There are plenty of other Korean restaurants in Atlanta, including those that specialize in tofu and soups, but HAE WOON DAE still soars to the »more

Best Local Brew

5 Seasons

The beer selections rotate seasonally at 5 SEASONS, but there’s no doubt these guys are brewing the best local beers around. In the past year »more

Best Margarita

Element

The margarita at ELEMENT would be cool if it were only what it appears to be on first look: a Slurpee for grown-ups. But the »more

Best Mexican

Zocalo

This is a difficult call every year because metro Atlanta has so many authentic Mexican restaurants. Most of them, however, are taquerias. In fact, ZOCALO »more

Best Middle Eastern

Mezza

There is nothing more consoling than Lebanese comfort food. That’s exactly what you’ll find at MEZZA, located in a shopping strip on LaVista Road. Small »more

Best Mixologist

Greg Best

Not to be confused with the bottle-juggling bartender, the mixologist works like a chef: sourcing fresh ingredients, rare liqueurs and forgotten recipes — and crafting »more

Best New Restaurant

Shaun's

It’s been a huge year in Atlanta for new restaurants, but none has captured our hearts quite like SHAUN’S, the Inman Park bistro from Shaun »more

Best Overall Restaurant

The Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead

The best place in the city for a fine upscale meal is THE DINING ROOM AT THE RITZ-CARLTON BUCKHEAD. From the flawless service to chef »more

Best Pastry Chef

Kathryn King

Not only has KATHRYN KING consistently turned out fantastic desserts at Aria for years, she also consulted on the dessert menu at JCT Kitchen, where »more

Best Patio Dining

Canoe

There’s nothing on Earth like a majestic Southern river, and no place in the city to eat overlooking one as beautiful as the patio at »more

Best Pizza

Fritti

Atlanta’s palate has been elevated by many new (and primarily suburban) pizza practitioners who’ve opened up shop in recent years. But no pie in town »more

Best Restaurant for a First Date

Chocolate Bar

There are enough aphrodisiacs on the menu at CHOCOLATE BAR to drive a hoard of potential lovers mad with lust. Between the oysters, creamy cheeses »more

Best Restaurant for Late-Night Dining

Hae Woon Dae

There are plenty of other Korean restaurants in Atlanta, including those that specialize in tofu and soups, but HAE WOON DAE still soars to the »more

Best Restaurant to Bring the Kids

Dante's Down The Hatch

If boiling oil and crocodiles don’t scream “kid friendly,” we don’t know what does. Seriously, the hot fondue pots at DANTE’S DOWN THE HATCH might »more

Best Restaurant to Take Visitors

Watershed

You’ve heard it countless times when visitors come to town: “Where can I get a real taste of Atlanta?” The answer is WATERSHED. Chef Scott »more

Best Restaurant Trend

Southern Cooking

It seems absurd, but until the last year or two it was difficult to find good SOUTHERN COOKING outside the city’s soul-food cafes. The exceptions »more

Best Sandwiches/Subs

Alon's

There are a lot of notable sandwiches in Atlanta, but during the last year one has outshined all others: the bresaola panini with Parmesan and »more

Best Soul Food

Son's Place

The corner of Hurt Street where SON’S PLACE has stood for 12 years may have become a lot trendier over time, but Son’s still serves »more

Best Steak House

Kevin Rathbun Steak

Attention carnivores: You don’t have to go to Buckhead for world-class steaks anymore. KEVIN RATHBUN STEAK, which opened in late spring in the Old Fourth »more

Best Sunday Brunch

Shaun's

It’s been a huge year in Atlanta for new restaurants, but none has captured our hearts quite like SHAUN’S, the Inman Park bistro from Shaun »more

Best Sushi

MF Sushi

MF SUSHI is still king in Atlanta when it comes to raw fish. It’s possible to have a truly exquisite meal here, especially if you »more

Best Tapas

Krog Bar

Even without a stove, the cooks over at KROG BAR are turning out tapas that best represent the true function of this type of food »more

Best Thai

Tamarind Seed

It was a sad farewell for Atlanta diners when Tamarind closed late last year. But now that TAMARIND SEED has opened in Colony Square, all »more

Best Vegetarian

Cafe Sunflower

In the world of vegetarian cuisine, imposters run rampant. Rather than innovating, some chefs opt for a selection of faux-meat dishes based on what they »more

Best Vietnamese

Com Vietnamese Grill

We’re still wholly enamored with COM VIETNAMESE GRILL more than two years after it opened and set foodie hearts ablaze with grilled meats, bold herbs »more

Best Waitstaff

Quinones

Led by maitre d’ Rob Payne, the staff at QUINONES sets the standard for service in the city. Gracious, warm, pitch-perfect without ever being stiff »more

Best Wine List

Ecco

It takes a lot of time and knowledge to assemble those phonebook-like wine lists, but what is just as difficult in its own way (and »more

Best-Looking Waitstaff

Grant Central

There are plenty of restaurants in Atlanta where you have to provide a headshot when you apply for a job, and where the waitstaff uniform »more

Timeless: Best Old-School Restaurant

Park 75

With all the glitz and glamour in Hotlanta, some days you just want an excellent meal in a quiet, sophisticated room. When the micro-mini-wearing waitresses »more

Trendy: Best Place to Experience the Restaurant Scene

Two Urban Licks

Even after three years in business, there’s still nowhere like TWO URBAN LICKS for wowing a date or out-of-towners with the fabulously trendy Atlanta dining »more

Best Appetizers

Floataway Cafe

Pure, fresh, simple — those are the guiding principles for the cuisine at FLOATAWAY CAFÉ. The appetizers are particularly exemplary of the style of cooking »more

Best Bakery

Bread Garden

Not only does BREAD GARDEN provide bread to some of Atlanta’s best restaurants, it sells its perfect loaves directly to the public as well. The »more

Best Bar Food

Tap

Pubs in Atlanta have been increasingly devoted to providing decent food as well as booze. Now we have an out-and-out gastropub, TAP, another project of »more

Best Barbecue

Daddy D'z

Not only does DADDY D’Z have the best barbecue in town, it also has one of the most pleasingly grungy atmospheres, lovably attitudinal waitresses and »more

Best Beer Selection

Brick Store Pub

A great place for intense conversation and incredible libations — or vice versa — the BRICK STORE PUB has been a Decatur institution for the »more

Best Breakfast

Java Jive

Open for more than 10 years now, JAVA JIVE is especially popular on weekends, when there’s always a wait. The Midtown diner has a retro »more

Best Cheap Eats

Eats

It’s seriously hard to find a decent inexpensive meal in Atlanta these days. EATS has been around about 15 years — long enough that it »more

Best Chef

Arnaud Berthelier

ARNAUD BERTHELIER is deeply symbolic of the Ritz-Carlton’s tradition of bringing Atlanta its best chefs (Guenter Seeger and Joel Antunes also once held the head »more

Best Chinese

Tasty China

The much-lauded chef Peter Chang has left TASTY CHINA, but the kitchen staff hasn’t missed a beat. In fact, they’ve introduced a whole new slew »more

Best Coffee

Counter Culture Coffee

There’s a new coffee company in town: COUNTER CULTURE COFFEE. The owners are so devoted to java that they’ve opened a training center in the »more

Best Coffeehouse

Octane

If you’re one of those coffee snobs who proclaims loudly that since your visit to Italy you simply can’t abide American cappuccino, then head over »more

Best Cuban

Palomilla's

Atlanta was lucky to take in a huge wave of Cuban immigrants in the ’70s, and we’re still reaping the culinary rewards. Ironic, then, that »more

Best Deli

Muss & Turner's

MUSS & TURNER’S is much more than a classic deli, but even if you strip away the cooking classes, the vacuum-sealed gourmet meals and the »more

Best Dim Sum

East Pearl

If eating gloppy rice soup with bits of pork and mushroom in a mountain chalet appeals to you, then EAST PEARL is your place. The »more

Best French

Trois

Both traditional and modern French are represented on the menu at TROIS, so whether you’re in the mood for beef bourguignon or wild salmon with »more

Best Gumbo

Pappadeaux

Gumbo is one of those rare dishes where the more stuff you add, the merrier: shrimp and crab and oysters, chicken and duck and andouille »more

Best Hamburger

The Earl

THE EARL is frequently praised for its bar food, partly because of the now-legendary Earl Burger, which this past year earned kudos in a much-cited »more

Best Ice Cream

Hank's

The bad news is that HANK’S lost its lease in Grant Park. The good news is that the Houston-based company is looking for a location »more

Best Indian

Madras Saravana Bhavan

A vegetarian restaurant (where you won’t miss the meat), MADRAS SARAVANA BHAVAN is so popular that owner Narenda Patel opened a meat-serving restaurant at the »more

Best Italian

Sotto Sotto

Riccardo Ullio, the owner and executive chef of SOTTO SOTTO in Inman Park, is a perfectionist who hasn’t conceded to the Americanization of Italian cuisine. »more

Best Korean

Hae Woon Dae

There are plenty of other Korean restaurants in Atlanta, including those that specialize in tofu and soups, but HAE WOON DAE still soars to the »more

Best Local Brew

5 Seasons

The beer selections rotate seasonally at 5 SEASONS, but there’s no doubt these guys are brewing the best local beers around. In the past year »more

Best Margarita

Element

The margarita at ELEMENT would be cool if it were only what it appears to be on first look: a Slurpee for grown-ups. But the »more

Best Mexican

Zocalo

This is a difficult call every year because metro Atlanta has so many authentic Mexican restaurants. Most of them, however, are taquerias. In fact, ZOCALO »more

Best Middle Eastern

Mezza

There is nothing more consoling than Lebanese comfort food. That’s exactly what you’ll find at MEZZA, located in a shopping strip on LaVista Road. Small »more

Best Mixologist

Greg Best

Not to be confused with the bottle-juggling bartender, the mixologist works like a chef: sourcing fresh ingredients, rare liqueurs and forgotten recipes — and crafting »more

Best New Restaurant

Shaun's

It’s been a huge year in Atlanta for new restaurants, but none has captured our hearts quite like SHAUN’S, the Inman Park bistro from Shaun »more

Best Overall Restaurant

The Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead

The best place in the city for a fine upscale meal is THE DINING ROOM AT THE RITZ-CARLTON BUCKHEAD. From the flawless service to chef »more

Best Pastry Chef

Kathryn King

Not only has KATHRYN KING consistently turned out fantastic desserts at Aria for years, she also consulted on the dessert menu at JCT Kitchen, where »more

Best Patio Dining

Canoe

There’s nothing on Earth like a majestic Southern river, and no place in the city to eat overlooking one as beautiful as the patio at »more

Best Pizza

Fritti

Atlanta’s palate has been elevated by many new (and primarily suburban) pizza practitioners who’ve opened up shop in recent years. But no pie in town »more

Best Restaurant for a First Date

Chocolate Bar

There are enough aphrodisiacs on the menu at CHOCOLATE BAR to drive a hoard of potential lovers mad with lust. Between the oysters, creamy cheeses »more

Best Restaurant for Late-Night Dining

Hae Woon Dae

There are plenty of other Korean restaurants in Atlanta, including those that specialize in tofu and soups, but HAE WOON DAE still soars to the »more

Best Restaurant to Bring the Kids

Dante's Down The Hatch

If boiling oil and crocodiles don’t scream “kid friendly,” we don’t know what does. Seriously, the hot fondue pots at DANTE’S DOWN THE HATCH might »more

Best Restaurant to Take Visitors

Watershed

You’ve heard it countless times when visitors come to town: “Where can I get a real taste of Atlanta?” The answer is WATERSHED. Chef Scott »more

Best Restaurant Trend

Southern Cooking

It seems absurd, but until the last year or two it was difficult to find good SOUTHERN COOKING outside the city’s soul-food cafes. The exceptions »more

Best Sandwiches/Subs

Alon's

There are a lot of notable sandwiches in Atlanta, but during the last year one has outshined all others: the bresaola panini with Parmesan and »more

Best Soul Food

Son's Place

The corner of Hurt Street where SON’S PLACE has stood for 12 years may have become a lot trendier over time, but Son’s still serves »more

Best Steak House

Kevin Rathbun Steak

Attention carnivores: You don’t have to go to Buckhead for world-class steaks anymore. KEVIN RATHBUN STEAK, which opened in late spring in the Old Fourth »more

Best Sunday Brunch

Shaun's

It’s been a huge year in Atlanta for new restaurants, but none has captured our hearts quite like SHAUN’S, the Inman Park bistro from Shaun »more

Best Sushi

MF Sushi

MF SUSHI is still king in Atlanta when it comes to raw fish. It’s possible to have a truly exquisite meal here, especially if you »more

Best Tapas

Krog Bar

Even without a stove, the cooks over at KROG BAR are turning out tapas that best represent the true function of this type of food »more

Best Thai

Tamarind Seed

It was a sad farewell for Atlanta diners when Tamarind closed late last year. But now that TAMARIND SEED has opened in Colony Square, all »more

Best Vegetarian

Cafe Sunflower

In the world of vegetarian cuisine, imposters run rampant. Rather than innovating, some chefs opt for a selection of faux-meat dishes based on what they »more

Best Vietnamese

Com Vietnamese Grill

We’re still wholly enamored with COM VIETNAMESE GRILL more than two years after it opened and set foodie hearts ablaze with grilled meats, bold herbs »more

Best Waitstaff

Quinones

Led by maitre d’ Rob Payne, the staff at QUINONES sets the standard for service in the city. Gracious, warm, pitch-perfect without ever being stiff »more

Best Wine List

Ecco

It takes a lot of time and knowledge to assemble those phonebook-like wine lists, but what is just as difficult in its own way (and »more

Best-Looking Waitstaff

Grant Central

There are plenty of restaurants in Atlanta where you have to provide a headshot when you apply for a job, and where the waitstaff uniform »more

Timeless: Best Old-School Restaurant

Park 75

With all the glitz and glamour in Hotlanta, some days you just want an excellent meal in a quiet, sophisticated room. When the micro-mini-wearing waitresses »more

Trendy: Best Place to Experience the Restaurant Scene

Two Urban Licks

Even after three years in business, there’s still nowhere like TWO URBAN LICKS for wowing a date or out-of-towners with the fabulously trendy Atlanta dining »more

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