(Illustration by Danny Brito)
Hi, I’m Charlene! Atlanta has one of the best food scenes in the country. As a graduate student at Emory University, I also find it is an incredibly affordable place to dine well. Here are a few of my favorite places inside the Beltline!
One Eared Stag is my favorite restaurant in Atlanta. It’s pricey, but the dishes are inventive and creative. Individual dishes can be on the small side, as it’s meant to be shared plates/tapas style. The menu is ever changing, but their terrines are always delicious. If the weather is nice, ask for a table in their back patio. I’ve sent several friends here before, and no one has ever been disappointed.
By far my favorite place for BBQ in Atlanta. That’s a tall order, considering how many amazing places there are around town. It’s hard to go wrong here, but my absolute favorite is a pulled pork sandwich with two sides. It’s impossible to pick just two sides here, but try the Brunswick stew if you’ve never had it before. BBQ sauce tip: For the perfect combination, use equal and liberal amounts of their sweeter Georgia BBQ sauce and their vinegar North Carolina BBQ sauce. Don’t worry about getting in there with your hands, there are rolls of paper towels on every table. Get the peach cobbler, if it is in season!
Best place for ribs: Fat Matt’s Rib Shack, Morningside
A close second place: Fox Bros, Inman Park (Make sure to try their frito pie!)
In every city, it’s always good to know where to get a solid burger — Cypress Street is mine in Atlanta. You might be daunted when you read what’s in their “sublime burger,” but get it anyway: ½ pound burger with two sublime doughnuts, applewood bacon, caramelized onions, and cheddar cheese. That’s right, two donuts from Atlanta’s best donut shop replace the hamburger bun! Cypress is also one of my favorite places to hang out with friends. The outside patio is great anytime of the year, but grabbing a table near the fire pit is perfect on a chilly winter night.
You’ve got to have Southern food in the South! I love South City Kitchen’s modern take on Southern food. Meals start off with complimentary cornbread and biscuits, served with an amazing apple preserve. My favorite dish is their shrimp & red mule grits with poblano peppers, tasso ham, and smoked tomato gravy; the smoky flavor really compliments the sweet shrimp and the creamy grits. Other highlights on the menu include their fried chicken and banana pudding. While the brunch and dinner menus are similar, I prefer brunch. Prices are cheaper during brunch and all the menu highlights are on there. Portions are also smaller, which helps balance out the heaviness of the Southern food.
The life source for every graduate student (and maybe every student ever) is coffee. Octane has the best coffee in the city and happens to have a joint outpost in Grant Park with my favorite bakery in the city. Each cup of coffee is made to order with a Chemex pour over. My personal favorites at the Little Tart Bakeshop are the savory bread pudding and the bacon scone. I have tried almost every bakery item — tarts, scones, croissants, turnovers — and I’ve never been disappointed. This is also a great place to study or do some Sunday reading with their high ceilings and large windows.
Proof & Provision, Midtown
If you do not know where you are looking, you might miss this understated bar. Marked only by an old fashioned street lamp on the side of the Georgian Terrace Hotel, Proof and Provision serves up delicious craft cocktails and creative bar fare. It’s hard to go wrong with their menu, almost every item is a slam dunk. The top of list is undoubtedly the grilled prosciutto sandwich, shaved prime rib, and their pickles. While their craft cocktails are impressive, the bartender’s daily punch is always a great choice. Make sure you get in a game of shuffleboard while you’re here.
While Atlanta is landlocked, it has several fantastic seafood restaurants with a focus on sustainability. Highlights on Lure’s menu include their oyster bar, the whole Georgia rainbow trout, and the grilled octopus & pork lettuce wraps. The Georgia rainbow trout with seasonal vegetables in particular is perfectly executed. Don’t be intimidated by deboning the fish, the wait staff are more than happy to help! If you enjoy craft cocktails, try the “blue eyed boy” here; this fizzy cocktail is individually bottled in-house and contains gin, mint, elderflower, and peach bitters. Leave room for dessert; the entire dessert menu is a must-have!
Bonus Seafood Tip: If you need an affordable oyster fix, try Goin’ Coastal (Virginia Highland) on Wednesday—$5 for a dozen oysters! Go early or call ahead to reserve your dozen.
(Photos by Charlene Wang & Joana Yu)