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Atlanta's newest crop of restaurants and bars showcase a wide gambit of much more than classic Southern comforts. Here, we share where to get your eat and drink on in the rising culinary hotbed of Atlanta right now.

Atlanta's newest crop of restaurants and bars showcase a wide array of much more than classic Southern comforts — from frozen negronis to popcorn shrimp drizzled with ranch dressing to, brace yourself, a gloriously schmaltzy matzah ball soup that rivals New York City's most legendary. Here, we share where to get your eat and drink on in the rising culinary hotbed of Atlanta right now.

Mother
What happens when you combine the minds of Atlanta's coolest indie art gallery, Beep Beep, and Brooklyn's pioneers of picklebacks, The Woods? You get Mother, a huge, two-level bar that's entirely dedicated to getting you happy, full and tipsy — without going broke. Even though all food and drink items are gently priced at $10 or less, quality isn't sacrificed in the least. In short, everything is dependable, delicious and solid. And the best part? The kitchen is open every day, all night long. The lamb burger is the top-selling item, with two juicy patties, gooey American cheese and herbed mayo. But don't skip the pulled pork. Pork butt is slowly smoked over hickory wood, hand pulled and smothered in a tangy, vinegar-based barbecue sauce. While the house cocktails, like the Dark & Stormy and Old Man Fashion (Mother's spin on the classic cocktail), are all spirited and refreshing, it's — what else — the pickleback shots, that keep the crowds glowing and going all night long. 447 Edgewood Ave, 404-524-4605

The Optimist
Landlocked Atlanta may seem like an unlikely home to one of the country's most buzzed-about seafood joints, but once you set foot in chef-owner Ford Fry and executive chef Adam Evans' establishment – outfitted with a putt-putt course, live music, oyster bar and soaring dining room – you'll immediately get why. Roll up your sleeves and dive right into some seriously bold-flavored, unforgettable interpretations of all things sea. A shining example is the Georgia white shrimp. Served whole and grilled à la plancha, they're hearty, messy and deeply satisfying. Break off the heads, suck out the juices (we warned you about the messy part) and use the accompanying "sopping toast" to not leave a drop of the addictive red gravy — laced with arbol chile and fresh lime — behind. Equally indulgent are the Manila clams, steamed to tender perfection in a broth perfumed with saffron, smoky chorizo and spicy calabrese peppers. 914 Howell Mill Road, 404-477-6260, theoptimistrestaurant.com

General Muir
Located in Emory Point, the General Muir is a restaurant that summons both the old and new. While the dining room is airy and familiar-feeling — with high ceilings, tiled walls and checkerboard floors — we recommend bellying up the bar for a more casual bite. It may be easy to overlook familiar Jewish deli classics like matzo ball soup, but don't, because General Muir's version is sublime. Chef Todd Ginsberg's matzo ball is substantial in size, yet light, springy and airy in texture. And the broth it's served in is flavorful and rich with schmaltz — which the restaurant affectionately refers to as "Jewish butter" — fresh-snipped herbs and finely diced vegetables. Go for a classic deli combo, and pair the soup with a sandwich piled high with generous slabs of the house cured and smoked pastrami. The meat has all the markings of pastrami perfection: an appealing rosy hue, peppery aroma and gloriously fatty and tender texture. 1540 Avenue Place, 678-927-9131, thegeneralmuir.com

Gunshow
As the name implies, chef-owner Kevin Gillespie (of Top Chef fame) puts on quite a display at his recently opened restaurant in Glenwood Park. Throughout service, Gillespie and his team fire off consecutive rounds of shared plates, which change daily. (The dishes are then carted around the dining room and presented dim sum–style.) Standouts included a gorgeously charred leg of octopus with harissa and chickpeas; a blissfully simple, handmade ravioli filled with a savory caramelized onions and pancetta; and the breakfast-inspired rabbit and sweet potato pancakes topped with root beer syrup and pecans. Make sure to leave room for dessert: the fried peach pie is a humble, gentle reminder of how far this Southern city has evolved, food wise. 924 Garrett Street SE, Suite C, 404-380-1886 gunshowatl.com 

King + Duke
Beloved local chef and owner Ford Fry (see also, The Optimist, above) decamped to Buckhead in May to open King + Duke, an expansive new American eatery, complete with a bustling bar, outdoor patio and more discreet upstairs seating. The centerpiece, however, is the 24-foot long hearth, from which executive chef Joe Schafer fires up beautifully roasted proteins and vegetables. We recommend going local with the North Georgia brook trout. Served "Boy Scout style," skin on and expertly deboned — which avid anglers will tell you, is no small feat — it's paired with a delicate, crisp salad, brown butter and a clutch of crunchy almonds. End your meal on a sweet, high note with the "Dates & Ale," a classic sticky date pudding resting in a swirl of toffee and cream sauce spiked with local Sweetwater IPA. 3060 Peachtree Road NW, 404-477-3500 kinganddukeatl.com

Cook Hall
The city's suited set flocks to this modern gastropub, which opened late last year on the ground floor of the city's sleekest hotel, W Buckhead. While the innovative cocktail menu developed by James Beard Award winner Belinda Chang pulls in the post-work crowds, it's the happy hour here, arguably one of the city's best values, that keeps locals returning for more. For a mere $5, there's a daily punch, and a pile of hearty snacks that go way beyond the standard wings and sliders routine: think pimento-studded mac and cheese, spicy pulled duck tacos, radish bruschetta and an unlikely (but strangely addictive) combo of fried shrimp and popcorn, drizzled with ranch dressing. Yes, ranch. Late night cocktails can be had at the hotel's swanky rooftop bar, Whiskey Blue Atlanta3377 Peachtree Road NE, 404-523-3600, cookhallatlanta.com

Seven Lamps
Off-the-menu and secret items have been so hyped that in order for them to stand out, they must deliver. And thankfully, the 50/50 burger at Seven Lamps — a lively communal joint discreetly tucked away in Buckhead’s Shops Around Lenox — does. The burger is always available, so you can request it anytime you please. For his patty, chef Drew Van Leuvan mixes equal parts brisket and ground round from Brasstown Beef, and caps it with a pancetta crisp, house made pickles and classic burger sauce. A thin, crispy layer of melted cheddar protects the buttery brioche from getting soggy. Ask for a side of Duke's mayonnaise, as you won't find a better dipping companion for the signature cottage fries (crispy, golden discs of Kennebec potatoes). And wash it all down with one of the recently unveiled slushies: the "Fro-groni" is a frosty take on the negroni, and made with Bombay gin, dry vermouth, and campari. 3400 Around Lenox Road, 404-467-8950, sevenlampsatl.com

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