10 Places To Eat Incredibly Well In Atlanta Right Now

Let's face it: Atlanta is not the easiest town to restaurant and bar-hop around in. Other than the concentrated areas of Buckhead and midtown, or the high-end food courts at spots like Ponce City Market and Krog Street Market, to experience the best in Atlanta dining you're either gonna have to rent a car with an updated GPS or load up on Uber credits. Ultimately, the dining scene in the capital of the modern South is worth the effort. Here are ten addresses to program into your Hertz NeverLost to make sure you eat well in the ATL:

Bread & Butterfly

Billy Allin made his bones as the chef-owner of Cakes & Ale, an unassuming restaurant focused on seasonal American, primarily Southern, cuisine. But with his latest project, Allin points his attention toward the continent. Bread & Butterfly is billed as an all-day bistro and brasserie, flexible to the needs of Atlantans who might just want to grab a quick bite for breakfast on the restaurant's cozy patio or an enjoyable midday déjeuner of a sandwich or delicate omelet, as well as those looking for a full-on bistro dinner of seafood or classic steak frites. Low on pretension but high on flavor, Bread & Butterfly will draw you like a moth to a baguette.  290 Elizabeth St. NE, Atlanta, GA 30307; bread-and-butterfly.com

Chai Pani

A spin-off of James Beard Award–nominated chef Meherwan Irani's cozy Asheville eatery, Chai Pani has brought Indian street food to the heart of Decatur. In India, chai pani means literally "tea and water," or just a small snack to keep you going throughout the day. Chai Pani features a menu of chaat, exciting snacks that run the gamut of flavors and colors, to the delight of intrepid diners. A clearly written menu explains the details of each exotic dish, meaning that you won't have to embarrass yourself in front of your date by simply pointing at the menu and hoping for something good. At Chai Pani, it's all good! 406 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur, GA 30030; chaipanidecatur.com

Cooks & Soldiers

In the almost two years since opening, Cooks & Soldiers has introduced many Atlantans to the wonders of Basque cuisine and the joy of eating an entire meal of pintxos, tiny tapas-like bites served speared on toothpicks. The restaurant is named for the annual January festival of Tamborrada in San Sebastian, where the citizens of the city dress up as either soldiers or chefs and parade through the streets. Cooks & Soldiers shares that festive ambience with its namesake festival. In addition to the snacks, tables can also share large-format meat dishes cooked over the open fire of an asador. Seasoned with no more than salt, pepper, olive oil and smoke, the asadora meals offer up the essence of the meat and seafood to great effect. 691 14th St. NW, Atlanta, GA 30318; cooksandsoldiers.com

Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q

Twin Texas expats Justin and Jonathan Fox have established a vaunted reputation for smoking some of the finest barbecue in Atlanta, including an exemplary brisket and fantastic beef short ribs, a Lone Star specialty rarely seen and almost never mastered in other parts of the South. Undeterred when a large tree fell on their main dining room a few years back, the Brothers Fox bounced back to rebuild quickly and have recently announced their impending second location in the Westside neighborhood of Atlanta. This new joint will be massive, almost twice the size of the original and will finally bring the barbecue to baseball fans traveling to the Braves' new ballpark. Play ball! 1238 DeKalb Ave. NE, Atlanta, GA 30307; foxbrosbbq.com


Kevin Gillespie's inventive Gunshow restaurant is unlike any dining experience Atlanta had ever seen before it opened in 2013. It's a clever bastardized hybrid between the Chinese dim sum rolling cart experience and the "death by a thousand cuts of meat" experience of dining in a Brazilian churrascaria, with Gillespie and his kitchen staff sending out course after course to tightly packed tables of diners who have the option to offer a Nero-like thumbs up or down to every dish. Part of the genius comes from tipping his hand by revealing the whole menu in advance and then holding the most delectable dishes until the last few cart runs. They know you're not going to say no to everything, but you'll definitely want that banana pudding at the end, so the bill will keep growing along the way. Just grin and bear it. 924 Garrett St., Atlanta, GA 30316; gunshowatl.com


Linton Hopkins is better known for his Midtown next-door neighbor restaurants Holeman and Finch Public House and Restaurant Eugene, but his lovely little eponymous café at the Atlanta Botanical Garden has created a new reputation for the chef that extends beyond his talents with charcuterie, offal and a cultishly popular cheeseburger. Linton's is truly a garden café, with indoor and outdoor seating and a rooftop offering a view of the botanical beauty and downtown skyline. In addition to elevated grab-and-go options, the rest of the menu skews international, with French and Italian preparations of regional ingredients available for lunch or dinner. Finish off a visit to the gardens with a glass or a bottle from the remarkable wine list, an amenity that is quite unexpected but much appreciated. Atlanta Botanical Garden, 1345 Piedmont Ave. NE, Atlanta, GA 30309;  lintonsinthegarden.com


A decade ago Chinese chef Peter Chang rescued Atlanta from its collective Asian-food malaise by introducing the town to true Szechwan cuisine so good that diners said they "can't feel my face when I'm with you." Liu Ri worked in Chang's kitchen until the restaurant closed, when he made the jump to open his own spot in a tiny strip mall in Duluth along the Buford Highway, Atlanta's spice road of ethnic eats. At Masterpiece, Ri exhibits impressive talents with spices and delicate presentations of representative dishes of Central China. He also has the knife skills of a surgeon. Delicately steamed dumplings stuffed with flavorful carrots and platters of whole steamed fishes can quickly cover the table if you give the chef full rein, which you should. You'll probably head home anesthetized by prickly ash, but you won't complain. 3940 Buford Hwy., B103, Duluth, GA 30096; www.facebook.com/Masterpiece%E5%90%8D%E5%8E%A8%E5%A0%82-658304740912215/

Richards' Southern Fried

Todd Richards's main gig is as executive chef of White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails, a downtown sleek, contemporary Southern restaurant, but he has always had plenty of soul in his heart. Richards let his funky flag fly free at his new Krog Street Market fried chicken quick-service stall, Richards' Southern Fried. Using premium birds sourced from Georgia's Springer Mountain Farms, Richards offers a simple dining experience built around three steps: 1. Pick your chick (dark meat, white meat, half chicken or wings). 2. Pick your heat (classic, hot or Richards' hot). 3. Pick your side (from a list of Southern classics such as tomato and cucumber salad or pickled vegetable slaw). The classic chicken is expertly fried, and as the the heat levels increase, Richards's goal is to create a "slow burn" from his proprietary spice blend that will leave you thinking about that bird for a long time. Krog Street Market, 99 Krog St. NE, Suite T, Atlanta, GA 30307; richardssouthernfried.com

Spice to Table

Asha Gomez is about to release her first cookbook, My Two Souths, the story of the Keralese chef's journey from southern India to Atlanta, where she delighted diners with her version of KFC (Kerala Fried Chicken) at her former restaurant, Cardamom Road. Although that spot closed a couple of years after opening, Gomez's magnificent chicken is still available on Fridays and Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. until it runs out at her new Indian patisserie, Spice to Table. Brined overnight in secret spices (you'll have to buy the book), coconut oil and mango sauce, it's been know to go pretty fast, so show up early! Even if you're too late, you can still fill up on delicious kati rolls, a traditional Indian street food stuffed with slow-cooked meats and vegetables. 659 Auburn Ave. NE, #506, Atlanta, GA 30312; spicetotable.com


It seems like forever since we first heard that ex–Empire State South chef Ryan Smith announced he was moving to run the kitchen at Staplehouse, an offshoot of the Giving Kitchen, an organization that provides emergency assistance grants to metro Atlanta restaurant workers facing unanticipated crises. During the intervening time between the first news and the opening, Smith's brother-in-law and one of his partners in the venture, Ryan Hidiger, passed away from cancer. This sad event did not lessen the restaurant's resolve to do good by cooking well. Now that it has been open a year, Staplehouse has hit its stride with a constantly rotating menu of seasonal small plates that are perfect for a tasting dinner or à la carte noshing. There's definitely a new reason to visit the Old Fourth Ward. 541 Edgewood Ave. SE, Atlanta, GA 30312; staplehouse.com