If you haven't been to Atlanta, you may not have heard: we have SERIOUSLY good food. You can get your fancy haute cuisine style meals here [Bacchanalia is a MUST at least once in your life], but for the most part, the food here [or at least the food I love most here] isn't fussy or pretentious. Things are kept casual, seasonal, local, and simple. Most of the menus aren't lengthy and rambling; chefs stick to what they're good at and execute it with ease. Here are three of my 'regular' spots in Atlanta. I cook for myself a lot, so for a foodie, I don't eat out as much as you'd think. So when I say I go to a place often, it MUST be good.
BREAKFAST: Le Petite Marche, Kirkwood
This place does breakfast right. Every once in a while, I treat myself to the French Toast Sandwich, a trifecta of phenomenal french toast, scrambled eggs and bacon, smothered in maple syrup. It sounded bizarre to me at first [I love my savory and sweet, but usually separately], but once I took my first bite, I could never go back.
If you're looking for something more traditional, go for The Kirkwood, which is worth it alone just so you can try their crunchy rosemary potatoes. Yum.
LUNCH: Empire State South, Midtown
There's not really a time I would say no to Empire. Hugh Acheson and Josh Hopkins are two reasons to make your way over to this establishment, but it's the food and ambiance [I could sit out on their patio overlooking the bocce court all day] that will bring you back.
One of the best meals I had at ESS was their oyster po'boy [the menu on their site shows a catfish version, but I'm sure they're all fantastic]. The remoulade is to die for, the capers add a nice salty bite, and there's shaved jicama for crying out loud! Let's not even get started on the actual oysters, which are battered and fried to perfection. And a perfectly executed simple salad to pair with it. Love.
Their ESS Bologna [sounds like the name of warship Popeye might man] has some of the best bologna I've ever had [we're not talking Oscar Meyer here] and a perfectly runny egg. I'm not a pickle person [ESS would surely hate me for saying that], so I could have gone without those and maybe swapped them for some radishes, but other than that, it's simple and yummy.
DINNER: Sweet Auburn BBQ, Poncey-Highland
Sweet Auburn first started in the neighborhood which is its namesake, and was an Atlanta staple for years, but since they recently opened a full fledged restaurant just a few blocks from my house, I've been hooked. They have all the classics and execute them well, but what's intriguing to me is their slightly outside the box choices. They have killer brussels sprouts, and some sort of brilliant pimento cheese wonton creation, but I actually loved their taco plate best. Taco plate? At a BBQ joint? Yes, it's true. The beauty is that each taco features a different barbecue classic, and a different cultural preparation. My favorite had to be the Mexican street taco with smoked brisket, avocado crema, and charred corn pico. Yum.
Looking for the traditional? The ribs are a must, but also try their Sweet Auburn BBQ plate, which allows you to try a little bit of each, and two of your favorite sides [their potato salad is tangy and quite nice!].
The resonating theme within these three restaurants is simple and southern. There aren't any overly elaborate preparations, but the ingredients are killer and the feeling is casual and comforting. Come visit and I'll take you to all three!