Best Thing We Ate

The 10 Best Things We Ate in Atlanta in 2015

By Christopher Hassiotis  |  December 7, 2015
Credit: Christopher Hassiotis

There are times when dining out is all about the experience — from the decor to the service, from the drinks to the food. And there are other times when nothing else matters, because what's at the end of the fork is so tantalizing that we can't think about anything else. Here are some of the best bites we found in the city over the past year. What have been some of your favorites? What dishes around Atlanta should we seek out next? Let us know in the comments below or via Twitter: @ZagatAtlanta.

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  • Credit: Heidi Geldhauser

    Tartare at Cooks & Soldiers

    Price: $9

    This tartare dish from the new, Basque-inspired, Westside restaurant has a motto: there's no beef or egg. In fact, this tartare has quickly become a signature, creatively casting cured tomatoes in the role of raw-beef role. A globe of carrot juice takes the place of the traditional yolk. The capers, onion and Dijon mustard? Yeah, those are capers, onions and Dijon mustard. Gotta keep at least one foot on the ground, after all.

    691 14th St. NW; 404-996-2623

  • Mortadella Macaron at Grain and Seven Lamps

    Price: $7

    Mortadella's the traditional Italian sausage from Bologna made from finely ground pork that's flavored with myrtle and studded with pork fat and pistachios. Well, take those flavors and rearrange them...you've got chef Drew van Leuvan's mortadella macarons. Mortadella mousse and pistachio paste are sandwiched between sweet, crisp meringues (made with Sicilian pistachios and black pepper). It's sweet; it's salty. It's meaty. It's a real treat — and it's one of the charcuterie options at both spots where van Leuvan has a hand in the kitchen.

    856 W. Peachtree St. NW; 404-881-5377

  • Credit: Christopher Hassiotis

    Hot Chicken Sandwich at Hop's Chicken

    Price: $6.50

    The thing about the spicy fried chicken at Hop's, Linton Hopkins' fried chicken spot, is that it can be really inconsistent in its spice level. The chicken's always crisp, juicy and flavorful, but the application of hot sauce can veer between heavy-handed spicing and a barely there sheen that's more a hint of vinegar and pepper than anything remotely spicy. But when it's good, it's real good. And it provides a flavor that announces itself boldly and lingers long beyond the sandwich is gone.

    675 Ponce de Leon Ave.

  • Dry-Aged Bone-In Rib-Eye at Oak Steakhouse

    Price: $85

    Don't balk at the price immediately — this massive prime Angus steak weighs in at a hefty 24 oz., and is intended for two (or more) to share. The dry-aging process creates a funky, earthy flavor in the beef, which — combined with the rich, melty rib-eye fat and perfectly crusty char that Oak's grills impart — makes for an addictive (but expensive) habit.

    950 Third St., Alpharetta; 678-722-8333

  • Credit: Andrew Thomas Lee

    Vietnamese Crispy Fish Salad at Dub's Fish Camp

    Price: $11

    There's a lot to like at Anne Quatrano's seafood eatery in Ponce City Market, but one of the most consistently satisfying dishes is this salad. Crisp, cool cabbage and veggies contrast with a hearty, moist and just-out-the-fryer piece of fish (whatever that day's catch is) dressed with a funky, tangy, fish-sauce-spiked dressing. Peanuts add a little crunch, scallions and cilantro and lime some zip, and a few chiles spice up the dish.

    675 Ponce de Leon Ave.

  • Credit: Christopher Hassiotis

    Supreme Nachos at El Mexicano

    Price: $9

    Sometimes you've just gotta go all in, and that's the case with this savory pile of meat, cheese, chips and more. Head to the quasi-industrial area south of East Atlanta Village and Ormewood Park to find this modest spot with big flavors — melty quesadilla cheese, rich guacamole and fresh salsa.

    1341 Moreland Ave. SE; 404-622-3501

  • Credit: Christopher Hassiotis

    Black Spaghetti at BoccaLupo

    Price: $19

    Chef Bruce Logue's creative Italian-American spot in Inman Park excels in creative dishes, and one of the best is the black spaghetti. Colored with squid ink and served a perfect al dente, the dish is perfect for those who like a little heat. The Calabrese sausage's heat slowly builds, but it's balanced by sweet red shrimp and a tangle of crisp, fresh scallions.

    753 Edgewood Ave. NE; 404-577-2332

  • Credit: Christopher Hassiotis

    Seasonal Vegetables at Parish

    Price: $6–$7

    Parish has seen its share of changes over the past few years, with a number of chef changes shaking up the menus at the Inman Park eatery. We're fans of current executive chef Stuart Tracy's way with seasonal veggies, creating savory, uncomplicated takes using fresh, local produce. Just look to the sides section of the menu for ever-changing items like Southern creamed corn studded with country ham; dense red cabbage braised with apples, bacon and wine; shishito peppers blistered and served with romesco sauce, and much more.

    240 N. Highland Ave.; 404-681-4434

  • Credit: Christopher Hassiotis

    Chilaquiles at Minero

    Price: $9

    An order of chilaquiles at Charleston restaurateur Sean Brock's new Atlanta Mexican spot arrives looking unlike most masses of chips cooked in salsa and topped with meat, cheese and eggs. These chilaquiles look more like a salad but still eat super-hearty, topped as they are with fresh cilantro, massive heirloom black beans, savory pork, Mexican crema, a fried sunny-side egg and more. (Order yourself some, and thank Minero chef Jorge Ortiz, a 2015 Zagat 30 Under 30 honoree, on your way out.)

    675 Ponce de Leon Ave.

  • Credit: Christopher Hassiotis

    Pine Sap Dessert at Staplehouse

    ​Price: $7

    Local ingredients are de rigeur at this point, but not many restaurants are sourcing their ingredients from the same place they're getting their paneling. The hotly anticipated Staplehouse, which finally opened this year, turned out a great dessert incorporating pine sap into ice cream — there's also a crisp cookie, rich crumble and fluffy cake flavored with pine and caramelized white chocolate, alongside an almost-too-tart-but-just-right lime curd. Worth the wait.

    541 Edgewood Ave. SE; 404-524-5005