The competitive spirit of Atlanta's professional chefs has helped put the city on the dining map, with eight former Top Chef and two Iron Chef contestants contributing to some of Atlanta's best eateries. Fifteen new restaurants opened in the downtown area alone in 2011, joining more than 3,000 restaurant choices in metro Atlanta for residents and visitors.
But Atlanta's dining story isn't just one of sheer numbers. Eateries opening in Atlanta cater to the neighborhood, providing a warm welcome and inviting ambiance to invoke the feeling of dining at a friend's house, rather than a restaurant. The city's chefs are passionate about the eating local movement, sourcing meats and produce from local farms.
Atlanta's chefs incorporate local ingredients to serve up the best in New South cuisine with creative twists on grandma's traditional Southern meals. Atlanta's number one rated Zagat restaurant, Bacchanalia, boasts contemporary American cuisine with a seasonal menu featuring light dishes with strong flavors cooked by Chefs/Owners Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison. Chef Steven Satterfield puts his own spin on the region's meat-and-three meals, creating a menu based on the week's harvest at Miller Union - named one of the "10 Best New Restaurants in the Country" by Bon AppÃ©tit in 2010. Atlanta native Linton Hopkins brings regional southern flavor to Holeman and Finch Public House in Buckhead leveraging his relationships with local farmers when putting together menus for the restaurant.
In a city known for southern hospitality, restaurants and breweries provide welcoming settings for neighbors to gather for good food and drink, conversation and fun. At Ormsby's in Westside Provisions, patrons enjoy the craft beer selection, classic cocktails, fresh pub menu and a wide range of traditional games including: backgammon, bocce, darts, pool, and shuffleboard. SweetWater Brewing Company opens its doors and taps to the public three days a week with brewery tours and tastings. Named one of the "Top 50 Breweries in the Country" by the Brewers Association, the brewery offers the perfect setting for mixing and mingling.
The Buford Highway corridor is the best kept locals-only dining secret. Just one mile from downtown yields an assortment of authentic international cuisine and super-fresh seafood. Flavors of China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam and Latin America occupy restaurants and shopping centers along this highway. Chef Liu has patrons salivating for his juicy soup dumplings and thick egg noodles and Sushi House Hayakawa serves up fresh, buttery sea scallops along with platters of fresh sashimi.
Guests to the South often ask where to go for the best traditional down-home Southern cuisine. Established favorites among tourists and locals include institutions like Mary Mac's Tea Room, serving "classic Southern food in the heart of Atlanta" since 1945; and Pitty Pat's Porch, a downtown landmark named after Aunt Pittypat Hamilton from "Gone with the Wind." For upscale Southern fare, venture to Paschal's and try the Paschal brothers' secret fried chicken recipe. The Varsity, the world's largest drive-in, offering "naked dogs walking," will forever remain an Atlanta staple.
These are just some of the ingredients that make Atlanta an exciting dining destination. Explore the city's restaurants during Imaging USA and discover what satisfies you in Atlanta!
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