It may come as a surprise to some people to learn that Atlanta, the home of fried chicken and biscuits, is actually an adventurous eater’s paradise. Of course, biscuits and other butter-packed Southern staples are certainly delicious, but sometimes the culinarily intrepid want to take a walk on the wild side. Thanks to diverse immigrant populations and a bevy of chefs who aren’t afraid to have fun, curious diners can delight their palates with dishes that are far from usual. From kangaroo to pork neck bones, we scoured the city for the bold flavors and hard-to-find dishes — your taste buds won’t even know what’s coming.Read More
Atlanta’s 10 Boldest Dishes
One of the few riverfront dining options in Atlanta, Canoe is best known as a Sunday brunch and celebration spot — though we think it’s incredibly underrated for dinner. Executive chef Matt Basford’s menu pays homage to his Australian roots, such as his peppercorn crusted kangaroo. A succulent, yet simple dish, it features grilled kangaroo loin sourced from Australia, alongside a seasonal vegetable (as of now it’s Brussels sprouts, apples, and beet labneh). The meat is lean, mildly gamey, and extremely delicious.
Porch Light Latin Kitchen
Porch Light Latin Kitchen is just outside the perimeter in Smyrna and draws people from all over the city for chef-owner Andre Gomez’s creative takes on Pan-Latin cuisine. His empanadas and tortas are delicious, but groups go hog wild over the “roasted little piggy.” A 30- to 40-pound pig is roasted for nearly four hours and serves to up 15 people. The meat is deliciously moist and the presentation is a true showstopper in the intimate restaurant.
The newest hot spot on Buford Highway, Atlanta’s international dining hotbed, Food Terminal serves up Malaysian street food in a colorful, modern setting. The dish that blows everyone away visually as well as gastronomically is the cheese n’cheese. An impressively large sizzling cast-iron bowl is brought out to the table containing tomato-braised rice surrounded by egg and topped with cheese, Spam, corn, and red bell pepper. Stir it up and chow down on the omelet fried rice concoction that seems odd on the outset, but somehow works.
Busy Bee Cafe
An Atlanta institution, Busy Bee has been satisfying Atlantans’ cravings for soul food since 1947. Look carefully when you go and you may catch a couple superstars dining there (it’s a favorite of Killer Mike). You can get your grub on with their fried chicken (brined for 12 hours) and collard greens any day of the week, but Tuesdays are when they offer pork neck bones. A Southern classic, pork neck bones become so tender after having been cooked for hours that the meat falls off the bones. They come with two sides, one of which should definitely be the mac and cheese.
Dining at Ticonderoga Club is as much about the experience as it is the food. Tucked in the back of Krog Street Market, the restaurant’s indoor cabana gives way to a dark, two-story tavern inside. It’d be easy to go just for the cocktails, as the bar program is helmed by beverage gurus Paul Calvert and Greg Best, but the food by chef David Bies is outstanding, too. You can’t go wrong with the clam roll, but if you’re feeling frisky you should go crazy and order the Chuck Wagon: 48 ounces of sliced chuck that’s heralded by a bell throughout the restaurant as it’s delivered to your table. It might be a good idea to share it with a few friends.
The poke trend rages on, but could sushi corn dogs be the next thing? You can find out for yourself at Poke Burri, a stall in We Suki Suki Global Grub Collective (a mini food hall). Yes, they have delicious poke bowls, but the owners, Seven Chan and Ken Yu, keep things creative with their “secret” off-menu items. The sushi corn dog is a combination of crab and rice wrapped in seaweed, dunked in batter, and fried to a crisp then topped off with a drizzle of creamy sauce on top. It may sound like a lot, but it hits those craveable notes that leave you wanting more when it’s all finished.
Renowned for their touching backstory and tight execution of “New Romanticism,” Staplehouse has been Atlanta’s hottest ticket for nearly three years. Each dish is whimsical and creative, but the one that always takes people by surprise is the chicken liver tart: Chicken liver mousse is glazed with honey and served in a tart shell. It may not sound immediately appetizing, but even picky eaters who would never think of touching chicken liver reluctantly give in only to be delighted by the sweet-savory package.
If we told you one of the best, dishes in Atlanta is an egg, would you believe us? That’s the kind of magic created by James Beard Award winner Steven Satterfield at Miller Union. A rich combination of seasoned cream, shallots, celery, and thyme gets poured over a farm-fresh egg, then gets baked. Served with a side of bread for sopping, the dish is simple, yet wildly delicious.
Local Three Kitchen & Bar
Local Three is reminiscent of a speakeasy, hiding out of plain sight in a Buckhead office building off the main drag. Soaring ceilings, dark wood accents, and splashy local art give the restaurant an upscale-yet-fun vibe. The fun carries over to the menu, which is laced with references to The Big Lebowski and callbacks to childhood favorites like SpaghettiOs. One of the zanier dishes is the General Tso’s rabbit featuring rabbit legs braised in a stock infused with ginger, garlic, shallots, lime zest, lemongrass, and chili. Later, soy sauce, mirin, fish sauce, and sesame oil are added to the mix, and the legs are served alongside black forbidden rice and broccoli. An inventive take on an American-Chinese classic!
Tomo Japanese Restaurant
A glossy sushi restaurant in the Ritz Carlton Residences of Buckhead, Tomo is an Atlanta institution. Opened by Tomohiro Naito in 2005, the location upgraded from a suburban strip mall to a glitzy Buckhead gem in 2012. The menu’s changed throughout the years, but one mainstay is the ankimo terrine made with monkfish liver. Kind of like foie gras from the ocean, the liver is seared and served with a tangy ponzu jelly. The package is small but sneakily rich.
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Oasis of the Seas
After you’ve explored your city from top to bottom, it’s time to seek out adventure elsewhere. Why not try at sea? Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas packs options for thrill-seekers (riding waves on Flowrider, anyone?), foodies, and globetrotters — and that’s just on the ship. So when you’ve maxed out all these local options, check out what awaits — head to Port Canaveral in Florida, where the Oasis of the Seas ships out, to find thrilling new experiences.