City Eats: Exploring Atlanta’s Southern Cuisine

Depending on the chef, you might taste an infusion of French, Cajun and beyond


The South is known for its good cooking, so it’s no surprise that Atlanta is filled with some of the best dining establishments in the country. If you’re into chain restaurants, Atlanta isn’t the city for you. New family-style restaurants is the name of the game in the Peach state, with delectable its Southern cuisine and baked goods.

And for those that are wondering, Atlanta’s dining portfolio expands well past traditional shrimp and grits, collard greens, and fried chicken. Depending on the chef, you might taste an infusion of French, Cajun, and beyond.

Planning a trip to the A? We’ve got some of the city’s top picks for restaurants to keep on your radar to enhance your experience.

South City Kitchen (1144 Crescent Ave., 404-873-7358)

South City Kitchen Midtown specializes in contemporary Southern cuisine with a sophisticated twist. Combining the energy of Atlanta with the warmth of a Southern home, the restaurant is nestled in an updated, historic bungalow on the city’s famous Crescent Avenue. Dine on local Southern favorites such as shrimp and grits, buttermilk fried chicken, she-crab soup, fried green tomatoes, and banana pudding while enjoying the view of the exhibition kitchen or the city skyline on one of the best patios in the city. This truly is dining the way the new South intended.

West Egg Cafe (1100 Howell Mill Rd., 404-872-3973)

Proclaimed “the best breakfast in Atlanta,” there is no doubt that this phrase is true. Their brunches and breakfasts don’t cease to amaze, even upon first visit. From their shrimp ’n grits to the cocktails made with house brown sugar bacon bourbon, it seems that each and every thing about a new Atlanta favorite is steeped in homegrown goodness. (Note: Menu items constantly change, so if you love an item one day, it may be gone the next!)

White Oak Kitchen and Cocktails (270 Peachtree St. N.E., 404-524-7200)

This downtown gem, located in the 270 Peachtree building, is the latest to jump on the Southern chic, farm-to-table bandwagon. The menu offers the expected pimento cheese and deviled eggs, but also ventures out with dishes like caramel fried chicken, trout ravioli, and a stew with roasted prawns. Not to mention, the handcrafted cocktails are to DIE for (some of the best I’ve ever had). Definitely a must-go on your next trip to Atlanta!

Southern Art (3315 Peachtree Rd., 404-946-9070)

With the name Southern “Art” there’s no doubt that the restaurant is a culinary masterpiece. Located in Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood (inside the Intercontinental hotel), Southern Art combines a hip, urban eatery with classic Southern charm, offering Southern-inspired cuisine and cocktails in a welcoming, relaxed atmosphere. Chef Art Smith celebrates everything that makes Southern cuisine fabulous: bourbon, fried chicken, and pies as far as the eye can see!

Empire State South (999 Peachtree St. N.E., Suite 140, 404-541-1105)

Hugh Acheson’s restaurant empire delivers the best spin on new Southern dining in Atlanta. Familiar dishes like pimento cheese, farm eggs, local trout, and pork belly are anything but clichés when they arrive at the table. Order your bourbon cocktails in a mason jar. (Hint: Try the pimento cheese. It was the best I had in the city!)

JCT, Kitchen and Bar (1198 Howell Mill Rd. #18, 404-355-2252)

This “Southern” style restaurant puts a nice twist on Southern classics with an upscale, casual atmosphere. When in season, the lobster roll is the undeniable choice, but the restaurant also boasts great items such as the chicken panini, truffle fries, and the JCT rendition of fried chicken, which is slightly sweet with honey and sprinkled with sliced green onions. Prices are reasonable for the portions you get, around $20 for most mains and $10 for appetizers.

Wherever you go in your hunt for Southern cuisine in Atlanta, get adventurous and go outside your comfort zone. Shrimp and grits may be your go-to meal, but the difference may be slow-cooked and basic in one restaurant and infused with spices and homemade pimento cheese at another. Explore to your heart’s content!


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