For the traveler in all of us, let Brezza Cucina transport you to the Italian countryside with their authentic Italian fare complimented by New American influences. Anchoring the east end of the Central Food Hall, Brezza Cucina offers a laid-back environment with two relaxed dining areas and a lounge, perfect for a business lunch, a casual family gathering or a quick dinner with a friend. Brighten your Sunday morning with Brezza's brunch offerings including the frittata del Giorno, the simple yet flavorful pizza Brezza and the savory roasted chicken salad in a bed of arugula topped with prosciutto and parmesan. With an unparalleled menu created by renowned chef Jonathan Waxman and his chef-partner Adam Evans, this Italian eatery is the go-to for those looking for a fresh take on a classic cuisine.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: We love the Ponce City market location and creative take on Italian eats.
Kelly's expert tip: Breeza offers a Sunday brunch that many people don't know about, so the lines tend to be shorter (Shhhh. Don't tell anyone!)
A neighborhood favorite in historic Old Fourth Ward, Serpas True Food is the first independent restaurant by executive chef Scott Serpas. A New Orleans native, Serpas opened the contemporary American concept in January 2009 in a reclaimed cotton storage facility at The Pavilion at Studioplex. That same year, Serpas was awarded GQ magazine's "10 Best New Restaurants in America" of 2009. Serpas is open for dinner Tuesday through Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., Sunday from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. and for Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: We love the Cajun flare Chef Serpas adds to traditional Southern cuisine.
Lesli's expert tip: Brunchers love Serpas for the authentic NOLA beignets and house-smoked salmon chips: gigantic golden chips heaped with chipotle cream cheese, red onions, and shaved salmon.
King + Duke, named after Mark Twain's characters in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, sits right at the intersection of Peachtree and Paces Ferry Roads in the heart of Buckhead. The restaurant is designed to be a throw-back to how food used to be prepared: using fresh, local ingredients and cooking over open fire pits, stoked by wood. Guests can dine at the wood and marble bar, in the cozy dining room or on the expansive outdoor patio. Feast on "The King," a one-kilo bone-in prime rib eye served with marrow bones and jus. It's cooked over direct heat, offering a juicy, smoky triumph of red-meat delight. We also love the heritage pork chop with grilled plums and the coffee-cured lamb shank with pasta.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: The restaurant's modern stylings and savory seafood take coastal cuisine to new heights.
Jennifer's expert tip: If you crave a bit of culinary adventure, King + Duke could be the perfect place to try something a little different: check out the roasted bone marrow or candied lamb belly with flatbreads. It's hard to make a misstep with this menu.
James Beard award-winning chef Hugh Acheson's first Atlanta restaurant offers an alternative take on Southern cuisine. The beautiful, rustic-chic space is teeming with a knowledgeable staff seeking to optimize your dining experience. The menu, overseen by Chef Josh Hopkins, is dictated by the season and is constantly changing. Pickled veggies, spreads in jars and tasty housemade condiments on the starters list add to the overall experience. Fish, poultry, wild game and beef dishes are typical main entrees and come with expertly rendered straight-from-the-garden sides. Ordering the "In Jars" appetizer is a must, and you'd do well to order the special on any given night. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and has an awesome dessert menu to boot.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Before Hugh Acheson became a celebrichef, he was known for creating excellent food. Which he still does. Really, really well. Get it here.
Kelly's expert tip: Brunch is a delicious affair. Order Hugh's Breakie (fruit, cheese, toasts), linger over cortados, then head outside for a game of bocce ball on the patio.
A trendy, culinary escape just off Morningside's Cheshire Bridge Road, Cape Dutch is one of many recent additions to Atlanta's flourishing restaurant scene. Following a successful opening in November 2015, helmed by restaurateur Justin Anthony in partnership with executive chef Philippe Haddad, local foodies flock to the wine-country influenced, talk-of-the-town destination, indulging in traditional South African braai menu features, paired with signature craft cocktails, flaunting a sophisticated twist. The contemporary atmosphere, designed by Anthony's wife and renowned interior designer Kelly Anthony, welcomes patrons to savor the international flair with inviting, custom furniture and chefs tables overlooking the wood burning braai. Leave reality at the door, grab an enchanting libation and enjoy an evening of South African inspired bliss.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: A gorgeous interior, a Belgian chef adding his spirit to South African fare, and an impeccable wine list make Cape Dutch one of Atlanta's best.
Lesli's expert tip: As with all of Justin Anthony's restaurants, the wine selection is top-notch. South African selections are a must-try; if you're not familiar, no worries. The staff is well versed - just ask.
This Old Fourth Ward restaurant has received a 2016 James Beard Award nomination for Best New Restaurant. Born out of tragic circumstances, Staplehouse has had tremendous support from the Atlanta community since its inception. Not to rest on its laurels, the staff is cranking out some of the best food in the Southeast and critics have taken note. Think dishes like duck with ramps and fava or scallops and cabbage, with flavors and presentation nothing short of artistry. Don't be surprised that a deposit of $85 per person is required for the five-course tasting menu, only available Wednesday through Saturday.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: As a subsidiary of The Giving Kitchen, they could win on heart alone. Lucky for us, Ryan Smith's creative fare is also divine eats.
Kelly's expert tip: Sure, you can go a la carte, but you're missing out on the entire creative experience. Trust us, you want to reserve the Tasting Menu.
Chef Steven Satterfield's curated menu of sustainable eats has been wowing diners since he opened this ethereal restaurant on Atlanta's Westside. Like others on this list, the culinary offerings are dictated by seasonality and are expertly prepared by way of Satterfield and his stellar team. Schmooze at the spacious wooden bar over one of the varied wine options, or opt for a seat in the airy dining room--a busy spot at lunch and dinner. Though the menu changes all the time, you'd do well to order the addictive feta snack and popular farm egg in celery cream before digging into your main course.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: The hype surrounding this gleaming restaurant is well-deserved. Dine on food fresh from the farm stand.
Lesli's expert tip: Enjoy an outside-the-ordinary mid-day experience and visit for lunch. Want to enjoy Satterfield's veggie creations at home? Order his new James bears Award-winning cookbook, Root to Leaf.
Celebrity Chef Kevin Gillespie challenges the typical restaurant experience: multiple chefs work to prepare their unique creations, then leave the safety of the kitchen to hustle those dishes to customers ordering a la carte. Don't think twice about passing on something that doesn't interest you, or nod a resounding "Yes!" Your selection is immediately placed in front of you, and your dim sum style menu is checked off as having received the dish. Small plates come all night, and you only pay for those you want. There is no pretentious vibe here; the setting is comfortable, simple, and humble. However, the food is far from plain. Dishes are sophisticated, genuine, from the heart, and full of flavor. From beautiful Berkshire pork belly bulgogi to confit morel mushrooms, the flavors are unique, full and delicious. We absolutely adore the rolling cocktail cart and highly recommend the Toasted Old Fashioned.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: A unique experience with dishes you'll remember for a lifetime. It's five-star dining in a comfortable, creative environment; the very best of the South.
Lesli's expert tip: The monthly Hired Guns series allows you to sample everything on the menu that night, and possibly get a selfie with Chef Kevin Gillespie
Chef Fuyuhiko Ito is a master at his craft and dishes elegant presentations that taste every bit as sensational as they look. The best seat in the house? The sushi counter; the omakase is a must. Heavenly goshinamori is the restaurant's most popular sashimi selection, and rightfully so. It's not all sushi, though - the hot entrees really stand out, too. Seafood lovers will melt for the Lobster Toban-yaki, which comes drenched in miso butter, finished at the table. If you're looking for something hearty, try the duck confit. Chef Ito showcases his French culinary education with this divine fusion dish. Umi also delivers hand-crafted cocktails, an extensive sake list and delicious desserts made by Ito's pastry chef wife. Even the staff will tell you that the Chocolate Bento Box is the most indulgent selection. Don't miss a cup of Umi-blend Lamill coffee, served is traditional Japanese V60 pour-over style.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Buckhead's consummate culinary experience marries the distinctive work of Chef Fuyuhiko Ito with the aesthetic vision of Farshid Arshid. Together, they make this journey stellar.
Lesli's expert tip: There's more to this intimate, upscale restaurant than just sushi. Make sure to save room for the chocolate bento box. Finally, you can impress all your guests if you know how to get the secret code to their speak-easy next door, Hinntsu.