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Best of Atlanta 2016 Oral Pleasures

Oral Pleasures Large Photo


Oral Pleasures

In new age circles and among Law of Attraction devotees you often hear the phrase “Thoughts become things.” The implication is that things in the physical world started out as a figment of someone’s imagination. When traced back to its roots, every great dish, food business, or restaurant concept started out as a vision. That is, a maker, chef, or restaurateur was inspired, dreamt up some blueprints, and ultimately transformed a vision into something tangible.

The people, places, and things we named best this year encompass the visions that had the most staying power. Things that remained visible amid Atlanta’s massive change and growth. They were the dishes and restaurants that were too consistent and too inspiring to fade away or lose their shine.

Places like the newcomer Staplehouse, brought us more than thoughtfulness in the form of edible art. The restaurant’s heroic inception taught us about passion and resilience, and, as a result, that food can be as much about love and community as it is about entertainment. This year we fell in love with the simple Parisian-inspired pleasures of Billy Allin’s Bread & Butterfly in Inman Park. We were wowed by Ticonderoga Club chef David Bies’ return to Atlanta, and we rejoiced in the promise of more favorable Peach State beer legislation for our beloved local brewpubs.

Collectively, Atlanta dining culture is a patchwork of individual ideas that a group of passionate people were compelled to make real. As the dreamers continue turning inspired thoughts into things, the look and feel of this cultural quilt morphs and grows — and we’re grateful to be around to see it.

— Stephanie Dazey

Best cheap eats BOA Award Winner

Why do eastsiders and Tex-Mex lovers of all kinds heart EL MEXICANO? The unassuming neighborhood gem south of East Atlanta Village checks all the boxes needed for success. The menu here is mainly straightforward Mexican, but there are plenty of concessions to the American palate, like fajitas. For roughlymore...
Why do eastsiders and Tex-Mex lovers of all kinds heart EL MEXICANO? The unassuming neighborhood gem south of East Atlanta Village checks all the boxes needed for success. The menu here is mainly straightforward Mexican, but there are plenty of concessions to the American palate, like fajitas. For roughly $2 apiece, the street tacos made with corn tortillas and filled with the meat of your choice — try the juicy pork carnitas speckled with bits of crispy fat — are a steal. Make a meal of them or tack a few on to your appetizer order. Further exploration of the five-page menu reveals shockingly tender short ribs simmered in a chile de arbol sauce and an array of raw seafood cocktails, including a heaping shrimp ceviche drenched in lime juice. less...

Best chef BOA Award Winner

No chef’s return to Atlanta has been as welcome as DAVID BIES’, formerly of Restaurant Eugene and currently of Krog Street Market’s Ticonderoga Club. Bies went on a sabbatical to travel across Asia, Central America, and beyond, and returned with a broadened encyclopedia of flavors and techniquesmore...
No chef’s return to Atlanta has been as welcome as DAVID BIES’, formerly of Restaurant Eugene and currently of Krog Street Market’s Ticonderoga Club. Bies went on a sabbatical to travel across Asia, Central America, and beyond, and returned with a broadened encyclopedia of flavors and techniques to pull from. Bies has always had a knack for refined cuisine, but since returning, his food is more nuanced, intriguing, and creative. His sweetbreads, for instance, showcase his newfound flair for global influences blended with technical expertise. Doused in spicy Indian curry powder, the lightly breaded and fried sweetbreads are finished with a soothing yogurt sauce that neutralizes the curry’s heat while leaving the exotic spice intact. Curry powder is also the key to Bies’ addictive vegan noodle bowl, a riff on Singapore noodles loaded with fresh herbs and vegetables tangled with thin rice noodles. With a modest, one-page menu, the intrepid new American haunt doesn’t overextend itself. Instead of trying to be the best at everything and falling short, Bies focuses on executing just a handful of things really, really well as he shares snapshots from his culinary travels through food. less...

Best cocktails BOA Award Winner

When the nation’s bartenders converge on Atlanta, as they did for this year’s Atlanta Food and Wine Festival, the first destination for drinks and merriment is TICONDEROGA CLUB, tucked into the dark back corner of Krog Street Market. Luckily for us non-bartenders, the club takes all comers. Gregmore...
When the nation’s bartenders converge on Atlanta, as they did for this year’s Atlanta Food and Wine Festival, the first destination for drinks and merriment is TICONDEROGA CLUB, tucked into the dark back corner of Krog Street Market. Luckily for us non-bartenders, the club takes all comers. Greg Best, Paul Calvert, and crew keep the cocktail menu concise, but every single drink is like a mini-masterpiece. The Long Bottom Stretch, for example, just may be the ultimate spin on a gin and tonic, incredibly smooth and complex with the clever addition of a splash of Benedictine. The eponymous Ticonderoga Cup, on the menu since day one, rewards intrepid drinkers by being boozy, fruity, and herbaceous, but never too much. And that’s how we feel about drinking at Ticonderoga Club — it’s never too much. less...

Best liquid lunch BOA Award Winner

Shabu Shabu is normally associated with Japanese food, but Koreans also have a love of this style of cuisine in which meat, vegetables, and noodles are cooked in bubbling stock. At TASTY 21, there is an endless amount of proteins, vegetables, dumplings, and noodles to cook on your personal tabletop burner.more...
Shabu Shabu is normally associated with Japanese food, but Koreans also have a love of this style of cuisine in which meat, vegetables, and noodles are cooked in bubbling stock. At TASTY 21, there is an endless amount of proteins, vegetables, dumplings, and noodles to cook on your personal tabletop burner. Sauces, including the spicy sesame, are all Korean, and the friendly staff will make you feel right at home in the space next to Karaoke Melody. less...

Best oysters BOA Award Winner

Decatur train depot turned haute saloon KIMBALL HOUSE boasts the best damn raw bar in the city (maybe the South!). Pull up a stool near the kitchen to catch a glimpse of the intense expert shucking in the dedicated oyster room. Under the direction of co-owner Bryan Rackley, Kimball’s raw bar menu letsmore...
Decatur train depot turned haute saloon KIMBALL HOUSE boasts the best damn raw bar in the city (maybe the South!). Pull up a stool near the kitchen to catch a glimpse of the intense expert shucking in the dedicated oyster room. Under the direction of co-owner Bryan Rackley, Kimball’s raw bar menu lets guests in on much more than a varietal’s relative size and saltiness. His daily selection of 15-20 oysters guides willful slurpers with insightful tasting notes that match the tone of a high-end wine list and bring the idea of the bivalves’ flavors to life. Skilled barkeeps are trained to know what beverages to pair with each. For oyster fiends, the weekday happy hour from 5-7 p.m. is a virtual candy store and Rackley is your Willy Wonka. less...

Best place for a first date BOA Award Winner

What makes a place great for a first date? Engaging ambiance, strong drinks, and delicious food are clutch, and GAJA’s chill East Atlanta vibe covers all of the above. The raw industrial design scheme marked by concrete floors, elemental wood and stainless steel furnishings, and sparse décor keepmore...
What makes a place great for a first date? Engaging ambiance, strong drinks, and delicious food are clutch, and GAJA’s chill East Atlanta vibe covers all of the above. The raw industrial design scheme marked by concrete floors, elemental wood and stainless steel furnishings, and sparse décor keep the room from feeling too polished or precious. There are stylistic accents, such as vintage Korean film posters and food served on the quintessential Korean trays built to hold a plethora of small side dishes — or banchan. Gaja employs just enough Asian-hipster-foodie quirk to fuel conversation and ultimately foil any first-date awkwardness. Gaja’s playful East-meets-West dishes, such as a rice bowl topped with whatever veggies the kitchen has on hand, cucumber kimchi, and a hamburger patty proudly laced with M.S.G., and the addictive corn cheese (popcorn draped with shredded cheese) are conversation starters in their own right. Wash away any remaining nerves with shots of soju (potent Korean rice liquor) or a refreshing Hite beer imported from Seoul. less...

Best pop-up incubator BOA Award Winner

Quynh “Q” Trinh’s GLOBAL GRUB COLLECTIVE tucked in an East Atlanta Village nook is an international food hall bustling with aspiring restaurants in start-up mode. Trinh sees the collective as an homage to her parents, who came to the U.S. from Vietnam as refugees with their eight children. A youngmore...
Quynh “Q” Trinh’s GLOBAL GRUB COLLECTIVE tucked in an East Atlanta Village nook is an international food hall bustling with aspiring restaurants in start-up mode. Trinh sees the collective as an homage to her parents, who came to the U.S. from Vietnam as refugees with their eight children. A young couple in their mid-20s hosted the family of 10 until they were able to move into their own home a year later. By offering the pop-ups a base of operations, the collective helps the small-business owners hone their crafts and work out kinks as they grow. Trinh provides initial support so her partners have the infrastructure, capital, and experience to open their own successful brick-and-mortar restaurants one day. Currently, the Collective houses more than a dozen concepts, most of which flip daily or weekly. Among them are the Midnight Marauder, a late-night concept serving Spotted Trotter dogs; Mamoune’s home-style Haitian cuisine, featuring chicken or vegetables with rice and spicy cabbage; Chop Chop Next, which serves street food mashups like fusion dumplings and kabobs; and the Sunday-only Cuban rice bowl concept La Parada Cubana. Say good-bye to the days of fighting over where to eat; the Collective has just about everything. 479-B Flat Shoals Ave. S.E. 404-430-7613. www.wesukisuki.com. less...

Best beer development BOA Award Winner

Georgia beer legislation
Thanks to the behind-the-scenes efforts of lawyer Taylor Harper and the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild, GEORGIA BEER LEGISLATION got a little friendlier this year. Since 2010 (the year Georgia got growlers), brewpubs have basically been allowed to sell growlers except for the fact that the Georgia Departmentmore...
Thanks to the behind-the-scenes efforts of lawyer Taylor Harper and the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild, GEORGIA BEER LEGISLATION got a little friendlier this year. Since 2010 (the year Georgia got growlers), brewpubs have basically been allowed to sell growlers except for the fact that the Georgia Department of Revenue hadn’t explicitly OK’d it. Confusing? Yes, but so is all Georgia beer law. The problem has been getting the DOR to sign off on a regulatory interpretation. Harper picked up the cause last fall, crafting legal arguments that the GCBG presented to the DOR. So now, thanks to DOR Commissioner Lynne Riley, we were surprised with the most levelheaded Georgia beer decision in years — Peach State brewpubs can now sell growlers of the beer they make to customers, pending municipality approval. At press time, those municipalities included Alpharetta, City of Atlanta, DeKalb County, Forsyth County, Macon-Bibb County, Sandy Springs, and Savannah. More are expected to follow. Three cheers for progress, even when it comes from a weird loophole. less...

Best food trend BOA Award Winner

Coffee
The Atlanta COFFEE scene has reached critical mass. Craft shops have penetrated most parts of town, from the chic confines of Ponce City Market (Spiller Park) to the far depths of downtown (Ébrik Coffee Room). Westside? Take your pick among a half-dozen shops within a few block radius. But that’smore...
The Atlanta COFFEE scene has reached critical mass. Craft shops have penetrated most parts of town, from the chic confines of Ponce City Market (Spiller Park) to the far depths of downtown (Ébrik Coffee Room). Westside? Take your pick among a half-dozen shops within a few block radius. But that’s not all. Cold brew specialists (Banjo, Blue Donkey, Wanderlust) seem to be stalking every farmers market in town. Even local micro-roasters (Radio Roasters, East Pole) are gaining traction. Starbucks seems to be noticing, too — it recently upgraded one of its midtown Atlanta shops to “Reserve” status, featuring exclusive small-lot roasts and your pick of siphon, Chemex, pour-over, or Clover brewing. less...

Best fried chicken BOA Award Winner

Crunch through the salty, crackly crust of BUSY BEE CAFÉ’s famous fried chicken to reveal a trove of juicy meat thanks to the restaurant’s top-secret brining process. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Best vegetarian cuisine from a non-vegetarian chef BOA Award Winner

For chef TODD GINSBERG, successful vegetarian cuisine needs to have plenty of texture and balance. The crave-worthy meatless dishes at Fred’s Meat & Bread and the General Muir are packed with both. The vegetarian banh mi sandwich at Fred’s, which was inspired by the chef’s travels around Vietnam,more...
For chef TODD GINSBERG, successful vegetarian cuisine needs to have plenty of texture and balance. The crave-worthy meatless dishes at Fred’s Meat & Bread and the General Muir are packed with both. The vegetarian banh mi sandwich at Fred’s, which was inspired by the chef’s travels around Vietnam, combines dense roasted cauliflower, creamy sliced eggplant, pickled carrots, jalapeño, and more for its gratifying heft, chew, and spice. For his vegetarian Reuben at the General Muir, Ginsberg kept the sandwich’s fundamental building blocks — sauerkraut, Russian dressing, rye bread — but employs fat slabs of smoky beets to replace corned beef’s meatiness. When it comes to vegetarian cooking, Ginsberg says there’s no precise formula that will yield perfect results every time, especially when diners naturally seem to crave protein. This can make cooking sans meat a challenge, but, for Ginsberg, it also makes creating veggie dishes that guests crave much more exciting. Fred’s Meat & Bread, 99 Krog St. N.E. 404-688-3733. www.fredsmeatandbread.com. less...

Best barbecue BOA Award Winner

FOX BROS. BAR-B-Q’s hickory-smoked meats are cooked low-and-slow and enlivened with Southern spices. Brisket is moist on the inside and black-barked on the outside. There are crispy, deeply smoky wings, Flintstones-size beef ribs, and tender pulled pork on brioche buns. Douse it all in the brothers’more...
FOX BROS. BAR-B-Q’s hickory-smoked meats are cooked low-and-slow and enlivened with Southern spices. Brisket is moist on the inside and black-barked on the outside. There are crispy, deeply smoky wings, Flintstones-size beef ribs, and tender pulled pork on brioche buns. Douse it all in the brothers’ rich sauce that’s sweet and tangy and tinged with heat. The Frito pie with brisket chili alone is worth the wait in the long line that can amass at the restaurant. If it’s a day when burnt ends are available, you’ll feel like a true winner to have scored a table. less...

Best burger BOA Award Winner

BREAD & BUTTERFLY’s altitudinous Burger Americain is irresistible. The layers of drippy ground beef, mayonnaise, mustard, caramelized onions, and Swiss cheese pack so many complementary sensory delights, you won’t mind the fantastic gooey mess that covers your plate, hands, and face by the time you’remore...
BREAD & BUTTERFLY’s altitudinous Burger Americain is irresistible. The layers of drippy ground beef, mayonnaise, mustard, caramelized onions, and Swiss cheese pack so many complementary sensory delights, you won’t mind the fantastic gooey mess that covers your plate, hands, and face by the time you’re finished with it. less...

Best distillery BOA Award Winner

Decatur’s Independent Distilling Co. is a no-frills garage distillery. It’s been more than 100 years since Atlanta was last seen as a hotbed of distilling, but we are finally starting to see glimpses of the city’s former glory. Among the four distilleries now operating in the metro area, Independentmore...
Decatur’s Independent Distilling Co. is a no-frills garage distillery. It’s been more than 100 years since Atlanta was last seen as a hotbed of distilling, but we are finally starting to see glimpses of the city’s former glory. Among the four distilleries now operating in the metro area, Independent Distilling Co. has earned our admiration with its bootstrapped, artisan ways. Its Independent Rum is nuanced and flavorful, with a delightfully light butter-caramel character. The Hellbender Bourbon — the first bourbon distilled inside the Perimeter since Prohibition — makes its mark with a mash bill heavy on Georgia-grown corn. If you take a tour of the tiny outfit, owner/distiller Michael Anderson will happily show you some of the other experimental batches underway — proof that there’s more good stuff to come.  less...

Best farm-to-table mainstay BOA Award Winner

MILLER UNION celebrates the deep vegetable tradition of the South. Like a seasonal shaman, chef Steven Satterfield conjures the best from each tuber and leaf with refined simplicity. A look at one signature dish, like his sautéed quail, over the course of a year makes a diner aware of the seasons. Whethermore...
MILLER UNION celebrates the deep vegetable tradition of the South. Like a seasonal shaman, chef Steven Satterfield conjures the best from each tuber and leaf with refined simplicity. A look at one signature dish, like his sautéed quail, over the course of a year makes a diner aware of the seasons. Whether he incorporates sweet corn, butterbeans, mushrooms, or applies a peach lacquer to the crisp skin depends on local farmers’ harvests. Complete the experience with a biodynamic wine selected by GM Neal McCarthy. less...

Best 'hood for food lovers BOA Award Winner

Inman Park
How many new and noteworthy restaurants can one neighborhood hold? INMAN PARK is testing the limit. Now one of the city’s most culinarily robust hamlets, food lovers have more options than they know what to do with. From the impeccable Italian gem that is Bocca Lupo to Krog Street Market’s foodmore...
How many new and noteworthy restaurants can one neighborhood hold? INMAN PARK is testing the limit. Now one of the city’s most culinarily robust hamlets, food lovers have more options than they know what to do with. From the impeccable Italian gem that is Bocca Lupo to Krog Street Market’s food hall filled with goodies, this area is now a bona fide destination for locals as well as visitors. Bread & Butterfly is the European bistro we want to linger in, and Beetlecat is the nautical port to throw one’s anchor. From quirky, often unexpected dishes at One Eared Stag to traditional Spanish tapas at Barcelona to pristine nigiri and sashimi at MF Sushi, there is a little something for everyone. And there are drinks, too! AMER and Ticonderoga Club are unique hidey-holes gaining national attention. Craving dessert? Head to Little Tart Bakeshop or Jeni’s Ice Cream at Krog Street Market. Regardless of what you’re in the mood for, Inman Park is in, man. www.inmanpark.org. less...

Best Latin oasis BOA Award Winner

Few places do breakfast as well as XELA PAN CAFÉ, located on Buford Highway just south of where the road intersects with I-285. Don’t miss the desayuno chapin, which is a hearty helping of yellow rice, puréed black beans, eggs, fried plantains, homemade corn tortillas, and a chunk of fresh whitemore...
Few places do breakfast as well as XELA PAN CAFÉ, located on Buford Highway just south of where the road intersects with I-285. Don’t miss the desayuno chapin, which is a hearty helping of yellow rice, puréed black beans, eggs, fried plantains, homemade corn tortillas, and a chunk of fresh white cheese. The restaurant seems to do a lot of take-out business for homesick people who routinely pop in for orders of Xela’s excellent rice tamales mixed with chicken. less...

Best Malaysian BOA Award Winner

MAMAK retains the same pep in its step it’s had since it opened in fall 2014. The cozy Asian Square Malaysian restaurant is a go-to for bold stewed curries, stir-fried noodles, and Malaysian specialties such as smoky kway teow — fat, chewy noodles tossed with shrimp and squid in a smoking-hot wok.more...
MAMAK retains the same pep in its step it’s had since it opened in fall 2014. The cozy Asian Square Malaysian restaurant is a go-to for bold stewed curries, stir-fried noodles, and Malaysian specialties such as smoky kway teow — fat, chewy noodles tossed with shrimp and squid in a smoking-hot wok. Crowd-pleasers such as roti canai flatbread served with amber-gold curry for dipping and nasi lemak, a platter filled with hunks of stewed chicken, potatoes, and a dome of coconut rice, will make for a delicious introduction. less...

Best overall restaurant BOA Award Winner

Even amid all its high-profile accolades — including being named Bon Appétit’s No. 1 Best Restaurant 2016 — it’s easy to feel at home at STAPLEHOUSE. The Old Fourth Ward restaurant is a family affair helmed by chef Ryan Smith, plus Smith’s wife Kara and sister-in-law Jen Hidinger, who servemore...
Even amid all its high-profile accolades — including being named Bon Appétit’s No. 1 Best Restaurant 2016 — it’s easy to feel at home at STAPLEHOUSE. The Old Fourth Ward restaurant is a family affair helmed by chef Ryan Smith, plus Smith’s wife Kara and sister-in-law Jen Hidinger, who serve as welcoming hosts. At Staplehouse, Smith’s cooking is prodigious without being overwrought. Dishes such as tender charred cabbage served in a smoky sausage broth or his signature chicken liver mousse tart demonstrate this balancing act with ease. The tart’s ever-changing rotation of seasonal accoutrements such as fermented peach and dandelion greens in the summer adds depth and variety. Staplehouse routinely offers impeccable meals that delight the eyes as much as they please the palate. Some of Smith’s more ambitious creations such as sunchoke custard with supple smoked sable fish, wild juniper, and ricotta foam, gently challenge you and then give you a happy embrace. Just like family. That the restaurant’s profits go to its sister organization the Giving Kitchen, which provides support to Atlanta restaurant workers facing unanticipated crises, creates even more incentive to keep Staplehouse fans coming back. less...

Best pizza BOA Award Winner

We’ve fallen in love with FELLINI’S pizza all over again. If you haven’t been in a while, skip the basics and indulge in a doubly thick Sicilian slice. That first plunge into fluffy, slightly crisped dough topped with glistening cheese is one of the best bites around. And other metro Atlanta locations.more...
We’ve fallen in love with FELLINI’S pizza all over again. If you haven’t been in a while, skip the basics and indulge in a doubly thick Sicilian slice. That first plunge into fluffy, slightly crisped dough topped with glistening cheese is one of the best bites around. And other metro Atlanta locations. less...

Best place to take visitors BOA Award Winner

“Life. Well spent.” is an old Sears slogan that could be used today to advertise PONCE CITY MARKET’S CENTRAL FOOD HALL. Inhabiting 300,000 square feet inside the renovated former Sears, Roebuck & Co. headquarters, the mix of dine-in and grab-n-go eateries is equipped to accommodate a vast rangemore...
“Life. Well spent.” is an old Sears slogan that could be used today to advertise PONCE CITY MARKET’S CENTRAL FOOD HALL. Inhabiting 300,000 square feet inside the renovated former Sears, Roebuck & Co. headquarters, the mix of dine-in and grab-n-go eateries is equipped to accommodate a vast range of food preferences, moods, and tastes. Four James Beard Award recipients chose the Old Fourth Ward food hall for their chef-driven, fast-casual concepts: Sean Brock’s Minero, Anne Quatrano’s W.H. Stiles Fish Camp, Linton Hopkins’ H+F Burger and Hop’s Chicken, and Hugh Acheson’s Spiller Park. A fanciful stroll around the hall feels like a walking tour of global cuisine, no passport required. There’s playful Indian street food at chef Meherwan Irani’s Botiwalla, steaming bowls of Japanese ramen at Guy Wong’s Ton Ton, savory Pan-Latin sandwiches at Hector Santiago’s El Super Pan, all the tongue-tingling Sichuan cuisine you can handle at Jia, and more. Grab an adult beverage at the Mercury, City Winery, or the Tap on Ponce. Sweet tooth? King of Pops, Honeysuckle Gelato, or Collier Candy Co. has got you covered. There’s nowhere more buzzy and diverting than Ponce City Market in Atlanta right now, which makes it an ideal destination for entertaining hungry out-of-towners. less...

Best reason to get out of bed early BOA Award Winner

Breakfast tacos at Home grown
Two words: breakfast tacos. Home grown’s Reynoldstown dining room tends to remain full at breakfast time, but don’t let the crowd of people waiting for a table deter you. Your patience will be rewarded. Chorizo BREAKFAST TACOS AT HOME GROWN are an example of how simplicity and balance can transformmore...
Two words: breakfast tacos. Home grown’s Reynoldstown dining room tends to remain full at breakfast time, but don’t let the crowd of people waiting for a table deter you. Your patience will be rewarded. Chorizo BREAKFAST TACOS AT HOME GROWN are an example of how simplicity and balance can transform a handful of ingredients into a magical combination. Every point has a counterpoint. The spiciness from the ground sausage is mellowed out by dollops of silky sour cream. A sprinkling of fresh cilantro cuts through the fluffy, buttery eggs with a bright and herby pop. The warm corn tortillas tie everything together by adding some chewy heft and a whisper of sweetness to every bite. less...

Best tacos BOA Award Winner

EL REY DEL TACO’s traditional fillings and ultra-fresh homemade tortillas still can’t be beat. Go for the melty slow-braised goat or fatty and crisp pork carnitas dressed simply with cilantro and onion. 5288 Buford Highway N.E., Doraville. 770-986-0032. www.elreydeltacoatl.com.

Best tiki bar BOA Award Winner

For those who like their drinks on fire in a cozy retro den filled with Polynesian vibes, S.O.S. TIKI BAR is the place. A short walk down an alley in Decatur leads you to an escapist environment dimply lit by topless, grass skirt-clad lady lamps. Banana leaf wallpaper, tropically attired servers andmore...
For those who like their drinks on fire in a cozy retro den filled with Polynesian vibes, S.O.S. TIKI BAR is the place. A short walk down an alley in Decatur leads you to an escapist environment dimply lit by topless, grass skirt-clad lady lamps. Banana leaf wallpaper, tropically attired servers and bartenders, and surfer tunes complete the time warp without feeling too over-the-top. Bobby Dudley and crew serve cocktails running the gamut from classics (Mai Tai!) to originals like the boozy Subtle Banana stirred with rye, cognac, Benedictine, and cinnamon and garnished with an orchid or plastic mermaid. The retro hangout also flaunts a fun menu of coconut shrimp, Polynesian spare ribs, and pu pu platters to complement the drinks and décor. It’s the kind of place where you might find yourself sitting next to a member of the National Swizzle Stick Society. less...

Best Bombay-style street food BOA Award Winner

CHAI PANI is a bastion of approachable Indian cuisine. The Decatur restaurant from James Beard Award-winning chef and restaurateur Meherwan Irani fills up on a nightly basis thanks to its menu of playful yet soul-satisfying goodies. The kale pakoras, nuggets of tender greens coated in chickpea battermore...
CHAI PANI is a bastion of approachable Indian cuisine. The Decatur restaurant from James Beard Award-winning chef and restaurateur Meherwan Irani fills up on a nightly basis thanks to its menu of playful yet soul-satisfying goodies. The kale pakoras, nuggets of tender greens coated in chickpea batter and fried, are crazy snackable. It’s easy to fill the table with small plates like shoestring Bombay chili cheese fries piled with spiced lamb hash, matchstick okra fries cooked to shattering perfection, and lamb sliders seasoned with cumin, cilantro, ginger, and mint. less...

Best breath of fresh air BOA Award Winner

In an era when many new restaurants are taking the bigger is better approach to success, it’s nice to see an intimate establishment like AMER open up in Inman Park. The vibe at this neighborhood cocktail bar is chill, but stylish — ever hear the word sprezzatura? (Google it.) An air of studied nonchalancemore...
In an era when many new restaurants are taking the bigger is better approach to success, it’s nice to see an intimate establishment like AMER open up in Inman Park. The vibe at this neighborhood cocktail bar is chill, but stylish — ever hear the word sprezzatura? (Google it.) An air of studied nonchalance is what Amer is all about. Savoring an interesting craft cocktail at the modest bar or lounging around a low table from a cushy banquette feels effortless. Try one of the elaborate technicolor drinks in the Built section of cocktails, like the Bling Machine or the Smoke & Chill. Then, chill. Pair the drinks with a bowl of marinated olives, paprika-smoked cashews, or another light bite from Amer’s simple menu of bar snacks. Once you’ve got the adequate booze padding in place, stick around to enjoy another drink. 299 N. Highland Ave. 404-600-5895. www.ameratlanta.com. less...

Best coffeeshop BOA Award Winner

Who knew that a shipping container could make for such a delightful coffee shop? Apparently, BRASH COFFEE founder Matt Ludwikowski did. His little coffee shop parked on the lawn in the Westside Provisions District has drawn crowds both to admire the fine design of the space as well as the fine coffeesmore...
Who knew that a shipping container could make for such a delightful coffee shop? Apparently, BRASH COFFEE founder Matt Ludwikowski did. His little coffee shop parked on the lawn in the Westside Provisions District has drawn crowds both to admire the fine design of the space as well as the fine coffees that Ludwikowski and the Brash team have sourced and roasted themselves. The baristas will happily share the stories of the farmers who grew the beans, then pour you a perfect cortado. The menu is as minimal as the space, but in a neighborhood practically overrun with coffee shops, Brash stands out — in a cute little shipping container. less...

Best food court BOA Award Winner

You don’t actually come to ASIAN SUPERMARKET to go grocery shopping. You come here to eat in its food court at the three inexpensive and incredibly solid Chinese restaurants — Red Pepper, China Kitchen, and Best BBQ — where you can get everything from hot pots to dumplings to roast duck. On yourmore...
You don’t actually come to ASIAN SUPERMARKET to go grocery shopping. You come here to eat in its food court at the three inexpensive and incredibly solid Chinese restaurants — Red Pepper, China Kitchen, and Best BBQ — where you can get everything from hot pots to dumplings to roast duck. On your way out, stroll through the small adjoining bakery, Bread Time, where interesting steamed Chinese cakes are the perfect sweet to take home. less...

Best ice cream (and a show) BOA Award Winner

8°F Ice Cream
Grab your place in line at 8°F ICE CREAM, the new Thai ice cream sensation on Buford Highway that’s keeping Atlanta kids and adults cool. Much like Coldstone Creamery, the ice cream is assembled on a chilled slab. The real difference here is that the ice cream is made to order by spreading a liquid-ymore...
Grab your place in line at 8°F ICE CREAM, the new Thai ice cream sensation on Buford Highway that’s keeping Atlanta kids and adults cool. Much like Coldstone Creamery, the ice cream is assembled on a chilled slab. The real difference here is that the ice cream is made to order by spreading a liquid-y base on the cold surface and then ice cream is formed into little cylinders that look like rolled carpets placed upright. If you aren’t feeling creative, the store has plenty of creations you can order. less...

Best new beer BOA Award Winner

Rapturous
It started as a draft-only, taproom-only member of Three Tavern Brewery’s Sour Asylum series. Lacto-fermented and matured on fresh raspberry purée, slightly tart and sporting a highly sessionable alcohol-by-volume (5 percent), RAPTUROUS quickly became a favorite of the Decatur beermaker’s tours.more...
It started as a draft-only, taproom-only member of Three Tavern Brewery’s Sour Asylum series. Lacto-fermented and matured on fresh raspberry purée, slightly tart and sporting a highly sessionable alcohol-by-volume (5 percent), RAPTUROUS quickly became a favorite of the Decatur beermaker’s tours. With more requests for the beer came more beer, and with more beer came a proper market release that brought glasses of the pink deliciousness to various watering holes all over the Atlanta metro area. These days, it’s not uncommon to find it at hip, varied restaurants and bars like Chai Pani, Argosy, and Gaja. Better still, Creative Loafing’s best new beer of 2016 started showing up in cans this August. Pro-tip: Those cans pair exceedingly well with the final dregs of the Georgia summer. less...

Best restaurant face-lift BOA Award Winner

Thanks to ARIA’s sexy new reboot, the seasoned Buckhead establishment is better looking than ever. It’s still a white tablecloth affair, but the new ambiance is softer and a touch more casual. Seiber Design made the Buckhead darling so fresh and so clean, clean. Soft gray walls, leather banquettes,more...
Thanks to ARIA’s sexy new reboot, the seasoned Buckhead establishment is better looking than ever. It’s still a white tablecloth affair, but the new ambiance is softer and a touch more casual. Seiber Design made the Buckhead darling so fresh and so clean, clean. Soft gray walls, leather banquettes, and buttery yellow curtains replace the main dining room’s previous stark white theme. The new color palette also extends to the formerly red bar area, which was remade to feel more open and less like a shadowy cave. But not everything’s brand-new. Despite the visual updates, Aria’s attentive service staff, chef Gerry Klaskala’s refined menu, and the distinctive dandelion-esque chandelier that twinkles in the dining room remain. less...

Best value BOA Award Winner

On the left side of the well-loved strip mall that is Asian Square sits LA MEI ZI, a Modern Taiwanese restaurant that’s quietly serving up some great Chinese food. Taiwanese and Sichuan specialties abound, including mapo tofu, crispy fried chicken legs, colossal typhoon shelter prawns, and more. Servicemore...
On the left side of the well-loved strip mall that is Asian Square sits LA MEI ZI, a Modern Taiwanese restaurant that’s quietly serving up some great Chinese food. Taiwanese and Sichuan specialties abound, including mapo tofu, crispy fried chicken legs, colossal typhoon shelter prawns, and more. Service is quick and friendly and the English is plentiful so don’t be scurred to explore and try something new for lunch. less...

Best cornbread BOA Award Winner

Kevin Gillespie has struck gold again with his down-home restaurant REVIVAL. The fried chicken and meatloaf may dominate the spotlight, but the real reason to visit Revival is the cornbread that arrives fresh with every meal. Revival’s rendition of this Southern staple comes as simple triangles cookedmore...
Kevin Gillespie has struck gold again with his down-home restaurant REVIVAL. The fried chicken and meatloaf may dominate the spotlight, but the real reason to visit Revival is the cornbread that arrives fresh with every meal. Revival’s rendition of this Southern staple comes as simple triangles cooked in cast-iron skillets. The basic appearance belies the complex interior of Revival’s cornbread, which manages to evoke both the silky texture of a soufflé and the creaminess of a thick spoon bread at the same time. It comes from a recipe passed down by Gillespie’s great-grandmother, for whom we should all give thanks. less...

Best new restaurant BOA Award Winner

Few restaurants have wooed Atlanta diners as swiftly as Inman Park’s BREAD & BUTTERFLY. The French-inspired eatery from Billy and Kristin Allin has infused the neighborhood with a lovely bit of Parisian charm. The restaurant serves everything from breakfast to lunch to snacks to dinner. Seemingly simplemore...
Few restaurants have wooed Atlanta diners as swiftly as Inman Park’s BREAD & BUTTERFLY. The French-inspired eatery from Billy and Kristin Allin has infused the neighborhood with a lovely bit of Parisian charm. The restaurant serves everything from breakfast to lunch to snacks to dinner. Seemingly simple dishes such as pancakes drizzled with maple syrup and butter and a French-style omelet served with a vinegary simple salad are transformed into mouthwatering, soul-satisfying treats. A towering burger layered with caramelized onion, Swiss cheese, mayo, and grain mustard on a buttery brioche bun is gooey, tender, and tangy in all the right ways. And don’t miss the drool-worthy display of croissants, cookies, cakes, bread, and more from sister bakery Proof Bakeshop that bedeck the restaurant’s pastry case. A short but strong wine list curated by Cakes & Ale veteran Jordan Smelt and a classic, well-executed cocktail program round out Bread & Butterfly’s impressive offerings.  less...

Best wine list BOA Award Winner

When Empire State South first opened back in 2010, “Head Wine Cheerleader” Steven Grubbs got the town’s wine geeks buzzing with his witty wine menus packed with rarities not often found on Atlanta lists. Somehow, he has managed to keep Empire State South’s wine menu as eclectic, charming, andmore...
When Empire State South first opened back in 2010, “Head Wine Cheerleader” Steven Grubbs got the town’s wine geeks buzzing with his witty wine menus packed with rarities not often found on Atlanta lists. Somehow, he has managed to keep Empire State South’s wine menu as eclectic, charming, and informational as ever. Sample footnote: “It is a mildly kept secret that some of the best drinking you can do for the money these days is Beaujolais ... There may be no better time to obtain and drink the wines of the true legends, the magical geniuses, like those of Marcel Lapierre.” So yes, you can get a Lapierre Morgon or simply sit back and be thankful that Grubbs has a thing for Burgundy and Champagne and German Riesling. If Grubbs says a wine is good, the wine is good. less...

Best burritos BOA Award Winner

And other metro Atlanta locations.

Best coffeehouse BOA Award Winner

And other metro Atlanta locations.

Best food truck BOA Award Winner

Yumbii

Best gluten-free options BOA Award Winner

And other metro Atlanta locations.

Best hamburger BOA Award Winner

And other metro Atlanta locations.

Best local food company BOA Award Winner

And other metro Atlanta locations.

Best restaurant trend BOA Award Winner

Farm to table

Best bakery BOA Award Winner

And other metro Atlanta locations.

Best beer festival BOA Award Winner

Decatur Craft Beer Festival

Best Chinese BOA Award Winner

And other metro Atlanta locations.

Best cupcakes BOA Award Winner

And other metro Atlanta locations.

Best deli BOA Award Winner

Best dim sum BOA Award Winner

Canton House

Best food festival or event BOA Award Winner

Taste of Atlanta

Best fried chicken BOA Award Winner

And other metro Atlanta locations.

Best Italian BOA Award Winner

Best juice bar BOA Award Winner

And other metro Atlanta locations.

Best nachos BOA Award Winner

And other metro Atlanta locations.

Best restaurant to bring the kids BOA Award Winner

And other metro Atlanta locations.

Best Tex-Mex BOA Award Winner

Best biscuits BOA Award Winner

And other metro Atlanta locations.

Best chef BOA Award Winner

Kevin Rathbun

Best chocolates BOA Award Winner

And other metro Atlanta locations.

Best desserts BOA Award Winner

And other metro Atlanta locations.

Best French BOA Award Winner

Best Japanese BOA Award Winner

Nakato
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Best burritos BOA Award Winner

And other metro Atlanta locations.

Best cheap eats BOA Award Winner

Why do eastsiders and Tex-Mex lovers of all kinds heart EL MEXICANO? The unassuming neighborhood gem south of East Atlanta Village checks all the boxes needed for success. The menu here is mainly straightforward Mexican, but there are plenty of concessions to the American palate, like fajitas. For roughlymore...
Why do eastsiders and Tex-Mex lovers of all kinds heart EL MEXICANO? The unassuming neighborhood gem south of East Atlanta Village checks all the boxes needed for success. The menu here is mainly straightforward Mexican, but there are plenty of concessions to the American palate, like fajitas. For roughly $2 apiece, the street tacos made with corn tortillas and filled with the meat of your choice — try the juicy pork carnitas speckled with bits of crispy fat — are a steal. Make a meal of them or tack a few on to your appetizer order. Further exploration of the five-page menu reveals shockingly tender short ribs simmered in a chile de arbol sauce and an array of raw seafood cocktails, including a heaping shrimp ceviche drenched in lime juice. less...

Best chef BOA Award Winner

No chef’s return to Atlanta has been as welcome as DAVID BIES’, formerly of Restaurant Eugene and currently of Krog Street Market’s Ticonderoga Club. Bies went on a sabbatical to travel across Asia, Central America, and beyond, and returned with a broadened encyclopedia of flavors and techniquesmore...
No chef’s return to Atlanta has been as welcome as DAVID BIES’, formerly of Restaurant Eugene and currently of Krog Street Market’s Ticonderoga Club. Bies went on a sabbatical to travel across Asia, Central America, and beyond, and returned with a broadened encyclopedia of flavors and techniques to pull from. Bies has always had a knack for refined cuisine, but since returning, his food is more nuanced, intriguing, and creative. His sweetbreads, for instance, showcase his newfound flair for global influences blended with technical expertise. Doused in spicy Indian curry powder, the lightly breaded and fried sweetbreads are finished with a soothing yogurt sauce that neutralizes the curry’s heat while leaving the exotic spice intact. Curry powder is also the key to Bies’ addictive vegan noodle bowl, a riff on Singapore noodles loaded with fresh herbs and vegetables tangled with thin rice noodles. With a modest, one-page menu, the intrepid new American haunt doesn’t overextend itself. Instead of trying to be the best at everything and falling short, Bies focuses on executing just a handful of things really, really well as he shares snapshots from his culinary travels through food. less...

Best cocktails BOA Award Winner

When the nation’s bartenders converge on Atlanta, as they did for this year’s Atlanta Food and Wine Festival, the first destination for drinks and merriment is TICONDEROGA CLUB, tucked into the dark back corner of Krog Street Market. Luckily for us non-bartenders, the club takes all comers. Gregmore...
When the nation’s bartenders converge on Atlanta, as they did for this year’s Atlanta Food and Wine Festival, the first destination for drinks and merriment is TICONDEROGA CLUB, tucked into the dark back corner of Krog Street Market. Luckily for us non-bartenders, the club takes all comers. Greg Best, Paul Calvert, and crew keep the cocktail menu concise, but every single drink is like a mini-masterpiece. The Long Bottom Stretch, for example, just may be the ultimate spin on a gin and tonic, incredibly smooth and complex with the clever addition of a splash of Benedictine. The eponymous Ticonderoga Cup, on the menu since day one, rewards intrepid drinkers by being boozy, fruity, and herbaceous, but never too much. And that’s how we feel about drinking at Ticonderoga Club — it’s never too much. less...

Best coffeehouse BOA Award Winner

And other metro Atlanta locations.

Best food truck BOA Award Winner

Yumbii

Best gluten-free options BOA Award Winner

And other metro Atlanta locations.

Best hamburger BOA Award Winner

And other metro Atlanta locations.

Best liquid lunch BOA Award Winner

Shabu Shabu is normally associated with Japanese food, but Koreans also have a love of this style of cuisine in which meat, vegetables, and noodles are cooked in bubbling stock. At TASTY 21, there is an endless amount of proteins, vegetables, dumplings, and noodles to cook on your personal tabletop burner.more...
Shabu Shabu is normally associated with Japanese food, but Koreans also have a love of this style of cuisine in which meat, vegetables, and noodles are cooked in bubbling stock. At TASTY 21, there is an endless amount of proteins, vegetables, dumplings, and noodles to cook on your personal tabletop burner. Sauces, including the spicy sesame, are all Korean, and the friendly staff will make you feel right at home in the space next to Karaoke Melody. less...

Best local food company BOA Award Winner

And other metro Atlanta locations.

Best oysters BOA Award Winner

Decatur train depot turned haute saloon KIMBALL HOUSE boasts the best damn raw bar in the city (maybe the South!). Pull up a stool near the kitchen to catch a glimpse of the intense expert shucking in the dedicated oyster room. Under the direction of co-owner Bryan Rackley, Kimball’s raw bar menu letsmore...
Decatur train depot turned haute saloon KIMBALL HOUSE boasts the best damn raw bar in the city (maybe the South!). Pull up a stool near the kitchen to catch a glimpse of the intense expert shucking in the dedicated oyster room. Under the direction of co-owner Bryan Rackley, Kimball’s raw bar menu lets guests in on much more than a varietal’s relative size and saltiness. His daily selection of 15-20 oysters guides willful slurpers with insightful tasting notes that match the tone of a high-end wine list and bring the idea of the bivalves’ flavors to life. Skilled barkeeps are trained to know what beverages to pair with each. For oyster fiends, the weekday happy hour from 5-7 p.m. is a virtual candy store and Rackley is your Willy Wonka. less...

Best place for a first date BOA Award Winner

What makes a place great for a first date? Engaging ambiance, strong drinks, and delicious food are clutch, and GAJA’s chill East Atlanta vibe covers all of the above. The raw industrial design scheme marked by concrete floors, elemental wood and stainless steel furnishings, and sparse décor keepmore...
What makes a place great for a first date? Engaging ambiance, strong drinks, and delicious food are clutch, and GAJA’s chill East Atlanta vibe covers all of the above. The raw industrial design scheme marked by concrete floors, elemental wood and stainless steel furnishings, and sparse décor keep the room from feeling too polished or precious. There are stylistic accents, such as vintage Korean film posters and food served on the quintessential Korean trays built to hold a plethora of small side dishes — or banchan. Gaja employs just enough Asian-hipster-foodie quirk to fuel conversation and ultimately foil any first-date awkwardness. Gaja’s playful East-meets-West dishes, such as a rice bowl topped with whatever veggies the kitchen has on hand, cucumber kimchi, and a hamburger patty proudly laced with M.S.G., and the addictive corn cheese (popcorn draped with shredded cheese) are conversation starters in their own right. Wash away any remaining nerves with shots of soju (potent Korean rice liquor) or a refreshing Hite beer imported from Seoul. less...

Best pop-up incubator BOA Award Winner

Quynh “Q” Trinh’s GLOBAL GRUB COLLECTIVE tucked in an East Atlanta Village nook is an international food hall bustling with aspiring restaurants in start-up mode. Trinh sees the collective as an homage to her parents, who came to the U.S. from Vietnam as refugees with their eight children. A youngmore...
Quynh “Q” Trinh’s GLOBAL GRUB COLLECTIVE tucked in an East Atlanta Village nook is an international food hall bustling with aspiring restaurants in start-up mode. Trinh sees the collective as an homage to her parents, who came to the U.S. from Vietnam as refugees with their eight children. A young couple in their mid-20s hosted the family of 10 until they were able to move into their own home a year later. By offering the pop-ups a base of operations, the collective helps the small-business owners hone their crafts and work out kinks as they grow. Trinh provides initial support so her partners have the infrastructure, capital, and experience to open their own successful brick-and-mortar restaurants one day. Currently, the Collective houses more than a dozen concepts, most of which flip daily or weekly. Among them are the Midnight Marauder, a late-night concept serving Spotted Trotter dogs; Mamoune’s home-style Haitian cuisine, featuring chicken or vegetables with rice and spicy cabbage; Chop Chop Next, which serves street food mashups like fusion dumplings and kabobs; and the Sunday-only Cuban rice bowl concept La Parada Cubana. Say good-bye to the days of fighting over where to eat; the Collective has just about everything. 479-B Flat Shoals Ave. S.E. 404-430-7613. www.wesukisuki.com. less...

Best restaurant trend BOA Award Winner

Farm to table

Best bakery BOA Award Winner

And other metro Atlanta locations.

Best beer development BOA Award Winner

Georgia beer legislation
Thanks to the behind-the-scenes efforts of lawyer Taylor Harper and the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild, GEORGIA BEER LEGISLATION got a little friendlier this year. Since 2010 (the year Georgia got growlers), brewpubs have basically been allowed to sell growlers except for the fact that the Georgia Departmentmore...
Thanks to the behind-the-scenes efforts of lawyer Taylor Harper and the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild, GEORGIA BEER LEGISLATION got a little friendlier this year. Since 2010 (the year Georgia got growlers), brewpubs have basically been allowed to sell growlers except for the fact that the Georgia Department of Revenue hadn’t explicitly OK’d it. Confusing? Yes, but so is all Georgia beer law. The problem has been getting the DOR to sign off on a regulatory interpretation. Harper picked up the cause last fall, crafting legal arguments that the GCBG presented to the DOR. So now, thanks to DOR Commissioner Lynne Riley, we were surprised with the most levelheaded Georgia beer decision in years — Peach State brewpubs can now sell growlers of the beer they make to customers, pending municipality approval. At press time, those municipalities included Alpharetta, City of Atlanta, DeKalb County, Forsyth County, Macon-Bibb County, Sandy Springs, and Savannah. More are expected to follow. Three cheers for progress, even when it comes from a weird loophole. less...

Best beer festival BOA Award Winner

Decatur Craft Beer Festival

Best Chinese BOA Award Winner

And other metro Atlanta locations.

Best cupcakes BOA Award Winner

And other metro Atlanta locations.

Best deli BOA Award Winner

Best dim sum BOA Award Winner

Canton House

Best food festival or event BOA Award Winner

Taste of Atlanta

Best food trend BOA Award Winner

Coffee
The Atlanta COFFEE scene has reached critical mass. Craft shops have penetrated most parts of town, from the chic confines of Ponce City Market (Spiller Park) to the far depths of downtown (Ébrik Coffee Room). Westside? Take your pick among a half-dozen shops within a few block radius. But that’smore...
The Atlanta COFFEE scene has reached critical mass. Craft shops have penetrated most parts of town, from the chic confines of Ponce City Market (Spiller Park) to the far depths of downtown (Ébrik Coffee Room). Westside? Take your pick among a half-dozen shops within a few block radius. But that’s not all. Cold brew specialists (Banjo, Blue Donkey, Wanderlust) seem to be stalking every farmers market in town. Even local micro-roasters (Radio Roasters, East Pole) are gaining traction. Starbucks seems to be noticing, too — it recently upgraded one of its midtown Atlanta shops to “Reserve” status, featuring exclusive small-lot roasts and your pick of siphon, Chemex, pour-over, or Clover brewing. less...

Best fried chicken BOA Award Winner

Crunch through the salty, crackly crust of BUSY BEE CAFÉ’s famous fried chicken to reveal a trove of juicy meat thanks to the restaurant’s top-secret brining process. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Best fried chicken BOA Award Winner

And other metro Atlanta locations.

Best Italian BOA Award Winner

Best juice bar BOA Award Winner

And other metro Atlanta locations.

Best nachos BOA Award Winner

And other metro Atlanta locations.

Best restaurant to bring the kids BOA Award Winner

And other metro Atlanta locations.

Trophy Case BOA Award Winner

For years, Atlanta’s deli-starved craved something like THE GENERAL MUIR. At breakfast there’s a strong cup of coffee with a nosh from the bakery or a bagel platter. At lunch, sandwiches stacked with homemade cured meats and burgers reign. At dinner, chef Todd Ginsberg’s French training makes anmore...
For years, Atlanta’s deli-starved craved something like THE GENERAL MUIR. At breakfast there’s a strong cup of coffee with a nosh from the bakery or a bagel platter. At lunch, sandwiches stacked with homemade cured meats and burgers reign. At dinner, chef Todd Ginsberg’s French training makes an appearance. The Emory Point deli/brasserie has become an Atlanta institution because who doesn’t love a bagel? less...

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