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Best Of Atlanta 2011 Oral Pleasures Large


Oral Pleasures

Recently, my world-traveling uncle has been making frequent trips to Atlanta. Over the past couple of months, I've been taking him out, always conscious that he regularly eats in Tokyo, Paris and New York. What do we have in Atlanta that can compare to those world-class cities?

A lot, it turns out. My uncle has been consistently surprised and impressed by the restaurants he's visited here. At Empire State South, the wine list blew him away (and this is a guy who can't put me up in his guestroom any more because it's full of wine). At Miller Union, he swooned over the blueberry upside-down cake. All over town, cocktails have had him wishing aloud that other cities he visits had our booze prowess.

We've long known Atlanta is a dining city worthy of our love and devotion, but this year it seems as though the rest of the country realized that as well. The Atlanta Food & Wine Festival brought journalists, chefs and diners from all over the country, and the thing I heard most from those visitors was surprise and delight at the food our city has to offer. 2011 felt like a coming-out party for Atlanta's restaurant scene. We're happy to be a part of that celebration.

— Besha Rodell

Best tapas BOA Award Winner

Pura Vida


Best cheap eats BOA Award Winner

Eats

Best chinese BOA Award Winner

Chin Chin Brookhaven
And other metro Atlanta locations.

Best food festival or event BOA Award Winner

Taste of Atlanta

Best French BOA Award Winner

Cafe Alsace

Best fried chicken BOA Award Winner

Watershed on Peachtree
Currently in the process of relocating to a new location.

Best desserts BOA Award Winner

Cafe Intermezzo - Midtown
and other metro Atlanta locations.

Best chef BOA Award Winner

Kevin Rathbun
<ahref="http://www.rathbunsrestaurant.com">www.rathbunsrestaurant.com

Best desserts BOA Award Winner

Cafe Intermezzo - Dunwoody
and other metro Atlanta locations.

Best supper club BOA Award Winner

Spice Route Supper Club
<ahref="http://www.spiceroutesupperclub.com">www.spiceroutesupperclub.com

Best desserts BOA Award Winner

Cafe Intermezzo
and other metro Atlanta locations.

Best breakfast BOA Award Winner

Flying Biscuit Cafe - Sandy Springs
And multiple metro Atlanta locations.
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Best evolution for Decatur BOA Award Winner

no. 246
OK, we get it Decatur: You love beer. You love food that goes with beer. We love beer and beer-related bites as well. But variety is the spice of a neighborhood, and No. 246 has provided you with some much-needed diversity. Of course, Decatur has long been a bastion for upscale food, from (the closedmore...
OK, we get it Decatur: You love beer. You love food that goes with beer. We love beer and beer-related bites as well. But variety is the spice of a neighborhood, and No. 246 has provided you with some much-needed diversity. Of course, Decatur has long been a bastion for upscale food, from (the closed and moving out of the 'hood) Watershed to Cakes & Ale, but 246's modern, mature Italian has gone a long way toward making Ponce de Leon Avenue feel like a real restaurant row that could justifiably be referenced as one of the most exciting culinary areas in town. Lunch at 246 is a special treat, particularly the juicy indulgence of the porchetta sandwich, which may be our favorite thing between sliced bread these days. No. 246 didn't put Decatur on the culinary map, but it sure made it a destination that's harder to miss. 129 E. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur. 678-399-8246. no246.com. less...

Best new (old) restaurant BOA Award Winner

Cakes & Ale
We were slightly aghast when we learned that Cakes & Ale was moving from its original storefront location on West Ponce de Leon Avenue in downtown Decatur to a newly renovated spot on the square. But as it turns out, the new, airier space has actually made one of our favorite restaurants even more welcoming.more...
We were slightly aghast when we learned that Cakes & Ale was moving from its original storefront location on West Ponce de Leon Avenue in downtown Decatur to a newly renovated spot on the square. But as it turns out, the new, airier space has actually made one of our favorite restaurants even more welcoming. In fact, the addition of a bakery next door, plus the brilliant move of bringing former Dynamic Dish owner David Sweeney on as master of lunch, has heightened C&A's offerings significantly. Remember those brilliant Dynamic Dish sandwiches and quinoa salads? They're baaack. In the dining room, chef Billy Allin continues his legacy of melding simplicity and creativity. A recent playful take on tuna salad was a study in textural contrasts, pairing meaty cured tuna with soft potatoes, waxy pole beans and the snap of cooling cucumber. Cocktails come in the coolest vintage glassware around, and the wine list is both ambitious and affordable, with many selections available by the glass, carafe and bottle. Cakes & Ale 2.0 lives up to and surpasses its predecessor, much to our relief and delight. 155 Sycamore St., Decatur. 404-377-7994. cakesandalerestaurant.com. less...

Best service BOA Award Winner

La Grotta

Best frozen yogurt BOA Award Winner

Yoforia
And other metro Atlanta locations.

Best restaurant trend BOA Award Winner

Farm to table

Best tapas BOA Award Winner

Pura Vida

Best bartender BOA Award Winner

Paul Calvert
Back when Paul Calvert worked at the Sound Table, he was a great mixologist. His drinks were remarkable, but when the place filled up, the frenzied pace of a dance club didn't match the careful construction of Calvert's drinks. He could seem a little ... grumpy. Now that Calvert's at Pura Vida, he'smore...
Back when Paul Calvert worked at the Sound Table, he was a great mixologist. His drinks were remarkable, but when the place filled up, the frenzied pace of a dance club didn't match the careful construction of Calvert's drinks. He could seem a little ... grumpy. Now that Calvert's at Pura Vida, he's a whole new man. His drinks are as good as ever, and he now has the time to be the gracious, knowledgeable, friendly host we always knew he could be. Calvert has gone beyond mixology to become a great bartender. 656 N. Highland Ave. 404-870-9797. puravidatapas.com. less...

Best burgers BOA Award Winner

Holeman & Finch

Best desserts BOA Award Winner

Miller Union
Pastry chef Pamela Moxley has emerged as a beacon of light in the dark morass of mediocre chocolate lava cakes and soggy pies. Moxley, who worked pastry from the opening to the closing of Craft and Craftbar, is in charge of all things sweet at Miller Union. Everything the disarmingly passionate chefmore...
Pastry chef Pamela Moxley has emerged as a beacon of light in the dark morass of mediocre chocolate lava cakes and soggy pies. Moxley, who worked pastry from the opening to the closing of Craft and Craftbar, is in charge of all things sweet at Miller Union. Everything the disarmingly passionate chef makes is seasonally driven, unpretentious and expertly executed. Fat, juicy blueberries dribble over an upside-down-style buttery cake encrusted with crumbly brown sugar walnuts and oat-laced streusel topping. Highlights from the summer fruit season included a tart filled with sticky fig jam, and sliced figs tossed in wine reduction with homemade Earl Grey ice cream. These desserts showcase Moxley's moxy in their quiet beauty and precise simplicity. 999 Brady Ave. 678-733-8550. millerunion.com. less...

Best Sichuan BOA Award Winner

Tasty China (Marietta)
When Peter Cheng announced he was opening his eponymous restaurant, fans of Tasty China worried that Atlanta's first standout Sichuan spot would suffer. But seven months after opening Peter Cheng's in Smyrna, the chef's original restaurant is still the best our city has to offer. Classics such as crunchymore...
When Peter Cheng announced he was opening his eponymous restaurant, fans of Tasty China worried that Atlanta's first standout Sichuan spot would suffer. But seven months after opening Peter Cheng's in Smyrna, the chef's original restaurant is still the best our city has to offer. Classics such as crunchy dry-fried eggplant with custardy centers, confit-like tilapia served in neon red broth with silken tofu, and the tightly rolled and perfectly balanced crunchy hot and numbing beef offer that signature tingle and heat we've come to crave with crackhead-like devotion. The restaurant's Spartan digs just go to show that spicy substance always wins out over style. 585 Franklin Road, Suite B3, Marietta. 770-419-9849. tastychina.net. less...

Best spot for a first date BOA Award Winner

Lunacy Black Market
On a couch or a table? This is typically more of, say, a third-date question. But if you and your honey venture downtown to Lunacy Black Market on your first date, come prepared with a response. Intimate clusters of sofas, loveseats and armchairs, as well as a smattering of tables, fill the restaurant'smore...
On a couch or a table? This is typically more of, say, a third-date question. But if you and your honey venture downtown to Lunacy Black Market on your first date, come prepared with a response. Intimate clusters of sofas, loveseats and armchairs, as well as a smattering of tables, fill the restaurant's living room-like interior. Chef Paul Luna's rotating menu of small plates arrives scrawled in Sharpie on torn-up cardboard wine cases. But rather than looking sloppy, it feels personal and charming. Best of all? None of the dishes costs more than $5. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find any of the dozen or so menu items priced more than $3. Neither of you will look like greedy pig faces thanks to the petite portions and tidy presentations of dishes such as short ribs with house-made ricotta, chickpea curry or a charcuterie plate. If things don't work out, you won't have spent a load. And if things do work out, you'll have enough money left over for cocktails at your place. Couch or table? 231 Mitchell St. 404-736-6164. lunacyblackmarket.com. less...

Best veggie meal at a non-veggie restaurant BOA Award Winner

veggieloaf at Leon's Full Service
Here in the hallowed halls of CL's food department, we are partial to pig. But despite our affection for meat, we harbor a serious craving for the veggieloaf at Leon's Full Service. Made with a combination of quinoa, lentils, mushrooms, bulgur wheat and sun-dried tomatoes, it's at once rich, hearty,more...
Here in the hallowed halls of CL's food department, we are partial to pig. But despite our affection for meat, we harbor a serious craving for the veggieloaf at Leon's Full Service. Made with a combination of quinoa, lentils, mushrooms, bulgur wheat and sun-dried tomatoes, it's at once rich, hearty, nutty, savory and intensely satisfying. The tangy romesco sauce and roasted cauliflower, shiitake and sun-dried tomato salad provide more intense earthy flavor than is present in many of the city's best meat dishes. That, paired with a recession old-fashioned ($6!) makes for one of the most gratifying meals in the A. 131 E. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur. 404-687-0500. leonsfullservice.com. less...

Best cheap eats BOA Award Winner

Eats

Best chinese BOA Award Winner

Chin Chin Brookhaven
And other metro Atlanta locations.

Best food festival or event BOA Award Winner

Taste of Atlanta

Best French BOA Award Winner

Cafe Alsace

Best fried chicken BOA Award Winner

Watershed on Peachtree
Currently in the process of relocating to a new location.

Best desserts BOA Award Winner

Cafe Intermezzo - Midtown
and other metro Atlanta locations.

Best all-around Korean BOA Award Winner

Myung Ga Won
Korean restaurants are tricky. You pretty much need to go somewhere different for every specific craving. Myung Ga Won is one of the few Korean joints in town that covers all the bases, and covers them remarkably well. The marinade on the barbecued meats achieves that perfect salty sweetness. Goat stewmore...
Korean restaurants are tricky. You pretty much need to go somewhere different for every specific craving. Myung Ga Won is one of the few Korean joints in town that covers all the bases, and covers them remarkably well. The marinade on the barbecued meats achieves that perfect salty sweetness. Goat stew cooked tableside swells with gratifying umami funk. More basic items like dolsot bibimbap (rice, vegetables and beef) cooked in a sizzling cast-iron bowl are an easy sell for kids as "fried rice," but exceptional enough for connoisseurs seeking crispy rice slathered in spicy sauce. The banchan is all made fresh in house and is crisp, murky and wonderfully mysterious. The drive may be murder but sometimes you have to sacrifice a little gas money for the good stuff. 1960 Day Drive, Suite 100, Duluth. 770-622-1300. less...

Best food festival BOA Award Winner

Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

Best food truck BOA Award Winner

Good Food Truck
Who does that hot dog think he is, coddled in a slice of golden brown French toast and smothered in apple slaw, spicy mustard and maple syrup? And what business does a cold curry salad have being nestled into a freshly made waffle cone? These are the questions that race through your mind while perusingmore...
Who does that hot dog think he is, coddled in a slice of golden brown French toast and smothered in apple slaw, spicy mustard and maple syrup? And what business does a cold curry salad have being nestled into a freshly made waffle cone? These are the questions that race through your mind while perusing the Good Food Truck's handwritten menu. These are also the questions that vanish instantly once you smoosh your face into the Poodle's outrageous hot doggery or chomp away at any other of the rolling restaurant's hand-held culinary mashups. Easy on the pocket (most goodies ring up in the $2 to $6 range) and even easier to find at the growing number of street food and art events around town, the Good Food Truck will make you go, "Mmmmm. I wish I was drunk." goodfoodtruckatl.com. less...

Best health-conscious policy change BOA Award Winner

Highland Tap
When Highland Tap opened in 1989 at the corner of Virginia and Highland avenues, it broke the tradition of super-high expensive meat with its high-quality steaks at prices we could afford. Unfortunately, it was perilous to set foot in the subterranean space without toting an oxygen tank. The smoke, driftingmore...
When Highland Tap opened in 1989 at the corner of Virginia and Highland avenues, it broke the tradition of super-high expensive meat with its high-quality steaks at prices we could afford. Unfortunately, it was perilous to set foot in the subterranean space without toting an oxygen tank. The smoke, drifting from the bar to the dining room, was suffocating and eye-burning. But last spring, the restaurant banned smoking. Yee-haw! Now we can eat all the affordable bloody red meat we want without danger of asphyxiation, cancer or stinkiness. 1026 N. Highland Ave. 404-875-3673. nnnwcorp.com. less...

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