Atlanta, Georgia, is a city celebrated for its vibrant culture, rich history, and, of course, its delectable culinary scene.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the flavours that make Atlanta a true food lover’s paradise. From soulful Southern classics to international influences, Atlanta’s food scene is as diverse as its people.
Join us as we explore what food Atlanta is known for and discover the mouthwatering dishes that have made their mark on this Southern gem.
Whether you’re a local seeking to explore your city’s culinary treasures or a visitor eager to savour the tastes of the South, Atlanta has something delicious in store for you. Let’s dive in!
What Food is Atlanta Known for?
Atlanta has a diverse and vibrant food scene. The city is known for southern classics like FRIED CHICKEN, BARBECUE, and SOUL FOOD. Atlanta also has a large population of immigrants so you can find excellent ethnic restaurants featuring cuisines from all over the world. Some of the city’s iconic dishes include CHICKEN and WAFFLEs, PEACH COBBLER, and COCA-COLA. Atlanta offers an eclectic mix of down-home southern cooking and global flavours.
What Food is Atlanta Known for?
Atlanta, Georgia, is a city known for its vibrant food culture that reflects its diverse population and heritage as an essential transportation hub in the Southeastern United States.
From down-home Southern cooking to innovative takes on international cuisines, Atlanta offers a wide variety of iconic and emerging foods and restaurants for visitors to enjoy.
What is Atlanta’s Signature Dish?
If Atlanta had to choose just one signature dish, it would likely be fried chicken. Crispy, juicy, golden southern fried chicken can be found all over the city, from small local joints to fine dining establishments.
Places like Mary Mac’s Tea Room, Colonnade Restaurant, and Watershed Restaurant on Peachtree offer mouthwatering takes on this classic Southern staple. Fried chicken is beloved by tourists and locals alike as an iconic Atlanta food.
What are the signature dishes Atlanta is best known for?
In addition to fried chicken, some other signature dishes that represent the diversity of Atlanta’s culinary scene include:
- Southern classics like shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles, biscuits and gravy, fried green tomatoes
- Barbecue staples like pulled pork, ribs, and brisket with traditional sides like collard greens, baked beans, and macaroni and cheese
- Comfort foods like chicken pot pie, meatloaf, chicken and dumplings, and shepherd’s pie
- Seafood dishes like peel-and-eat shrimp, crab cakes, crawfish, and low-country boils.
- Vegetarian/vegan favourites like vegetable plates, veggie burgers, vegan soul food
- International fusion dishes like Korean tacos, ramen burgers, banh mi sandwiches
- Decadent desserts like peach cobbler, red velvet cake, sweet potato pie, and pecan pie
From downhome cooking to gourmet takes on southern cuisine, Atlanta offers endless variations of its most iconic dishes.
What are some iconic Atlanta restaurants and food establishments?
Some of the most iconic and beloved restaurants and food establishments in Atlanta include:
- Mary Mac’s Tea Room – Southern comfort food institution since 1945, known for fried chicken and vegetable plates
- The Varsity – Atlanta’s famous drive-in burger joint and the world’s largest drive-in restaurant
- Colonnade Restaurant – a Landmark southern restaurant since 1927, features signature fried chicken and vegetable sides.
- PittyPat’s Porch – Classic southern cuisine in a charming house setting
- Fat Matt’s Rib Shack – Casual barbecue joint known for excellent ribs, sandwiches, and Brunswick stew
- Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q – Texas-style barbecue serving up brisket, ribs, and more in a laidback setting
- Buford Highway Farmers Market – Huge international market with food stalls representing cuisines from around the world
- Ponce City Market – Food hall with some of Atlanta’s trendiest new restaurants and shops in a historic Sears building
- Krog Street Market – Food hall featuring barbecue, ramen, Mexican, and other popular vendors
- Bacchanalia – Fine dining institution led by famed chef Anne Quatrano, spearheaded Atlanta’s farm-to-table movement
- Watershed Restaurant – Upscale southern food and cocktails with a focus on ingredients from Georgia
From decades-old mainstays to modern food halls, Atlanta has no shortage of iconic food destinations for visitors to experience its culinary heritage.
How has Atlanta’s food culture evolved?
Atlanta’s food culture has continually evolved as the city grew into a major metropolitan hub. Here are some key aspects of its culinary evolution:
- Roots in Southern cooking: Atlanta’s early food scene centred around humble soul food restaurants, diners, and homestyle Southern cooking using pork, chicken, cornmeal, greens, and sweet potatoes.
- Rise of fast food: Franchises like Chick-fil-A, Waffle House, and Arby’s were founded in Atlanta and drove the fast food boom of the 1950s-60s.
- Influence of Southern chefs: Influential chefs like Paula Deen and Edna Lewis brought new attention to refined Southern cuisine in the ’80s and ’90s.
- Farm-to-table movement: Chefs like Anne Quatrano ushered in a locally sourced, seasonal approach to cooking in the 1990s-2000s.
- Foodie culture: The opening of restaurants like Bacchanalia and the advent of food-focused events like Eat the World and the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival fueled a foodie culture.
- International influences: Immigrants brought cuisines like Korean, Vietnamese, Caribbean, and Latin American, adding diversity to the dining scene.
- Modern food halls: Developments like Ponce City Market and Krog Street Market now house artisanal restaurants and shops under one roof.
While southern food remains at its core, Atlanta emerged as a nationally recognized food destination with a wide array of cuisines and restaurants.
Famous Restaurants and Chefs:
Some of Atlanta’s most famous restaurants and chef talent that have shaped its national reputation as a dining destination include:
- Anne Quatrano – James Beard-winning chef behind restaurants Bacchanalia and Star Provisions, spearheaded farm-to-table, seasonal cooking
- Hugh Acheson – Top Chef judge and chef behind Five & Ten in Athens and Atlanta restaurants Empire State South, By George, and Spiller Park
- Ford Fry – Renowned restaurateur behind JCT Kitchen, No. 246, The Optimist, St. Cecilia, and other popular spots
- Kevin Gillespie – Former Top Chef contestant and chef behind Red Beard Restaurants, including Gunshow and Revival
- Linton Hopkins – Chef/owner of Restaurant Eugene, Holeman & Finch Public House, and H&F Burger
- Richard Blais – Famed Atlanta chef known for Flip Burger Boutique, The Spence, and Trail Blais restaurants
- Joey Ward – Executive chef at acclaimed southern eatery Oyamel and contributor to the city’s food truck boom
- Todd Richards – Culinary ambassador for Atlanta, chef/owner of Richards’ Southern Fried Chicken restaurants
- Asha Gomez – Atlanta chef putting a modern twist on Indian cuisine at restaurants like Cardamom Hill and Third Space
Atlanta continues to foster culinary talent that creates buzzworthy dining experiences, combining southern tradition with global influences.
What current food trends are popular in Atlanta?
Some current food trends gaining popularity in Atlanta include:
- Food halls -congregations of artisanal eateries like Ponce City Market and Krog Street Market offer curated dining under one roof
- Compact dining concepts – Tiny restaurant stalls specializing in ramen, dumplings, juices, and other focused cuisines
- Food trucks – Gourmet mobile eateries bringing everything from lobster rolls to Korean tacos to city streets
- Farm-to-table dining – Locally sourced seasonal ingredients as seen at restaurants like Miller Union and BoccaLupo
- Craft cocktails – Innovative mixology programs incorporating artisanal liquor, fresh juices, and homemade infusions
- Southern reinvented – Gourmet twists on southern classics like shrimp and grits, fried chicken, and biscuits
- Korean cuisine – Trendy Korean fried chicken, barbecue, and fusion draw diners along Buford Highway
- Food pop-ups – Short-term “restaurants” offering prix fixe dining experiences in non-traditional spaces
- Food festivals – Events like the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival and Piedmont Park Arts Festival celebrate the city’s dining culture
With abundant talent and diverse flavours, Atlanta continues to set tastes and trends for the nation’s dynamic food scene.
From its southern roots to its contemporary fusion cuisine, Atlanta emerged as a food lover’s paradise. Iconic Southern eateries like Mary Mac’s Tea Room and PittyPat’s Porch laid the foundation, while a new generation of chefs like Anne Quatrano pioneered seasonal, locavore dining.
The diversity of the city reshaped its food identity through international influences. Food halls, innovative pop-ups, and gourmet food trucks now drive trends.
Visitors to Atlanta are guaranteed an amazing culinary experience spanning humble comfort foods to fine dining achievements. The city solidified its place on the national food map as a destination for cutting-edge restaurants, avant-garde chefs, and bold flavours.
What food is Atlanta known for?
Atlanta is known for its renowned southern cooking, including broiled chicken, macintosh and cheddar, collard greens, and peach shoemaker.
What are some famous Atlanta eateries?
A few famous eateries in Atlanta incorporate Mary Macintosh’s Lunch nook, The Varsity, and Fox Brothers. BBQ, and The Positive thinker.
What is the historical backdrop of Atlanta’s cooking?
Atlanta’s food has been established in southern cooking and African American impacts. The city’s area, at the convergence of a few significant transportation courses, has added to its culinary scene.
Where could I, at any point, track down the best-broiled chicken in Atlanta?
All that broiled chicken in Atlanta can be found at Hard Worker Bistro, Mary Macintosh’s Coffee bar, and South City Kitchen.
What is Atlanta’s unmistakable mixed drink?
The Atlanta mixed drink is a blend of Coca-Cola and whiskey, which honors the city’s well-established relationship with the famous soft drink brand.
What is the best season to visit Atlanta for foodies?
The best season to visit Atlanta for foodies is during the Atlanta Food and Wine Celebration, which happens every year in the spring.
What are some must-attempt dishes in Atlanta?
Some must-attempt dishes in Atlanta incorporate shrimp and corn meal, pimento cheddar, and banana pudding.
What is the most well-known food celebration in Atlanta?
The most renowned food celebration in Atlanta is the Atlanta Food and Wine Celebration, which draws in many foodies consistently.