Atlanta Dinner Picks

кухненско обзавежданеThis is a list of ten memorable restaurants in the Atlanta, GA area that I have been to (over the past, say, three years) who meet the following criteria:
Good for entertaining (bringing clients/dates/friends&family)
Excellent waitstaff
Menu includes vegetarian-friendly options as well as interesting options for those with a standard North American diet.

This is in no way an exhaustive list, only some highlights that have ranked very high with both myself and guests. A lot of these have been venues for various dates, and some have been used as meeting spots when friends have come to visit from out-of-state. The vast majority of my dining out has been with non-vegetarians, so there’s a resistance for hitting all-vegan or entirely-vegetarian restaurants. Each of these has great vegetarian options available right on the menu, so that ordering doesn’t feel like you are asking them to remodel the kitchen with a “special request” when all you want is an option that is carcass-free. Some of these are much more formal, and some are very casual. All of them are exciting spaces that are also quiet enough for conversation.

On to the list (not in ranked order):

  1. La Tavola (latavolatrattoria) – This is one that comes to mind any time a special occasion comes up. When friends or family come to visit, when it’s someone’s birthday, any time I have an excuse to go, really. La Tavola is fun and interesting, has some really great veg options, and has a way of being formal and nice without being rigid or stuffy. The dining area can be very full at prime times, but there are really wonderful tables on the deck out back which are fantastic for spring brunch/lunch… (hint, hint. This week? Anyone?)
  2. Eros (erostapas) – Tapas and music. Right off I-85 at Monroe Drive, It’s in the multi-level what-used-to-be bank building. The tapas are great, and the space creates an interesting indoor-outdoor “patio” feel. It’s a great spot for a gathering, since it’s finger foods and music, as well as space that’s easy to move around in.
  3. Sugo (sugorestaurant) – Sugo has a fusion of Italian and Greek influences. Their staff is very friendly and knowledgeable. The food is spectacular. All three of their locations are North of the perimeter.
  4. Artistry (No known URL) – I’m not clear about whether this one has recently closed, is currently being renovated, or if it has recently changed hands. I had a great experience there. It was well-appointed, had live jazz musicians, and the food was great. My date on that night still mentions from time to time how awesome the steak and the shrimp was. I ate like a king on a wide variety of veg hors d’oeuvres. The waitstaff completely bent over backward. I hope they aren’t closed.
  5. Thai Spice (thaispiceatlanta) – This is Thai done beautifully, and with a lot of style. It’s the best Thai I’ve tried north of the perimeter.
  6. The Flying Biscuit (flyingbiscuit) – There’s nothing wrong with the various new locations as they became a chain, but I’m talking specifically about the original location just outside of Candler Park. There’s a completely different feel to this one. I was floored by the devil “burger”, but when you’re looking for something more “down home”, There’s nothing like the vegan bbq burrito.
  7. Buddha (no known URL) – This gem is right off I-75/I-85 at the end of the 10th Street bridge. Mostly Chinese fare, they have an extensive vegetarian menu, and are open incredibly late, which is handy, since it’s around the corner from Primal, and just a few blocks from Door44, Sutra, Opera, etc.
  8. Mambo Italiano (mamboitaliano) – This is a really neat traditional Italian place with a wonderful staff. The place is decorated like 1950s Italian. Great veg lasagne, good drinks.
  9. Octane (octanecoffee) – This is a wonderful independent cafe with great plates coming from the kitchen, some of the best baristas in North America(They kick butt every year in local, regional, and world barista competitions), and the space is relaxed, yet abuzz. Maybe it’s the caffeine. They have a second location near Emory University that I really should check out, since that would be much closer for me.
  10. Ecco (ecco-atlanta) – Of all the restaurants on this list, it’s been the longest since I’ve been to Ecco. Ecco is managed by the same group as La Tavola. It’s a much more formal dining experience than La Tavola, and I did a full review after my first trip there..

Where are your favorite dining spots in Atlanta? Leave a comment and let me know.

restaurant roulette

I don’t really get to go out to eat very often. So when I do get to go, it should be a nice escape from the usual cooking up somethng and serving it.

I’ve had some odd dining experiences recently:

I went to an Italian place that has been around for longer than my usual favorite place, and is actually less than 3 blocks from that favorite.

This place is in sort of a retail space, but has been there for forever, so I figured I’d give it a try. When I got in there, it felt like a retail space, and not a restaurant. The acoustic tile overhead, and cheap art on the walls were not expected. The food was mediocre, but the waitstaff was efficient and friendly. So at the end of dinner, they brought the bill, and I put cash in there for the food, along with some for a nice tip.

Instead of the waitress picking it up, the guido who had been standing at the register came and got it, and when he got back to the register up front, I saw him pocket the tip. (I had folded that part, and left the dollar bills for my bill flat). When the waitress came by again, I told her that he had taken the bill, and that I had put a tip in there for her. I mentioned it to her because I thought it was odd for someone besides the waitress to collect the money at the table. She said, “Oh! that’s ok. well all work together and share our tips.” So I didn’t think anything else of it.

When I got ready to leave, the guy comes back to me and says that there was no tip in there. Only enough to cover the bill…

I think I will stick with my favorite place just down the street.

Another night I got to go out, and went to a steakhose that had just recently opened in the space that was formerly a steakhouse that my girls loved going to. after getting a seat, I was amused at first with the staff’s inexperience. Then it kept getting worse.

I had to beg for silverware. I waited an extremely long time for the appetizer. When the food finally came out, it was undercooked *as well as* cold. after sending it back, everyone else was finished and waiting for a while before we got another chance to ask the waitress for an update. When it came back it was okay, but not great.

The manager came around asking ifeverything was aliright, but this was before we ever got drinks, much less the food…

it was an absolute debacle.