There are a lot of new restaurants opening up in Atlanta these days. However, unless you’ve found a way to clone yourself, or adjust your schedule to fit seven meals in per day, you probably aren’t going to make it to all of them.
That’s where we come in. We’re here to help you decide which of those new places are worth your time. The Infatuation Hit List is a regularly updated guide to the newest Atlanta restaurants we think you should know about, and that we think you’ll actually like.
One key thing you can always rely on: we’ll only put restaurants on this list that we have actually vetted. You know that new spot your friends have all mentioned because they saw it on Instagram? There’s a good chance that place might suck, and we’re not going to recommend that you check it out unless we’re reasonably sure that it doesn’t. Here are the best new restaurants in Atlanta.
New to The Hit List (as of 6/18): Nina and Rafi, El Tesoro, Ink
Getting to Nina & Rafi can be a little confusing: there’s no street entrance to this open-air pizza parlor and it’s only accessible via the Beltline. If there’s a wait once you do find it, order a glass of natural wine, craft beer, or their sour cherry riff on a Negroni and try to avoid staring down the couple in the corner taking their time with their pizza. The Detroit-style pies - square pizzas with a thick but airy, focaccia-like caramelized crust - are the reason you’re here. They take about 30 minutes to come out though, so order a bowl of mozzarella-covered meatballs and a salad in the meantime.
El Tesoro in Kirkwood is Atlanta’s best breakfast taco spot, with options like migas and chorizo con papas in your choice of corn, flour, or homemade spent-grain tortillas. Get two or three tacos with a horchata iced coffee and sit at a picnic table with a bright tablecloth in the sunshine while you pretend you’re in a tourism ad for Atlanta, or in the back of a country music video. The last order for breakfast is taken at 10:50am, even on the weekends, but if you don’t make the cut, their lunch tacos are also exceptional.
There’s no cocktail menu at INK, the dimly-lit 20-seat cocktail bar in the back of 8arm. The bartenders just ask questions about what you want to drink at that moment - refreshing or spirit-forward, earthy or herbaceous, clear or brown liquor. You may be wary of receiving an interrogation when all you want is a cocktail, but they’re good at guiding you through the process gently and by candlelight. Whether you end up with a daiquiri variation with aged rum, blueberry-thyme syrup, and lime, or an absinthe Rusty Nail, they often know what you’ll enjoy drinking even better than you do. If you need a snack, their menu of tinned seafood, like sweet potato and tuna, is worth digging into alongside whatever concoctions land on your table.
There aren’t as many upscale places in East Atlanta as in other parts of the city, but Banshee is helping to change that. This place is almost more mad scientist-inspired than classic fine dining, though, with an experimental, seasonal menu that covers a lot of ground. Come with a small group or a date and share a few of the larger dishes like the Szechuan pork osso buco and the charred broccolini with fonduta (kind of like broccoli and cheddar’s mature older cousin). And make sure to start with the hot and crispy fry bread that comes with pepperoni butter that you’ll want to smuggle home and spread on everything in your fridge.
Buteco in Grant Park is an all-day spot that evolves from a quiet coffee shop to a buzzy cafe to a romantic cocktail bar, before going full-blown samba party at night. It’s a spot that feels immediately comfortable, both because of the super friendly staff and the vinyl that’s always playing, but also because you can come here any time of day and you’ll have a good time.
This Mediterranean-leaning coffee shop and bakehouse serves things like shakshuka and mini falafel burgers, alongside fried chicken biscuits and a lamb brisket sandwich. If you’re not in the mood for a full meal, grab a few pastries and a Turkish coffee instead, all while eavesdropping on the Georgia State students who come through.
From the wood-paneled walls with random family photos to the fake cigarette ads above the bar, this new Inman Park spot feels like it appeared out of a 1980s fever dream. Take a number at the host station, wait for the ticker to tell you your table is ready, and then order old school staples like spinach dip with ridged potato chips, mozzarella triangles, and a steak or plate of duck confit. This place has plenty of cheap beers to choose from too, but their cocktails are definitely worth trying out.
When you’re in need of a big bowl of pho, but don’t want to navigate traffic to make your way up to Buford Highway, grab a stool at this Vietnamese lunch counter in Krog Street Market. We usually focus on the pho, but their menu includes other classics like banh mi, bun, and fresh spring rolls too.
Gu’s Kitchen is like the trick candle of dumplings - it seemed like they had almost disappeared, but before long, they popped back up. For a couple years, the only place you could eat their food was at their stall in Krog Street Market. However, with the opening of a new Buford Highway location, they’re back with a full menu in a casual, good-sized space. Come for a weeknight dinner with a few friends so you can order enough food to cover the table.
Paper Crane Lounge is hidden on the second floor of Staplehouse and feels a bit like a supervillain’s lair. Instead of a swivel chair and a large ominous button, though, you’ll find high-end cocktails and a very short menu of upscale bar food - which means you can get a taste of Staplehouse without spending a whole paycheck. There’s a rotating list of ambiguously named drinks, like the Disco Nap and Masterpiece Theatre with descriptions such as “breezy,” “graceful,” and “intuitive,” instead of a list of ingredients. But just like the drinks downstairs, all of them are excellent.
Atlanta has plenty of great fried chicken spots, but Nashville-style hot chicken is a whole separate thing. And since opening a few months ago, Hattie B’s has had a nearly constant line. Once you make your way to the front, go with some wings and a sandwich and choose your spice level - from mild to “Shut The Cluck Up.” If you’re trying to avoid the crowds, and don’t mind crying into your food before noon, show up when they open at 11am, or stop by for a second dinner on a Friday or Saturday when they’re open until midnight.
You could very easily spend an entire day at and around the Clermont Hotel if you wanted to. Start on their rooftop bar with a drink, end at the Clermont Lounge, and then stay the night in one of the hotel rooms. But when you inevitably get hungry for dinner, or wake up and need brunch, there’s Tiny Lou’s. It feels like an upscale French bistro from the 1930s, complete with cocktails in crystal glasses, steak frites, and escargot, all in a large dining room with big comfortable booths. Bring a date and try to impress them with your flawless pronunciation of “fromage brulee” before heading up to the rooftop for after-dinner drinks and the great view.
When Miso Izakaya closed, we had to completely reevaluate our sushi options in the area. Thankfully we didn’t have to shift too much because the same team is back with a new spot in Ponce City Market. Miso Ko works great for lunch, with a walk-up sushi bar and grab-and-go options, in case you need to take your freshly made rolls back to the office for a conference call. It works just as well for dinner, although take out might be the better option since there are only a few seats.
Maybe you got a raise, or you found some money yesterday in an old pair of pants. Either way, when you have some cash to spend, check out Arnette’s Chop Shop. This Brookhaven steakhouse has all the classics, plus a 60-day aged, 40 oz tomahawk that’ll set you back $140, in case you and five friends want to make a night out of just dinner. If you’re heading here with your parents, or for a special occasion, make a reservation. But if you’re coming with a group of friends, just spend some time on the open-air second floor while you wait.
Zunzi’s, a sandwich shop that first opened in Savannah, has made its way to Atlanta, and we couldn’t be happier about it. Their subs combine South African, Swiss, Italian, and Dutch influences, which means you’ll find sandwiches with things like boerewors (a South African sausage), vegan frikkadels (meatballs), and curry chicken salad, most of which are topped with what they like to call “sh*t yeah” sauce. It’s exactly what you want for lunch when the last three days have been a blur of turkey and swiss. Get one to go, or stay and hang out on their patio with a craft soda.
If you’re beach-starved and want to go somewhere that will make the city feel a little less landlocked, Watchman’s in Krog Street Market is the place. The space is bright and airy with plenty of hanging plants, which makes it feel more casual than its sister restaurant, Kimball House. Their menu is filled with fresh seafood, and a long list of daiquiris and other cocktails. Come here to catch up with a friend over drinks and oysters, or with a big group to order one of everything on the menu.
Momonoki is a new spot in Midtown, and comes from the same team as Brush Sushi Izakaya in Decatur. Their menu includes things like ramen, katsu sandwiches, and donburi, and it’s one of the first places around to serve dipping ramen. They also have a cafe attached that serves coffee, matcha, and freshly baked pastries, as well as black sesame and matcha-flavored soft serve.