Atlanta’s dining scene took a turn for the awesome in 2010, as the new restaurants that opened were all amazingly strong, yet ranged from street-cart inspired vendor food, to the arrival of one of the South’s most decorated chefs. It was a year that found great ethnic food inside the perimeter, smashing new fine dining establishments and a full-blown obsession with a popsicle cart. Whether you were grabbing a burger for lunch in Decatur, or sitting down in with the power suits in Buckhead, Atlantans ate well in 2010 … every meal of the day.
Empire State South :: Easily the most anticipated restaurant of 2010 was the arrival of Athens darling, Hugh Acheson’s Empire State South. A gussied up meat-and-three, Empire is open for 3 meals a day, boasts a ridiculous coffee and wine program, and has what might be Atlanta’s biggest rising in Chef Ryan Smith.
Super Pan :: Does it get any more buzzworthy than having a former “Top Chef” contestant slinging sandwiches in a basement lunch counter? We think not. Pura Vida’s Hector Santiago runs a weekday sandwich counter underneath his restaurant and it’s mind-blowingly awesome. Cubans with roasted Berkshire pork and a ham and cheese sandwich that gets upgraded with buttery Serrano are just two examples of why you need to try Super Pan, pronto.
Bistro Niko :: The first restaurant from super-group Buckhead Life since 2001, Bistro Niko feels like it’s been here for years. The clientele is old money Buckhead and the food is good enough to be recognized by “Esquire” as one of the top 50 new restaurants in the US. Glossy, expensive and decadent, Niko was an elegant change-of-pace in the 2010 dining landscape.
King of Pops :: This true street vendor–he’s at the corner of North and North Highland avenues, 3:30pm till dusk daily–KOP instantly made ice pops THE treat of 2010. And with homemade flavors like grapefruit-mint and blackberry-lemonade, it doesn’t take long to figure out why. Follow him on Twitter (@thekingofpops) for other locations and times.
Miller Union :: Don’t come looking for safe dishes at this Midtown West culinary jewel. The menu is Southern, but its influence is disguised in sophistication–this is a place where slow-braised rabbit heartily accents a bowl of grits. Serious foodies will love it, but your chain-loving suburban cousin won’t have a clue.
To continue reading, check out Jonathan Baker’s full list on Citysearch.com.