Dining is one of Atlanta’s favorite pastimes. Locals spend half of their annual food budget on eating away from home, according to Frommer’s guide. With more than 700 Zagat-rated restaurants from upscale gourmet cuisine to New South fare to farm-to-table dining, it’s no wonder Atlantans are letting the professionals do the cooking.
The competitive spirit of Atlanta’s professional chefs has helped put the city on the dining map, with eight former Top Chef and two Iron Chef contestants contributing to some of Atlanta’s best eateries. Fifteen new restaurants have opened in the downtown area alone in 2011, joining more than 3,000 restaurant choices in metro Atlanta for residents and visitors.
Atlanta’s chefs incorporate local ingredients to serve up the best in New South cuisine with creative twists on grandma’s traditional Southern meals. Atlanta’s top-rated Zagat restaurant, Bacchanalia, boasts contemporary American cuisine with a seasonal menu featuring light dishes with strong flavors cooked by chefs/owners Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison.
Chef Steven Satterfield puts his own spin on the region’s meat-and-three meals, creating a menu based on the week’s harvest at Miller Union — named one of the “10 Best New Restaurants in the Country” by Bon Appétit in 2010. Atlanta native Linton Hopkins brings regional southern flavor to Holeman and Finch Public House in Buckhead, leveraging his relationships with local farmers when putting together menus for the restaurant.