I’ve eaten my way through countless burger joints, barbecue shacks and pizza places in Atlanta, and I’ve found a lot of great eats in the process. But here are the best of the best.
I’ve yet to find a thick burger in Atlanta that can hold a candle to the juicy grass-fed patty from Muss & Turner’s (1657 Cumberland Parkway, Smyrna, 770-434-1114) in Smyrna. Cooked to a perfect medium-rare, topped with roasted poblano peppers and slivers of red onion, and draped in melted cheddar and cilantro mayonnaise, this burger has no equal.
Chef Todd Ginsberg’s burger at Bocado (887 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta, 404-815-1399), a double stack of house-ground farm-raised beef, American cheese and house-made pickles served on an H&F bun, stands out amongst the many contenders for Atlanta’s best stacked burger. Ginsberg’s simple preparation and attention to quality ingredients makes this the strongest offering of its kind in town.
The pulled pork served at Beaver Creek Biscuit Company (1451 Six Flags Road, Austell. 770-739-0200) is perfectly moist and smoky, with generous chunks of crunchy bark mixed in with the meat. When ordering the pork plate, make sure that you specify that you want it pulled and not chopped, and top it off with some of their delicious mustard and vinegar-based ‘Seminole sauce.’
The secret of good barbecue is in the smoke, and Chic Dillard, the owner of Big Shanty Smokehouse (3393 Cherokee St., Kennesaw, 770-499-7444) in Kennesaw, knows this well. Dillard’s beef brisket, carved into smoky inch-thick slices, oozes juice and is so tender that it pulls apart with the slightest nudge of a fork.
Starting with one of their delicious and juicy smoked baby-back ribs, the crew at Fox Brothers Bar-B-Q (1238 DeKalb Ave., Atlanta, 404-577-4030) takes things to the next level with a dunk in batter and a dip in the deep fryer. Served with a side of white barbecue sauce, this twist on the traditional rib will leave any barbecue lover’s head spinning.
Open only for lunch, you will always find Brandi’s World Famous Hot Dogs (1377 Church Street Ext., Marietta, 770-422-3681) in Marietta packed to the brim with regulars, and for good reason. Their spicy chili dogs are the epitome of a Georgia-style hot dog, and the best that I’ve had in the city.
No pizza in Atlanta can transport you straight to Italy like the pies from Antico Pizza Napolenta (1093 Hemphill Ave., Atlanta, 404-724-2333) on the Westside can. Everything that owner Giovanni Di Palma puts into his pizza, from the flour used in the dough to 1,000-degree ovens that bake them, is imported from Italy, and it shows in every bite.
After moving to Atlanta from New York City, Jeff Varasano began a quest to perfect the NY-style pie that he grew up eating. Nana’s Pizza, with Varasano’s (2171 Peachtree Road N.E., Atlanta, 404-352-8216) crispy, char-kissed crust simply topped with fresh mozzarella and an oregano-heavy tomato sauce, leaves no room for improvement.
The beauty of Muss & Turner’s (1657 Cumberland Parkway, Smyrna, 770-434-1114) fries is the simplicity: The fries are cut fresh daily, seasoned simply, fried to crispy perfection and served in a generous paper-lined cone. They don’t call for much in the way of dressing up, but you can’t go wrong with M&T’s Sriracha Mayonnaise.
The quality of ingredients makes all of the difference in a great sandwich, and Star Provisions’ (1198 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta, 404-365-0410) Shrimp Po Boy is the best example of this principle at work. Piled high with six fried jumbo shrimp, lettuce, fresh tomatoes, pickles, Cajun mayonnaise, and nestled in a buttery hoagie roll, this sandwich is a cut above the rest in Atlanta.