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King + Duke One of Esquire’s Best New Restaurants of 2013


For the second year in a row, chef Ford Fry and his team have landed a restaurant on  Esquire’s Best New Restaurants list.

In 2012, The Optimist was included on the magazine’s initial list, then was chosen Best New Restaurant of the Year. In 2013, King + Duke made the list. Who knows what may happen next?

This from the press release:

“We are thrilled to have one of our restaurants recognized for the second straight year by Esquire magazine,” said Fry. “Joe, Chrysta and the whole King + Duke team have all worked hard to execute decadent dishes and cleverly delicious cocktails, so it’s an honor to be included with some of the nation’s top restaurants.”

Esquire food and travel correspondent John Mariani, who has eaten his way across the country for nearly three decades, selected the 20 best new restaurants in America. Describing the restaurant, Mariani said, “Fry’s new place, King + Duke, is his second-straight can’t-miss spot.” The food critic also went on to praise executive chef Joe Schafer and pastry chef Chrysta Poulos’ work on the 24-foot open hearth. Read on for the full review:

Last year, chef Ford Fry’s The Optimist was Esquire’s Restaurant of the Year. He must be in what they call the zone: Fry’s new place, King + Duke, is his second-straight can’t-miss spot. Where The Optimist celebrates great seafood, King + Duke (named after two grifters in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn) is all about executive chef Joe Schafer and Fry cooking over a hickory-wood fire on a twenty-four-foot hearth. The roasted carrots and beets with sheep’s-milk feta transport you to a field (in a good way). The fire torches a candy crust on succulent lamb belly served with sheep’s-milk feta, and sweet fire-roasted lobster is heightened simply by baby bok choy, garlic, and chiles. Even pastry chef Chrysta Poulos works the fire, grilling the sugariest of Georgia peaches to accompany a quivering dark-chocolate panna cotta.

Also, King + Duke serves thirty-two beers. So the place pretty much made this list before we even sat down.

The complete list of restaurants will appear in the magazine’s November issue on newsstands later this month.

More King + Duke info here:

— Bob Townsend, for the AJC Food and More blog.

12 comments Add your comment


October 9th, 2013
3:37 pm

Esquire loves them some F Fry(s)


October 9th, 2013
9:12 pm

Excellent blog and another great restaurant. New restaurant owners and old restaurant owners looking to buy and sell equipment should check out The only site that is free and spam free specifically serving the restaurant industry!


October 10th, 2013
1:19 am

Come on, by now pretty much everyone in ‘the industry’ knows that the Esquire Magazine awards are more a function of PR work than food or service. The Optimist is reasonably good but not great by top tier seafood restaurant standards nationwide. King&Duke’s making the list seals it as a joke or some manner of payola. King and Duke has been panned by most critics and local foodies alike, either due to poor food execution or appalling service. To put it on any best of list is akin to Obama winning the Nobel peace prize.
I guess some people will go to a restaurant due to what Esquire says, the same way they’d stare mouth agape at the those on People magazines most beautiful people list.
(For the record I am not a restaurateur, but do dine out 3+ days a week on avg.)


October 10th, 2013
1:33 am

BTW John Mariani the critic mentioned above who compiles the Esquire best of list has been called out for years now for his methodology and ethics:

If anything being on his list is slowly becoming a dishonor.

[...] in Buckhead at the intersection of Roswell Road, Peachtree Road, and W. Paces Ferry, made the Esquire magazine list of the twenty best new restaurants in America. Last year, The Optimist, which shares chef Ford Fry with King + Duke, also made the list and was [...]


October 10th, 2013
12:58 pm

Gotta love the irony of someone taking a shot at the President in a food blog.
How many people think this Birther-Redneck actually knows anything about any Atlanta restaurants other than Shoney’s and Cracker Barrel?
Stick to what you know, clown.


October 10th, 2013
1:34 pm

When you have and endless supply of cash like F.Fry’s family, the $ you need to make to support these places gets in your head and the quality leaves both the food and service behind. Good lord, take it easy man! It took way too long to get the amazing food culture in this town to where it is today, we don’t need another Pheasant type restaurant group helping to tearing it down again. Put the big purse down, take two steps away and get back in the kitchen man. I mean at some point doesn’t it become clear that you are trying just a bit too hard?? Easy does it….I hope you can pull it out.


October 11th, 2013
11:36 am

Clown? Oh the humanity. I notice no defense of the Esquire list, or King and Duke which was 99% of what my comment concerned. Thoughts on either?
Instead you fixated on the political quip, it is called humor, don’t get your proverbial panties in a wad. I voted for and supported Obama, but even a dullard can see the irony in him getting the Nobel peace prize. Relax and maybe we can discuss the merits of different restaurants around the world we’ve visited and our favorite gastronomic delights.


October 11th, 2013
3:07 pm

GotReal = owned.

Tusar Vakil

October 12th, 2013
4:42 am

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Best indian restaurant in Orlando is another option which will provide different types of tasty food with more ingredients.

berry steve

October 12th, 2013
8:52 am

Got Real- time for you to take some time off. You just got de-cleated!!!! lol


October 13th, 2013
9:41 pm

I’ve been to King + Duke and it wasn’t that good. Definitely not worth the prices. The AJC didn’t even give a good review. I have more than a few “foodie” friends and they didn’t find the food special at all either.