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Where To Eat Like a Local in Atlanta, Y’all

Restaurants + Bars Insider Guides
by Diana Edelman Mar 26, 2010
Diana Edelman gives us the low-down on some of the tastiest (and non-wallet crushing) dining options in Atlanta. These restaurants range from spunky and funky to slow and delicious. They all have one thing in common – the locals flock to them.
Flying Biscuit Cafe (Brunch)

Flying Biscuit’s eclectic charm (complete with vinyl flower-covered table cloths and cherubs painted on the ceiling) resonates strongly with locals. The food is pretty astounding, too.

The popular restaurant is best known for its Southern-style biscuits (naturally). In fact, the bakery has been known to regularly pump out thousands a day on the weekend. Flying Biscuit’s healthy, organic breakfasts feature farm fresh eggs, turkey bacon and rosemary-dusted potatoes.

For those with a sweet tooth, there’s also organic oatmeal pancakes smothered with warm peach compote and maple syrup or orange-scented whole wheat French toast topped with raspberry sauce and honey crème anglaise.

Don’t miss the cranberry apple spread that comes with the biscuits. It tastes like a country store smells – spicy, sweet and absolutely amazing.

Locations in Candler Park (the original and features a bakery), Midtown, Sandy Springs, Buckhead, Norcross and East Cobb.($5 – $15)

Highland Bakery (Brunch)

The wait at this Old Fourth Ward neighborhood spot can eat up the morning, but the food more than compensates. Scents of fresh, from-scratch baked goods tickle the nose upon arrival, and it just gets better from there. Large portions are only one perk of this crowd-gathering establishment. There’s also the cookies … and cakes … and cupcakes.

Gems from the regular menu include sweet potato pancakes with warm and thick carmalized brown sugar syrup and toasted pecans, homemade granola, and bran flake crusted Challah bread Peanut Butter French Toast topped with carmelized bananas.

Highland Bakery is located at 655 Highland Ave. NE. ($8 – $10)

The Vortex Bar & Grill (Lunch)

This unapologetic joint serves up some of the juiciest burgers in Atlanta. Start off any meal with one of its many appetizers – crowd favorites tend towards tater tots and fried zucchini. Then, indulge in a burger.

Vortex offers more than 20 different 1/2 –pound burger options broken into a few categories: The Usual Suspects (plain and cheeseburger); The Signature Series, which includes the spicy Hell Burger topped with habanero relish, jalapeno pepper and pepperjack cheeses, and the Pesto Burger served with basil pesto sauce and provolone cheese; The Original Vortex Heart Stoppers smothered with layers of cheese, fried eggs, bacon and other clog-inducing deliciousness, and the $26 Super-Stack Heart Attack Burger.

For those who don’t enjoy burgers, don’t worry – there are plenty of other options awaiting diners at both locations. According to Atlanta resident Karen Williams, Vortex also cooks up a wicked veggie burger.

Vortex Bar & Grill has two locations: 878 Peachtree St. NE in Midtown; 428 Moreland Ave. in Little Five Points. ($6 – $26)

Ru Sans (Dinner)

“When I say ‘sake’ you say ‘bomb’” and so goes the party anthem at this sushi spot in Midtown (with a few others spread through Atlanta). Just make just make sure you know what you’re getting into.

While the sushi isn’t the best in Atlanta, Ru Sans is one of the best dinner locales to start a night on the town. Dollar sushi, creative rolls and sake-a-plenty make this one of the best places in Atlanta to go to celebrate… anything.

Numerous locations in Atlanta. Original location: 1529 Piedmont Ave. NE. ($1 to $15)

Fat Matt’s Rib Shack (Dinner)

There’s a reason Fat Matt’s got a shout-out in George Clooney hit “Up in the Air.” This un-pretentious barbecue establishment entices diners with its low-cost, no-frills dishes and nightly blues musical entertainment. BBQ lovers Unite!

Naturally, the ribs are a sure bet (sandwich, ½ slab and full slab), but then there’s also the chopped pork sandwich served with a bag of chips at a bargain price of $3.95 and other offerings including a ½ roast chicken. For an extra kick of awesome, order the rum baked beans and wash them down with sweet tea or cheapie beer.

1811 Piedmont Ave. NE. ($3.75 – $20)

Café Intermezzo (Dessert)

Fashioned after traditional European coffee houses, this coffee/sweets restaurant offers plates to make even a non-dessert lover salivate. Tour guides at Café Intermezzo navigate diners through the 100-plus choices for after-dinner food, including cheesecakes, tortes, pies, cakes and more. With two large cases to choose from, the selection hits every note of perfection.

Coffee-lovers are not overlooked – there are more than 100 tasty concoctions to please any java drinker. Favorites include Mexican Hot Chocolate and absolutely anything that can be combined with alcohol.

Café Intermezzo has a complete menu, in case the appetite calls for more than just desserts.

1845 Peachtree Rd. NE. ($4 and up)

Paolo’s Italian Gelato & Desserts (Dessert)

On any given summer night, crowds wrap around the old building that houses Paolo’s. Just refurbished, this authentic Italian gelato haunt scoops up some of the best you’ll find this side of the Atlantic.

It offers the cream and fruit staples, and unique flavors not normally found in Atlanta – of the fruit and vegetable kind. It may sound daring, but the different, sweet tastes are refreshing and a nice venture from the norm. There’s even doggie gelato so the pups won’t drool over yours.

Be sure to carry cash – Paolo’s doesn’t accept cards.

1025 Virginia Ave. NE ($2 and up)

Community Connection

Check out our guide to finding righteous pizza in Atlanta, as well as our guide to the city’s green places, from farmers’ markets to folk music festivals. Oh, and everything to do with food and travel.

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