The first time I went to Atlanta was in July. If you’ve ever been in the city over the summer, you’d know exactly why people refer to it by the charming, misery-evoking name of “Hotlanta.” My game plan was simple – soothe the temperature discomfort by having lots of great food. Check out the 8 spots that completely made my trip a success.

You can check all of these spots out on Matador Network’s travelstoke® app and add them to your own trip planning lists.

1. Southern Art and Bourbon Bar

 Southern Art and Bourbon BarAtlanta, United States70 types of bourbon. You read that right, seventy. How about this fun fact: Art Smith, SABB’s chef, used to work for Oprah for 10 years. Pretty cool, but what I was most impressed by was the battery park cheese melt, the rosemary dijon cornish hen and the twelve layer red velvet cake. (Needless to say, I had to be carried out after eating all this, so make sure you go with someone who won’t leave you sleeping at the table. If they do, just order another burbon upon waking up & repeat.) #southern #fine-dining

2. Desta Ethiopian Kitchen

 Desta Ethiopian KitchenAtlanta, United StatesIf you had asked me what I knew about Ethiopian cuisine before going to Desta, I would have said a big, fat zero. Not that I learned any specifics or anything after the giant plate of lamb fir fir, but I know Ethiopian cuisine is da bomb. Go for a “very brave” KITFO if you wanna do it right. If you’re on the timid side, choose the lamb tips with injera. (The menu has a small dictionary section on the left side, so you can communicate in a far-from-perfect-but-I-tried Ethiopian). #ethiopian

3. ECCO

 ECCOAtlanta, United StatesTrendy spot with delicious European food. As American as I’ve become living in the US for the past 7 years, the continental soul in me slips into automatic bliss as soon as the waiter brings out the duck leg confit and I quickly go into a Cinderella-type nap after a piece of Ecco’s opera cake. Oh, don’t forget – you’ve got to start the whole odyssey with a plate of meats and cheeses to share! #fine-dining

4. Nicola’s Restaurant

 Nicola’s RestaurantAtlanta, United StatesTalk about dinner with a show! Come to Nicola’s on Saturdays between 8pm and 10:30 to see the fabulous belly dancing performance. If you’ve never had Lebanese cuisine before, that’s cool. Order some falafel to start with (obviously!) and grape leaves with yogurt. Chase it with a dancer’s plate (available for vegetarians). If you’re with the fam, go for the family style platter for a no-brainier choice of traditional goodies. #dinnerwithashow #lebanese #cheap-eats

5. Vortex Bar & Grill

 Vortex Bar & GrillAtlanta, United StatesLow-key burger bar with good whiskey. Good music and an excellent option when you crave nachos (holaaaa, borracho nachos!), tater tots (I’ll have 2 orders of the Dixie wrecked taters ASAP pronto, please!) and obviously a good burger. I like the Black & Blue (Cajun all day, baby). If you’re feeling ambitious, order the Zombie Apocalypse. You’ll need lots of napkins and luck for that one. Probably a whiskey, too. #burger #cheap-eats

6. Cooks & Soldiers

 Cooks & SoldiersAtlanta, United StatesBasque cuisine in Atlanta, what-whaat?! Having lived in Spain previously and tasted the original, I can tell you Cooks & Soldiers is goood. The pinxos are an absolute must-have. I ordered the caña klasikoa, barbakoa vaska (beef braised with kalimotxo, I’m sold) and the tortilla de chorizo. For main, I went with the pescado (local fish grilled with mojo rojo and fried garlic). Enjoy! #spanish #fine-dining

7. Ray’s In The City

 Ray’s In the CityAtlanta, United StatesRay’s is a small chain of upscale seafood restaurants. When I was in town for a trade show, I went to Ray’s in the City and enjoyed it thoroughly (like, scraping off the leftovers from my family’s plates, that’s how much). In the summer, there’s a special type of salmon that’s local to the region and the chef prepares in a special recipe. Get it if they have it, it’s worth it. If it’s off season, I recommend starting with the crispy point Judith calamari, followed by either the crispy shrimp and grits or the horseradish encrusted black grouper. Ray’s has different “blue plates” for each day of the week, so check them out as well. #fine-dining #seafood

8. Alma Cocina

 Alma CocinaAtlanta, United StatesGreat Mexican food. The ceviche collection keeps me coming back. My personal favorite is the himachi (jicama, serrano, green onion, celery, sesame, apple aguachile) which I follow with pan roasted scallops. I’m seriously considering booking a flight to Atlanta from Barcelona as I wrote this…tip: #mexican see if seating outdoors is available. #fine-dining

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