posted on January 13, 2011 at 12:21 pm
Compiling the 2010 “Bliss List” gave me pause.
Despite eating a lot—and I mean a lot—of food between my work for Creative Loafing and the blog, nothing immediately jumped out at me as it has in past years.
2010 was just plain weird for the Atlanta dining scene. There were so many closings, few openings (that spoke to me, at least), and even fewer dishes I felt warranted the urgency for me to proclaim, “you must go here now!”
So, you’ll notice this year’s “Bliss List” is a little leaner than 2009, 2008 or 2007. However, as I have done in previous incarnations, this year’s list is a mix of new spots and places that have been around for a long time. These are the places that I went to again and again in no particular order (the links embedded in the restaurant names take you to my previous write-ups). Who’s hungry?
BB’s Bagels and Diner (770 McFarland Parkway, 770-475-1818, www.bitchinbagelsatbbs.com) makes the best bagels in Georgia. No contest. I regularly drive up to grab bags of bagels on the weekend and have more in my freezer than I’d like to admit. Great chew. Good selection of flavors. Perfectly creamy and flavored schmears. They just opened a new location too.
Despite my recent yucky service experience at BLT Steak (45 Ivan Allen Jr. Blvd. (inside the W Atlanta downtown). 404-577-7601. www.bltsteak.com), I still crave the popovers, unrivaled chopped salad, and crusty New York strip steaks on a regular basis. My friends and loved ones know asking me if I want to go there will be met with an overly enthusiastic “yes!”
For a long time, the H&F burger was the holy grail of burgers, but I’m going to commit blasphemy and say it’s just not as good as it used to be. I’ve found it overly salty and the bun tough. The burger stack at Bocado (887 Howell Mill Road, 30318. 404-815-1399) has taken its place in my meat-loving heart. The bun is always super soft, the patties perfectly seasoned, and the grind just right. I also love the homemade fries, but have been known to sub in a second burger on my more gluttonous days.
My first few meals at Community Q (1361 Clairmont Rd., Decatur. 404-633-2080. www.communityqbbq.com) were lackluster, but subsequent visits have yielded some of the best barbecue I’ve had in Atlanta to date. It’s just somehow more refined in texture and taste than its competitors. The meat, the sides, sauces, toast, daily desserts, and the adorable farmstand have won me over.
Eating at Dan Moo Ji (3230 Steve Reynolds Blvd., Nukoa Plaza, Duluth, 770-814-2310) is pure fun. The servers can be a little weird about what you order if you are not Korean, but that’s something you will encounter at most establishments that cater to an almost exclusively Korean clientele. There are two things I cannot resist here: any of the kimbap and the dduk bok gi (chewy rice cakes, noodles and sliced fish cake slathered in spicy chili paste). It’s pure love.
El Señor Taco (4005 Buford Highway, 404-982-0777) filled the fish taco void in Atlanta. Truth be told, I favor the shrimp taco over the fish. The seafood soup is also outstanding and a super value for what you get. This is the best “fast food” you’ll find on Buford Highway and cheap to boot.
Hong Kong B.B.Q. (5385 New Peachtree Road, Chamblee, 770-451-7277) has become our new family favorite for Chinese barbecue after many years of Ming’s devotion. Pretty much anything you order is great and you cannot beat the convenience of the food court–especially if someone in your party is craving something else. I also love the guys that man the counter. What characters.
Does Iron Age (2131 Pleasant Hill Road, Duluth, 678-334-5242) serve the best Korean barbecue in town? No. However, it certainly has the most fun dining atmosphere in town–not to mention the all-you-can-eat pork belly and thinly-sliced brisket. I love this place so much I held my last birthday dinner there before a rowdy round of karaoke.
My love for Pita Palace (1658 Lavista Road. 404-781-7482) has been rekindled since moving nearby this past September. I regularly stop by for the exceptional falafel pita or laffa only to find myself immersed in Israeli television or a spirited debate with the beyond friendly shopkeep who just wants to know if you want “baba or spicy?”
Quan Ba 9 (4285 Buford Highway, 404-636-2999) is, perhaps, my favorite Vietnamese restaurant in Atlanta. The menu is small, but the dishes pack some serious punch. Namely, the restaurant’s chicken congee, any of the vinegary salads, and the pho. It’s great hangover or under-the-weather food.
I’ve been a big fan of chef Hector Santiago for as long as I can remember, but nothing has cemented my love for his food more than Super Pan Latino Sandwich Shop (1057 Blue Ridge Ave., 404-477-0379, www.superpanlatinosandwichshop.com). Santiago brings his travels and refinement to the table at his new sandwich shop. The media noche (above) is my favorite sandwich in Atlanta. Tons of porky, cheesy, and pickled goodness smooshed between two pieces of yummy bread.
The past couple of years have brought tons of ramen options to the table. Everyone has a favorite, but mine remains the tonkotsu ramen at Yakitori Jinbei (2421 Cobb Pkwy., 770-818-9215). I keep looking and tasting, but no other broth compares. I could eat it every day.
Just in case you missed them…
A year ago: The Bliss List: 2009
Two years ago: The Bliss List: 2008
Three years ago: The Bliss List: 2007