Top Chef Judge Hugh Acheson's Favorite Atlanta Restaurants

“Atlanta is in this really cool time right now. There’s so much going on,” says Hugh Acheson, the chef and co-owner of Atlanta’s Empire State South, and The National and Five & Ten in nearby Athens. Acheson, who is also the author of A New Turn in the South cookbook and a Top Chef judge, shares the best local haunts for everything from Sichuan food to unbelievably crispy fried chicken.

Hugh Acheson’s Favorite Atlanta Restaurants

Atlanta Restaurants: H & F Bread Co.
Photo © Laura Rubinstein.

Best Loaf: H & F Bread Co.

“This is chef Linton Hopkins’s bakery, and they supply some of our bread at the restaurant. The Pullman and sourdough loaves are really good.”

Sichuan Fix: Gu’s Bistro

“Gu’s serves amazing Sichuan food in a strip mall. It’s spicy and really good and cheap. There’s a fried eggplant dish with dried chile peppers that’s amazing. I also order anything with duck.”

Fast, Cheap Lunch: Umaido

“I always get the $7 spicy miso ramen at this awesome pho and ramen place. I go there so often that when I walk in they go, ‘Oh, spicy miso.’ It’s great. I eat it in 15 minutes. The fried chicken is also good—it’s crispy beyond belief. They have no idea what I do for a living or that I play a jackass on TV.”

Japanese Fix: Miso Izakaya

“The guy who owns it, Guy Wong, is getting lots of press now. He serves really great clean, focused, smart food like yellowtail collar and mackerel with ginger and miso. They’re also doing ramen at lunch now and it’s supposed to be amazing.”

Industry Scene: Octopus Bar

“This place is located inside an existing restaurant called So Ba Vietnamese restaurant, and late at night there’s a big industry scene. It’s modern, cool food that’s heavily Asian influenced—it definitely takes some chances, like the rabbit-shrimp wontons and sea eel with eel sauce.”

Modern Southern Food: One Eared Stag

“The chef, Robert Phalen, is this really sweet guy and a really great chef. He serves modern Southern food; he does really cool pork dishes like pig’s head rilletes and roast pork jowl with snails, as well as interesting charcuterie and vegetables. The restaurant is tiny and beautiful.”

Taco Stop: Holy Taco

“This is also owned by Robert Phalen. It’s a kind of modern Mexican place, and the pork tacos are great.”

Simple Southern: Miller Union

“Sometimes simple food is the most difficult to do, but here, Steven Satterfield does a beautiful, clean version of Southern food.”

Best Asian Chain: Saigon Café

“There’s like five of these cafés. They serve really good pho and rice dishes. I go once a week; it means a lot to me to have those places.”

Great Steak: Bone’s

“Bone’s doesn’t serve revolutionary food but it’s got a killer wine list and amazing service and steaks. It’s a fun place to be—I’ll sit at the bar and they’ll find a full bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape sitting around in the cellar and open it for me.”

Favorite Pizza: Antico Pizza

“It’s amazing, the best pizza probably that I’ve ever had. It’s badass, true Neapolitan. I love the amatriciana or the diavola, which has spicy soppressata and bufala mozzarella.”

Atlanta Restaurants: Holeman and Finch
Photo © Beall + Thomas Photography.

Perfect Bar Food: Holeman & Finch Public House

“This great gastropub from Linton Hopkins serves fantastically fun bar bites. They’re famous for their burger—they have a certain number every day and sell out of them. It’s also known for its awesome hot dog. And I also like the charcuterie and steamed clams.”

Go-To Coffee: Octane and Steady Hand Pour House

“We have awesome coffee shops to rival pretty much anywhere else. I like both of these. I’m a cappuccino guy, so I generally get one of those.”;

Atlanta Shopping Picks

Men’s Clothes: Sid Mashburn and Billy Reid

“These are both awesome men’s stores. Sid Mashburn used to work for J. Crew for years before coming to Atlanta and opening his beautiful store with shirting and suits for the Southern gentleman. Billy Reid got a new store and we all love him in the hope that he’ll give us cheap deals on clothing.”;

Farmers’ Markets: Peachtree Road, Morningside and Grant Park

“The farmers’ market scene here is really strong because Georgia is such a great agrarian area. The Peachtree Road, Morningside and Grant Park farmers’ markets are all awesome.”

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