Find out why Atlanta made a 2017 list of 'most exciting' food cities in the U.S.

The smoked salmon appetizer at Canoe / Photo: Ligaya Figueras
The smoked salmon appetizer at Canoe / Photo: Ligaya Figueras

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

National restaurant guide Zagat released its list of most exciting food cities in the country -- and Atlanta's on it.

Atlanta snagged the No. 9 spot, with mentions of Brian So's much-lauded Marietta restaurant Spring , Miller Union chef Steven Satterfield's James Beard award for Best Chef: Southeast and Kevin Gillespie's Hired Guns series at his Glenwood Park restaurant Gunshow:

2017 cemented the Capital City of the South's status as a culinary force, racking up accolades from national media. Bon Appetit gave Brian So's restrained, thoughtful Marietta restaurant Spring the No. 7 spot on its Best New Restaurants list. After years of nominations, Miller Union's chef Steven Satterfield went from bridesmaid to bride with a 2017 James Beard award for Best Chef: Southeast, while Ford Fry's St. Cecilia won for Best Restaurant Design. And speaking of Beard, the James Beard House invited a plethora of Atlanta cooks — chefs Deborah VanTrece (Twisted Soul), Nick Leahy (Saltyard), Matt Basford (Canoe), and even mixologist Tiffanie Barriere , among others — up to its New York grounds to host special dining events. In fact, the Beard Foundation tapped the Taste of Atlanta festival crew to host its first casual event: June's Southern Wing Showdown, which, in true ATL fashion, brought together chefs from around the South.

Atlanta continued to spread its influence throughout the region, with locations of 1Kept, Ghion Cultural Hall, Farm Burger and others setting up outposts in cities like Charleston, Birmingham, Nashville and more. Kevin Gillespie's innovative Gunshow continued to highlight national talent, bringing in high-profile chefs like Jennifer Carroll, Kristen Kish and Cara Stadler for guest stints as part of its Hired Guns residency. A big new development around a big new (controversial) stadium drew names of ambitious national chefs like Todd English. Linton Hopkins recruited chef Damon Wise and pastry chef Jennifer Yee both down from New York to oversee culinary operations at his restaurant group (Holeman & Finch, Restaurant Eugene, C. Ellet's , etc.). Atlanta's culinary scene in 2017 felt like it was constantly in motion, as usual, which meant ATL diners felt completely at home.

Atlanta has gotten love on other recent "best of" end of the year lists including Eater Atlanta , The Daily Meal and Thrillist.

Explore where to eat in Atlanta with the AJC’s Fall Dining Guide

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