Looking to update your must-eat-at list of metro Atlanta restaurants? Check out the spots that were a hit this year with AJC food and dining editor Ligaya Figueras and AJC food writer Wendell Brock. Looking for more? Check out the list of our favorite restaurants of 2018 and check out our list of best-reviewed metro Atlanta restaurants of 2016 and 2017. 

The Five-Minute Egg Gold Rice at 8Arm comes with plenty of components to mix together. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS
Photo: For the AJC

Three stars

8Arm, 710 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE, Atlanta. 470-875-5856, 8armatl.com
“The majority of (chef Maricela) Vega’s food is vegetarian. A good bit of it is vegan. Some (not all) of it is a tribute to her Mexican ancestry. All of it is delicious.” -- Wendell Brock

Read the full review here

Cold Beer, 670 DeKalb Ave., Suite 101, Atlanta. 404-254-1032, coldbeeratl.com
“Cold Beer has “hot stuff” written all over it.” -- Wendell Brock

Read the full review here

The Deer and the Dove, 155 Sycamore Ave., Decatur. 404-748-4617, deerdove.com
“Honest. It’s the best word to describe this place. From the purity of ingredients, to the straightforward manner of preparation, to the genuine hospitality of those who set that plate in front of you, the Deer and the Dove shines with an honest spirit — at least, from this salmon’s perspective.” -- Ligaya Figueras
Read the full review here

The Expat, 1680 S. Lumpkin St., Athens. 706-521-5041, theexpatathens.com
“With the Expat, Athens has another restaurant worth traveling for. I feel a long-distance romance in the making.” -- Wendell Brock
Read the full review here

Lazy Betty, 1530 DeKalb Ave. NE, Atlanta. 404-975-3692, lazybettyatl.com
“Tasting menus can often be unbalanced in portion and price. The seven-course tasting menu here will leave you satiated, rather than hungry or uncomfortably full.” -- Ligaya Figueras
Read the full review here

MTH Pizza, 1675 Cumberland Parkway SE, Smyrna. 678-424-1333, mthpizza.com
“The ratio of sauce to toppings to crust is excellent. If a margherita is the litmus test, this one passes.” -- Ligaya Figueras
Read the full review here 

Wood’s Chapel BBQ, 85 Georgia Ave. SE, Atlanta; 404-522-3000, woodschapelbbq.com
“In sum, Wood’s Chapel does for barbecue what the General Muir did for Jewish deli food: It brings it into the present. It is the sort of community gathering spot our town is hungry for; easily among the best new Atlanta restaurants of the year; and a nearly flawless haven of comfort and ’cue.” -- Wendell Brock
Read the full review here

You’ll want some bread handy to sop up the sauce that comes with the Georgia White Shrimp Provencal at Aix. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Two stars

7 Acre BarNgrill, 850 Hickory Flat Road, Milton. 770-777-2273, 7acrebarngrill.com
“With a few tweaks to make every dish as terrific as the brisket — and some attention to the cocktails and wine list — this Milton restaurant would be worth the 30-mile drive from downtown Atlanta.” -- Ligaya Figueras
Read the full review here

Aix, 956 Brady Ave. NW, Atlanta. 770-838-3501, aixatl.com
“Aix has given me plenty of moments — a comforting bouillabaisse, a dreamy creme brulee and a welcoming staff, among many — to feel at home.” -- Ligaya Figueras
Read the full review here

Ammazza, 591 Edgewood Ave. SE, Atlanta. 404-835-2298, ammazza.com
“In a city with an increasingly sophisticated pizza palate, Ammazza’s pies are pretty wow.” -- Wendell Brock
Read the full review here

Aziza, 1170 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta. 404-968-9437, aziza-restaurant.com

“Aziza has a ways to go to reach the caliber of places like Zahav in Philly or Shaya in New Orleans, but it’s exciting to have this new voice emerge here in Atlanta.” -- Ligaya Figueras
Read the full review here

Banshee, 1271 Glenwood Ave. SE, Atlanta. 470-428-2034, banshee-atl.com
“We’re in East Atlanta Village. Expect, celebrate, be challenged by the unexpected.” -- Ligaya Figueras
Read the full review here

The Brasserie at Bazati, 550 Somerset Terrace, Atlanta. 404-795-8342, bazatiatl.com/brasserie
“Suddenly, Atlanta has quite the taste for French fare but none on such a staggering scale, or prime piece of real estate, as Brasserie. On sunny days, an aperitif and a wedge of quiche can be a welcome distraction from the Beltline. This place makes me dream of spring.” -- Wendell Brock
Read the full review here

Bully Boy, 828 Ralph McGill Blvd., Atlanta. 678-904-5607, bullyboyatl.com
“Bully Boy might not be breaking boundaries, but this latest Concentrics spot has appeal: an approachable, creative menu, a dynamic crew working the kitchen, bar and floor, and a lively space that invites your party to linger.” -- Ligaya Figueras
Read the full review here

Cardinal, 1039 Grant St., Suite B40A, Atlanta. thirdstreetgoods.com.
“It would be a cardinal sin not to seek out Cardinal.” -- Wendell Brock
Read the full review here

Casi Cielo, 6125 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs. 404-549-9411, casicieloatl.com
“The salmon was heavenly, as heavenly as the restaurant’s name professes: Casi Cielo. Almost heaven.” -- Ligaya Figueras
Read the full review here

Raw oysters at Chirori. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS
Photo: For the AJC

Chirori, 349 14th St. NW, No. C-1, Atlanta. 470-427-3171, chiroriatlanta.com
“A delightful Japanese restaurant on 14th Street in West Midtown, Chirori specializes in robatayaki and sake, and it’s unlike anything else in Atlanta today.” -- Wendell Brock
Read the full review here

Choong Man Chicken, 2180 Pleasant Hill Road, Duluth. 770-756-4455, facebook.com/Choongmanduluth/.
“For a casual, family-friendly spot that’s a terrific value and well suited for takeout, Choong Man is a winner.” -- Wendell Brock
Read the full review here 

El Tesoro, 1374 Arkwright Place SE, Atlanta. 470-440-5502, eltesoroatl.com.
“Tostada de Tinga de Pollo doesn’t break south-of-the-border culinary boundaries, but the quality of the chicken tinga makes it worth ordering this crispy fried tortilla piled with the shredded poultry, tinged red from a slightly smoky tomato chipotle sauce.” -- Ligaya Figueras
Read the full review here

Feedel Bistro, 3125 Briarcliff Road NE, Atlanta. 404-963-2905, feedelbistro.com
“At a DeKalb crossroads that has a considerable Ethiopian dining presence, Feedel is a rarity: exquisitely fresh Eritrean food in a tasteful environment.” -- Wendell Brock
Read the full review here

Fire Stone Chinese Cuisine, 840 Ernest W. Barrett Parkway, Kennesaw. 678-324-0512, firestonechinese.com
“Once this chef’s dazzling creations grab hold of you, they don’t let go.” -- Wendell Brock
Read the full review here

Forza Storico, 1198 Howell Mill Road NW, Suite 020, Atlanta. 404-464-8096, forzastorico.com
“The Forza team tries. And often, it succeeds.” -- Wendell Brock
Read the full review here

Fudo, 5070 Peachtree Blvd., Chamblee. 678-691-7088, fudoatl.com
“Just when I had Fudo pegged as a place of great value and consistency but not many surprises, I felt a glimmer of excitement. I took another swig of sake and decided to put this place in regular rotation.” -- Wendell Brock
Read the full review here

Full Commission, 519 Memorial Drive SE, Atlanta. 404-941-9102, fullcommissionatl.com

“Most of the other elements at Full Commission do add up to “cozy”: a large patio offers seating options that range from lounge sofas to high-top tables; a genuinely gracious staff whom you might come to know by name after just a few visits; and, let’s not forget, a warm poptart with a good cup of coffee.” -- Ligaya Figueras
Read the full review here

Gocha’s Breakfast Bar, 3695 Cascade Road, Atlanta. 678-927-9166, gochasbreakfastbar.com.
“I’m still skeptical of eateries opened by folks who jump into the restaurant business because they are great home cooks, but Gocha Hawkins seems to have found a recipe for success.” -- Ligaya Figueras
Read the full review here

The Chengdu cold noodles at Gu’s Kitchen in Chamblee arrive draped on chopsticks balanced on a rod hidden by the noodles — and look as if suspended in midair. CONTRIBUTED BY JENNIFER ZYMAN
Photo: For the AJC

Gu’s Kitchen, 4897 Buford Highway, Suite 104, Chamblee. 470-299-2388, guskitchen.com.
“People love Gu’s for the real-deal, lovingly made dumplings and noodles. They have yet to disappoint.” -- Wendell Brock
Read the full review here

Hai Chinese, 2641 N. Decatur Road, Decatur. 470-225-7172, haieat.com.
“Like a meek little rabbit trying to blend into the urban jungle, Hai has slipped into a rather secluded corner of Suburban Plaza. I’m happy to clap my hands, make some noise, and call your attention to it.” -- Wendell Brock
Read the full review here

Le Colonial, 3035 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta. 404-341-0500, lecolonialatlanta.com
“You can fully escape to a different era at Le Colonial and have a pretty decent dinner for a pretty penny, but fully escaping also means not staring colonialism in the face.” -- Ligaya Figueras

Read the full review here

Lickety Split Southern Kitchen & Bar, 1155 Virginia Ave., Hapeville. 404-963-5009, licketysplitdining.com.
“With no-frills, homestyle Southern classics – done their way – for a very reasonable price and served with a noteworthy level of hospitality, Lickety Split is a welcome addition to Hapeville’s lunch and dinner scene.” -- Ligaya Figueras
Read the full review here

LLoyd’s Restaurant and Lounge, 900 DeKalb Ave., Atlanta. 404-228-7227, lloydsatl.com.
“In short order, LLoyd’s has won a top spot on my list of go-to neighborhood bars with solid victuals. From the frosty, $3 mugs of Miller High Life to the spunky-friendly attitude, it’s a welcome throwback to the golden age of lounge culture.” -- Wendell Brock
Read the full review here

Nina & Rafi, 661 Auburn Ave., Atlanta. 404-549-8997, ninaandrafi.com
“Pizza lovers: Make a note of the Detroit. It may be one of the most important tidbits of information you’ll get in a lifetime.” -- Wendell Brock
Read the full review here

Pancake Social, 675 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE, Atlanta. 678-609-8696, pancakesocial.com.
“These are some very special pancakes.” -- Wendell Brock
Read the full review here

Redbird, 1198 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta. 404-900-5172, redbirdatl.com
“Located in the Westside Provisions District spot formerly occupied by Bacchanalia, Redbird taps into the food-with-integrity spirit of its storied, fine dining precursor, but it brings with it a new aura.” -- Ligaya Figueras
Read the full review here

Root Baking Co., Ponce City Market, 675 Ponce de Leon Ave., Atlanta. 470-639-8046, rootbaking.com.
“For a multitude of reasons (parking, tourists, price point), I’ve been loath to frequent Ponce City Market. With Root Baking Co. in the house, I may become a stalker.” -- Wendell Brock
Read the full review here

Taaj Market, 6385 Spalding Drive, Suite B, Peachtree Corners. 770-559-8799, taajmarketandrestaurant.com.
“After three visits, I’m happy to report that Taaj ranks among the best Persian in Atlanta.” -- Wendell Brock
Read the full review here 

Taqueria La Costenita, 3799 Buford Highway, Brookhaven. 404-957-8038. Facebook: Taqueria La Costeñita.
“Buford Highway is always a great place to explore cuisines from around the world. Come to find out, even a gas station on BuHi is worth a culinary pit stop.” -- Ligaya Figueras
Read the full review here

Build your own pho at Vietvana with beef broth, filet mignon, meatballs and fatty brisket. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS
Photo: For the AJC

Vietvana, 2831 E. College Ave., Avondale Estates. 404-963-2757, vietvana.com

“Thus began a series of eating adventures in which I consumed Vietnamese fried chicken; caramelized catfish in a clay pot; crispy lemongrass beef; rice cakes; spring rolls; a limey rare beef salad; banh mis; a grilled pork chop plate with broken rice; a splendid seafood soup with house-made rice tapioca noodles. There’s such variety here that the pho was last on my list.” -- Wendell Brock
Read the full review here

Watchman’s Seafood and Spirits, Krog Street Market, 99 Krog St., Suite Y, Atlanta. 404-254-0141, watchmansatl.com
“I have learned to have fun by steering away from the ambitious plates, basking in the details and indulging in dessert.” -- Wendell Brock
Read the full review here

Now closed (two stars)

Adalina, 4403 Northside Parkway NW, Number 150, Atlanta.
“Adalina is a friendly place with a flair for cooking that is somehow both polished and rustic at the same time. All these things make it a winner to me.” -- Wendell Brock
Read the full review here

Watershed, 1820 Peachtree Road NW, Atlanta.

“Mainly, as a new act begins at the restaurant, this inquiring mind wonders whether the old Watershed and the new need to come to better terms for the dining script to play out more smoothly.” -- Ligaya Figueras
Read the full review here

RELATED:

The notable metro Atlanta restaurant openings of 2019

The notable metro Atlanta closures of 2019

Read the AJC Fall Dining Guide: The Noodle Edition

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