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5 reasons Atlanta was just named one of the South's best food cities  

It's official – Atlanta is one of the South's best food cities, according to Southern Living.

The ATL came in at No. 5 on Southern Living’s 2019 list, which is a move three spots from its No. 8 ranking in 2018. Not to be outdone, Savannah, which is home to restaurants like The Grey, AlleyCat Lounge and Foxy Loxy Cafe, ranked at No. 3, so Georgia is well-represented among the lifestyle magazine’s top 10 picks.

»RELATED: The South’s best barbecue can be found in Georgia, according to this list

Results were determined by a digitally crowd-sourced survey, and although New Orleans took the top spot, Atlanta made a strong showing. And it's not the first time the city's food has received this type of honor. In 2017, Atlanta was named one of the most exciting food cities in the U.S. by Zagat.

The following are five reasons why Atlanta deserves its spot on the list of top Southern food cities:

The Sichuan-style fried chicken po’boy at Gu’s Kitchen on Buford Highway comes topped with spicy coleslaw. CONTRIBUTED BY WENDELL BROCK
Photo: For the AJC

Buford Highway's international cuisine

Buford Highway's 49 miles of delicious culinary diversity earned a shout out from Southern Living, which said the stretch of highway could be another city unto itself. The magazine said that Atlanta's appearance on the list isn't a surprise and cited Buford Highway's globally influenced restaurants as a reason why.

In just one strip mall, you can find a wide variety of cuisines, from Vietnamese pho to authentic tacos. And if you'd like to shop for ingredients or other globally-inspired wares, you'll also be able to find them along this diverse highway. To get started, try these five dishes worth a drive to Buford Highway.

Staplehouse's food and mission 

Staplehouse was named the best restaurant in Georgia by Southern Living.
Photo: AJC file photo/For the AJC

Atlanta's Staplehouse was listed as one of the top places to visit when you arrive to Atlanta in Southern Living’s report. The Old Fourth Ward eatery is no stranger to praise. In 2016, it was named the best new restaurant in America by Bon Appetit.

If you need another reason to love Staplehouse, it serves as the for-profit arm for The Giving Kitchen, a local nonprofit that provides emergency help to restaurant workers in crisis. 

Barbecue accolades

Barbecue is a Southern favorite, and Atlanta has no shortage of restaurants that serve up delicious smoked meats in a variety of styles. In a Business Insider and Foursquare list of the "50 best barbecue joints in America," Atlanta was well represented.

Slutty Vegan Ménage à Trois is a plant based patty loaded with vegan bacon and shrimp, topped with lettuce tomato and special sauce. Photo credit- Mia Yakel.

New choices

Plenty of new restaurants joined the Atlanta culinary scene in 2018, including the popular Westview restaurant Slutty Vegan. They'll add to the choices available to Atlanta diners and help further the diversity of the metro area's culinary offerings.

Food festivals

Sit-down restaurants aren't the only way to enjoy great food – and drink – in Atlanta. The city boasts many fun festivals where you can sample offerings from different restaurants and vendors as you enjoy music and other attractions.

Whether you'd like to enjoy outstanding wines or find out which grilled cheese sandwich is the best while sampling some beer, you'll find a festival (and probably more than one) that you'd like to attend. 

For starters, try the Atlanta Grilled Cheese Festival in Brookhaven, Taste of Alpharetta or the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival.

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