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Welcome to the best of comfort food in metro Atlanta

Comfort food is feel-good food. It’s chicken noodle soup to ease the aches and pains of sickness. It’s the cherished food of memories, like the hearty Sunday supper that Mom or Grandma always made, when the aroma filled the kitchen like a great big hug. It’s the dining equivalent of an old pal you always can depend on to cheer you up when life gets you down.

In this Dining Guide, we’re celebrating comfort foods and their power to nourish the body and soothe the soul. Mac and cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy, and tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich are among the classic American comfort dishes, but every culture has its familiar favorites — from Salvadoran pupusas to Vietnamese pho to Indian dals in a rainbow of colors. Whether your go-to comfort food has roots in the U.S. or abroad, chances are you can find it among the diverse restaurants in metro Atlanta.

For this project, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s dining team compiled 50 of their favorite comfort dishes. Most picks are hot and savory, featuring soups and stews, noodles and rice, meat and potatoes, stuffed handhelds and lots of cheese. But we don’t deny our need for sugar. Sometimes, a three-scoop banana split or a large chocolate milkshake is exactly what we crave.

The need for comfort food is universal, but each person’s preference is unique. So, we asked a slew of local chefs, folks from the AJC’s newsroom and even famous Atlantans to share the restaurant dish they’ve come to rely on when they want to feel good. Award-winning editorial cartoonist Mike Luckovich even drew a picture to go with his pick.

We hope this guide not only will let you know where to find your favorites, but also will inspire you to explore some new comfort dishes. Slurp your way through a communal pot of budae jjigae, aka Korean army stew. Dig into the Peruvian purple corn pudding known as mazamorra morada. Heck, be like AJC political reporter Greg Bluestein and order the kids meal from Super Chix. After all, comfort food is all about channeling your inner kid.

50 Atlanta comfort foods

Celebrity picks

Chef favorites

AJC staff picks

Map: Find a restaurant near you



50 of our favorite metro Atlanta comfort foods

Stoffato sandwich

E. 48th Street Market

E. 48th Street Market has made Italian sandwiches in the same Dunwoody storefront for 36 years. Dunwoody has grown and changed a lot in that time, but the stoffato remains one of the market’s most popular items. The sandwich is their version of an Italian hero, with salami, mortadella, capicola, provolone and special sauce, heartily stuffed into a crusty roll. The sandwich alone is delicious and travels well, but there’s something comforting about eating it right there in the market, which feels frozen in time. — Lia Picard

Pho dac biet

Pho Dai Loi #2

If you need a quick pho fix, Pho Dai Loi #2 will serve you a bowl of this classic Vietnamese soup almost faster than you can order it. Pho dac biet features several cuts of beef, thinly sliced onions and a generous serving of rice noodles. Pho Dai Loi’s signature clear broth tastes wonderfully clean and nourishing, and the restaurant is generous with its sauces. When a day calls for soup, there’s no better option than losing yourself in a bowl of pho, doctored up exactly how you like it. — Henri Hollis

Miser wat

Desta Ethiopian Kitchen

Many cultures have a version of lentil stew, but this spicy, vegan miser wat, served with the restaurant’s addictive injera flatbread, might be the most fun to eat. African cuisines don’t skimp on the spices, and Desta’s miser is no exception. The heat gives the vibrant red lentil dish plenty of dimension, and eating it with injera ensures the meal will leave you satisfied. Desta also offers a vegan platter that includes its miser. — Henri Hollis

Chicken soup

Corazón Mexicano Cantina

This cheery, two-year-old restaurant off Cobb Parkway in Marietta serves a hearty bowl of Mexican-style chicken soup. Flavorful chicken broth is loaded with tender shredded chicken, rice, carrots, corn, celery and green beans. Spoon on the pico de gallo and avocado slices, squeeze the lime wedges, give it a stir and eat to your corazón’s content. — Ligaya Figueras


Georgia Diner

If you’re pining for home-style meatloaf, hit up Georgia Diner, a Duluth destination for more than 25 years. Whereas some restaurants offer meatloaf only as a weekly special, you can order it 24/7 at this spot. Too lazy to leave your car? Just roll up to the drive-through, open daily from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Three thick slices get a ladleful of your choice of brown gravy or marinara sauce (or squirt on some ketchup, if that’s your jam). This is a hefty dinner plate: Choose between a side salad and a soup, then decide on two sides. For us, meatloaf calls for mashed potatoes, gravy and a helping of green beans. Meals don’t get squarer than this. — Ligaya Figueras

Tortilla Española

Fogón and Lions

Potatoes, eggs, a little salt and a lot of olive oil combine for one of Spain’s best-known dishes. Fogón and Lions offers a fancy-ish version of the humble potato omelet, adding diced onion to the layers of thinly sliced spuds and farm eggs, then garnishing the thick, room-temp golden wedge with chives, sea salt flakes and a dab of garlic aioli. — Ligaya Figueras

Fried bologna sandwich


The fried bologna sandwiches of my youth consisted of generic bologna slapped between generic bread slices swiped with yellow mustard. Those Saturday lunches when my dad pulled out the skillet and fried the round mystery meat were the best. HomeGrown’s rendition is all grown-up, but it still tickles the kid inside of those who grew up on this stuff, including HomeGrown co-owner Kevin Clark. Here, the all-beef bologna comes from artisan wholesale meat supplier Fripper’s. Texas toast-style loaves from Engelman’s are sliced in-house and seared to golden, toasty perfection. Doux South pickles, a thick slice of tomato and some fresh spinach turn it into a healthier sandwich. Best of all, though, is the double stack of fried bologna, whose juices drip onto the plate like your favorite burger. — Ligaya Figueras

Dal makhani


A bowl of lentils and rice reminds me of many a weeknight dinner when my kids were in grade school. It satisfied a meat-averse son, required minimal fuss with staple pantry items and was easy on the pocketbook. No matter which pulse (the dry seeds of legumes) that I used, the dal had to have great body — no watery nonsense. The dal makhani at fast-casual Indian restaurant Masti delivers, with a combination of pulses — urad dal (black lentils) and rajma (kidney beans) — slowly cooked with garam masala and other warm spices, as well as butter and cream. Masti is all about customer choice, so pick the spice level that gives you the most comfort. — Ligaya Figueras

SP fluffernutter sandwich

Star Provisions

Amid the high-end meats and cheeses and decor market at Star Provisions, it might be easy to overlook the fluffernutter sandwich. But this elevated spin on the childhood treat stays true to the original: Creamy peanut butter made by Big Spoon Roaster (out of Hillsborough, North Carolina) and house-made marshmallow fluff are stuffed heartily between two pieces of griddled white bread. The result is an ideal gooeyness that hits both sweet and salty notes. Sinking your teeth into the messy treat satisfies a youthful craving you might have forgotten existed. — Lia Picard

Euro-style burger

Grindhouse Killer Burgers

This hamburger joint doesn’t shy away from creative topping combinations. Perhaps, that’s why the Euro-style burger is so comforting. It’s a straightforward combo of sauteed mushrooms, Swiss cheese, shredded lettuce, mayo and mustard. The earthy mushrooms and mildly nutty Swiss cheese bring out the best in each other, and the mustard adds a subtle tanginess that keeps the package from getting boring. — Lia Picard


Willy’s Mexicana Grill

When I was pregnant with my daughter five years ago, I had an insatiable craving for nachos, trying them at various restaurants around town. One place rose to the top: Willy’s. The fast-casual chain is known best for its burritos, but it excels at nachos, thanks to proper cheese distribution on a bed of tortilla chips, followed by a topping of your own choosing. Mine usually has heaping scoops of tomatoes, lettuce, guacamole and jalapeños, along with a hearty drizzle of queso, which makes for an ideal topping-to-chip ratio. I might not enjoy the dish as often these days, but when I do, it takes me back to that exciting time in my life — only now I get to share it with my daughter sitting next to me. — Lia Picard

Holy chorizo empanadas

Bone Garden

These empanadas are proof that a comfort dish need not be extravagant or over-the-top. It’s easy to miss them on an expansive menu chock-full of other delicious Mexican dishes, but they’re worth seeking out. The half-moon-shaped fried pastries, stuffed with a combination of Mexican chorizo, Chihuahua cheese and red onion, always come out piping hot and deliver a satisfying crunch before giving way to the well-seasoned, but not too spicy, interior. Guajillo peanut sauce, served on the side, rounds it all out with an added hint of creamy smokiness. — Lia Picard


Kitty Dare

This dish arrives in a steaming skillet, as so many great comfort foods do. The Mediterranean-inspired restaurant serves its take on the North African dish with two slices of house-made barbari bread, topped with a light drizzle of olive oil. The bread is soft on the inside and crusty on the outside, perfect for sopping up the poached egg yolks lightly submerged beneath soupy tomato sauce, soft onions and red bell peppers. Kitty Dare’s shakshuka is garnished with a few threads of saffron, parsley and a generous sprinkle of bread crumbs that melt into the sauce. The dish is served from 10 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. during Sunday brunch. — Olivia Wakim

Banana split

Berens Frozen Custard

While the banana split might not receive as much recognition as the brownie sundae, there’s something about the fruity combination that brings back feelings of nostalgic summer evenings. Berens Frozen Custard’s take on the banana split begins in a plastic banana boat with three scoops of frozen vanilla custard, which is made fresh daily and has a denser, smoother texture than ice cream. The custard is sandwiched between banana halves sliced vertically and each scoop is dressed up with its respective topping: syrupy strawberries, a drizzle of Hershey’s syrup and pineapple chunks. The creamy frozen custard has a melt-in-your-mouth consistency, and the simple base flavor allows each topping to shine. The dish is finished off with three whorls of whipped cream, a cherry and “lots of love,” owner Mark Berens said. — Olivia Wakim

Chicken biryani

The Mughals

In college, my roommate’s mother would send her back to our apartment with containers of warm, fragrant biryani that she would share with me. The dish reminds me of those late nights where we used our fingers to scoop up the last helpings of rice and meat. The Mughals serves a delicious plate of chicken biryani that arrives close to overflowing, with several hefty chicken legs and breasts buried beneath basmati rice. The dish is mildly spicy and bursting with flavor from the biryani masala, which includes black and green cardamom, peppercorn and softened strips of green chile. The chicken is tender enough to fall off the bone in bite-sized pieces, and the generous serving provides enough to share or save for later, when the comfort food cravings inevitably return. — Olivia Wakim

Kale pakoras

Chai Pani

When I was a kid, I would delight in eating “crunchies,” an off-menu item from seafood chain Long John Silver’s — basically bits of fried batter used on the restaurant’s fish dishes. The kale pakoras at Chai Pani in Decatur scratch the same itch for that transcendent, satisfying crunch in a far more flavorful (and slightly healthier) way. The fritters are hearty pieces of kale dipped in a curried chickpea batter and fried to golden perfection. Served with a green chutney that has a kick of cilantro and a cooling sweet yogurt sauce, the pakoras are in the “chaat” (snack) section of the menu, but could be devoured as a meal if you so desire — and, really, who’s stopping you? — Yvonne Zusel

Beef bulgogi hot pot bibimbap

Dish Korean Cuisine

If you’re a fan of ASMR (or “brain massage”) videos highlighting stimuli such as methodical sounds or soft talking, this dish will give you the tingles, in a good way. It continues to sizzle after it arrives at the table on a hot stone plate, the better to form a lovely brown, crunchy crust on the white rice at the bottom. Piled on the rice is a pleasingly colorful melange of vegetables — matchstick carrot slices, Korean spinach akin to arugula, bean sprouts, sliced shitake mushrooms and zucchini and pickled shredded cabbage — as well as tender chunks of sweet bulgogi, all topped with a fried egg with a runny yolk. It’s a sensory delight that’ll have you asking for seconds. — Yvonne Zusel

Shrimp tom-yum soup

Tiki Thai

Tiki Thai touts the shrimp tom-yum soup from chefs Santi Buaphaeng and Varee Somaneet as “award-winning.” After one slurp, it’s easy to see why the dish deserves accolades. Several large, tender shrimp find a home in a tangy, aromatic lemongrass broth, steaming and cut-through with a hint of spice from chile peppers. Rounding it out are a few sprigs of cilantro and whole straw mushrooms that provide a little snap. It’s a small bowl that packs a big punch, especially on a cold day when comfort can be in limited supply. — Yvonne Zusel

Tonkotsu ramen


The individual elements of the tonkotsu ramen scream comfort on their own: a perfectly gooey soft-boiled shoyu egg; tender slices of chashu (smoky braised pork belly); house-made noodles that are satisfyingly chewy without being too hard; and, of course, the broth, a creamy, rich concoction eaten with an oversized wooden spoon and some chopsticks. It’s warming from the first sip. All put together, along with curlicues of scallion and crunchy slices of bamboo shoots, it’s like a comfort dream come true. I tried it on a day with temperatures nearing 90; I’m daydreaming about going back during mittens-and-scarf weather. — Yvonne Zusel

Cheese blintzes

Marietta Diner

I grew up eating blintzes, the traditional Jewish food that features a smooth, sweet cheese, similar to small-curd cottage cheese, stuffed inside a crepe-like pancake and pan-fried. If you’re a sweet-savory fan, you can top the treat with sour cream and either cherry preserves or blueberry sauce. Marietta Diner is one of the few places in metro Atlanta where you can find blintzes. Theirs — mini versions that look almost like little burritos — ably provide a tasty dose of nostalgia. The best part: If you get hungry in the middle of the night, Marietta Diner is open 24 hours a day, so you can get your blintz fix. — Yvonne Zusel

Chicken and dumplings

Tucker Meat Market

The thick sauce of this dish is filled with chunks of carrot and celery, and it carries a rich, authentic chicken flavor and aroma. The dish teems with shreds of flavorful chicken simmered to tender perfection. The thickness is punctuated by large, fluffy dumplings dropped by the spoonful into the silky broth. These dumplings have pillowy middles and tender bottoms. It’s warm and filling — the kind of dish you would take to an ailing friend, to swaddle them in soothing, gentle flavors as they get well. It’s seasoned with herbs, salt, pepper and pleasant memories that nourish body and soul. — Angela Hansberger

Guinness stew

Wheelhouse Craft Pub and Kitchen

When I eat Wheelhouse’s Irish stew, I long to be tucked away in a pub with a roaring fire on a cold, foggy day. Wheelhouse’s version is gloriously warming, with a backbone of stout that lends robust maltiness and depth to the broth. Thick slabs of beef simmer for hours, the fibers softening to fall-apart tenderness. Bite-sized chunks of golden potatoes and carrots are enveloped in the rich, deeply flavored sauce, and slivers of scallions add subtle bite and texture. There is a sheen on the surface from the meat slowly simmering that calls for dipping with fluffy bread. Each time I have a bowl of this stew, it’s like rereading a beloved book and having a yearning for faraway places. — Angela Hansberger


Miller Union

When it’s “gumbo weather,” Steven Satterfield adds the comforting dish to the menu at Miller Union. Usually, it is shrimp and andouille, sometimes with the addition of fried chicken. That’s the beauty of gumbo; there is no standard recipe. The trinity of green pepper, celery and onions builds depth in Satterfield’s thick, chestnut brown roux, which throws off heady aromas and promises of smoky, salty flavors. There’s a little heat from the woodsy, savory andouille and sweetness from plump Georgia shrimp, all of which is tempered by a ball of Carolina Gold rice dusted with herbs. It’s a dish best eaten with crusty bread, scooping up every luscious globule. — Angela Hansberger


No. 246

This meatball leaves a big impression. Seared, then simmered, I could see it in a traditional Sunday gravy — a floater, not a sinker. The balance of three meats is light and not overmixed. A panade of sourdough cubes and cream boosts the juiciness of the beef fat and the supple texture of the veal. Proper, even seasoning with salt, pepper, garlic, onion and red pepper flakes adds depth. The glossy orb is showered in Parmesan and a few fresh basil leaves. It’s spoon-tender all the way through, yet stands up to pasta or a hunk of crusty bread. I like to bathe it in the rich tomato sauce, imagining a splattered, dog-eared recipe from someone’s nonna pegged to a wall in the kitchen. — Angela Hansberger

Turkey and dressing

Matthews Cafeteria

A Thursday special of turkey and dressing at this restaurant comes with a heaping side of nostalgia. Tender, slightly sweet shreds of roasted turkey are mounded on soft cubes of herby cornbread dressing. When I eat it, I feel like Grandma Selena is back in the kitchen saying, “What a beautiful bird!” Choose fluffy mashed potatoes and gravy to build the perfect forkful of all the hearty beige goods. Add broccoli casserole for a little color and savory cheesiness on your plate, and cranberry sauce adds zing. Portions are so substantial here that you even can make the next-day gobbler sandwich. — Angela Hansberger

Beggar’s purses

La Grotta

To make these bundles, rich egg pasta squares are formed around a filling of sharp, nutty fontina cheese and black truffle, which infuses the cheese with heady earthiness. Bulging roundly at the bottom, the dough is twisted and fastened to resemble a small purse — but not too thickly, enabling the pasta to cook evenly. Pooling around the delectable morsels is a creamy marsala sauce that adds just the right touch of balancing acidity. The flavor is boosted further with white truffle essence and a little crunch of toasted walnuts. The petite, flavor-packed purses are as much a time capsule of Italian tradition as is this underground restaurant hideaway. — Angela Hansberger

Taiwanese fried chicken

Java Saga

Not long after Java Saga moved into its new home on Buford Highway this summer, I stopped by to sample the Taiwanese fried chicken perfected by Alvin Sun and his mother, Amy Lee. On the patio, a gaggle of elderly, toothpick-wielding patrons was stabbing Java Saga’s yan su ji, the classic street snack of popcorn fried chicken scattered with fried basil leaves. Java Saga has other treatments of the dish on its menu (sandwiches and cutlets), but it’s the bite-size nuggets, gently seasoned with five-spice powder and finished with salt and pepper, that bring out the OG Taiwanese crowd yearning for a taste of home. — Wendell Brock


La Mixteca Tamale House

Tamales are a staple of Latin American cookery, but the hand-tucked masa pillows at this family-owned Suwanee restaurant are among the most ethereal I’ve had. La Mixteca’s menu showcases traditional, sweet and vegan tamales — all gluten- and lard-free — served on plates with beans and rice, in guajolotes (sandwiches!) and in what I consider the best treatment of the dish in town, the tamale bowl. Two small, tender tamales — I like the chicken and pork with red sauce — are showered with beans, rice, dainty little french fries, zingy pico, queso fresco, shredded cabbage, sour cream, cilantro and an egg prepared the way you like it. For me, it’s sunny side up with a cup of cinnamon coffee and milk. Good morning, world! Pro tip: Call or check the online ordering platform before making the drive, because the tamales do sell out at rush hour. — Wendell Brock


Pupuseria Carla

For me, Salvadoran pupusas evoke Southern hoecakes. But, unlike my mother’s lacy cornmeal griddle cakes, they are stuffed. A layer of cheese, meat, veggies or a mixture thereof is encased in an impossibly delicate cake that tastes like home. A couple of Pupuseria Carla’s oozy little wonders, with the traditional accompaniment of vinegared cabbage, make for a fine breakfast or snack. I love the chicharron version, the mixta and the classic loroco (a plant that’s native to Latin America and tastes a bit like spinach). At $3.25 to $3.45 each, they are a delicious value, too. A perfect nook for early risers, Carla’s opens at 6 a.m. Mondays-Fridays and 9 a.m. Saturdays-Sundays. — Wendell Brock

Budae jjigae

Bally Budaejjigae

Korea’s so-called army stew calls for a larder of processed ingredients (Spam, ham, hotdogs, cheese, ramen), but don’t hold that against it. Slurped from a communal pot, it’s a fortifying dish that warms your heart and tongue (thanks to spicy additions such as kimchi and gochujang). Bally Budaejjigae in Suwanee specializes in the kitchen-sink creation, and even offers a hard-to-find single-size serving for solo diners. Rushed to the table in a bubbling pot and served with steamed rice and a trio of banchan, it will fill you up and make you conspire to return with friends. — Wendell Brock

Lomo saltado

Tio Lucho’s

What makes this Peruvian staple of beef and french fries so satisfying? It’s the gravy, man. That and the fact that the Chinese-influenced stir-fry traditionally is served with rice, thus making it a double whammy for connoisseurs of fine starches and gravies. At Tio Lucho’s, Executive Chef Arnaldo Castillo uses top-quality beef, house-cut fries and vine-ripe tomatoes to evince a beauty of a dish, crafted with care and laden with comfort. You’ll want to sop every drop of that rich brown gravy, then go home and take a nap. — Wendell Brock

French onion soup

Tiny Lou’s

French-inspired restaurant Tiny Lou’s first opened in the Hotel Clermont in 2018, and Jon Novak took over in 2021, putting his mark on the menu. But one item that hasn’t changed, even if it has evolved over time, is the French onion soup. As always, the hearty starter features caramelized onions and Gruyere cheese, with a slice of a toasted baguette floating on top. — Bob Townsend

Triple grilled cheese and roasted tomato soup

Corner Cafe

This perennial kids favorite is taken to more sophisticated heights at Corner Cafe in Buckhead. The thick, white bread is sliced from a French loaf made in-house daily at Buckhead Bread Co. It’s grilled with smoked mozzarella, white American and Parmesan cheeses. The soup is made from roasted tomatoes, giving it a chunky mouthfeel and a slightly tart taste that makes a great foil for the gooey cheese and crisp bread. — Bob Townsend

Pot roast

The Colonnade

The Colonnade, established in 1927 and located on Cheshire Bridge Road since 1962, often is described as a dining destination for “gays and grays.” The menu is like an encyclopedia of Southern comfort food, and its signature dishes include fried chicken, seafood and pot roast. The latter is cooked with peas and carrots, and served with fluffy whipped potatoes, plus two more sides of your choosing, such as fried okra and turnip greens. — Bob Townsend

Squash soufflé

OK Cafe

OK Cafe is known for Southern food and hospitality, and a standout from the restaurant’s lengthy side dish menu is the squash soufflé. Made with steamed yellow squash, green onions, cheese, eggs and buttery crumbled crackers, it puffs up in the oven and each forkful is gooey and rich. You can get it served as part of a meat-and-three or on a veggie plate, and it’s also available from the to-go case for taking home, or as your contribution to a potluck dinner. — Bob Townsend

Patty melt

Majestic Diner

The Majestic Diner, serving “Food that pleases” since 1929, is open only from morning to afternoon nowadays, but it still offers a timeless diner-style menu, with breakfast all day, sandwiches, blue-plate specials and kids meals. For purists, the perfect patty melt is the way to go. Seared on the flattop with onions, the big burger is loaded with melted American cheese and grilled between slices of marbled rye bread. — Bob Townsend

Pasta carbonara

Bellina Alimentari

At Bellina Alimentari, known for its Italian market, bar and restaurant, pasta carbonara is one of the most popular and traditional dishes. The combination of bucatini, English peas, smoked bacon and 30-day pecorino cheese is both soothing and sumptuous, and stirring in the raw farm egg that’s placed in the center of the bowl to coat the pasta is a favorite ritual. — Bob Townsend

Malted milkshake

Woody’s Cheesesteaks

Besides cheesesteaks, Woody’s also serves cold subs, sausages and sides. And the place is beloved for its thick, creamy milkshakes, made in a wide array of flavors, including chocolate, vanilla bean, Oreo and Nutella. But the addition of malted milk powder adds another layer of old-school flavor, giving it the taste of candy. — Bob Townsend


Wheelhouse Craft Pub and Kitchen

Even though it originated in Quebec, poutine has all the staples of a great Irish dish — or at least that’s what the team at Wheelhouse in Decatur thinks, since it has become one of the pub’s most popular menu items. Listed as a side dish, the delicious stack of crisp fries is topped with Guinness-braised beef, brown gravy and a thick layer of melted cheese curds. Savvy regulars order it as a main dish. — Bob Townsend

Sausage, beans and rice

Bon Ton

What could be simpler or more comforting than sausage, beans and rice? Bon Ton answers that question by combining the humble dish all in one large bowl. The tender, creamy red beans are like savory velvet, and the fried Poche’s andouille sausage adds an authentic Louisiana touch. All mixed together, it’s a hearty, filling, deeply satisfying meal that feels like home for just about anybody. — Henri Hollis

Shepherd’s pie

Marlay House Irish Pub

This shepherd’s pie is more visibly appealing than most, but worry not if you think the attractively manicured mashed potato topping means this is some gussied-up version of the classic. Under the spuds, you’ll find the expected ground beef, green peas and rustically chopped carrots in a rich, brown gravy. The simple, savory flavors underline the fact that this one-dish meal touches every corner of the food pyramid. How much more satisfying can you get? — Henri Hollis

Frito pie

Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q

This miniature masterpiece is made possible by the excellent Texas-style chili at Fox Bros., made with heaps of smoked brisket. It’s one of those dishes that’s impossible to replicate at home — who’s going to smoke a whole brisket only to chop it up for chili? The Frito pie takes that already amazing dish to the next level by adding the texture of crunchy corn chips, fresh onions and a sprinkling of shredded cheese. Plus, the fun factor of eating this delicacy directly from a Fritos bag is unmatched. — Henri Hollis

Pecan pie

The Pie Hole

The key to this pecan pie probably is one of the most easily overlooked aspects of making the Southern delicacy: fresh pecans. Instead of the bagged nuts you might get at the grocery store, the Pie Hole uses farm-fresh pecans that are more tender and carry a deeper flavor. The large, glistening nuts lift this version above even most homemade pies. If you want the ideal pecan pie, it’s the Pie Hole or bust. — Henri Hollis



Avgolemono is a simple soup made with chicken broth and either rice or orzo pasta, thickened with eggs and brightened with fresh lemon juice. Zeus, an appealing fast-casual spot in the Cumberland area, turns out a solid version. Purists might quibble at the inclusion of (gasp!) visible carrots in the soup, but, like most comfort foods, a lot of it comes down to how your grandma — or yiayia, if you’re Greek — made it. — Christopher Hassiotis


Imperial Fez

Harira is a soup made with lamb or beef stock, lentils, chickpeas, noodles, tomato, cumin and onion. The harira at this long-running metro area restaurant is as soul-warming as what you’d find in Morocco. It’s served with a variety of condiments, spicy harissa and pillowy khobz bread. And, though it’s a relatively humble start, it’s an entry point to Maghrebi cuisine and culture. — Christopher Hassiotis

Baked katsu curry

Shoya Izakaya

Brought to Japan a century and a half ago by the British navy via then-colonized India, curry combines the best of intersecting cultures. It’s easy to get wowed by the excellent sushi and sashimi at this izakaya, but if it’s hearty comfort food you’re in the mood for, the katsu curry — a breaded pork cutlet atop rice, bathed in Japanese curry and topped with a raw egg yolk — makes a full meal on its own, though you couldn’t be faulted for ordering a few more bites off the extensive menu. — Christopher Hassiotis


10 Degrees South

South African bobotie is a sweet, spiced casserole that goes back to Dutch traders and colonizers combining spices from Southeast Asia with European cooking traditions. Minced meat, nuts and sultanas are cooked with ginger, turmeric and curry powders, then topped with a baked savory custard. Celebrating its 25th year in business, this restaurant has a rich, filling entree version. For a more playful take on the dish, look to 10 Degrees South’s appetizers for spring rolls filled with bobotie and served with dipping chutneys. — Christopher Hassiotis


Sabores del Plata

In South America, provoleta is a provolone-style cheese that is a popular way to start off a churrascaria steakhouse meal — and a legacy of Italians who immigrated to the region over the years. It’s a comforting dish, brushed with oil and cooked either straight on the grill or in cast-iron pans or terra cotta cazuelas. Slightly browned and melted, it’s then topped with spices and served bubbling hot, alongside crusty bread. Bring friends and dive into an order, slathering on some house-made chimichurri that is bursting with fresh herbs and is among the metro area’s finest. — Christopher Hassiotis

Mazamorra morada

Machu Picchu

In Peru, ground kernels of purple corn are boiled and used to color and flavor drinks and desserts. One standout is mazamorra morada, a sweet pudding thickened with corn flour and starch. Cooked with pineapple, quince and apple, and spiced with cloves and cinnamon, it’s deep, bright, earthy and tropical, with a satisfyingly gelatinous texture. When there’s a chill in the air, opt for eating it warm. — Christopher Hassiotis

Nasi padang


Inspired by the cuisine of western Sumatra, this full meal delivers aromatic rice topped with crunchy fried scallions and accompanied by a boiled egg slathered in pungent sambal. A few slices of cucumber offset the spice, and two varieties of rendang offer different perspectives on the curry stew: beef rendang, with powerful flavors of caramelized coconut, ginger and lime; and chicken rendang, a brighter, lighter version flavored with tangy tamarind. — Christopher Hassiotis

Map: Atlanta's best comfort food