By Kate Parham Kordsmeier
As a food writer, I’ve been fortunate enough to dine at some of the world’s best restaurants, from Michelin-starred chateaus in Bordeaux to hole-in-the-wall hidden gems on Buford Highway. And I’m happy to report that some of my most memorable meals have, in fact, been at restaurants in the state of Georgia. To wit, here’s a list of 10 of my most favorite dishes from The Big Peach:
- Otoro Caviar at Umi: There’s perhaps no restaurant in Atlanta that I return to as often as Umi. Chef Fuyuhiko Ito’s specialty nigiri may just be my all-time favorite bite in town: buttery otoro (fattiest tuna) is swathed in truffle soy and topped with a fiery serrano slice and decadent caviar.
- Lamb Belly Shwarma at Last Word: After visiting Istanbul, I often find myself craving those fresh, sometimes spicy and always bold flavors so prevalent in Middle Eastern cuisine. I feel as if I’m back in Turkey when I eat at Last Word—their lamb shwarma is a lesson in complexity, the lamb belly at once tender and crispy, perfectly balanced with fragrant onion and parsley, crunchy and tangy pickles, fiery roasted tomatoes, creamy tahini and warm housemade flat bread.
- Farm Egg at The Florence: The pierce of a fork sends velvety egg yolk flowing down over a crispy polenta cake laced with salty ham and earthy mushrooms at celebrity chef Hugh Acheson’s latest outpost in Savannah.
Fried Cauliflower at BoccaLupo: Chef Bruce Logue’s mastery over made-from-scratch pasta is revolutionary in Atlanta, but what he does to cauliflower will change the way you think about vegetables. This flavor-packed dish is chockfull of fresh mint, tangy capers and sweet-and-sour meyer lemon.
- Pork Belly Buns at Makan: The contrast of flavors and textures—tender slow roasted local pork is spiked with pickled red onions and pecan sugar—in this iconic Chinese dish is so addicting, you may as well order two when you sit down.
- Brisket burger at Collins Quarter: The burger debate gets heated in Georgia, but there’s no denying that one of the best versions comes out of this Savannah café—here, house-ground brisket is piled high with bacon, cheddar, onions and pickles and sandwiched between a buttery, baked-in-house brioche bun alongside hand-cut steak fries.
- Burrata with chimichurri at Floataway Café: Whenever I see burrata, that ultra-creamy mozzarella cheese, listed on a menu I can’t help but order it. Floataway’s rendition, which is bathed in herbaceous chimichurri, is like taking a bite out of spring and best spread over grilled sourdough.
Fried Chicken at Serenbe’s Farmhouse: Georgia has a seemingly endless supply of finger-lickin’ fried chicken (Gunshow and Mary Mac’s serve up some of the best), but the flavor-packed bird served for lunch at The Farmhouse in Serenbe, may be my favorite. It’s ultra-crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside and served with habit-forming sour cream and chive biscuits.
- Butterscotch Chocolate Custard at Atlas: I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, and I’m a self-proclaimed chocolate hater, but pastry chef Judy Roman has mastered the art of balance in this equal opportunity masterpiece where creamy chocolate custard comingles with crunchy hazelnuts, candied orange and a healthy hand of sea salt.
- Red Bean Bbang at Tree Story Bakery & Café: One of the few desserts I can’t resist is the bbang (egg bread) at this Korean bakery. Bursting with housemade cream and red bean paste filling, it’s soft, airy and incredibly indulgent.