01 Aug Atlanta — The New Food Mecca of the South
As the home of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and with a population of more than 32% in the city, Atlanta has long been known as a Black mecca. It’s the place to go for Black culture, Black food, Black history, and Black love. Those who visit the city can learn about Atlanta’s Black history at places like Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King, Jr. (and his father) were preachers. Or, they can visit South-View Cemetery, a Black cemetery where leaders like John Lewis and baseball player Hank Aaron are buried, along with a few Tuskegee Airmen. There is so much history and culture and that is ever present in the rich, flavorful food on offer in the Mecca.
Black Restaurant Week is more than just a week; celebrating Black-owned businesses is important to do all year-round, especially when restaurants are still recovering from pandemic-induced closures and staffing shortages.
Best Caribbean Comfort Food: Spice House
Spice House is an adventurous tour around the islands. The menu envelopes you into the riveting flavors and spices of Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad, and the Bahamas. This eatery is a treasure located in the beautiful Cascade Heights community. The service is superlative with a focus on giving each guest an amazing fine dining experience. Stop by for the signature Crabcakes, stay for Spice House Oxtails.
Best Breakfast Bar: Gocha's Breakfast Bar
Breakfast takes on a whole new meaning with the honey biscuits, amazing grits, and candied bacon. This is the brunch nirvana right on your doorstep. A great place where guests can stop by for a delicious Sunday brunch experience. There is a pleasant, chill vibe that balances against the restaurant’s classy decorum. Besides the mimosas, the martinis are a “must try”. You’ll return again and again for this unforgettable breakfast experience.
Best Restaurant and Food Truck: Flavor Rich
Passion, purpose, and creating an unforgettable culinary experience. For those that find themselves dining at Flavor Rich Restaurant, you will be pleasantly surprised by the flavor tones and the joy that emanates from every single dish. You’ll find yourself spoiled for choice with the dynamic menu. And nothing is better sinking yourself into the Duck Fat or Parmesan Truffle Fries and the myriad of sauces. The menu is a work of art and the experience is worth repeating.
Just about a 15-minute drive from the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park is Fireside Restaurant, a mainly takeout spot for Jamaican food like oxtails, jerk chicken, and curry goat. The Black-owned restaurant is a great spot for to-go breakfast, lunch, and dinner and is open late (until 11 p.m.) most of the week, too. They also offer large-format catering where guests can order food, dessert, and drinks for a party.
Best Fried Wings: Harold's Chicken & Ice Bar
For soul food in Atlanta, stop by Harold’s Chicken & Ice Bar, which is located in downtown Atlanta and is just a few blocks away from the birth home of Martin Luther King, Jr. The restaurant is an offshoot of Chicago’s Harold’s Chicken Shack but offers a sit-down bar aspect in addition to the delicious menu of fried chicken. The menu consists of fried chicken, fried fish platters, chicken buckets, and more.
Best Southern Fusion: Ms. Icey's Kitchen & Bar
A night out on the town and then return for brunch, Ms. Icey’s Kitchen & Bar is a joyful adventure into the fusion of Caribbean cuisine and Soulfood. This restaurant gives you the hospitality of your Grandma’s kitchen, while challenging your pallet with incredible dishes such as the salt fish mixup, blueberry cornbread, jerked pork, and of course don’t forget the mac’ and cheese. To put this restaurant over the top they have great customer service, cool drinks, and offer up a live DJ later on in the evening.
Best Live Jazz Restaurant: Paschal's
Near midtown, you’ll find Paschal’s Restaurant, a historic eatery that has been around for more than 60 years. The soul food restaurant offers something that many other spots don’t — live jazz throughout the year, where folks can dine and groove along to the sounds of horns, piano, and jazz singers. Over the years, celebrities and figures like Aretha Franklin, Maynard Jackson, and Al Gore have frequented Paschal’s Restaurant for its soul food and, particularly, its beloved fried chicken.
Best Southern Fried Chicken: Busy Bee Cafe
Just this year, Busy Bee Cafe won a James Beard Classics Award for its reliable and delicious soul food. The restaurant was opened in 1947 by Lucy Jackson, a Black woman and self-taught cook. Since its early days, the restaurant has changed hands a few times but remains a place for great soul food in Atlanta with popular menu items like fried chicken, chicken and waffles, fried catfish, mac and cheese, and more. It’s also a spot frequented by Clark University students as it’s just a few blocks from the campus.
Best Global Fusion Soul Food: Twisted Soul Cookhouse and Pours
Not far from downtown Atlanta, Twisted Soul Cookhouse and Pours serves soul food with a creative twist (as the name suggests). The menu is inspired by chef Deborah VanTrece’s world travels over the past 25 years, which is why you’ll find flavors from other countries and parts of the world at this Black-owned soul food establishment. Chimichurri wings are a favorite global option during brunch, and during dinner, the pickle-brined fried chicken sandwich remains a favorite.
Best Ethiopian Restaurant: Ghion Ethiopian Restaurant
1f you want to be transported to Ethiopia through sublime Ethiopian cuisine, this is the restaurant for you. The warmth of the cafe is palatable through the decor and the food. Ghion Ethiopian Restaurant does not skimp on the portions. It’s a great place to try Ethiopian food, experience traditional Ethiopian culture. Remember it’s self serve, so bring your appetite and room for the super sized portions of injera.