With holiday travel season fast approaching, there's a good statistical probability that you'll find yourself in Atlanta...no matter where you're really going. That's because Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is the busiest in the world, whether you're counting the number of passengers or the number of flights. And even if you're just passing through on a layover, you'll want somewhere to eat.
'Atlanta' on Serious Eats
Damn if Atlanta didn't go and turn itself into a bona fide pizza town when no one was looking. Pie fanatics could do a lot worse than booking a flight to Hartsfield-Jackson International and immersing themselves in our city's pizzascape for a few days.
Some of my top burgers in Atlanta are traditional in style; some stray toward my personal penchant for crazy. You don't have to agree with all my choices, but trust my palate enough to know that every burger on this list is worth seeking out, whether you're a lifelong ATLien or just passing through on a long layover.
Tucked in with a smoke shop, a car stereo dealer, and a vendor of coins and firearms, Campania is pumping out top 10 list-caliber pies and may just be the best-kept pizza secret in town. For now.
The Hank is one of those burgers you can't put down, for two reasons. One, you know you'll never get a decent handle on it again if you try to reposition it. Two, it's that outrageously spectacular.
Last time, internet pizza legend (and creator of the most famous pizza recipe in the world) Jeff Varasano talked about the challenges of opening a pizzeria and why he's stayed out of the spotlight the last few years. Today, he goes in depth on the power of a brand like Chic-Fil-A, the challenge of finding great employees, and why having great pizza doesn't always matter.
Jeff Varasano's pizza recipe went viral in the mid-2000's, and he opened up his own shop in Atlanta a few years later to critical acclaim. Then he went quiet...and we decided to find out why. Varasano had a very candid chat with us about his victories, his setbacks, his big plans coming down the pipe, and his newest location: the airport in Atlanta. If you ever wanted to open a pizzeria (or any a business), this is must-read stuff.
The 'Influential' Burger (That Influences You to Order Chili Dogs Instead) at The Varsity in Atlanta
Two chalky-brown industrial patties wedged between a flattened bun that hadn't even been fully split, with cheese that's not really melting so much as drooping with sadness at being exiled to this travesty of burgerdom. How is this "influential"?
We're kicking off our Kitchen Close-Up series with Atlanta's celebrated chef Ford Fry, who sneaks us into his restaurant and shares the professional and personal items that help make his kitchen sing.
Ink & Elm is pretty up front about wanting to be both "casual" and "comfort-driven," yet "refined" and a "destination." That can be a tough twofer to pull off under one roof. So it's not surprising that Ink & Elm's signature burger has a little Jekyll-and-Hyde thing going on, too.
"Pizza is a social food. In this country, you call a friend and say, 'Let's go get a drink.' In Italy, we say, 'Let's get a pizza.'" Every single thing I ate at Don Antonio by Starita was well worth sharing with someone you care about. MY favorite pizza in Atlanta? I think I just found it.
There's a time and a place for the pizza-as-artform-with-a-capital-A gourmet pizza shrines out there... but sometimes you just want to chill on your couch with a sloppy, gooey, greasy, holy-crap-this-is-why-I-fell-in-love-with-pizza-when-I-was-7 kind of pie. And LaBella's does that better than most.
I enjoyed the food at Stax Burger Bar very much, but there's a residual odor that permeates this restaurant to the point that I can't just ignore it. My next visit will be in warmer weather so my nose can seek refuge on the sizable outdoor patio.
Don't get me wrong; I like a little kick, but this was a steel-toed boot being jammed straight up my taste buds. When I can still residually taste a pizza six hours and three tooth-brushings later, it's "too much."Suffice it to say, Slice & Pint is still—almost four months in—definitely a work in progress.
While a quick glance may have you thinking that Stillhouse is a flash-in-the-pan gimmick destined to shut down once the next big thing comes along, there's actually quite a lot to like, for burger lovers and hooch heads alike.
Unless you're a diehard Big Mac fanatic, Zesto's Big Mac-like Chubby Decker would probably win a blind taste-test because it was cooked for you instead of just assembled. Otherwise, the food doesn't always live up to the legend; most who've grown up with Zesto give it something of a pass based on sheer nostalgia.
There's a cheese pizza that's delicious in its simplicity, but others showcase some spectacular and cheffy toppings. Ron Eyester may be "The Angry Chef," but what he's doing at Timone's should make pizza fanatics quite happy.
S&J's Woodfired Pizza may not be the easiest pie shop to find in Atlanta (that's about to change...), but what they're pulling out of their eye-catching little red trailer makes it well worth the extra effort.
Order the Meatstick and you'll get a pretty excellent hidden gem of a burger that, while not perfect, certainly has the foundation to be included in any conversation about this city's great burgers.
Paizano's Italian Bistro may not serve destination pizza, but if I lived in the downtown Norcross area, I could do a lot worse for go-to NY-style, Neapolitan, and Sicilian pies.