8 restaurants that prove Atlanta is totally underrated

Photo: neeel

Photo: neeel

The first time I went to Atlanta was in July. If you’ve ever been in the city over the summer, you’d know exactly why people refer to it by the charming, misery-evoking name of “Hotlanta.” My game plan was simple – soothe the temperature discomfort by having lots of great food. Check out the 8 spots that completely made my trip a success.

You can check all of these spots out on Matador Network’s travelstoke® app and add them to your own trip planning lists.

1. Southern Art and Bourbon Bar

 Southern Art and Bourbon BarAtlanta, United States70 types of bourbon. You read that right, seventy. How about this fun fact: Art Smith, SABB’s chef, used to work for Oprah for 10 years. Pretty cool, but what I was most impressed by was the battery park cheese melt, the rosemary dijon cornish hen and the twelve layer red velvet cake. (Needless to say, I had to be carried out after eating all this, so make sure you go with someone who won’t leave you sleeping at the table. If they do, just order another burbon upon waking up & repeat.) #southern #fine-dining

2. Desta Ethiopian Kitchen

 Desta Ethiopian KitchenAtlanta, United StatesIf you had asked me what I knew about Ethiopian cuisine before going to Desta, I would have said a big, fat zero. Not that I learned any specifics or anything after the giant plate of lamb fir fir, but I know Ethiopian cuisine is da bomb. Go for a “very brave” KITFO if you wanna do it right. If you’re on the timid side, choose the lamb tips with injera. (The menu has a small dictionary section on the left side, so you can communicate in a far-from-perfect-but-I-tried Ethiopian). #ethiopian

3. ECCO

 ECCOAtlanta, United StatesTrendy spot with delicious European food. As American as I’ve become living in the US for the past 7 years, the continental soul in me slips into automatic bliss as soon as the waiter brings out the duck leg confit and I quickly go into a Cinderella-type nap after a piece of Ecco’s opera cake. Oh, don’t forget – you’ve got to start the whole odyssey with a plate of meats and cheeses to share! #fine-dining

4. Nicola’s Restaurant

 Nicola’s RestaurantAtlanta, United StatesTalk about dinner with a show! Come to Nicola’s on Saturdays between 8pm and 10:30 to see the fabulous belly dancing performance. If you’ve never had Lebanese cuisine before, that’s cool. Order some falafel to start with (obviously!) and grape leaves with yogurt. Chase it with a dancer’s plate (available for vegetarians). If you’re with the fam, go for the family style platter for a no-brainier choice of traditional goodies. #dinnerwithashow #lebanese #cheap-eats

5. Vortex Bar & Grill

 Vortex Bar & GrillAtlanta, United StatesLow-key burger bar with good whiskey. Good music and an excellent option when you crave nachos (holaaaa, borracho nachos!), tater tots (I’ll have 2 orders of the Dixie wrecked taters ASAP pronto, please!) and obviously a good burger. I like the Black & Blue (Cajun all day, baby). If you’re feeling ambitious, order the Zombie Apocalypse. You’ll need lots of napkins and luck for that one. Probably a whiskey, too. #burger #cheap-eats

6. Cooks & Soldiers

 Cooks & SoldiersAtlanta, United StatesBasque cuisine in Atlanta, what-whaat?! Having lived in Spain previously and tasted the original, I can tell you Cooks & Soldiers is goood. The pinxos are an absolute must-have. I ordered the caña klasikoa, barbakoa vaska (beef braised with kalimotxo, I’m sold) and the tortilla de chorizo. For main, I went with the pescado (local fish grilled with mojo rojo and fried garlic). Enjoy! #spanish #fine-dining

7. Ray’s In The City

 Ray’s In the CityAtlanta, United StatesRay’s is a small chain of upscale seafood restaurants. When I was in town for a trade show, I went to Ray’s in the City and enjoyed it thoroughly (like, scraping off the leftovers from my family’s plates, that’s how much). In the summer, there’s a special type of salmon that’s local to the region and the chef prepares in a special recipe. Get it if they have it, it’s worth it. If it’s off season, I recommend starting with the crispy point Judith calamari, followed by either the crispy shrimp and grits or the horseradish encrusted black grouper. Ray’s has different “blue plates” for each day of the week, so check them out as well. #fine-dining #seafood

8. Alma Cocina

 Alma CocinaAtlanta, United StatesGreat Mexican food. The ceviche collection keeps me coming back. My personal favorite is the himachi (jicama, serrano, green onion, celery, sesame, apple aguachile) which I follow with pan roasted scallops. I’m seriously considering booking a flight to Atlanta from Barcelona as I wrote this…tip: #mexican see if seating outdoors is available. #fine-dining

8 foods and drinks that New York City made famous

Photo: Teresa Lai

Photo: Teresa Lai

Editor’s note: These spots are all taken directly from travelstoke®, a new app from Matador that connects you with fellow travelers and locals, and helps you build trip itineraries with spots that integrate seamlessly into Google Maps and Uber. Download the app to add any of the spots below directly to your future trips.

General Tso’s Chicken

 Sammy’s Noodle Shop & GrillNew York, United StatesBig and simple dishes- this could easily be the best general Tsos in Manhattan. Also, not sure why, but there is never a massive crowd, so really good for a quiet lunch in the village #cheap-eats #chinesefood #greenwich

Named after a famous 19th century Chinese general from the Hunan province, General Tso’s chicken in its current and most popular form originates from Manhattan in the 70’s. Chef Peng Chang-kuei first served the slightly sweet, tangy, fried dish that American’s know and love at his restaurant on 44th Street. A stone’s throw from the UN, international dignitaries would visit the restaurant and chef Peng’s very non-traditional dish was beloved by Henry Kissinger. Another New York classic that can be found across the five boroughs, General Tso’s is at its most delicious at Sammy’s Noodle Shop.

Black and White Cookie

 Glaser’s Bake ShopNew York, United StatesClassic Nyc bakery full of goodies. The black and white cookies and rugelachs are wicked tasty. Get one of each and a black coffee for the best experience #bakery #newyork #cheap-eats #coffee

Although its roots might be in Utica, NY, this 110-year-old delicacy can be found up and down Manhattan (and in many bakeries across the country) thanks in part to a scene from Seinfeld that aired in 1994. “I love the black and white. Two races of flavor living side by side. It’s a wonderful thing, isn’t it?” Yes, Jerry. It is. For one of the oldest versions of the Black and White Cookie, check out Glaser’s Bake Shop, which has been selling the cakes for almost a century.

Pickleback

The youngest entry on the list, this briny whiskey chaser was first popularized at the Bushwick Country Club by bartender Reggie Cunningham in 2006. Originally, the idea was to use McClure’s pickle juice to eliminate the harshness of Old Crow whiskey (the cheapest shot available), but it only took a few years before hundreds of New York bars began combining different brines and whiskeys for more selective palettes. Today, you can buy a jar of McClure’s pickle brine for the explicit purpose of chasing whiskey. Humble dive bartender that he is, Cunningham does not claim to be the first person to drink pickle juice with whiskey, but that he “definitely invented selling it in New York.”

Bagels with Lox

Bagels are a traditional Jewish baked good from Poland, but when they reached New York their popularity really took off with the addition of brined salmon, a specialty of Scandinavian immigrants. Add some English cream cheese, Italian capers, tomatoes, and onions, and you have the Melting Pot’s favorite breakfast sandwich since the 1950s. Today you can get a classic bagel with lox (the Yiddish word for salmon) at Ess-A-Bagel (now on 1st Ave).

New York Strip Steak/Eggs Benedict

 Delmonico’sNew York, United StatesNothing like a classic Nyc strip steak. This is spot has more history than just about any other restaurant in New York, yet the food still feels new and intoxicating #fine-dining #classy #nycfood

No restaurant name is more storied than Delmonico’s, which has existed at a variety of locations under a number of owners since its first incarnation in 1837. Originally a downtown restaurant founded by the two Delmonico brothers, “Delmonico’s” has been applied to speakeasies, hotels and multiple restaurants in New York over the years. The influence of this single venue is tough to measure, as it has produced several famous dishes and restaurateurs, but it perhaps is best known for the Delmonico Steak (also known as the New York strip) and the creation of the Eggs Benedict (circa 1862 by chef Charles Ranhofer), both of which are still on the menu at the current Delmonico’s location on Beaver Street.

The Manhattan

 Bemelmans BarNew York, United StatesNothing more swank than this spot. Good for a date who loves live piano and handmade murals. Also the cocktails (particularly the Manhattans) are superb #fancy #classicnyc #manhattan #livemusic

There have been claims that this dark and dry whiskey drink was first stirred up for a NYC party in Lady Randolph Churchill’s (mother of Winston) honor in 1874, but it is far more likely that it was invented at least a decade earlier. Some sources credit a “man named Black” who bartended at the famous Hoffman House Hotel. For a similar atmosphere for imbibing this historic beverage, try Bemelman’s Bar at the Carlyle Hotel.

New York Pizza

 Lombardi’s PizzaNew York, United StatesThe birthplace of coal oven zas. The Pepperoni and mushroom pies are dope but beware: these slices must be folded to be eaten (but ain’t the the point?) #pizza #bytheslice #cheapeats #traditionalfood #thisshitrighthere

There is a difference between a New York slice and the greasy, melty, tomato-pasty pizza that hucksters across America sell- other than being made in NYC- and that is the coal oven. It was a New Yorker named Lombardi who, in 1905, invented the coal-oven style pie that you always thought came from a small picaresque town in a pizza-obsessed region of Italy. And when he did it in Lower Manhattan’s Little Italy, he probably didn’t think he was creating a national treasure that is still being baked by his family over 100 years later. Obviously, you should go to Lombardi’s for the most authentic New York pizza experience.

Hot Dogs

Make to NYC in the middle of the summer and you might find yourself sipping a Brooklyn Lager at a sports bar watching the World Series until, without warning, the bartender changes the channel to an event featuring “athletes” sliding whole hotdogs down their gullet. This is the legendary Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, where each contestant attempts to swallow as many all-beef franks and buns as possible. It was at Nathan’s where America’s love of the hotdog began in 1916, when one Polish-Jewish immigrant named Nathan Handwerker decided to load his frankfurter into a bun and munch, and it is here where the heart of American hotdog fandom remains.

10 best bakeries in San Francisco

Photo: Basheer Tom

Photo: Basheer Tom

Known for its bakeries since the sourdough bread of the gold rush era, San Francisco’s bakeries continue to innovate in the realm of croissants, apple strudels, cinnamon rolls, and all else flour-based.

Tartine Bakery

 Tartine BakerySan Francisco, United StatesThe best French bakery in the Mission, Tartine is famous for its scrumptious pastries. My favorites (because I can’t choose just one) the quiche and the bread pudding (pictured here). If you come on the weekend, get ready to wait in line for about an hour. It’s worth it.

Mr. Holmes Bakehouse

 Mr. Holmes BakehouseSan Francisco, United StatesYummy pastries in adorable surroundings.

Craftsman and Wolves

 Craftsman and WolvesSan Francisco, United StatesAmazing, creative tarts and pastries.

Tartine Manufactory

 Tartine ManufactorySan Francisco, United StatesNew outpost of Tartine, so far with much shorter lines. And they bake bread three times a day, so it’s easier to score a loaf. Great spot for lunch.

20th Century Cafe

 20th Century CafeSan Francisco, United StatesDelicious Viennese style tortes and pastries. The apple strudel is especially delicious! #coffee

Arsicault Bakery

 Arsicault BakerySan Francisco, United StatesRecently deemed best croissants in the U.S. by Bon Appetit …. Get there early and if they’re sold out of plain croissants, the chocolate croissants and kouigan amman are just as good. #coffee

Arizmendi Bakery

 Arizmendi BakerySan Francisco, United StatesWorker-owned collective slinging great bread and pastries. #cheap-eats

Victoria Pastry

 Victoria PastrySan Francisco, United StatesTraditional North Beach pastries and small cookies by the pound.

The Mill

 The MillSan Francisco, United StatesDelicious toast, although a loaf costs about as much as a slice….. They also have a few great pastries, such as the blackberry pistachio.

Hearth

 HearthSan Francisco, United StatesServes single origin drips and delicious pastries, including one called “pain au mocha – espresso and dark chocolate blended together for creamy decadence”. can’t make it during the day? they also offer three course prix fixe menu prepared by Guilia, an Italian chef with experience in michelin starred restaurants. #coffee #fine-dinning #pastries