Welcome to EAT THIS CITY, your weekly tour of the best restaurants in one of our favorite cities, as chosen by top chefs. This week, we visit Atlanta, Georgia, where we’ll check out the A-Town’s culinary A-Game!
Atlanta’s restaurant scene is alive, vibrant, and diverse, even as it nods reverently to southern tradition. The same can be said of Gunshow, the restaurant where our guide, Joey Ward, is the executive chef. Gunshow combines the concepts of “Brazilian churrascaria-style dining and Chinese dim sum,” where “dishes are presented on rolling carts and trays to diners at their tables where they can then choose what to order.” Doesn’t sound very southern yet? We’ll get there.
Says Chef Ward,
Gunshow definitely has its own voice, not only in our city, but nationally. We’re so different, there’s really nothing exactly like it. The patron, the customer gets to interact with the person creating the food and serving the dish, so you get the whole story. We get to serve what I consider to be southern food, because we are in Atlanta, and we’re doing food from our heart which makes it southern by nature. There’s no specific thing that we have to serve on our menu, so it’s almost like going to twelve different restaurants at the same time under one roof. It’s very unique, very exciting, a great place to eat and to work.
Chef Ward, who Zagat named to its list of 30 Under 30 People Redefining the Hospitality Industry, has a clear passion for his craft, and his city. This zeal is instrumental to Gunshow’s success. The restaurant was included in Eater’s “The National 38” list of standout places to eat in America in 2015 and 2016.
Chef Ward on what sparks his creativity:
Taking inspiration from local ingredients, local farmers and using that to create something that really provides an impact on the diner, not only through great taste, but great experience, is really important to my style of cuisine.
The food culture in Atlanta is exploding, it’s booming, I think more than anywhere in the southeast right now. I’m from Atlanta, I’ve been here my entire life, born and raised, and aside from going to New York for college, I’ve always worked and lived in the city and the suburbs of Atlanta. For a long time, I thought to move somewhere else, to go to another food city. You know, New York, Chicago, or LA or somewhere like that because I thought that we were so far behind the times, but I’m really glad that I ended up staying in my hometown because now we are booming. It’s just a slice of every walk of life, and our city has pretty amazing food experiences from around the world, and now other cities are looking at us for inspiration.
Now let’s explore Chef Ward’s fifteen picks for the best food experiences that his city has to offer!
Ammazza in Old Fourth Ward. It’s old world Italian with a modern hipster environment and good beer.
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This week's special is too good to be true! It's a big hot stone molcajete (bowl) filled with seasoned black beans, then topped with grilled steak, ancho shrimp skewer, cebolitas, jalapeño, and nopalito (cactus) – finished off with pan-fried queso fresco and served with corn tortillas! Come try our Molcajete Mar y Tierra today! You won't regret it!
Bone Garden Cantina in West Midtown. I LOVE the food and the vibe, which has Day of the Dead artwork everywhere. They do it their way, and it’s good!
Tasty China in Marietta/Jia in Ponce City Market. They recently opened in Ponce City Market with an outlet that features some of the greatest hits from their original location. I’m pumped not to have to drive to Marietta to get amazing Szechuan! That being said, my in-laws live in Marietta, so at least I have a great spot to eat there while we visit!
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Hubby was around the #chamblee area so he picked up #bahnmi #sandwiches for us to enjoy from Lee's Bakery (the best!). What #love! 😍 Thankfully we won't need to drive down there for great sandwiches since they opened up a 2nd location in Duluth! 😛 #chambodia #atlanta #atl #goodeats #leesbakery
Lee’s Bakery’s Bánh Mi. Cheap and f*cking delicious.
It’s a three-way tie! Sticky Toffee Pudding at King + Duke; Carrot Cake at Spice to Table; Morelli’s Salted Caramel Ice Cream. If I could have all three on a plate, I would die a happy man. I love sweets.
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Beets Salad. Crispy Quail. Roasted Octopus. Zucchini Basil Soup. From tasting menu. #ariaatl #beets #quail #roastedoctopus #ZucchiniSoup #appetizer #ATLeats #buckheadeats #AtlantaEats #buckheadATL #Foodporn #instafood #vsco #vscofood #weloveatl #igersatl #beetssalad #finedining #eeeeeats #tastingmenu #bonappétit #onthetable
Aria in Buckhead. I love Gerry Klaskala, the chef/owner. It’s always delicious!
Home grown GA on Memorial Drive. They have the best fried green tomatoes I’ve ever had. Period. I wear their hat at Gunshow during service that reads “Home F*cking Grown.”
The Kale Pakora at Chai Pani in Decatur. Delicious, crunchy and fried!
My house. No, seriously. We have bloody Marys and mimosas, as well as bacon, eggs and pancakes. (Plus, no brunch bill needed at your own house!) My wife and I stay in and hang out for a lazy beginning to our Sunday since that’s my only day off! Sadly, my favorite brunch spots are closing left and right–H. Harper Station and Rosebud among others. I would say Sun in My Belly is my go-to brunch spot.
ICONIC FOOD OF THE CITY
The Varsity. It’s as good and bad as you’d expect and I love it!
ODD CULINARY EXPERIENCE
Gunshow. Yes, the very restaurant I work at. It’s the weirdest spot around and that’s what I love about it.
Ice cream. Usually Ben and Jerry’s. I crush pints one at a time. I’m insatiable. What’s my favorite flavor? It doesn’t exist! All flavors are my favorite.
Pho from Pho Dai Loi on Buford Highway. Pho is the absolute best.
Umi in Buckhead. My wife and I celebrate here every chance we get! It is amazing.
RESTAURANT RUN BY A FRIEND
Revival Decatur. My best friend Andreas Muller is killing it with the best southern food in the South! They have the best fried chicken and cornbread that I’ve EVER HAD!
Thank you, Chef Ward, for taking us on a culinary tour of Atlanta!
Stay tuned for more EAT THIS CITY — where each week we’ll feature a premier chef in a different city sharing their insider eating tips! Missed a week? Check out Miami, Seattle, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Sydney, Portland, Chicago, Austin, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, New Orleans, Providence, Memphis, Orange County, Boston, and Detroit.
See you next week!