We’re longing for warm outdoor shoots and green landscapes. Until we can shed the coats, I hope a look at some of the best farm-to-table restaurants in Atlanta–and the vibrant shots we took of them in much warmer weather–will help those fresh summer vegetables and patio dining feel more within reach! Our roundup includes eateries that are on a mission to improve our food and how we treat animals, and to source local, seasonal food because it simply tastes better. Eating fresher and supporting the local economy and environment while we’re at it is now downright easy in Atlanta…and we think that’s something to celebrate.
1. Kimball House
Kimball House in Decatur combines fine dining with a deep respect for fresh, seasonal, locally sourced food and the farms that provide it. The result is a daily-changing farm to table menu with unusual French panache. The owners passion for preservation and old fashioned hospitality comes through in the unique building, too: A former railroad station rehabilitated in the style of the Kimball House Hotel that once graced downtown Atlanta. The restaurant’s many accolades include being named one of Southern Living‘s Best New Restaurants last year.
2. Empire State South
At Empire State South on Peachtree, Hugh Acheson from Top Chef leads the culinary team in redefining Southern food as something much more–and much healthier–than the stereotypical fried chicken and barbecue. He believes in taking advantage of the agrarian landscape around us, and it shows in the breakfast, lunch and dinner menus that draw heavily from Georgia farms and feature local yogurts and cheeses. ESS’s recipes have been printed in many national magazines and Acheson’s own veggie-centric cookbook, A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen, has gotten lots of great press.
3. King + Duke
The atmosphere at King + Duke in Buckhead is defined by a unique hearth, which also drives the menu: Locally sourced, seasonal ingredients cooked over an open fire. This direct-heat cooking is combined with sustainable, organic advocacy that extends to responsible butchering. And…Chef EJ Hodgkinson is now offering complimentary hushpuppies with housemade chili jam and aioli at the bar from 3 – 6 p.m. if you order a cocktail or glass of wine. Sweet!
4./5. Farm Burger and YEAH! BURGER
I’ve grouped these because Farm Burger and YEAH! BURGER are among a growing number of area restaurants that are on a mission to show people you don’t need a fine dining budget to enjoy locally sourced, healthy food. They’re committed to improving fast food by sourcing from humane farmers who engage in sustainable, environmentally friendly practices (no harmful chemicals, no heavy processing). Farm Burger takes “local” seriously with all-natural buns, hormone-free cattle raised on Southeastern sweet grass and goat cheese from Georgia’s Decimal Place Farm. You can check out Farm Burger in either Dunwoody or Decatur; YEAH! BURGER has both West Midtown and Virginia-Highland locations.
Thanks to the AJC for giving us the chance to learn about all of these great spots while shooting for their Living Intown magazine!