1. Sublime Donuts, Atlanta ( http://twitter.com/sublimedonuts). I was introduced to Sublime Donuts by @AmandaMilam. It has been love ever since. Chef Kamal Grant opened Sublime Donuts on 10th Street after service in the United States Navy and studying at the Culinary Institute of America. Chef says, “We want it to be the best donut you have ever had in your life. We are trying to go for someone’s last meal on death row.” Head down to Sublime Donuts and you probably find see Chef Kamal baking and stocking the donut trays. My favorites are the A-Town and the Fresh Strawberry N Cream.
2. Upperline Restaurant, New Orleans. JoAnne Clevenger opened Upperline Restaurant in the 1980’s located on 1413 Upperline Street and still manages the restaurant every day. She will inevitably meet you at the door and stop by your table for a fascinating conversation about food, you (you may or may not be fascinating), or anything else on her mind. The restaurant has constantly evolving display of artwork that seems quite at home in the 1977 townhouse. Each piece has a connection to New Orleans and has been collected by Mrs. JoAnne. She is more than willing to provide you the unique story on any given ppiece. When it comes to the menu you will not be disappointed. I highly recommend the crispy sweetbreads over polenta as an appetizer with the veal grillades with mushrooms and cheddar grits. You might have a sazerac after dinner.
3. Abbatoir, Atlanta. Located on Howell Mill on the Westside of Atlanta in the old meat packing plant Abattoir has a fantastic environment that incorporates a number of the historical features of the building. The menu is based upon the concept of utilizing every functional piece of the animal. While some mind find this disconcerting everything is very tastefully done and you need not be concerned about being presented with a portion of the animal that might ruin your appetite. I highly recommend the pork sampler.
4. The Green Monkey, Portsmouth. Downtown Portsmouth is beautiful in the Summer and early Fall, the same can not be said during the Winter unless you find something particularly enjoyable about frostbite and pneumonia. The Green Monkey on Pleasant Street is a block off of the main drag. The owner, Deb Weeks, often greets and seats you and will be back by to make sure you are enjoying the food, which I find it hard to imagine any other experience could occur. You will not be disappointed with macadamia encrusted trout, unless you are allergic to nuts, or the herb and goat cheese stuffed Amish chicken breast.
5. The Lazy Goat, Greenville. The Lazy Goat is located on River Street in the heart of downtown Greenville, and as the name would indicate, overlooks the Reedy River. The restaurant has a Mediterranean menu. The meats and cheese appetizer is a must. My wife and I quite enjoyed the Graze & Nibble portion of the menu and sampled harrisa spiced hummus, roasted mussels and chorizo, fried goat cheese, and grilled calamari to name a few items. Very enjoyable atmosphere and you can not beat the view. I would recommend after dinner you walk across the street to Spill the Beans (The greatest ice cream on the planet. Do not challenge this. I am most particular when it comes to ice cream, ergo, I would know.)
6. Verde, Atlanta. A taquria located on Dreseden in Brookhaven, be prepared for a 30 to 45 minute wait to be seated, a testimate to the food, however, there is always an entertaining crowd and a decent sized bar to help you pass the time. You can also bring your dog and tie him outside one of the two patios. Ask the hostess for a waterbowl and she will bring one out. In terms of cuisine, tacos it is. I have not tried any other main course on the menu and am not sure why you would. I have yet to find one I don’t like. Top three are pulled pork, fried calamari, and the grilled fish taco.
7. Nola, New Orleans. Nola is not far from The Quarter but leaves its muck and mire far behind. Reservations are a must. I had my first introduction to the tomolive at Nola. I now have a concerning craving for this garnish. I have yet to find a meal I do not thoroughly enjoy at Nola but thus far the Hickory Roasted Duck takes the cake.
8. Grindhouse, Atlanta. Best burger in Atlanta, period. Tucked away in the Auburn Curb Market in downtown this lunch counter spot get’s quite crowded around lunch time so I recommend getting there a little early to ensure you have a spot. You build your burger including meat (beef, turkey, or veggie), size, and style. The selection of toppings is the perfect compliment. My burger is a beef double with cheddar cheese and mushrooms.
Refer to my post on P90x for information on how to cope with the food binge on which you are about to embark.