Where 5 Atlanta chefs eat: Kevin Gillespie, Linton Hopkins and more


There's likely no greater compliment as a chef than to hear that your peers choose to eat at your restaurant when they end the day at their own spots. Whet your appetite for the AJC Fall Dining Guide 2015, coming out Nov. 13, by finding out where five well-respected Atlanta chefs love to eat in Atlanta, and what they like to eat there. Find the AJC Fall Dining Guide at myajc.com/dining on Nov. 13.

“I still go to Nick’s Food to Go because it’s fast and cheap. Gyros and pastitsio on Thursdays. It’s a walk-up, so you have to get it to-go. … My burger choice: Grindhouse Killer Burgers. I get the Apache Burger – roast green chiles, Swiss cheese. It’s pretty decadent. For pizza, I send my cooks to Gino’s on Piedmont, it’s open until 5:30 in the morning. For late night, it’s super good.” – Kevin Rathbun, Rathbun’s, Kevin Rathbun Steak, Krog Bar, KR Steak Bar 

I go to Plaza Fiesta, the big Mexican shopping center on Buford Highway, to eat at Carnitas Michoacana. The carnitas are really good. They make their own tortillas. There’s a particular meat, buche, it’s like the glands of the pig. I ate it in Mexico all the time. It’s one of my favorite things to eat and you can’t get it everywhere. They also have great salsas.One of the places I started to enjoy in the last year is The Optimist. It’s all about seafood. I can go on Sundays in the mid-afternoon. There’s not that many people. I sit at the bar. I will get myself oysters and a cup of gumbo – it’s not thick, it doesn’t have tons of okra. It’s a nice thin broth, more like soup than gumbo. And then I get whatever they have on special. If they have scallops, I would recommend those.” – Eddie Hernandez, Taquería del Sol

“My number one lunch stop is Pho Dai Loi (No. 1). I get No. 18 – beef pho with fatty brisket and flank steak – and add meatballs to that. I go twice or three times a week, even when I am at work. … On Buford Highway, Nam Phuong is absolutely fantastic. I love BoccaLupo. All the food is fantastic, but I especially love the crispy white lasagna. People will make fun of me for it, but I really, really, really appreciate the consistency of Houston’s. It’s a chain but the execution is perfect. The idea of something having more than one location doesn’t mean it is inherently not good. Maybe the best meal in Atlanta is Umi sushi. Umi is as good as the best I have ever had in the world.” – Kevin Gillespie, Gunshow and Revival

Taka. It’s very true to Japanese. I love his tofu agedashi. I believe they have the best salmon skin hand roll anywhere. It’s almost like the fried chicken of his menu. It’s craveable to me. … A restaurant our family loves that gets forgotten a lot: Floataway Café. We go there for dinner quite a bit. It is one of our gem restaurants.” – Linton Hopkins, Resurgens Hospitality Group

“I have a litany of places me and my wife go to. The best burger in town is Little’s Food Store in Cabbagetown. For something nicer, we go to Miller Union. We think it’s great for lunch, especially when we try to class it up. We like Ammazza. It’s the best pizza joint in town. They have a carnosa, a deep-fried calzone. That is always a home run. Late night at Marcel is awesome. Little Trouble, late night.” – Eli Kirshtein, The Luminary


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