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Spring dining guide

What are the new classics?

Spring is a time for new flavors. Green garlic. Bamboo shoots. Just-dug potatoes. Lamb.

So we figured spring would be a perfect time to look at new restaurants that are making an impact on dining in Atlanta. Specifically, we wanted to find the dishes at these restaurants that might earn the designation of “new classic.”

Think about the old classics. Twenty years ago every restaurant had its special calling card, that signature plate that someone at your table just had to order.

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Chef favorites

Chef favorites

When they're not in the kitchen, many local chefs are out exploring the menus created by colleagues and competitors. And, like the rest of us, they have their favorites. We asked three Atlanta cherfs to tell us about the dishes they admire and what makes them special.

» Video: A visit with Miller Union's Steven Satterfield | Meet Gunshow's Kevin Gillespie

»Your picks: Three of our readers' favorites | Send us photos of your favorite dishes on Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #ajcwheretoeat

The Atlanta 50

Note to our readers

This year, we’ve switched things up a bit. Instead of publishing the Atlanta 50 — our exclusive guide to the 50 best restaurants in the metro area — in the spring as we have for the past few years, we’ve decided to move it to the fall, where it will appear in an expanded format.

You'll find the complete Atlanta 50 from spring 2013 below. This new spring guide is filled with beautiful pictures of memorable dishes we’ve sampled around the city.

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The 2013 Atlanta 50: A through Ge

Alma Cocina

(3 stars): When I took friends to Alma Cocina recently, one remarked, “I thought you didn’t like this kind of food.” My response: “Are you kidding? It’s my favorite.” I confess a personal preference for small plates, Latin tapas in particular. Alma Cocina, a Fifth Group restaurant, hits all the right notes for me: a warm interior, wait staff with personality, great margaritas made with fresh juices and, yes, those tapas. Chef Chad Clevenger brings his experience with Mexican and Southwestern cuisine to the restaurant. Order a half-dozen dishes for the table to share.

The 2013 Atlanta 50: Gi through O

Gio’s Chicken Amalfitano

(3 stars): Giovanni Di Palma, of Antico Pizza fame, opened Gio’s Chicken Amalfitano last December. Using a handful of ingredients, many imported from Italy, Di Palma has created a menu of seven chicken and four pasta dishes. Large pieces of bone-in chicken come in brothy bowls with roasted potato wedges and squares of focaccia much like Antico’s pizza dough. The chicken itself is moist and tender, but the magic is in the pools of liquid swirling with ribbons of oil that have been uniquely flavored by the dish.

The 2013 Atlanta 50: R through Z

Rathbun’s

(4 stars): As the old adage goes, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” At Rathbun’s, a noticeably cheerful chef and kitchen translate to a happy dining room, which weaves its way into every facet of your experience. The small kitchen cranks out a hefty menu and list of daily specials. It’s easy to hover in the small-plate region of the menu with items like thin slices of lamb scallopini topped with cubes of salty pancetta and soft goat gouda. But you’ll also want to head over to big-plate country to indulge in dishes like the perfectly crispy duck with Thai risotto and a sweet-and-spicy green curry essence.



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