From showcasing the South’s finest flavors to celebrating every cuisine under the sun, these Atlanta food festivals are downright drool-worthy.
Atlanta is the culinary epicenter of the South. Yes, we know that’s a bold statement, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Especially when you have James Beard Award-nominated chefs like Kevin Gillespie, whose unique dim-sum style restaurant Gunshow is still one of the hardest reservations to get in town, and Ryan Smith of Staplehouse bringing thoughtful and groundbreaking cuisine for a good cause, leading the charge in the restaurant scene.
These chefs, as well as countless others, are maestros of the kitchen, conducting symphonies of flavor that keep ATL foodies coming back for more. Whether you’re looking for down-home Southern fare or refined fine dining, the food scene has something for every taste, and don’t even get us started with our food festivals. Here are 10 of the city’s wildest food forays.
ATLANTA FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL
Atlanta has a unique responsibility of being a steward to our neighboring foodie cities in providing the ultimate proving ground to exhibit the South’s culinary mastery. Since its inception in 2010, the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival has sought to champion the indelible stories and unique flavors of the South by providing a pulpit to exalt the culinary experiences of farmers, chefs and mixologists in a four-day celebration of Southern food culture. And it’s gotten better every year with inventive culinary themes, educational programming, curated dinners and, of course, the yearly tasting tents that put the South’s best chefs to task offering their best bites.
Where: Midtown Atlanta
TASTE OF ATLANTA
As we mentioned, Atlanta’s food scene continues to up the ante and redefine itself with established institutions and new concepts finding success in the foodie-filled landscape. And the best way to try them all is at Taste of Atlanta. The annual food-stravaganza should be on every die-hard Atlantan’s bucket list and has evolved into being the city’s introduction to its dining community. With live cooking demos, special events and ATL’s top restaurants vying for the title of “Best Taste,” it’s no wonder TofA also keeps the party going throughout the year with food-centric events like the Southern Wing Showdown and Atlanta Meatball Festival. It’s an ATL must.
Where: Historic Fourth Ward Park
ATLANTA BRUNCH FESTIVAL
Brunch in Atlanta could be considered the most important meal of the week for some. People plan for weeks in advance while daydreaming of plates piled high with pancakes, French toast and, of course, chicken and waffles. And don’t get us started with bottomless mimosas. We guess that’s why Atlanta Beer Festivals decided that it was time for the Atlanta Brunch Festival. The yearly bonanza unites ATL cornerstones like Einstein’s, The Shed at Glenwood and more into an all-out brunch party at Atlantic Station with as many mimosas and Bloody Marys as you can stomach – but you’ll want to leave room for pancakes.
Where: Atlantic Station
Improv outfit Dad’s Garage just may have found the sweet spot – bacon – to get hungry Atlantans to come out and support their cause. And who doesn’t love bacon? It’s great on sandwiches, burgers, smoothies (wait, what?). And that’s exactly the types of offerings you’ll see at the annual BaconFest fund-raiser. The nonprofit theater troupe puts on quite the show of wild games, sketches and live music under the crispy umbrella of all the bacon you can eat.
Where: Dad’s Garage, 569 Ezzard St., Old Fourth Ward
ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATO FESTIVAL
Exactly how it sounds, the red/green fruit gallivanting as a vegetable has its very own festival in Atlanta – and it’s pretty awesome. Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival from ATL chef and restaurant magnate Ford Fry makes good use of the influx of tomatoes at season’s peak by having the city’s top restaurants and mixologists craft unique offerings from their bounty. Yes, that means everything you’ll eat will have tomatoes somehow incorporated. From your cocktails and appetizers to your dessert, the proceeds benefit Georgia Organics in a family-friendly festival that shows tomatoes are more than just ketchup.
Where: Park Tavern
MOTHER CLUCKER FRIED CHICKEN FESTIVAL
Nothing says “Southern cuisine” quite like fried chicken. It’s the great unifier over Sunday supper and what the South is all about, so local chef/restaurateur Ron Eyester decided to make a competition out of this delicious comfort food. Mother Clucker Fried Chicken Festival features tastes of piping hot bird prepared by the city’s best chefs in one finger-licking-good foray.
Where: American Spirit Works, Armour Drive, Buckhead
EDGEWOOD MAC & CHEESE FESTIVAL
Speaking of comfort food, who doesn’t love macaroni and cheese? From growing up on the boxed pasta and powered cheese goodness, the ooey-gooey fave is a staple on most Southern kitchen menus, and the Edgewood Mac & Cheese Festival highlights some of the best soul-stirring offerings. Who wouldn’t want to discover their inner kid over bowls of mac and cheese from the likes of Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q, Marlow’s Tavern and more?
Where: Walker Park, Edgewood Neighborhood, Atlanta’s Eastside
BEST BURGER BATTLE
If you didn’t know by now, Atlanta has a preoccupation with the burger. It appears on menus of almost every single restaurant –even spots with fine dining pedigrees – topped with everything from caramelized onions and peppers to truffles and lobster meat. So what better way to prove which ATL burger reigns supreme than with an all-out battle royal – with cheese. That’s where Atlanta Magazine’s Best Burger Battle comes in, pitting the city’s noted restaurants in double-patty combat to see who comes out on top with the real winner being attendees.
Where: Lenox Square
With the peach being the fruit our lovely state is best known for, why did it take this long to have a festival celebrating its sweet, juicy glory? The inaugural PeachFest kicked off in this year at FlatironCity in Fairlie-Poplar district Downtown to celebrate the luscious fruit with top local chefs and mixologists crafting traditional and modern takes on Georgia-grown peaches. Ever had peach pizza? What about peach-glazed heritage pork? Peach punch much? Peachfest is a festival Atlanta will enjoy for years to come.
Where: Fairlie-Poplar district, Downtown Atlanta
As if the Atlanta BeltLine already wasn’t tasty enough with some of the city’s best restaurants interspersed along its route for a quick bite, the BeltLine Boil raises the stakes. Think of spots like The Nook, Parish, TWO Urban Licks and more BeltLine faves in a battle of the low country boils doling out steamy, seasoned crab, shrimp and potatoes over live music at Old Fourth Ward Skatepark. Yum!
Where: Old Fourth Ward Skate Park