As much we love sinking our teeth into a hamburger or a plate of barbecue, sometimes we want something with a little more international flair. Fortunately, we live in Atlanta and have the world within arm’s reach (and we don’t mean Hartsfield-Jackson). The metro area is chock-full of global cuisines, sure to satisfy any craving you may have (or introduce you to one you weren’t yet aware of). Here are four restaurants to check out on your foodie adventure.
The brainchild of Tal Baum, owner of Ponce City Market’s Bellina Alimentari, Aziza opened in June 2019 in the Westside Provisions District complex, bringing modern Israeli food to the city. Atlantans are no stranger to Israeli eats—Aviva in Peachtree Center has a line out the door daily for falafel and shawarma, and Toco Hills is home to several quick service Israeli joints—but Aziza’s take is less traditional and presented in a high-end setting. Seasonal offerings include Turkish coffee-braised short ribs and Border Springs kibbeh nayyeh (raw lamb with harissa, bulgur wheat and sumac pickled onions). For those craving something more traditional, Baum has Falafel Nation, an adjacent stand where you can get your falafel and hummus fix.
Laotian: Snackboxe Bistro
Snackboxe Bistro opened its doors on Buford Highway in 2018, bringing Laotian food to greater prominence in Atlanta. You may not realize it, but if you’ve been to a Thai restaurant, then you’re already familiar with Laotian food. Laos shares borders with Vietnam and Thailand, so there are similarities found in the flavors and ingredients. But, Snackboxe serves distinctly Laotian cuisine, such as chicken laap, a salad prepared with ground chicken, chili flakes, lime juice and fish sauce. It’s a simple dish that bursts with zest and umami. Another standout is the khao piek sen noodles, a dish of house-made rice flour tapioca noodles with chicken and fried garlic. Don’t skip dessert: the nam van is an iced coconut milk beverage studded with fruit and tapioca jelly. It’s only available Friday through Sunday; but don’t worry, their fried bananas are also delightful, and available every day.
South African: 10 Degrees South
Long before South Africa became the “it” destination, the Anthony family was introducing Atlantans to South African cuisine at 10 Degrees South. The Buckhead restaurant opened in 1998 as the joint creation of Diane (the executive chef) and Derek Anthony, and their son Justin. Grab a seat and order one of Diane’s takes on classic South African dishes such as the crispy spring rolls filled with bobotie (ground beef curry) and served with a chutney, or the grilled Cornish hen marinated in peri-peri sauce (a spicy, zesty sauce made with African bird’s eye chili peppers). No meal is complete without an order of Di’s Delight, a fruity sponge cake served warm with vanilla ice cream. It’s been on the menu since the beginning. If you’re left wanting more South African eats, visit 10 Degrees South’s sister restaurants: Cape Dutch, Yebo Beach Haus (or Ski Haus, depending on the season), and Biltong Bar, where the specialty is South African beef jerky.
Gullah Geechee: Virgil’s Gullah Kitchen and Bar
Couple Juan and Gee Smalls opened Virgil’s in College Park in June 2019. The restaurant serves Gullah-inspired soul food along with a full bar offering cocktails, beer, and wine. For the uninitiated, Gullah Geechee people are African Americans living in the Lowcountry region spanning South Carolina to Northern Florida who descended from West and Central Africans. Rice is a signature ingredient in Gullah cuisine, which is reflected in Virgil’s menu, with dishes such as Slammin' Sammen, blackened Atlanta salmon in a crab cream sauce, a fried oyster and shrimp served on white rice and geechee fried corn.