Atlanta, Georgia - APRIL 16: A large crowd of people buy meals from food trucks lined up in Grant Park at the Food-o-rama festival.

Atlanta on my palette: A quick detour into Atlanta’s ever-changing, delicious food scene

6 mins read

With the city’s rapid growth expanding outside of the 285 highway and into suburbia, the Georgia metropolis has grown into a food oasis.

Atlanta will always be a bedrock of American cuisine seeped in the history of foodways crafted by Black forebears. On the other side of the greasy spoon, southern food scenes carry baggage of too much fat, sweet and salt. Even though that’s far from the truth, it is a conversation for another day.

Southern food is diverse, like the ever-growing demographic below the Mason Dixon line. What Atlanta represents is the becoming of southern cities teeming with an impressive mixture of ethnicities and cuisines. Foodies will die in the ATL with its range of restaurants and boutique shops.

Indeed, there are many options for food spots, but you’ve got to know a local to know what bangs. Being from Augusta, and living much of my life in Atlanta, as a chef, I know the food; however, even I have a hard time keeping up. Although eating venues open and close daily, here is a list of mainstays or strong newcomers. From diners to food trucks, where you eat is as interesting as what you eat. Bon appétite!

Le Petite Marché


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Le Petite Marché has become a coveted Atlanta eatery in the Kirkwood neighborhood. Inaugurated in 2008, owner Marchet Sparks became inspired to open a quaint shop serving local, fresh baked goods, soups, salads and coffee during a visit to France.

When she launched, true to the modest-sized Parisian cafés, Le Petite Marché, borrowed from her name, offered sumptuous bites of food. However, her beginning is far from today’s popularity. At first, she was afraid that she would close due to a low flow of customers. After a quick restructuring that focused on a delicious breakfast and brunch menu, Sparks began to acquire a following that spread outside and in the 285. In 2018, Le Petite Marché was named “Best of …” in Atlanta.

Desta Ethiopian Kitchen


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Desta Ethiopian Kitchen highlights one of the more prominent ethnic communities in Atlanta. The culinary influences brought by East African immigrants is an established cuisine in the predominant Black city. It’s owners, Nega and Titi Demissie grew up in Ethiopia, but moved to the US, where they met and married.

Starting out as an eight-person dive, Desta Ethiopian Kitchen has grown to three locations, one of which accommodates 250 guests. While providing a cultural tour of Northeast Africa one morsel at a time, it also is an event space to hold weddings, holidays and other celebrations.


Eats on Ponce de Leon Avenue is one of the best cheap finds for comfort food in a city that becomes costlier to live and play. An interesting atmosphere combing no-frills and eclectic, it is a quick-food find fit for the college student to the business professional grabbing a bite on the way to the club. From collards to pasta to sizeable portions of jerk chicken and sweet potato, the easy-spiced servings are like a season-as-you-go affair. Be prepared to take the hot sauce or Bay seasoning out of your purse because they are low on sodium, but hella big on good food.

Soul Veg


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If you live in Atlanta and call yourself a vegan, but do not know about Soul Veg, we’re taking your herbs-fruits-and-berries card. Soul Veg is a soulfood vegan sacred site that has been cranking out downhome delectables informed by Southern, African and Caribbean cuisine since the 1990s. While the first Soul Veg opened in Chicago, the original Atlanta location is situated in the historic West End. Right off of the Marta Train of the same-named stop, Soul Veg is a cafeteria-style restaurant offering daily menus cooked from scratch.

Tassilli’s Raw Reality Cafe


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Tassili’s Raw Reality Cafe parked itself right down the street from Soul Veg on Ralph D. Abernathy Drive in the West End historic neighborhood. A house-turned-to-porch-café, the cozy, colorfully decorated establishment serves food cafeteria style with a few sit-down spots inside and outside. During sunny days when the heat is not beating you down, a nice lunch under the yard’s trees is a great time to use their wickedly fast WiFi or listen to live entertainment on a warm, mosquito-less night.

Unlike Soul Veg, Tassili’s rotates it’s dishes more frequently, but keeps crowd-favorites. Known for tacos and excellent lentils and veggie dishes, now they’ve added vegan burgers to the menu. Be prepared for savory dishes with Caribbean flair and lots of garlic that will increase your blood flow and move the most sluggish digestive systems.

Thumbs Up Diner


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Do not bring your mama to Thumbs Up Diner because you will probably smack the shit out of her when you taste one of the many unpretentious, gut-busting, mouth-watering dishes. With five locations, but headquartered on Edgewood Avenue between Cabbagetown and Old Fourth Ward, you have quite a few options for a great breakfast, brunch or lunch.

Atlanta Food Truck Park

The food truck revolution hit Atlanta some years ago. Thankfully, the weather allows sites to house street foods on wheels. A popular go-to is Atlanta Truck Park, a parking lot carved out for dozens of mobile eateries that range from Mexican food to frozen pops.


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Slutty Vegan

No one expected that a food truck named Slutty Vegan founded by Pinky Cole would blow up so fast. Cole set up shop with the idea that a 100 percent plant-based lifestyle can be sexy. With options on the menu named Hollywood Hooker Philly, Dance Hall Queen, Sloppy Toppy and Ménage à Trois, it is hard not to at least try it out.

But, in the land of the dirty south and strip clubs serving as dating joints, the notion to be a slut and a vegan makes perfect sense. Ask Iyanla Vanzant. Yes, beloved. She’s been #sluttified


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One of the major shocks in the vegan movement is the reception of Black folk to eating healthy. In a land that celebrates meat at every dish, expanding the vegan option with plant-based burgers and fries has people lined up. Within a month, the vegan food truck has turned carnivore-doubters into unwavering believers. So much so, Slutty Vegan added a brick-and-mortar store to its truck operation.

The Blaxican


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Fusing Mexican and African-American cuisine for a culinary concept called Mexican soulfood, food truck entrepreneur, Will Turner decided to pick the two most popular cuisines of the South; hence, The Blaxican.

Before his food-truck venture, Turner worked at a church, but was unexpectedly laid off as a result of the economic downtown. He always used cooking as a side hustle, so he decided to turn his temporary gig into his family’s permanent source of income. For his chef skills, Turner used his mother’s cooking training as a boy and her know-how to stretch food. Plus, he remembered his cooking duties when he went to a juvenile facility as a kid.

When seeking funding Turner hit some critical roadblocks that caused him to think that owning a food truck was not possible. Remembering a documentary from Spike Lee who bootstrapped his first movie, Turner applied for several lines of credit for startup funding. With a modest amount of money, he grew from setting up at churches to being one of Atlanta’s Most Wanted.

CamiCakes Cupcakes


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Calming a sweet tooth after a savory overload takes a particular type of treat. That is why we love, Cami Cakes cupcakes, a small chain owned by Andra Hall who started her confectionery in Orange Park, Florida.

The store specializes in dozens of handcrafted cupcakes, handmade ice cream and other baked goods with organic ingredients. A favorite is a scoop creamery, or ice cream, in a waffle cone or cake rounds.

Chef Cassandra Loftlin travels around the world digging into sumptuous dishes.

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