Recently in Atlanta on business and based on the recommendations here sampled some of the local fare:
1. Star Provisions - Not really impressed with the Shrimp Po Boy sandwich but loved their artisan cheeses like the Hickory Grove. The store and the experience are cool tho.
2. Lunch at JCT Kitchen is a must for visitors. Angry mussels are righteous especially the sopping broth as was the grilled cheese. Wish I had more time to further sample the menu. Plus it was packed but waitstaff efficiently got us out in under an hour. Memorable experience.
3. Buckhead Diner. I've had fried calamari god knows how many times in my travels but I was more than pleasantly pleased with it and the sauce as a late nite take out. Next time in town, I'll eat in.
4. Brunch. Atlantans (?) seem to have a thing for Sunday brunch and I was pretty much cock blocked. We tried several restaurants & all had a minimum 2 hour wait. Like Holeman & Finch who doesn't take reservations. Look - your concept of being a 'public house' maybe cool conceptually but when your actual restaurant only consists of a bar on one side and a dozen tables on the other - you''re not really serving the public.
But I have a rather high standard with Southern restaurants like Las Manitas (A famous Austin TX dive now closed due to a hotel buyout). But at least they knew how to get customers in and out and the wait was never longer than 15 minutes and their clientele were state legislators and Hispanic workers alike. I went to H&F twice and got kicked to the curb.
Net net, Atlanta has a lot to offer non natives in a culinary adventure. Some restaurants, just plain puffery but I am truly anxious to return to continue that adventure and when I do, I'll share it here.