I'm a San Francisco hound visiting my parents for the holidays, and overall I had a pretty good dining experience in the Atlanta area :)
* Minako. My parents were raving about this hard-to-find Japanese restaurant in Smyrna (they like it more than Soto), so we went. My brother and I were pretty doubtful this place was that good, esp. after we learned it was Chinese-owned. We were seated at the bar (the place to be) and ordered omakase. For the sushi purist, this is not the place to go -- the sashimi was cut way too large and rough, they used fake crab, etc etc. However, except for the stringy toro and a so-so amaebi, it was all very tasty!! Sweet and delicate scallop sashimi, buttery uni, a lovely seared albacore sushi, etc. We had a *ton* of food from a squid/seaweed salad appetizer, lots of sashimi, grilled duck liver, and some creative and delicious rolls. The most amazing part was, it cost less than $50/person before tip -- in SF, LA or New York it would be at least twice that for the amount and quality of food. As I said, it's not the place to go if you're looking for an authentic Japanese experience, but it's definitely a great deal and both you and your wallet will leave feeling very happy.
* Matt's. I know this place gets a lot of criticism on this board, but my boyfriend recommended it so we decided to get some ribs. Even though there's virtually no smokiness (these ribs are boiled, after all), the ribs are still quite good -- I think it's the sauce. I'd definitely eat here again :)
* Waffle House. My bro and I never lived in the South (my parents moved to Atlanta after we graduated from college), so we decided to check out this ubiqitious institution to see what the deal was all about. I was pretty surprised by how crowded it was at lunch -- there was a wait for much of our visit -- and the food was hearty and good. Nothing to blow your socks off, but I would miss it if I grew up with it.
* Chick-Fil-A. We went to another lowbrow institution and were pleasantly surprised here too. This restaurant was surprisingly clean, and the chicken was really quite good for fast food, delicately fried and tender. Too bad the nearest one in CA is 50 miles from my house!
* Bone's. This was our most mixed experience. The appetizers were all good -- except for some rubbery unidentifiable seafood, I really liked my crab and lobster napolean, the Bone's salad was solid (though nothing special compared to the fancy California salads) and the lobster bisque was good. The steaks were good but not special. My requested medium-rare ribeye was much closer to rare, and my dad's requested medium-well filet and lamb were definitely well-done. All the meat had a bit of a charred taste that was off-putting. Everyone at the table agreed that the steaks at Peter Luger in Brooklyn were far superior, though the appetizers at Bone's are better. Service was good at first, but towards the end we felt like we were waiting forever even though the restaurant was not that busy.
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