Trip Ideas

Eat at These James Beard Award-nominated and Winning Restaurants

Set out on a culinary adventure with these 15 acclaimed places to eat in Georgia.

  • Miller Union

The James Beard Foundation, the standard bearer for most things culinary, selects outstanding chefs and restaurants around the country to award them for their excellence. Georgia was proud to be on that list with a select 15 Atlanta area and Athens-based chefs and restaurants as semifinalists for the 2017 coveted James Beard Foundation Award.

What does that mean? For starters, it means that you can plan your next vacation around some stellar food and drink! With nominees in categories like Best New Restaurant, Outstanding Bar Program, Outstanding Service and Best Chef, you won't go wrong.

How are these chefs and restaurants judged? Who made it onto this list of culinary excellence? Take a look below and decide which restaurants you plan to dine in, cocktails you plan to sip and chefs you'd love to meet.

2017 James Beard Award Nominees in Georgia

Category: Best New Restaurant

A restaurant opened in the calendar year before the award will be given that already displays excellence in food, beverage and service, and that is likely to make a significant impact in years to come.

Nominee: The Federal, Atlanta

Best known for: American steaks with a European flair.

The Federal, Facebook

Category: Outstanding Baker

A chef or baker who prepares breads, pastries or desserts in a retail bakery, and who serves as a national standard-bearer of excellence. Must have been a baker or pastry chef for at least five years.

Nominee: Sarah O’Brien, Little Tart Bakeshop, Atlanta

Best known for: From-scratch pastries, cookies and cakes

Little Tart Bakeshop, Facebook

Category: Outstanding Bar Program

A restaurant or bar that demonstrates excellence in cocktail, spirits and/or beer service.

Nominee: Kimball House, Atlanta

Best known for: Uniquely creative cocktails and fresh oysters

Kimball House Oysters

Category: Outstanding Restaurant

A restaurant in the United States that serves as a national standard bearer of consistent quality and excellence in food, atmosphere and service. Eligible restaurants must have been in operation 10 or more consecutive years.

Nominee: Five & Ten, Athens

Best known for: Weekly burger nights

Five & Ten in Athens is located near the University of Georgia campus.

Category: Outstanding Restaurateur

A working restaurateur who sets high national standards in restaurant operations and entrepreneurship. Candidates must have been in the restaurant business for at least 10 years. Candidates must not have won a James Beard Foundation chef award in the past five years.


Best known for: Exciting and delicious restaurant concepts.

Superica, a Ford Fry restaurant in Atlanta

Category: Outstanding Service

A restaurant in operation five or more years that demonstrates high standards of hospitality and service.

Nominee: Aria, Atlanta

Best known for: Beautiful décor and service

Aria, Facebook

Category: Outstanding Wine Program

A restaurant in operation five or more years that serves as a standard bearer for excellence in wine service through a well-presented wine list, knowledgeable staff and efforts to educate customers about wine.


Best known for: Modern and sophisticated Southern food

Miller Union, Facebook

Category: Rising Star of the Year

A chef age 30 or younger who displays an impressive talent and who is likely to make a significant impact on the industry in years to come.

Nominee: Brian So, Spring, Marietta

Best known for: Seasonal menu

Chocolate mousse at Spring in Marietta, Georgia

Category: Best Chef: Southeast

Chefs who have set new or consistent standards of excellence in their respective regions. Eligible candidates may be from any kind of dining establishment and must have been working as a chef for at least five years with the three most recent years spent in the region.


And the winner is . . .

Best Chef: Southeast

Chef Steven SatterfieldMiller Union, Atlanta

Photo courtesy of Miller Union

Jennifer Hill Booker is Explore Georgia’s Official Culinary Explorer. Find more dining recommendations from Jennifer on the Explore Georgia blog.

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