Oysters, The Optimist, Atlanta. Sit at the oyster bar and order the sampler served with fresh horseradish and housemade mignonette.
Bacon in a Glass with Homemade Cashew Butter, Leon’s Full Service, Decatur. Dine on bacon and peanut butter in this ex-gas station turned eatery.
Seafood Rotini, Gumbeaux's Cajun Cafe, Douglasville. This popular, New Orleans-style eatery dishes up a rotini dish that could feed a whole family.
Big Bowl White Velvet Mac & Cheese, Kozmo Gastro Pub, Johns Creek. (Editor's note: Kozmo Gastro Pub has permanently closed.) This bustling New American outfit adds flair to a classic with truffle oil and bacon.
Tiramisu, Adriatic Grill, Lawrenceville. It's Italian dessert done right: This masterfully crafted and creamy favorite is delicious and reasonably priced.
Baklava Cheesecake, Marietta Diner, Marietta. The neon-fronted restaurant serves up delicious plates 24/7, including this twist on a Greek classic.
Butternut Squash Shrimp Risotto, The Seasons Bistro, McDonough. This cozy restaurant may be housed in a building over 100 years old, but this filling risotto dish featuring jumbo shrimp is far from old-school.
Fried Chicken, Table & Main, Roswell. Feast on locally sourced fried chicken in a restored cottage, complete with a bourbon bar and a garden patio.
Fried Green Tomatoes, Food 101, Sandy Springs. This unforgettable dish combines locally sourced tomatoes, panko bread crumbs, homemade sweet pepper jelly and goat cheese.
Philly Cheese Steak, Weeyums Philly Style, Stone Mountain. Forget Philly, this modest eatery serves up giant made-to-order cheese steaks that will leave you full and very happy.
Green Jacket Salad, Sheehan's Irish Pub, Augusta. This local classic of crisp greens, tomatoes, Vidalia onions, bleu cheese and pita chips is dressed with a famous vinaigrette.
Catfish Filets and Hushpuppies, T's Restaurant, Augusta. Piping hot hushpuppies are served alongside the house specialty cornmeal-dusted whole catfish.
Fried Oyster Fantasy, Rhinehart's Oyster Bar, Evans. Locals love this "beyond casual" seafood spot. Try the fried oysters served with fries, coleslaw and a toasted homebaked roll.
Buttermilk Pie, The Yesterday Cafe, Greensboro. This award-winning pie with a custard filling is so delightful Carrie Underwood ordered 300 for her wedding.
Seafood Crepes, Filet Steak and Seafood, Greensboro. Shrimp, scallops, blue crab, mornay sauce and gruyere cheese fill thin crepes in this decadent dish.
Krystal's Chicken Cake, The Acorn Restaurant at Red Oak Manor, Harlem. Try the unique ground smoked chicken patty deep fried and served on a bun with chipotle mayo on the side.
Cheeseburger, Dairy Lane, Sandersville. Generations have been eating cheeseburgers, chili dogs and milkshakes at this Sandersville landmark decorated with football memorabilia.
Pork Barbecue (chopped) and Pork Ribs, Lew's Bar-B-Que, Twin City. Stop in to this small-town joint for authentic open-pit smoked pork barbecue with all the sides.
Miss Jane's Special, Miss Jane's Restaurant, Warrenton. This Southern feast features fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, fried okra, a cornstick and caramel cake.
Hamburger Steak with Fries, Gravy and Toasted Garlic Bread, P-Ma's Back Alley Grill, Warrenton. Just a few minutes off I-20, this homestyle meal and cozy restaurant are worth a detour.
Bahamian Chicken Curry, Indigo Coastal Shanty, Brunswick. This island-inspired dish smothers chicken, sweet potatoes, kale and Jasmine rice in a coconut milk curry broth.
Sweet Georgia Shrimp Platter, Skippers' Fish Camp, Darien. A trip to the coast isn't complete without a taste of local shrimp. Try it lightly breaded and fried to perfection.
Low Country Boil, Latitude 31 Rah Bar, Jekyll Island. Feast on a combo of Dungeness crab legs, crawfish and peel-and-eat wild Georgia shrimp at this waterside spot.
Steffens Benedict, Steffens Restaurant, Kingsland. Fried green tomatoes and peppered sausage gravy are the stars of this breakfast dish.
Crispy Scored Flounder with Apricot Shallot Sauce, The Olde Pink House, Savannah. Served with creamy grits and collards, this meal is a delicious showcase of local seafood.
Honey Almond Ice Cream, Leopold's Ice Cream, Savannah. Sample two local icons at once with a scoop of this handmade treat made with Savannah Bee Company honey.
Burrito California, Mi Casa, St. Marys. After a day exploring the coast, refuel with a cheese sauce-covered burrito loaded with your choice of meat and housemade guacamole.
Southern Soul Sampler, Southern Soul Barbecue, St. Simons. Try several of the house specialties all at once, like ribs, brisket, smoked sausage and Brunswick stew.
Oysters, The Half Shell, St. Simons. Order them prepared your favorite way, or try them baked with bacon, spinach, shitake and panko crust.
Lobster Mac n Cheese, Sundae Cafe, Tybee Island. Indulge in penne swimming in a lobster and smoked gouda sauce topped with scallops. Reservations highly recommended.
Trotters, The Branded Butcher, Athens. These deep-fried pigs feet are served with a mustard sauce, creating the perfect combination of tang and heat.
Gyro, Tavas Pizza, Conyers. It may sound odd to order a gyro at a pizza place, but this treat features fresh bread, a huge serving of meat and a plentiful portion of sauce.
Sweet Potato Shrimp Fritters, Mystic Grill, Covington. This dish has a crispy crust and tender middle that will keep you coming back for more.
Mahi Mahi Tacos, Smith’s Coastal Grill, Eatonton. Whether you like your fish blackened or grilled, these tacos will satisfy your craving for delectable seafood.
Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwich, Fresh Air Bar-B-Que, Jackson. Smoked perfectly, this sandwich is a must-try for fans of vinegar-based barbecue sauce.
Fried Green Tomatoes, Whistle Stop Cafe, Juliette. Taste the dish that the beloved film "Fried Green Tomatoes" is named after.
Fried Chicken, H&H Soul Food, Macon. With fried chicken this perfect, it's no surprise that this restaurant is a favorite of celebrities like The Allman Brothers.
Frozen Custard, Ricky D's, Madison. Enjoy a dipped cone, float or malt while watching independent films at this retro diner-meets-cinema.
Crispy Calamari, Aubri Lane's, Milledgeville. Vidalia onion aioli, banana peppers, sweet hot dipping sauce and sriracha give this dish an appetizing kick.
Peanut Butter Pie, Blue Willow Inn, Social Circle. Dine on this perfectly smooth, yet crunchy, dessert in the grandeur of a true Southern mansion.
Trout, Toccoa Riverside Restaurant, Blue Ridge. Smoked, fried, broiled or made into a delicious dip, trout from the Toccoa River is a favorite for locals.
Cupcakes and Caramel Pretzels, The Sweet Shoppe of the South, Blue Ridge. Winners of the Food Network's "Cupcake Wars," this north Georgia bakery's creative flavors aren't just for TV.
BBQ Sundae, Dub's High on the Hog, Calhoun. Barbecue, beans, slaw and sauce are served up in a big bowl for those who like to taste everything at once.
Rosemary's Baby's Daddy, The Corner Cafe, Carrollton. This baked chicken sandwich is topped with rosemary mayo, bacon and feta.
Black Bean Burger, Swheat Market Deli, Cartersville. Even meat-eaters like this vegetarian burger served with fresh mango salsa, lettuce and chipotle spread on a toasted whole wheat bun.
Linde Marie's Stuffed Chicken, Linde Marie's Steakhouse on the Square, Cave Spring. These decadent grilled chicken breasts are stuffed and smothered with spinach artichoke dip. (706) 381-2097
Conductors Filet, The Dalton Depot, Dalton. Sink your teeth into this barrel-cut tenderloin wrapped in hand-cut bacon and served with two sides.
Red-Headed Stranger, Harvest Moon Cafe, Rome. Say hello to this burger topped with the cafe's signature hot pimina cheese, candied jalapeños, onion straws and bacon.
Shrimp and Grits, Gabe's Downtown, Villa Rica. Taste a Cajun twist on this Southern favorite with jumbo blackened shrimp, andouille sausage, jalapeno and cheddar cheese grits.
Jack & Coke Glazed Pork Belly, Century House Tavern, Woodstock. This smoked and braised bacon pairs perfectly with local heirloom grits.
The Carnivore Pizza, Fireside Pizza Shop, Douglas. Meat lovers flip for this hand-tossed dough topped with five meats and mozzarella cooked in a stone oven.
Bruni, Deano's Italian, Dublin. Capicola, sausage and roasted red onion cooked on a thin crust in a wood-fired oven have won national acclaim for this pizza.
Maria's Homemade Pasta, Dublin Farm, Dublin. Weekend dinners feature seasonal choices like gnocchi with sage brown butter or crespelle stuffed with artichokes, Fontina cheese and prosciutto.
Eggplant Fries, Luckie Street Bistro, Hazlehurst. Bite into fresh eggplant lightly coated in an egg white batter and baked for an unmistakable crispy treat.
Spätzle, The Bavarian’s Restaurant, Jesup. Order the delightfully light dumplings cooked in brown butter as a side dish to any of the traditional German entrees.
Buffalo Quail, Elements Bistro & Grill, Lyons. Start your meal with perfectly crisp quail leg quarters slathered with buffalo sauce and sprinkled with tangy bleu cheese.
Fried Fresh Catfish Platter, Cedar Lane Supper Club, McRae-Helena. Choose two or three pieces of catfish and surround them with classic sides.
Pulled Pork, JoMaxx BBQ, Metter. Jump off I-16 and try the tender pulled pork with vinegar-based sauce, delicious sides and sweet tea.
Tuna Tartare and Avocado, Emma’s Restaurant & Lounge, Statesboro. This sashimi-grade tuna dressed with soy and sesame is served with lime avocado salsa, wasabi mayo, sriracha and crispy wontons.
Donut Holes, Bill’s Donuts and Bake Shop, Vidalia. Treat yourself to these puffy bite-sized delights glazed to perfection.
Northeast Georgia Mountains
Fried Squash, The Sawmill Place, Blairsville. This local cabin eatery serves locally sourced squash that is prepared from scratch.
Chophouse Salad, The Chophouse, Clarkesville. The salad is a combination of baby greens, carrots, cucumbers and tomatoes, dressed with lemon-herb vinaigrette and served with flatbread croutons.
Filet Mignon, Fortify Kitchen and Bar, Clayton. This grilled Blalock beef tenderloin topped with Tiger Mountain Vineyard Rabun Red-blue cheese sauce was voted best steak by locals.
Gumbo Cheese Fries, Bourbon Street Grille, Dahlonega. Who needs chili fries when you can eat fries drenched in gumbo and cheese?
Bully Burger, The Pool Room, Dawsonville. You’ll have to visit to get the scoop on how the Bully Burger got its name!
Fried Green Tomatoes, Antebellum, Flowery Branch. Fried green tomatoes with bacon jam, brioche, fried egg, hot sauce and mimosa ice.
Caramel Pecan Pie, Southern Baked Pie Company, Gainesville. Made with the freshest ingredients, this pie will melt in your mouth.
Wiener Schnitzel, Hofer’s Bakery and Cafe, Helen. This tender pork cutlet lightly breaded and pan fried is one of Hofer's best-selling dishes.
Vegetable Plate, The Savory Spoon, Jefferson. (Editors note: The Savory Spoon has permanently closed.) The menu changes daily because only the freshest seasonal vegetables are served at this north Georgia eatery.
Fish Tacos, The Cornerstone, Toccoa. Visit on "Taco Tuesdays" for flaky white fish tacos topped with purple cabbage and homemade sauce wrapped in flour tortillas.
Scenic Southwest Georgia
Homemade Chicken Pot Pie, Harvest Moon, Albany. Baked in a puffed pastry, this chicken pot pie is sure to make you feel at home. Don’t forget the side of rojos!
Barbecue, Austin’s Firegrill and Oyster Bar, Albany. Dig into a hearty portion of ribs, pulled chicken or pork, beef brisket or smoked turkey, and try the "Georgia Sweet" sauce.
Farmer John Burger, White Oak Pastures Pavillion, Bluffton. Straight from the farm, this grass-fed beef on a sourdough potato bun is piled with toppings, including a fried pastured egg.
Moultrie-style Fries, The Square Restaurant, Moultrie. Dip into a cup of cheese with hand-cut french fries dusted in a signature seasoning.
Southern Style Catfish, Ray's Mill Pond, Ray City (Berrien County, right outside of Nashville). Locals pack this restaurant for their famous fish dinners with all the fixin's. Open Thursday through Saturday nights.
Boiled Peanuts, Mark’s Melon Patch, Sasser. Stop in for Georgia-grown produce and canned goods but don’t leave without juicy boiled peanuts straight from the farm.
Fried Green Tomatoes and the Famous Greek Salad, George and Louie’s Restaurant, Thomasville. Lightly breaded and fried tomato slices complement the salad of crisp greens with pepperoncini, kalamata olives, onions and feta.
Taste of Thomasville Cheese Plate, Sweet Grass Dairy Cheese Shop, Thomasville. Sample the best-selling handcrafted artisan cheeses expertly made with local cow's milk.
Grilled Chicken Hawaiian Toasted Sandwich, Mi-Lady Bakery, Tifton. This delight on from-scratch bread is dressed with Flavor of Georgia finalist Wisham Jellies mango pepper jelly.
Crispy Duck Confit, Steel Magnolias, Valdosta. Start your meal with crispy duck, creamy Gayla grits, blue cheese and blackberry marmalade.
Mac & Cheese, Minnie’s Uptown Restaurant, Columbus. Dine on this cheesy dish alongside other Southern favorites at this lunch-only cafeteria. (706) 322-2766
Stripling's Sausage Dogs, Stripling's General Store, Cordele. These folks have been spent 45 years making the best sausage you'll ever taste.
Ranger Burger, Four Winds Restaurant, Cusseta. Other burgers wish they were as delicious as this famous double bacon cheese burger.
The Classic Hot Dog, Charlie Joseph’s, LaGrange. Try this classic dog and you'll understand why people have been eating here for more than 90 years.
Meatloaf, Yoder’s Deitsch Haus, Montezuma. Enjoy a large helping of this classic Southern dish served by the local Mennonite community.
High Tea, Rose Cottage Cafe, Pine Mountain. Drink flavored tea out of fine china and nibble on tea treats at this rustic bakery.
Peanut Ice Cream, Plain Peanuts, Plains. Taste this creamy, peanutty treat in the home of Jimmy Carter, the 39th President of the United States.
BBQ Plate, Piggie Park, Thomaston. Get your fill of Georgia barbecue at this drive-in style restaurant.
Fried Catfish, Pat’s Camp Restaurant, Vienna. Find out why the locals call this the "best catfish around."
Fried Chicken, Annie D's, Buena Vista. Feast on crispy chicken and Southern staples at this hometown favorite just off the square. Don't forget to grab a slice of delicious pie for dessert.
Kate's Top 10
Culinary expert Kate Parham Kordsmeier has tasted her way through thousands of menus and written about food for more than 100 publications. Here are her must-try dishes.
Burrata with Chimichurri, Floataway Cafe, Atlanta. Buttery burrata is bathed in herbaceous chimichurri and best spread over grilled sourdough.
Otoro Caviar, Umi, Atlanta. Buttery otoro (fattiest tuna) is swathed in truffle soy and topped with a fiery serrano slice and decadent caviar.
Lamb Belly Shawarma, Last Word, Atlanta. This dish is perfectly balanced with lamb belly that’s at once tender and crispy, onion and parsley, tangy pickles, roasted tomatoes, tahini and housemade flat bread.
Fried Cauliflower, BoccaLupo, Atlanta. This flavor-packed dish is chock-full of cauliflower, fresh mint, tangy capers and sweet-and-sour meyer lemon.
Butterscotch Chocolate Custard, Atlas, Atlanta. Creamy chocolate custard comingles with crunchy hazelnuts, candied orange and a healthy hand of sea salt.
Pork Belly Buns, Makan, Decatur. A contrast of flavors and textures, tender slow-roasted local pork is spiked with pickled red onions and pecan sugar.
Red Bean Bbang, Tree Story Bakery & Café, Duluth. Bursting with housemade cream and red bean paste filling, this egg bread is soft, airy and incredibly indulgent. (678) 584-0000.
Brisket Burger, The Collins Quarter, Savannah. House-ground brisket is piled high with bacon, cheddar, onions and pickles, and sandwiched between a buttery, baked-in-house brioche bun.
Farm Egg, The Florence, Savannah. (Editor's note: The Florence has permanently closed.) Velvety egg yolk flows down over a crispy polenta cake laced with salty ham and earthy mushrooms.
Farmhouse Fried Chicken, The Farmhouse at Serenbe, Serenbe. This flavor-packed bird is ultra-crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside and served with habit-forming sour cream and chive biscuits.