Tony Bourdain: Where He Should’ve Gone ~ The Atlanta Edition

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Any time Tony Bourdain visits a city for one of his carefully orchestrated television programs, the restaurants he visits during that trip are oft-considered a definitive list of places to eat in said metropolis. However, it is not unusual for a food enthusiast who spends significant time in that particular city to debate some of the restaurant selections. The reasons for such objections are as varied as the diner.

These playful objections can certainly be raised for Atlanta, where Mr. Bourdain visited for a recently-aired episode of The Layover. Rather than let these debates linger, here is the definitive list of places Tony should have gone, but didn’t.
Heirloom Market BBQ

Tony Bourdain-Foodie Buddha - BBQWhy He’d Go: Because this place is absolutely positively the very definition of a Tony Bourdain destination. When anyone utters the phrase “Korean barbecue,” images prevail of raw meats sizzling amidst a swath of banchan. What doesn’t come to mind is a giant smoker filled to the brim with the definitive cuisine of the South. Heirloom creates a dialectic by taking those two culinary traditions and smashing them together. The end result is traditional Southern BBQ basted with various Korean seasonings and accoutrements. The place is small, it gets uber crowded, and it has a fan base that extends well beyond the state of Georgia. All of those factors raise the Tony-meter.

What He’d Get: Most people will tell you to get the pork sandwich (which is always available via the special sandwich), but for Tony, the easy call is the Korean fried BBQ ribs. These sawed-off slabs are treated more like chicken wings than like ribs. No doubt, Tony would make sure these were available on the day of his visit.

Why He’d Go: Because Tony loves to booze. If you had one place to imbibe cocktails in Atlanta, Holeman & Finch is where it’s at (and Tony did hit H&F). If you had two, you might very well end up at Leon’s in neighboring Decatur. While Atlanta is full of fantastic cocktail slingers, many of them are like hired mercenaries. The end result is that some of the best cocktail programs never stay in one place for too long. However, Leon’s Full Service always offers excellent craft cocktails.

What He’d Get: The cocktails rotate, but we’re pretty sure Tony could run through a whiskey concoction or two.

Supermercado Chicago (Doraville)

Why He’d Go: Tony has a vendetta against poorly maintained bathrooms: “I won’t eat in a restaurant with filthy bathrooms. This isn’t a hard call. They let you see the bathrooms. If the restaurant can’t be bothered to replace the puck in the urinal or keep the toilets and floors clean, then just imagine what their refrigeration and work spaces look like.” Supermercado ChiTown’s bathroom is downright scary. However, Tony also digs both dives and really good Mexican food. The opportunity to hear Tony’s internal dialogue about this clash is reason enough to send him to Chicago Supermarket. The taqueria is stashed in the back of this variety store/grocery and we’re sure Tony would have plenty of commentary on the multitude of aisle treasures found within.

What He’d Get: The what to get here is not so much a “what” as it is a “when”. On the weekends, the menu expands beyond your traditional taco options and includes an array of Mexican offerings. Quesadillas, chiles rellenos, gorditas, so on and so forth.

Tony Bourdain-Foodie Buddha - Dessert

Why He’d Go: Because the best culinary offerings this city has to offer just might be these three confectioneries.

What He’d Get: As many items as possible, perhaps mashed into one gluttonous concoction.

Cafe Agora (Buckhead)

Why He’d Go: It’s abundantly clear from the No Reservations: Istanbul episode that Bourdain loves Turkish/Mediterranean food. He also has a soft spot for eating that takes place in a drunken stupor. What’s more, Agora’s Turkish proprietor Al Ozelci is quite the personality who has been known to literally feed customers. Anything that makes for good TV should probably end up on one of Tony’s shows.

There’s no doubt that Tony should hit Agora in the waning hours of a weekend evening. By that time of the morning, Agora will have transitioned from a friendly-for-all establishment into the feeding trough for Buckhead’s beer-goggled visitors. Viewers would surely be treated to some Bourdainisms as Tony verbally beat down the many stumblers trying to get the best of him.

Tony Bourdain-Cafe Agora Mixed Grill

What He’d Get: Most people go for the gyros which, at Agora, are like filled ice cream cones. They are both meaty and sloppy. However, Tony likes to induldge and he seems to be of the belief that variety is the spice of life. So, he’d probably end up with the mixed grill, which is an $18 plate of nearly every type of meat Agora has to offer. He’d also end up with at least a little mezze, backlava, and rice porridge, all of which are often doled out on unsuspecting customers.

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