A Guide to Atlanta’s Best Eats
As the chef/partner of The National, Five & Ten, Cinco y Diez and Empire State South, Hugh Acheson’s interpretation of Southern food has earned him many accolades, including the James Beard award for Best Chef: Southeast in 2012. The Canadian-born chef is the author of the JBF award-winning cookbook A New Turn in the South, he’s a judge on Bravo’s Top Chef, and one of six Chefs-in-Residence at Food & Wine magazine. Above all, he’s a family man and a strong advocate for his community and their local food movement. Here, Acheson shares his top picks for Atlanta, from his favorite soppressata pizza to the best Szechuan-style dumplings.
I love this place. Oysters-o-rama in the heart of Decatur, Atlanta’s little foodie heaven. The other food is stellar too. And drinks. Fantastic. kimball-house.com
Focusing on extruded and rolled hand-cut pastas, Bruce Logue is making a killer community restaurant. The food is fantastic. boccalupoatl.com
Best ramen in Georgia. A fun place in Suwanee, Georgia. umaidos.com
Pretty place with amazing sushi. It’s a serious spot, which Atlanta needed in the sushi realm. umiatlanta.com
Still so great after all these years. Yes, wait for the burger. It’s worth it. holeman-finch.com
Best pizza? This is a pretty powerful pizza town, but I think their Diavola with spicy Calabrian chiles and Soppressata may win my fave of all time. anticoatl.com
Spicy dumplings. Say no more. Okay, and eggplant, anything with eggplant. gusbistro.com
Amazing grocery store chain with a Korean focus. Best selection of kimchi ever. And the fish counter is killer. hmart.com
About Hugh Acheson
Hugh Acheson is the chef/partner of Five & Ten, The National and Cinco y Diez located in Athens, GA, and Empire State South in Atlanta, GA. Born and raised in Ottawa, Canada he started cooking at a young age and decided to make it his career after taking a very long time to realize that academics weren’t his thing. At age 15, he began working in restaurants after school and learning as much as possible. Today, Acheson’s experience includes working under Chef Rob MacDonald where he learned stylized French cuisine, wine and etiquette at the renowned Henri Burger restaurant in Ottawa, and in San Francisco as the chef de cuisine with Chef Mike Fennelly at Mecca, and later as opening sous chef with famed Chef Gary Danko at his namesake restaurant, where he found a love of the simple, pure and disciplined.
Taking these experiences, Hugh developed a style of his own forging together the beauty of the South with the flavors of Europe and opening the critically acclaimed Athens, GA restaurant Five & Ten in March of 2000.
In 2007, Acheson opened The National with fellow chef Peter Dale. Adding to his list of dining establishments, Hugh opened Atlanta based restaurant, Empire State South in the summer of 2010, and Cinco y Diez in Athens in January of 2014. Hugh’s next venture The Florence is slated for the spring of 2014 in Savannah, Georgia.
Hugh’s cookbook titled A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen published by Clarkson Potter, hit the bookshelves on October 18th, 2011 and won the award for Best Cookbook in the field of “American Cooking” by the James Beard Foundation in 2012. In A New Turn in the South, you’ll find libations, seasonal vegetables that take a prominent role, salads and soups, Hugh’s prized sides, and fish and meats, turning Southern food on its head every step of the way. With inviting and surprising photography, full of Hugh’s personality, and pages layered with his own quirky writing and sketches, he invites you into his community and his very creative world of food— to add new favorites to your repertoire.
Hugh’s pickling swatch book Pick a Pickle also by Clarkson Potter is due out in March 2014 and will be a handy kitchen go-to for canning.
Acheson’s fresh approach to Southern food has earned him a great deal of recognition including Food & Wine’s Best New Chef (2002), the Atlanta Journal Constitution Restaurant of the Year (2007), a five time (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011) James Beard nominee and 2012 winner for Best Chef Southeast. In 2007, Hugh was named a Rising Star from StarChefs.com and in 2012 he won the StarChefs Mentor Award. Chef Mario Batali chose Hugh as one of the 100 contemporary chefs in Phaidon Press’ Coco: 10 World Leading Masters Choose 100 Contemporary Chefs. Hugh has also been in Bon Appetit, the New York Times, Garden & Gun, Fine Living, Food & Wine, Gourmet, Southern Living, Better Homes & Gardens, and Saveur.
In 2010 Hugh competed on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters: Season 3. He returned to the hit show as a judge on Top Chef: Seasons 9 and 10. He is the host of Bravo’s online compliment to Top Chef Masters Season 5, called Battle of the Sous Chefs, and continued his judging role on Top Chef Season 11, which premiered in October of 2013.
But that is to everyone outside of Athens. To Athens, he is the guy who owns those restaurants, has one eyebrow, a wife far better looking than he is and two young children who are the apple of his eye.