Wood crackles in a blazing fire as the smells of dust and wild grass waft through the air. In the background, horses' hooves pound across the plains. It's the end of the day for the gauchos, rugged Brazilian cowboys infamous for stealing wandering cattle. While the horsemen top one another with tales of their day's heists, succulent meat seasoned with sea salt roasts over the open flame of the fire. The smoke makes the gauchos’ eyes water as much as their mouths as they sharpen their knives in preparation for a hard-earned feast.
This gaucho style of dining dates back to the 18th century. At Sal Grosso, the chefs continue the gauchos' culinary tradition—now known as churrasco—of slow-cooking meats over an open flame and then serving tableside, or rodizio. The servers slice and serve endless portions of beef, lamb, poultry, and pork flavored with various spices and coarse salt. They also deliver traditional Brazilian flan and other desserts along with signature caipirinhas and flavored martinis to diners who haven't zoned their stomachs as carnivore-exclusive territories.
Sal Grosso trades the wild grasses and plains of South America for Brazilian-made leather dining chairs, hardwood columns, and modern abstract art. In addition to a large bar and 70-seat banquet room, the patio gives guests a view of the modern-day gauchos cooking meat inside a glassed-in outdoor kitchen as a fountain sends water streaming into a connected pool.
Executive Chef Scott Barrows waits to post specials at Devon Seafood Grill until he has spotted the best choices from the day's catch, ensuring his dishes are packed with the freshest, most flavorful seafood available. Past plates on Devon's robust menu have included jumbo lump crab cakes, coconut-green-curry mussels, and char-crusted ahi tuna, which can be paired with signature cocktails and fine wines from a collection on display in the dining area. Barrows and his staff welcome diners into this sophisticated two-level restaurant decorated with modern art that is splashed by warm lighting and the wake made by beluga whales arriving for dinner.
Featuring an outdoor patio and lodgelike interior, Saskatoon is a specialty chophouse that tames the wild outdoors, serving both exotic wild game and traditional entrees with a Northwestern flair. Following the rustic ritual, the Buckhead location's menu begins meals with appetizers such as the wild-game sausage sampler (different sampling of meats each week, $10), wild-boar flatbread ($9), and Northwestern steamers (fresh clams and mussels, $11). Venture further into the culinary mountains with entrees such as buffalo flank steak (served with caramelized onions and house honey-barbecue sauce, $23) and a full rack of lamb with zinfandel demi-glace ($32), or swim up a clear, cool flavor stream by opting for a rainbow trout, served sizzling in the pan ($19). Don't neglect your inner oenophile—Saskatoon has a wine list large enough to tickle any entree's fancy. A glass of Sea Ridge syrah ($6.50) or a Sterling sauvignon blanc ($6.50) will complement savory sustenance, and a sweet glass of Hungarian tokaji (dessert wine, $12) can put a delicious cap on your night's sleepy head.
Beginning with locally sourced ingredients whenever possible, Executive Chef Jason Shelley and his team forge an eclectic menu of surf ‘n’ turf that puts a modern spin on traditional American supper clubs. At Ocean Prime, he manages to refine established dishes by incorporating refined ingredients, including black truffles and lobster. These upscale touches are present throughout the selection of USDA prime steaks, which the chefs dust with housemade seasoning and roast to order inside a 1,200-degree broiler. Even with six cuts of steak to choose from, "seafood is the main draw," according to Gayot. The daily selections of wild and naturally harvested seafood can include everything from ginger-tinged salmon to blackened snapper. To accompany these hearty entrees, handcrafted cocktails are joined by a similarly refined wine list, which earned Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence and features more than 50 selections by the glass. With its black banquettes, simple wooden chairs, and tables draped with white linens, Ocean Prime honors its supper-club roots. However, the dining area is thoroughly modern. Large circular mirrors adorn the earth-toned walls and the stout, cylindrical lamps hang from the ceiling and light the majority of the room. Mobile-like collections of glass orbs dangle above some of the booths, catching the rays of light and casting a glow throughout the room.
Since 1979, Bone’s has been one of the city’s truest fine-dining experiences; in fact, Zagat voted it as having the best service in all of Atlanta. Jacketed servers ferry plates of dry-aged porterhouse and bone-in filet as bow-tied bartenders pour martinis and international wines from a 20,000-bottle wine list displayed on an iPad.
Ever since defeating Bobby Flay to take the Iron Chef America title in 2008, Kevin Rathbun has been one of Atlanta’s most reputable chefs. His eponymous steak house, one of three restaurants he owns in the area, is his pièce de resistance, an ambitious cotton warehouse turned contemporary eatery where diners can order anything from dry-aged steak to Coca-Cola pork ribs.