CRITICS PICK

BEST BREATH OF FRESH AIR

Dish Dive

Just when you thought restaurant groups and food courts had a death grip on Atlanta’s restaurant future, a pint-size naysayer tipped the scales for local indie restaurants. Kirkwood’s Dish Dive embodies everything about small restaurants we hold dear: food that’s as inventive as it is affordable; groovy tunes; and the rare owner who waits tables in his own shop. Co-owners Jeff Myers and chef Travis Carroll, both formerly of Top Flr, do things their way at Dish Dive — and their way works. Between the restaurant’s 16 seats, the no-frills DIY decor, Carroll’s free-form menu, and Myers’ mom’s cheesecake listed as the only dessert, Dish Dive is the effin’ American dream. Earlier this year, Carroll somehow tamed a deluge of sliced peaches, watermelon, cannellini beans, shaved radishes, dried cherries and figs, cashews, and spiky frisée into a seamless, balanced salad. The gravy-topped chorizo dive fries — partly crispy/partly soggy fries blanketed with sausage and chewy clumps of curd-like queso fresco — is a textural triumph. Carroll’s sweet and savory pork belly with French toast is a refreshing, breakfast-for-dinner remix and a reminder that at Dish Dive, anything goes.

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