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Top 10 dishes of 2010

The best things I ate in Atlanta restaurants this year

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8. Sunchoke purée at the Sound Table

The Sound Table has become my default for dining when what I really want is a good cocktail. I go early (by this I mean before 9 p.m. – after that hour, the place can become raucous, especially if you want to eat at the downstairs bar, my preferred setting), grab a drink (my favorite, the Prospect Park, is no longer on the cocktail menu, but they'll still make it when asked) and order something from the constantly changing list of international bites. Recently, I encountered an entrée that kind of defies categorization – a bowl of thick sunchoke purée, topped with sautéed mushrooms and a poached egg. The combination was at once silky, sweet and woodsy, the mushrooms lending just enough musk to bring balance to what was otherwise an exercise in richness. I wanted to tell all those hipsters to close their eyes so I could lick the bowl without fear of being shunned.

483 Edgewood Ave. 404-835-2534. www.thesoundtable.com.

7. Homemade tofu at Tofu Village.

There are tofu lovers and tofu haters. I am the former. I like tofu in most of its incarnations (other than that spongy one), but perhaps the purest I've found is the lightly seared, house-made tofu at Marietta's Tofu Village. It arrives on a sizzling platter, and Tofu Village's proud owner suggests that you try it first without the provided soy dipping sauce. The crispy, almost lacy edges give way to a creamy center. The flavor is more savory, more intense, more vegetal than what you're used to. It's enough to convert the haters.

700 Sandy Plains Road, Suite B-1, Marietta. 770-426-7757

6. Potatoes bravas at Holy Taco

Every time I eat at this EAV taco joint, I kind of want to shout from the hilltops. Robert Phalen consistently cooks more interesting dishes than half the chefs in town – favorites this year included creamed corn topped with naughty slivers of lardo and the ever-addictive pork belly torta. But the best thing I had from Phalen's kitchen this year was a delightfully weird side dish of new potatoes with slab bacon and smoked trout roe. Potatoes and bacon is a classic enough combination, but the addition of trout roe ramped up the dish to be more than just carbs and meat – it gave it a textural pop and a smoky, slightly saline underpinning. Yum.

1314 Glenwood Ave. 404-230-6177. www.holy-taco.com.

5. Chao Ga at Quan Ba 9

Very much like a congee, this chicken-y hot porridge is about the most comforting thing I've ever eaten. Intensely flavored and with flecks of mushroom, scallion and fried shallots throughout, the dish should serve as a cure for any cold, hangover or broken heart. The chicken used to make the broth for the porridge is also served as a herb-heavy salad alongside.

4285 Buford Highway, 404-636-2999.

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