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Food issue restaurant guide

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Son's Place, A fixed intown favorite for soulful Southern grub, Son's Place supposedly still uses the same cast-iron pans used by the legendary Deacon Burton. Local hospitality and cafeteria-style service give the crispy fried chicken, chops in gravy, fried catfish and dependable comfort sides an authenticity those made-for-tourist places miss. Winner of "Best Soul Food" 2007. L $. 100 Hurt St. 404-581-0530.

Watershed, Watershed has become one of the city's culinary cornerstones. The menu is a showcase for executive chef Scott Peacock's deceptively simple and soulfully satisfying Southern fare. Tuesday-night fried chicken has achieved legendary status, but other wonders to sample include the gentle, seasonal soups and feisty salmon croquettes. P.S.: Sunday brunch rocks. Winner "Best Restaurant to Take Visitors" 2007. L, D. $$$. 406 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur. 404-378-4900. www.watershedrestaurant.com.

WISTERIA, *** Jason Hill and his crew have crafted a solid neighborhood gathering spot with a confident menu that includes sharp Southern touches. Also, your kids will be treated as people rather than lepers at Wisteria so you can enjoy a nice meal with your family. D. $$$. 471 N. Highland Ave. 404-525-3363. www.wisteria-atlanta.com.

SOUTHWESTERN

Agave, The restaurant takes its name from the plant from which tequila is made, and for good reason. The bar is heavily stocked with rows of enticing tequilas. Stuffed mountain trout tomatillo is among the most satisfying offerings on the creative and eclectic Southwestern menu. D. $$. 242 Boulevard. 404-588-0006. www.agaverestaurant.com.

SIA'S, Southwestern and Asian on the same menu? The pairing may sound unlikely, but Sia's forges its own brand of fusion with thrilling results. The restaurant's amber-hued ambiance inspires locals to pull out their cocktail dresses for an evening of easygoing glamour. D. $$. 10305 Medlock Bridge Road, Duluth. 770-497-9727. www.siasrestaurant.com.

STEAKHOUSE

Bone's, The essential Buckhead spot where carnivores will delight at any of the melt-in-your mouth cuts of beef. With crisp linens, red leather chairs and unctuous service, the atmosphere is pure, unapologetic men's club. L, D. $$$$. 3130 Piedmont Road. 404-237-2663. www.bonesrestaurant.com.

KEVIN RATHBUN STEAK, **** Kevin Rathbun Steak serves food perfectly suited to the modern business dinner. Steaks and sides are excellent, as they should be. But where Rathbun really impresses is with his other dishes, and particularly with seafood. A grand new addition to Rathbun's Krog Street empire. Winner of "Best Steak House" 2007. D. $$$. 154 Krog St. 404-524-5600. www.kevinrathbunsteak.com.

STRIP, * While the steaks are good, drinks are unoriginal, sides are problematic and the food presentation is over-the-top cloying. While maybe good for a fling, Strip is not a restaurant to form a serious relationship with. L, D. $$. 245 18th St. 404-385-2005. www.heretoserverestaurants.com.

TAURUS, *** Take a quick elevator ride to Gary Mennie's Americana "chophouse," a healthy mix of steakhouse sensibility and scenester savvy. Bring an appetite for the hefty yet affordable entrees. L, D. $$. 1745 Peachtree Road. 404-214-0641. www.taurusrestaurant.com.

SUSHI/JAPANESE

GEISHA HOUSE, ** If you can get past the garish decor when you enter, you'll find that there is some undeniably cool food to be had here. Although more than a little over-the-top in design and concept, it's fun through and through, serving small plates and sushi, along with the usual slew of melted-Popsicle-flavored martinis and well-chosen sakes. D. $$. 1380 Atlantic Drive, Atlantic Station. 404-872-3903. www.dolcegroup.com.

MF SushiBar, **** Unmatched in the city for pristine sushi. Ask the staff to explain some of the more unusual offerings, such as chutoro, a buttery cut of tuna. Exquisite cold sake is the perfect accompaniment. Winner of "Best Sushi" 2007. L, D. $$$. 265 Ponce de Leon Ave., Unit B. 404-815-8844. www.mfsushibar.com.

TAKA SUSHI CAFE, *** A disciple of Soto struck out on his own and opened what is debatably the best-kept secret in Buckhead. Go for the inventive cooked specials and the quirkily named sushi rolls. D. $$-$$$. 385 Pharr Road. 404-869-2802.

WASABI, *****

In a sea of mediocre sushi, Wasabi stands out as being simple, elegant and well-executed. The menu leaves behind gimmicky rolls and flashy plates to deliver high-quality sushi, sashimi and rolls. L, D. $$. 180 Walker St., Suite C. 404-574-5680. www.wasabiatl.com.

TAPAS

IBIZA, ** Situated next door to its sister restaurant Imperial Fez, this tapas restaurant has one of the most wonderfully designed dining rooms in the city. Plow through a hearty selection of luscious babaghanouch, seared scallops in saffron cream sauce, or buttery chicken baked with a mascarpone sauce and Spanish paprika. D. 2285 Peachtree Road, Suite 100. 404-352-3081. www.ibizarestaurantlounge.com.

KROG BAR, *** The interior of Krog Bar is tiny and you'll likely be forced, just as you are in tapas bars in Sevilla, to sit at long tables with strangers. Cured meat and other nibbles comprise the menu, to be consumed alongside vino from an astutely composed list. Winner of "Best Tapas" 2007. D. $$. 112 Krog St. 404-524-1618. www.krogbar.com.

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