Atlanta’s Buford Highway is frequently heralded as the most authentic international food destination. The 125+ restaurants located along the notable eight-mile stretch, is a cultural and global food paradise, offering cuisines ranging from Vietnamese pho, to Cantonese BBQ and authentic tacos.
It is here Loews Corporate Executive Chef Olivier Gaupin, comes to restore his culinary inspirations. To Olivier, the meaning of food is not simply plate to palate, rather it is the core of who people are, reflecting vast cultures from around the globe.
While this taste-driven trip might sound intimidating, simply bring an enthusiasm to try new things and prepare to embark on a flavorful journey through Atlanta’s culinary melting pot. Whether you’re looking to add some spice to your palate or just sample cuisines from across the globe, Chef Olivier’s recommendations are sure to send you into foodie bliss.
photo by @parisbaguette_usa
Start your day at Paris Baguette
Must Try: the Cronut, a Pastry Frank
Walk into this French-inspired bakery any time of day, and you will find an exquisite variety of well-made, freshly baked pastries, cakes and delicacies. As you open the doors, you're immediately greeted by the smell of freshly baked breads and sweets.
Chef Olivier gravitates to a case of warm Pastry Franks, which I can only describe as a glorified pig-in-a-blanket. This full-size frank is baked in a flaky French pastry. Struggling to find the appropriate French translation, he reminisces about purchasing them from local vendors along the street in France.
Next, we make our way to the cronuts, invented by Chef Dominique Ansel in New York. If a croissant and a donut had a love-child, it would be this sweet angel pastry. The buttery taste of a flaky croissant combined with the fluffy, fried texture of a donut make this item a required staple.
Shop the globe at Buford Highway Farmer's Market
Must Try: products from a variety of cultures
If you are an adventurous eater with a passion for food culture, Buford Highway Farmer’s Market is the resource of your dreams. This 100,000 square foot mecca-market offers fresh produce, meat and seafood along with a variety of packaged foods from across the globe, organized by country of origin.
Chef Olivier navigates through the extensive produce section, smelling gingers from around the world and educating me on greens I never knew existed. He finds inspiration up and down every aisle. Browsing the ingredients entices Olivier, he says, by breaking him out of his routines and challenging him to cook with new products and flavors.
Take a tour of Asia at Food Terminal
Must Try: lamb skewers with curry peanut sauce, Grandma Wonton BBQ Pork, or Thai chili pan mee (if you love fishy flavors)
Food Terminal is an authentic find, offering a collage of cultures. Co-owner, Chef Amy Wong, began her career cooking street-style noodles in Malaysia and evolved her experience to various Asian cuisines. In this modern eatery, you will find culinary influences from India, China, Singapore and Thailand, bringing the most authentic Asian street-style taste to Buford Highway.
After merely glancing at the menu, Chef Olivier knows exactly what to order. Knowing we have a day of dining ahead of us, we stick to a few signature dishes to share. The lamb skewers with curry peanut sauce were the perfect starter. Per Olivier’s recommendation, I opted for the Grandma Wonton BBQ Pork, while he enjoyed the Thai chili pan mee. After quick service and food delivery, we left with satisfied bellies.
Experience Peking Duck at Ming's BBQ
Must Try: crispy duck, quail
Tucked into a small shopping center, Ming's grabs your immediate attention upon approach. In the window, you'll see birds roasting Peking-style, a method of cooking dating back to Beijing’s Imperial Era. Ming's has stayed true to the authentic Chinese tradition. It is a culinary respect Chef Olivier holds dearly.
Olivier enthusiastically orders crispy duck and quail for the table. Never having tried Peking-style duck, I was surprised by how the thin and crisp skin locks in the bird's tender and juicy flavors. After four mini-meals, this was the first time I found Olivier truly speechless when trying to describe why he finds this dish so incredible. Reaching for his napkin, he finally laughs, “You couldn’t change a thing.”
courtesy of ddie2354
Try a bit of everything at Dim Sum Heaven
Must Try: a variety of dim sum
Known for late hours and an all-day dim sum menu, this family-owned establishment specializes in straightforward Chinese food. You’ll find familiar fare along with more exotic dishes on the menu. Need help guiding your decision? Order from the gallery wall, which displays all the offerings.
From the variety of authentic dishes served in hot pots to the language your check is written in, everything about Dim Sum Heaven is legit. It’s always a good sign to find tables packed with diners from the region your food is from. It is easy to understand why this is Chef Olivier’s favorite establishment to satisfy his dim sum cravings.
Whether you live in the area, or simply passing through, Atlanta's Buford Highway provides a world of opportunities to your plate. Embrace the journey and take a bite!
Karen has been with Loews Atlanta since October 2014 and also joined Loews Vanderbilt’s team in October 2016. Born and raised in Atlanta, Karen has loved watching the evolution of her hometown and enjoys exploring her second home in Nashville. It’s the balance of Southern charm and new innovation in these two wonderful cities that she loves the most.