Art of the Meal

Pine Mountain's Greatest Hit

No wonder the lowly cricket is the esteemed mascot of this humble, homestyle restaurant in lush Pine Mountain: At dusk, the little critters commence a cheerful, ringing chorale that reaches a late-night crescendo.

Buckhead Diner: Power Point

Landmark restaurants like the Buckhead Diner always prompt happy memories of previous visits. Like a young star who achieves fame with his first movie, the place crackled with excitement from the day it opened in 1987.

Nino's: One True Thing

Dark and comforting as a womb, the old-fashioned neighborhood trattoria with incredibly good, authentically Italian food is such an irresistible notion that it's a kind of cinematic stereotype, in everything from The Big Night to "The Sopranos." You need only hear the words "chianti" and "checked tablecloth," and you're off and salivating.

Tic Toc: The Pendulum Swings

When Carey Pickard gives feedback, he doesn't mess around. "Please give Krista Reese a new map of Georgia - one with Macon on it!" the Tubman museum director thundered (via e-mail) in response to the 2003 Silver Spoons Awards. He was right: I'd left Macon out of the state's best dining spots, simply because the restaurants I'd tried there in recent years ranged from not-very-exciting meat-and-threes to boring upscale chains, often in the suburbs.