I’m always looking for amazing local foodie joints in Atlanta, and I’m excited to say that I’ve found a new personal favorite nestled in the Highlands.
Run by affianced team Laurie Dominguez & Chef Steven Lingenfelter, Illegal Food delivers surprisingly elevated fare in a funky, relaxed space. You might remember their pop-up turned permanent location at Joystick Gamebar in Edgewood, but you can find their new home surrounded by Highlands favorites like Dark Horse & Atkins Park.
Illegal Food is known for their burgers (Zagat touted their burgers as the best in the city in 2014 & 2015) but don’t sleep on their outstanding menu of ever-changing items Thursday – Sunday of each week.
I had the opportunity to try a mix of both menu standbys & brand new items (I visited on a Thursday), and was honestly blown away by every plate put in front of me.
My meal started with a bowl of incredible crackly fried pork rinds tossed in a salt & vinegar mix – I didn’t even order them, but Laurie mentioned that she’ll bring variations of these out to guests as a fun starter to their meal.
One of the best things I ate at Illegal Food (and one of my favorite fall dishes I’ve had in Atlanta to date) was a beautiful squash ravioli with brown butter sage and shaved pecorino. The dish was so complex and full of hearty fall flavor, I would have never guessed it was from a restaurant known mostly for their burgers.
Before moving on to the burgers and sandwiches on the menu, I also tried a bright bowl of beef tip stir fry, black & white rice, and seasonal veggies topped with a sunny side egg. This dish was a surprising addition to a menu populated with hearty classics and twists on bar favorites, and made for a wonderful plate of leftovers the following day (come ready to eat, the portions are huge!) It also looked stunning on cameria, if I do say so myself.
To wrap up my meal (if you can believe I was still able to fit in more food at this point), I tried the buffalo fried chicken sandwich with Swiss & blue cheese, as well as The Fungus Among Us, a massive burger with a blend of wild mushrooms, swiss, arugula, red onion, and truffle mayo.
The buffalo chicken sammie was covered in a perfectly crispy breading and tossed in a sweet, not too spicy sauce – the blue cheese & house-made pickles made this one a home run for me. In addition to the genius name, The Fungus Among Us is savory and satisfying, with a bit of delicate crunch from the arugula and red onion. All of Illegal Food’s burgers are ground in-house daily with Brasstown Beef, with all sandwiches served on Ratio Bakeshop buns from Decatur.
The bottom line at Illegal Food – everything on the menu is handcrafted with locally sourced ingredients by a small, passionate team. You can feel the thought and story behind every dish – and the outdoor patio on a stunning fall day doesn’t hurt either.