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Atlanta Dining

Atlanta has scores of good restaurants to suit all budgets. Most of the downtown options close down fairly early and are quite upmarket - though with the Peachtree Center alone holding a dozen restaurants, a Hard Rock Café, a Planet Hollywood, and a food court, it's not hard to find something to suit any budget - while Buckhead is even glitzier. Southern soul food is best around Auburn Avenue, and vegetarians can get plenty of choice in Little Five Points and Virginia-Highland. For a good takeout lunch, try the Dekalb Farmers' Market, twenty minutes' drive toward Stone Mountain at 3000 E Ponce de Leon Ave, where stalls sell goat stew, tofu stir-fry and glazed duck; other goodies include fresh farm-fattened catfish and pretty blue crabs, and aromatic coffees from around the world.

Atlanta Fish Market 265 Pharr Rd NE tel 404/262-3165. Buckhead's top seafood specialist, with ultra-fresh oysters and crabs.

Beautiful Restaurant 397 Auburn Ave NE tel 404/223-0080. Famous down-home soul-food cafeteria serving up stewed chicken, corn bread, ribs and vegetable plates. Near the Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Buckhead Diner 3073 Piedmont Rd at E Paces Ferry tel 404/262-3336. Glitzy postmodern diner, always lively with locals enjoying Southern food with a twist, like crab egg rolls, stuffed grits, veal and wild mushroom meatloaf. No reservations taken, so expect a wait.

Café Tu Tu Tango 220 Pharr Rd tel 404/841-6222. Hip Buckhead café, where local artists make and sell their work. Serves substantial portions of eclectic, delicious snacks and tapas from around the world. Open daily from 11.30am until late.

Danté's Down the Hatch 3380 Peachtree Rd tel 404/266-1600. Lively, subterranean fondue restaurant in the Underground, kitted out like an eighteenth-century sailing frigate, with wooden beams, dark nooks and crannies and a moat with live pointy-nosed crocs. Entrees cost around $25, and there's nightly live jazz for an extra $6.

Flying Biscuit 1655 McLendon Ave NE tel 404/687-8888. Tiny café near Little Five Points, renowned for breakfasts in particular and healthy New American food with a Southern twist.

Front Page News 1104 Crescent Ave tel 404/897-3500, www.newsyoucanswallow.com. Late-closing midtown bar/grill popular for its Cajun dishes and outdoor seating.

Mary Mac's Tearoom 224 Ponce de Leon Ave tel 404/876-1800. A cute, small restaurant renowned for cheap traditional Southern cuisine. Mon-Sat 11am-8.30pm, Sun 11am-3pm.

Mumbo Jumbo 89 Park Place tel 404/523-0330. Very chic downtown restaurant, offering Tuscan/American cuisine, with an open kitchen and a bar full of posers.

Nava 3060 Peachtree Rd NW tel 404/240-1984. Spicy, modern Southwestern food plus mighty margaritas in glitzy Buckhead surroundings.

Sylvia's 241 Central SW tel 404/529-9692. This downtown affiliate of the legendary Harlem restaurant is a must if you're in the mood for soul food.

Tamarind 80 14th St NW tel 404/873-4888. Stylish midtown joint with a great selection of flavorful Thai dishes.

Thelma's Kitchen 768 Marietta St NW tel 404/688-5855. Inexpensive downtown soul-food institution forced to relocate when its much-loved former home was destroyed to build Centennial Park; try the salmon and grits for breakfast. Mon-Sat 8am-3pm.

The Varsity 61 North Ave NW tel 404/881-1706. Vast, packed midtown fast-food drive-in diner: a true Fifties throwback. Open till 11.30pm.