Two years after we gave it four out of four stars, Staplehouse is still on top. The restaurant has evolved with time, dropping its five-course tasting menu in favor of an a la carte format in 2016—and then, as of April 2018, bringing the tasting menu back, bigger and more expensive than before. And just as dazzling. Recent highlights include an elegant mingling of cabbage, green garlic, and “sake bushi” (home-smoked and dried salmon flakes) and a meticulously layered block of razor-thin slices of kohlrabi and asparagus balanced atop a sticky-funky lamb nduja. Chef Ryan Smith does astounding things with vegetables, and that’s part of what predisposes his cooking to a tasting menu; even at eight to 10 courses, this meal will not weigh you down—nor does it feel dainty. His adoration of the vegetable allows him to make the most of what the South offers, to reap the benefits of our local farms while bucking our deep-fried stereotypes. A bonus: After-tax profits go to the Giving Kitchen, which provides grants to restaurant workers facing unanticipated hardships. Want reservations? Go to staplehouse.com at noon on the second Friday of every month to snag a table for the following month. Or get a last-minute seat on the patio or at the Paper Crane Lounge upstairs and order from a menu of light snacks.
541 Edgewood Avenue, 404-524-5005, staplehouse.com