Ron Hsu was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, where his mother and father owned a chain of five Chinese restaurants. He studied business at the University of Georgia and dropped out in his third year to attend culinary school in Australia.

After cooking at New York City’s Le Bernardin for a decade, he was finally ready to open a restaurant of his own—and he knew Atlanta was the right place. “Because of the fast pace of New York, dining seemed more business-oriented,” he says. “In Atlanta, you take the time to get to know people.” In 2019, Hsu and his siblings, Howard and Anita, opened Lazy Betty, a tasting menu restaurant named after their mother, Betty, who was known for making people feel at home.

Lazy Betty, Atlanta

I spend more time at the restaurant than I do at home, so my employees are like family, too. We have a counter that oversees the kitchen, which offers guests the opportunity to interact with our kitchen staff. They love to shoot the breeze with people. I love reading our reviews because people really talk about how friendly and personable our staff is. That means you’re making a connection of some sort, as opposed to just being served. To provide something where it’s memorable and you can make an emotional impression—that’s hospitality.

Kimball House, Decatur, GA

They have set the bar for how cocktails should be made. I’ve been there many times to order food and drinks, and the food comes out way before the cocktails. That’s not a knock on them—it shows how much time and care and effort they put into the cocktails. Also, they’re friendly and down-to-earth. I’ll talk to the servers and tell them what I’m in the mood for, and they recommend this cocktail or that cocktail. I let them decide what they think I’ll like. Whenever someone is looking for a good cocktail, nice scene, and good service, I recommend Kimball House.

LanZhou Ramen, Doraville, GA

I have to choose something on Buford Highway, and I love noodles and pastas. This is no-frills, not fancy, and there’s a great selection of dumplings. You can see the chef hand-pulling noodles, which is a very cool process. If I go when it’s cold, I’ll get a noodle soup, which is warm and filling. If it’s hot, I’ll get stir-fry noodles with beef or pork or shrimp or everything. I haven’t been since before COVID, since there’s no patio, but I recommend anything with the hand-pulled noodles.

Talat Market, Atlanta

Talat Market is only a year and a half old now. They make Thai food, and I love their spin on it, with local ingredients and everything made in house. They juice their own coconuts to make coconut curries, which shows the integrity and craftsmanship they put behind the food. The staff are all people that work and live in the neighborhood, so it’s very community-centric. I usually get the rice salad, which has crispy rice tossed with a bunch of herbs and citrus. The supporting ingredients change depending on the time of year.

“Most Visited Places” is an ongoing digital and print series, underwritten by The Mountain Valley Spring Water.

Illustrations by Bridgette Blanton / Tiny Pencil Studio