An Eater’s Guide to Dining and Drinking Around Atlanta (2024)

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Table of Contents

- Welcome to ATL
- Where to Start on Eater Atlanta's BestofMaps
- Neighborhoods to Know
- Glossary of Food Terms
- Reservations to Make in Advance
- Follow the News
- Get in Touch

Atlanta’s got it going on. The city is known for its creative and diverse dining and good ol’ Southern hospitality. With more than 6 million residents, growing job market (we’re the new tech hub of the South with giants like Microsoft and Google setting up bases here), and affordable housing, it’s no wonder Atlanta is attracting people from far and wide. The locals may tell you, “we’re full,” but when it comes to food, there’s always room for a culinary adventure.

From the famed lemon pepper wet wings to a dumpling crawl on Buford Highway, residents of the city and its metropolitan area know the secret behind the dining scene lies within the sheer diversity of restaurants and the fostering of ATL’s fierce entrepreneurial spirit. Sure, we’re in the South but there’s more to Atlanta food than Southern fare. Even Michelin is even taking note, with the debut of the first ever Atlanta dining guide in October 2023.

An Eater’s Guide to Dining and Drinking Around Atlanta (1)

Welcome to ATL

Atlanta’s restaurant dining scene is all about the myriad of foodways and fusion foods. Expect to find restaurants around Atlanta serving everything from Filipino, Indian, food from countries throughout the African continent, and Sichuan to soul, Southern, and Colombian dishes and plenty of great barbecue. With north Georgia’s temperate climate, comes a robust outdoor dining scene and a patio season that begins in March and stretches into early December. With that, welcome to the A. Just please don’t call it “Hotlanta”.

Where to Start on Eater Atlanta's Best of Maps

An Eater’s Guide to Dining and Drinking Around Atlanta (2) Owens and Hull

Hot Restaurants: These are the hottest restaurants right now around Atlanta. Restaurant and entertainment venue Damsel has cabaret and theatre with a full menu and second floor bar, The Commune is a trendy, vibey listening room and wine bar, and Miss Conduck brings Caribbean flavors to the historic Edgewood neighborhood.

An Eater’s Guide to Dining and Drinking Around Atlanta (3)

Essential Restaurants: Updated quarterly, the Eater 38 is chock-full of excellent dining recommendations. The list includes longtime Atlanta staples, restaurants with loyal followings, and cult favorites locals love. The Eater 38 reflects Atlanta’s impressive diversity. This includes restaurants with lowcountry fare from Virgil’s Gullah Kitchen and Bar; creative pastas from Michelin-recommended White Bull; the epic tasting menu from fine dining stalwart Bacchanalia; Mexican favorite Oaxaca; Indian powerhouse and Michelin-recommended Chai Pani; Atlanta-proud Southern Belle, and James Beard award winning restaurants the Deer and the Dove and Miller Union.

Barbecue: Barbecue is a very big deal in Atlanta and, deservedly, requires its very own essentials list. While there are smokehouses all over the metro area, Atlanta’s best-of barbecue lists have been dominated by two names: Fox Bros., featuring Texas-style brisket at beef ribs, and Heirloom Market, which mixes Southern-American and Korean flavors. This list is filled with tons of really great barbecue joints.

Classic Restaurants: While Atlanta’s newer restaurants tend to capture most of the spotlight, these classic dining institutions continue to stand the test of time.

Southern: Which foods fall under the “Southern” umbrella varies by region in the South. Check out this list of Southern restaurants throughout Atlanta. There’s also Southern restaurant staples like the meat and three and Atlanta diners.

Soul Food: What’s the difference between soul food and Southern food? The phrase “soul food” was first coined in the 1960s, seemingly meant to describe the honest-to-goodness, comforting foods often prepared at home by African-American Southerners, with many dishes rooted in survival and the African diaspora. Here are a few restaurants to try.

Restaurants Near the Airport: Whether you’re a local looking to grab a bite in the area or a weary traveler heading off the highway or staying in a hotel, great food can be found at restaurants in cities and neighborhoods around Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Pop-Ups: Atlanta’s restaurant pop-up scene is one of the best in the country and serving some of the most creative and innovative dishes found anywhere in the city and metro area. Here’s where to start.

An Eater’s Guide to Dining and Drinking Around Atlanta (4) Matt Wong

Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurants: Despite its reputation for wings and barbecue, Atlanta also features a thriving vegetarian and vegan dining scene. Start with these lists of Atlanta vegetarian and vegan restaurants.

Wings: Atlanta knows wings, and there are plenty of great places around town offering flats, drums, and even that tiny extra part that some people eat as if it actually held meat. These Atlanta restaurants are leading the wing pack.

Navigating Georgia’s Tricky Booze Laws

An Eater’s Guide to Dining and Drinking Around Atlanta (5)

Over the last decade, Georgia has slowly begun to update its antiquated state alcohol laws, including permitting Sunday retail alcohol sales, allowing the sale of alcohol fromrestaurants on Sundaysstarting at 11:00 a.m., andpermitting limited direct salesfrom the state’s breweries and distilleries. Then, in 2022, Atlanta residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of allowing grocery stores, wine shops, and package stores to begin selling booze on Sundays at 11 a.m. So, beginning in 2023, the beer and wine aisles at Kroger light up at 11 a.m. rather than 12:30 p.m.

Home delivery in Georgia of beer, wine, and liquor from restaurants, bars, convenience stores, some package stores, and grocery stores became legal in 2020. The new law currentlyexcludes the state’s breweries and distilleries. This, too, is expected to change as the state continues amending laws surrounding the production, distribution, and sale of alcohol.

Beer: Now that Georgia’s beer laws have been brought into the 21st century, drinkers can buy beers directly from breweries, by the glass in taprooms or up to a case to go. Here’s a list of the best breweries to check out right now.

Wine: Atlanta is home to many indie wine shops offering cool natty wines and rare collectibles. Moreover, many restaurants host wine dinners with visiting winemakers and have impressive wine lists. North Georgia, about an hour and a half drive from the city center, is also home to vineyards and two American Viticultural Areas (AVAs). Wine is a-plenty in Atlanta.

co*cktails: Atlanta’s bars are at the forefront of mixology trends, drawing in locals and visitors. From sleek speakeasies to laid-back listening bars, here are Atlanta’s newest drinking destinations and libation pop-ups.

Hotel Bars: As more Atlanta hotels focus attention on upping the drinks game, greater emphasis is being placed on co*cktail and wine lists. Grab drinks at one of these hotel bars around Atlanta.

Breakfast: Atlanta isn’t lacking in restaurants serving up a variety of takes on the morning meal. Eater’s breakfast map is filled with some of metro Atlanta’s best bets for biscuits, pancakes, bacon, eggs, and, most importantly, coffee to kick the day off right.

Brunch: Brunch is big in Atlanta, including the triumph of Black brunch spots. Check out these restaurants serving brunch all day and Atlanta restaurants with fresh new versions of brunch.

Coffee: This city’s love affair with coffee means there are plenty of quality independent shops to seek out around Atlanta. Check out these essential Atlanta coffee shops.

Fried Chicken: Atlanta isn’t lacking great fried chicken at restaurants, from platters served at southern and soul food restaurants that have been in business for decades, to original takes by relative newcomers on ATL’s fried chicken scene.

An Eater’s Guide to Dining and Drinking Around Atlanta (6) Busy Bee Cafe

LGBTQ Bars: Atlanta is the capital of the queer South, and the city’s got the gay bars to prove it. Here are just a few LGBTQ bars and restaurants to consider around Atlanta.

Patios: Atlanta’s lengthy warm season sees the city enjoying outdoor living and al fresco dining nearly ten months out of the year. That also means Atlanta is full of great patios like these. Consider these rooftop patios with serious views, a covered patio for when Atlanta’s weather is less than pleasant, or these patios offering outdoor fireplaces and fire pits.

An Eater’s Guide to Dining and Drinking Around Atlanta (7)

Neighborhoods to Know

West Midtown

This burgeoning area of town includes a slew of great restaurants found at spots like Westside Provisions District, such as popular neighborhood tavern Ormsby’s, Cooks and Soldiers, and Taqueria Del Sol, and emerging complexes like the Interlock and Star Metals on Howell Mill Road. But get beyond this dense dining district in northwest Atlanta to check out other award-winning restaurants like Miller Union, Star Provisions and Bacchanalia, and Twisted Soul Cookhouse and Pours, and the area’s bustling brewery scene in Blandtown and Underwood Hills. Persian restaurant Yalda serves up Middle Eastern fare with co*cktails to match. Drop by the new food hall, Chattahoochee Food Works. Maybe consider ending an evening out at the iconic blues bar Northside Tavern.

Buckhead

Buckhead is still home to some of the best high-end restaurants in Atlanta. Atlas, located in the St. Regis hotel, is high-priced and Michelin-starred, but the exquisite menu makes it a refuge for those who miss traditional fine dining. After receiving a fresh coat of paint, Gerry Klaskala’s Aria feels updated while continuing to serve well-executed European cuisine mixed with Southern ingredients. Then there’s the newer additions to the Buckhead dining scene like all-day restaurant and wine bar Le Bon Nosh, , and Lucian Books and Wine. Consider Storico Fresco for classic pasta dishes and plenty of Italian wine.

An Eater’s Guide to Dining and Drinking Around Atlanta (9)

Buford Highway

Buford Highway isn’t a single neighborhood or its own municipality. It’s a four-lane highway stretching from the tip of Brookhaven just north of the city of Atlanta to Duluth in the northern suburban county of Gwinnett filled with restaurants and markets representing nearly two dozen countries from around the globe. In other words, Buford Highway is a gourmand’s paradise featuring foods from nations like Vietnam and Korea to Mexico and Colombia. Deciding where and what to eat along Buford Highway can be overwhelming so, Eater compiled this list of essential restaurants to try. It’s just the tip of the culinary iceberg along this road. There are also upward of 20 marisquerias (Mexican seafood restaurants) around metro Atlanta to explore, too. Make sure to explore the restaurants found on streets adjacent to Buford Highway, including the food court at Atlanta Chinatown and Plaza Fiesta.

Decatur

Located directly east of the Atlanta city limits, this municipality boasts a charming downtown and some of the metro area’s finest bars and restaurants all within a few blocks. An ideal evening starts at Kimball House with the mainstay menu item of caviar and middlins, or at Victory Sandwich Bar for light snacks, beers, and Jack and co*ke slushies. Grab a seat at James Beard award-winning restaurant the Deer and the Dove for crispy rabbit legs fried in fermented buttermilk and grilled octopus and shrimp terrine. Or dig into Italian food at the White Bull just off of Decatur Square. For Spanish tapas pop over to Iberian Pig or tinned fish at Boho115 on the square. Head to Michelin-recommended restaurant Chai Pani for Indian street food or dine on pub grub paired with beer at Brick Store Pub. Consider this food crawl as your introduction to the Decatur food scene.

Downtown

Downtown Atlanta is home to the city’s biggest tourist attractions like the Center for Civil and Human Rights, College Football Hall of Fame, and Georgia Aquarium, not to mention the towering transformer that is Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the revamped home of the Atlanta Hawks, State Farm Arena. While the area caters mostly to office dwellers, college students from Georgia State, and tourists, there are plenty of off-the-beaten-path dining options like Dua Vietamese, Aamar Indian Cuisine, and Mediterranean dishes from Aviva by Kameel. For those looking for dinner and a view, make a reservation at the iconic SunDial Restaurant or rotating rooftop restaurant Polaris. Trader Vic’s in the Hilton Downtown is a must-visit for those seeking stiff tiki drinks like the Fogcutter or original Mai Tai. New Italian eatery with a lot of buzz, Capolinea at the Signia by Hilton, has opened at the Georgia World Congress Center and is worth a reservation.

An Eater’s Guide to Dining and Drinking Around Atlanta (12) Ryan Fleisher

East Point/College Park/Hapeville (Tri-Cities)

Newcomers to Atlanta, as well as those who work in or travel to the city, may have heard of the towns of East Point, College Park, and Hapeville referred to as the “ATL Airport District.” But longtime residents still call it the Tri-Cities. Its namesake high school and assortment of landmarks were made famous on albums by former East Point residents André 3000 and Big Boi, the duo behind Outkast. The Tri-Cities are filled with some of metro Atlanta’s best kept secrets. There’s Hattie Marie’s Texas-style barbecue, Bole Ethiopian, and Virgil’s Gullah Kitchen and Bar in College Park. Volare Wine and Bistro brings Southern-French fancy to Hapeville. Check out this neighborhood guide for more great restaurant options.

An Eater’s Guide to Dining and Drinking Around Atlanta (13) Ticonderoga Club

Inman Park

Atlanta’s first streetcar suburb has been home to quality dining options, and has boomed with development in recent years. Krog Street Market, with its food stalls and craft beer bar, is almost always packed at peak hours. The food hall features a few Atlanta dining scene veterans, including chef Todd Richards and his soul food stall Soul: Food and Culture and the team behind Michelin-recommended Ticonderoga Club, serving a mix of Asian, Southern, and New England fare paired with creative co*cktails. Elsewhere, BoccaLupo turns out Atlanta’s best pasta, and Sotto Sotto is a go-to for multi-course Italian feasts. Diners will forget about Chipotle forever after one bite at Bell Street Burritos, which also has locations in Buckhead and Tucker. And, tucked away on Lake Avenue is a quaint breakfast and lunch spot named Julianna’s serving Hungarian-style crepes made from an old family recipe.

Old Fourth Ward

No Atlanta neighborhood has seen more change due to BeltLine-related growth than the Old Fourth Ward. O4W is home to Ponce City Market, which features restaurants and food stalls from Atlanta chefs such as Anne Quatrano, Linton Hopkins, Meherwan Irani, and Hector Santiago in the market’s Central Food Hall. Further up the road on Ponce, the Hotel Clermont includes fine dining at Tiny Lou’s above where the ladies dance at the Clermont Lounge. Further east, check out the restaurants and bars within the Edgewood Avenue dining district, including a location of slu*tty Vegan, Edgewood Pizza, Our Bar ATL, Joystick Gamebar, and . Pop by Staplehouse for a bottle of wine and incredible dishes from chef Ryan Smith and his team. There are also a slew of dining options all along the Eastside Beltline trail from Ponce City Market to Krog Street Market, and beyond. But, be sure to seek out other spots around the area, including Glide Pizza at Studioplex, sandwich shop and market LottaFrutta, and restaurants in neighboring Poncey-Highland like Southern Belle, Fishmonger, and El Ponce.

An Eater’s Guide to Dining and Drinking Around Atlanta (15) Ryan Fleisher
An Eater’s Guide to Dining and Drinking Around Atlanta (16)

Other great dining neighborhoods to check out:

AUC (Atlanta University Center)

Alpharetta/Milton

Castleberry Hill/Vine City

East Atlanta

Grant Park

Little Five Points

Midtown

Stone Mountain

Summerhill

A neighborhood founded by former enslaved people just after the Civil War, later becoming home to the majority of the city’s Jewish population in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Summerhill has long been a place for Atlantans to strike out on their own and open successful businesses. That entrepreneurial spirit continues today with the latest generation of restaurant and business owners here in the neighborhood and along its burgeoning Main Street: Georgia Avenue. Head to Summerhill for clever takes on Thai food at Talat Market or chef Jarrett Stieber tapping into his Jewish roots with hints of Sichuan spice at Little Bear, along with a variety of casual restaurants serving pizza, fried chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, and barbecue. There’s beer and bites and even a beer garden from brewery Halfway Crooks, and coffee and fresh pastries form Little Tart Bakeshop.

West End/Westview

Surrounding I-20 on Atlanta’s southwest side lie the neighborhoods of West End and Westview, home to Atlanta’s historic Black colleges Clark Atlanta University, Spelman, and Morehouse. The neighborhoods are filled with plenty of great dining options, including many of the city’s best vegan and vegetarian restaurants like Soul Vegetarian as well as casual spots like D Cafe and slu*tty Vegan for its line-inducing meatless burgers. Check out bar and restaurant Bogg’s Social and Supply. The Lee + White complex in West End is anchored by several local food and beverage purveyors, such Wild Heaven Beer and El Tesoro, Best End Brewing, Hop City Craft Beer and Wine’s Boxcar gastropub, and locations of ASW Distillery and Monday Night Brewing.

Glossary of Food Terms

Scattered, smothered, covered, etc.:

Some may say Atlanta — well, Norcross — is home to the greatest restaurant chain in the world, Waffle House. Familiar fans will know exactly how they prefer their hash browns. For example, some people prefer a fairly simple order of smothered and covered (for the uninformed, that’s shredded, griddled potatoes mixed with chopped onion and topped with American cheese). First-timers who need guidance in their breakfast-potatoes order will be pleased to find a glossary of hash brown terminology right there on the Waffle House menu.

An Eater’s Guide to Dining and Drinking Around Atlanta (17)

Double-stack:

A double cheeseburger made from two thin patties that are cooked up nice and crispy on a griddle. Which style of burger is best? The double-stack, first made famous locally by Holeman and Finch and now served at many restaurants around the city, offers tons of flavor thanks to the Maillard reaction that occurs when two thin patties are cooked on a griddle. However, a single, thick, patty has its own merit. The kitchen can cook it to a diner’s requested doneness, and quality examples of this style will be overflowing with juicy beefiness.

Lemon pepper:

In 2017, the first season ofAtlanta,the Emmy-nominated show created by actor-rapper-writer and former Stone Mountain resident Donald Glover, brought a new level of awareness to “lemon pepper wet.” The scene: Paper Boi and Darius are waiting on a to-go order at a quiet J.R. Crickets restaurant. Their server returns with a Styrofoam box full of chicken wings and informs the two they’ve been hooked up by the kitchen. The wings have lemon pepper seasoningandBuffalo sauce, aka lemon pepper wet. American Deli tosses its wings in a spicy lemon pepper sauce using clarified butter rather than Buffalo sauce.

Brunswick stew:

A traditional side found at many barbecue restaurants throughout Georgia. The hearty dish usually includes beans and/or vegetables and it definitely contains smoked meat.

BeltLine-adjacent:

The Atlanta BeltLine is an ongoing and often controversial project that transforms old railroad tracks into a walking path that loops around the city. The New York Times has called it a “glorified sidewalk,” which isn’t exactly wrong. When the project was announced, there were promises of transit and affordable housing, but so far, the BeltLine has mostly inspired too many bland mixed-use developments crammed with similar restaurant concepts and gentrification.

Giving Kitchen:

A local non-profit that provides emergency grants to restaurant-industry workers in times of need. The org was awarded the 2019 Humanitarian of the Year Award by the James Beard Foundation.

Reservations to Make in Advance

Popular restaurants Aria, Spring, Bacchanalia, Miller Union, Gunshow, Lazy Betty, Lucian Books and Wine, and edomae-style sushi restaurant Mujo all require advanced booking. Consider one of these restaurants when looking to splurge on a night out on the town.

Follow the News

Eater Atlanta is updated multiple times every weekday with breaking news stories (restaurant openings, closings, etc.), features, guides, and more. Here are a few ways to stay in the loop:

• Keep an eye on the Eater Atlanta homepage. New stories will always show up near the top and flow down toward the bottom of the page as they get older, while important recent stories will stay pinned right at the top. Also, check out our big sister, Eater.com, for national and international food news.

• Subscribe to our newsletter, which goes out twice a week and includes links to Atlanta’s top news stories.

• Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram for updates on new stories and more throughout the day.

Get in Touch

Have questions not answered here? Want to send in a tip or a complaint or just say hello? Here are some ways to get in touch with the Eater Atlanta staff:

• Email us at atlanta@eater.com.

• Send us a tip, which can be anonymous if you choose, via our tipline.

• Interact with us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

An Eater’s Guide to Dining and Drinking Around Atlanta (2024)

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