Any food aficionado should spend time exploring the diverse neighborhoods of Atlanta.
Anyone who does will be rewarded in spades with excellent dining options. Atlanta may not have Michelin starred restaurants—don’t think that means it can’t compete with cities that do. Just whatever you do, don’t call it “Hotlanta.”
Why go: Buckhead is Atlanta’s answer to Rodeo Drive. Upscale shopping, hotels, glitz, and glam. Definitely go for a taste of how the other half lives.
Where to eat:
Lovers of unique cuts of steaks from top purveyors should visit KR Steakbar (also get their hand-cut pasta) and Arnette’s Chop Shop. For solo dining check out UMI (order the Omakase) or Mission + Market with an indoor living moss wall. South African sister restaurants 10 Degrees South and Cape Dutch are also local favorites featuring sweet and savory dishes like Boboties. Storico Fresco is the spot for freshly made pasta—dine-in or to go. James Beard award winner Watershed, features modern Southern, locally sourced meats, while its neighbor, Saltyard, an American tapas spot with it’s lovely curated wine list are sure to please everyone. Don’t miss
Whiskey Bird for a bubble waffle at brunch.
Why go: Midtown is perfectly situated in the heart of the city and easy to get to from most hotels. Many restaurants are within walking distance.
Where to Eat – 5 Church and Tabla are neighborhood favorites featuring fusion entrees. On the trendy westside head to The Optimist and Eight Sushi for tantalizing seafood. For locally sourced southern favorites JCT Kitchen and Mary Mac’s are tops. Bacchanalia is pricey but worth every penny and features many items that are grown in owner, Anne Quatrano’s garden. DAS BBQ features tasty down-home cue where meats are locally sourced. Stop in Cultivate for fresh breakfast served all day.
Why go: For years, this stretch of road has been the mecca for ethnic eats, that locals flock to. Find the best Korean, Vietnamese, Mexican eats and beyond where prices are a steal.
Where to eat: Food Terminal is a food and people watching haven (get the Roti Canai and Grandma Pork). Sushi House Hayakawa- some of the best sushi in the city is found here but for Korean head to Woo Nam Jeong Stone Bowl and order the Nine Treasure Plate. Or for Vietnamese hit up Nam Phuong; Canton House for can’t miss Dim Sum. After dinner head to White Windmill Bakery, Dat Sweet Spot or 8F for dessert.
Protip: They have excellent foot massage parlors for before or after you fill your belly.
Why go: Because you’ll want to see some of the hot spots like the Aquarium, Atlanta Center for Civil and Human Rights.
Where to eat: Casual spots that are local favorites for lunch and brunch are Ann’s Snack Bar (Ghetto Burger), Home Grown and Ria’s Bluebird, which is located across the street from Atlanta landmark, the Oakland Cemetery. Agave Restaurant is reminiscent of an old Spanish Church, seafood lovers will especially appreciate the southwestern menu here. Poor Calvin’s – Southern and European influences join forces at this downtown spot with items like fried Grouper curry and Pop Rocks duck pate. But for pure southern head to White Oak Kitchen for locally sourced southern favorites. Both Wrecking Bar and Wisteria are in gorgeous historic buildings serving modern fare.
Why go: The beltline connects several neighborhoods and allows for a glimpse into Atlanta’s street art. Take it in as you leisurely stroll or bike the paved trail.
Where to eat:
Two Urban Licks – remains a top choice for locals and visitors, with its jaw-dropping design. Ladybird, popular with millennials for late nights, brunch is where it’s at for dining. Items like the skillet of the day or hot chicken biscuit will leave you satiated all day. Or dynamic Asian street food, pop in at Hawkers. For divine drinks and quality pizza, check out Nina and Rafi. New Realm Brewing, has stunning brews, views, and bites carefully created through work with local farms.
Food halls have made their way south to Atlanta, with Krog Street Market (KSM) and Ponce City Market (PCM) using refurbished factories for their hubs. Both located steps from the Atlanta Beltline, a paved bike, and walkway that connects neighborhoods, food options are plentiful. Grab lunch from one of the food stalls featuring diverse cuisines. Bellina Alimentari’s casual approach to Italian is a hit or head to the roof and dine with sweeping views of the city at PCM. At KSM, Pull up a stool at Hop City and enjoy a glass of wine or beer while people watching. Grab a slice at local pizza favorite, Varuni Napoli.
Where to eat: Even if you’re relegated to hotel eating, you won’t have to sacrifice taste. At the posh St. Regis, you’ll find Atlas. Spend some time on the apps, before moving on to items like Lobster en croute. At Midtown’s Bar Margot, get the tartare of the moment. Polaris, the rotating restaurant atop the downtown Hyatt, may be a big hotel name but they are committed to local foods (in that they have their own rooftop garden).
Malika Bowling is the editor at Roamilicious.com. She’s the author of Food Lovers Guide to Atlanta and has been featured on HGTV and The Huffington Post. She has been a contributing writer to Beer Connoisseur, Chowhound, Playboy, and USA Today. Malika has also served as a judge at various culinary competitions and food festivals including the World Food Championships. She loves hiking, exotic travels, and Negronis.