15 Great Atlanta Eateries
Discover Some of the City’s Best Restaurants
by Hope S. Philbrick
Atlanta is home to more than 4,000 restaurants—enough to dine outthree times a day, every day of the week for a year without ever visiting the same place twice. While that multitude of choices means there’s something for everyone, it can also be overwhelming.
Not to worry. To simplify your introduction to Atlanta’s dining scene, we’ve got the scoop on some of the area’s best restaurants. Whether you’re looking for a special spot for Valentine’s Day, a place capable of feeding everyone in your family or a great destination for a luxurious Sunday brunch, we’ve got you covered. We’ve also shared our picks for some of the city’s can’t-miss dining experiences to help you further navigate the culinary landscape. Bon appétit!
FIVE GREAT RESTAURANTS FOR ROMANCE
Romantic in the classic sense—soft lighting, white tablecloths and flickering candles—Aria takes dining seriously while retaining a sense of humor, underscored by its quirky art collection.
Fresh ingredients are Chef Gerry Klaskala’s inspiration, so the menu changes daily. Signature dishes including the warm lobster cocktail, slow-roasted pork and Zinfandel-braised beef short rib always impress. Pastry Chef Kathryn King creates equally scrumptious desserts, such as strawberry angel cake with pink pepper ice cream and chocolate hazelnut praline cakes.
Canoe delivers a relaxed dining experience for all senses. Chef Carvel Grant Gould knows seafood and has even been known to travel far and wide to reel in catches herself. But the seventh-generation Atlantan knows Southern cuisine, too, so her menu also showcases rabbit, chicken, duck, lamb, beef and an impressive range of vegetables, all raised to new levels of sophistication.
If you only have eyes for your date, you’ll miss the spectacular view of the Chattahoochee River, colorful gardens and artful menu items.
The city’s newest gastropub is already popular, and the innovative bar menu created by the James Beard Award-winning Belinda Chang is just one reason why. Featuring carefully selected draft beers, boutique wines and handcrafted cocktails including the stellar hibiscus flip, the bar also offers a build-your-own cocktail kit that invites couples to play at the table. Chef David Gross serves an all-day menu of made-to-share bites, from deviled eggs with Gulf blue crab to kale Caesar salad, crispy duck tacos and Nutella torte. Slip into a comfortable leather chair and relax in the warm, inviting dining room.
Located in the Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta, Park 75 offers fine dining without formality. Choose any number of hot or cold dishes (starting at $5) to build your own small or multi-course meal. Opt for casual comforts (short-rib grilled cheese or BLT sliders), house-made presentations (charcuterie or citrus-grilled tuna steaks) or even inspired innovations such as red velvet pancakes or red pea succotash. Servers can suggest pairings from a wine list with an emphasis on red varietals and boutique labels. For a unique dining experience, ask about the chef’s table inside the kitchen.
Ray’s on the River
An Atlanta tradition since 1984, Ray’s on the River boasts a panoramic view of the Chattahoochee. While the windows open to one of the city’s best vistas, the modern supper-club interior is worth admiring, too. Chef Josh Warner’s menu features fresh seafood flown in daily, in addition to steaks and chops. Classic surf and turf options including lobster tail and petite filet mignon and such perennial favorites as oysters Rockefeller and fresh jumbo lump crab cakes are offered alongside mouthwatering creations: Parmesan scallops, ginger soy tuna, horseradish crusted grouper and Guinness-marinated pork chops.
FIVE GREAT FAMILY-FRIENDLY RESTAURANTS
Bantam & Biddy
This new fast-casual restaurant proves that it’s possible to please the kids without compromising adult preferences. Regional, all-natural pastured poultry is featured on the breakfast, lunch and dinner menus at this cozy eatery. In addition to top-quality chicken, Chefs Shaun Doty and Lance Gummere also present eco-friendly pork, organic seasonal vegetables and a variety of gluten-free dining options. Fried chicken tenders with wasabi honey, pork Schnitzel with fried egg, meatloaf with Kentuckyaki gravy and chicken sausage with loaded mashed potatoes will lure you back for more.
Chicken & The Egg
Trust Chef Marc Taft for exceptional authentic Southern cuisine prepared from ingredients chosen with a careful eye on sustainability. The brunch, lunch and dinner menus present classic dishes with innovative twists. Fried green tomatoes are served with pimento cheese fondue, the chicken and waffles duo is paired with braised greens, pork chops are brined in sweet tea, and there’s even a Georgia peach and Virginia ham flatbread. Save room for Pastry Chef Karie Brown’s creations, including chocolate bread pudding and blackberry corn cake.
The Original El Taco
Inspired by bold Tex-Mex flavors and the sunny street markets of Mexico, this menu features simple classics made from fresh ingredients. While grown-ups enjoy margaritas, frozen mojitos and beers, kids sip fruit punch and Mexican Coca-Cola. Fill up on large Mexican “pizzas” (grilled, hand-pressed tortillas with toppings), Mexican corn dogs, green chili chicken enchiladas, wood-grilled fajitas and creative tacos, including smoked trout with sweet lime mayo and red habanero cabbage. Save room for fried apple pie.
Farm Burger – Decatur
This popular spot often draws long lines. But it’s well worth the wait for burgers made to order from 100-percent grass-fed beef, dry-aged and ground fresh. (Chicken and veggie quinoa options are also available). Customize your sandwich with a creative pick of topping combinations including house pickles, fresh jalapenos, roasted garlic, arugula, red bean chili, Maytag blue cheese, feta and oxtail marmalade. And take your pick from sides: sweet sweet potato fries, deviled eggs and pickled veggies.
Ted’s Montana Grill
Co-founded by philanthropist Ted Turner, Ted’s celebrates the culinary bounty of Big Sky Country, and its made-from-scratch dishes will have you feeling right at home on the range. Choose a tasty beef or bison steak or a burger—the bison meatloaf and pot roast are standouts. Save room for desserts including fresh-baked cookies and hand-made malts. The restaurant’s mantra—“Eat great. Do good.”—underscores its goal of environmental responsibility.
FIVE GREAT SPOTS FOR SUNDAY BRUNCH
The Café at The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead
Always an upscale dining choice, the Café pulls out all the stops for its decadent Sunday brunch. Choose from more than 50 dishes, skillfully prepared and artfully presented, including such options as fresh and smoked seafood, cheese and charcuterie, made-to-order omelets and creative risottos and pastas. There are also traditional breakfast favorites like eggs Benedict and Belgian waffles, and carving stations with roasted meats and fish. Indulge in Pastry Chef Dallas Marsteller’s just-baked breads, pastries and impressive desserts, which she thoughtfully presents on small plates to minimize guilt about sampling more than one.
Kaleidoscope Bistro & Pub
Crave eggs but your dining companion prefers a burger? This brunch menu is a pleasing mix of dishes enjoyable any time of day. Even better: Chef Joey Riley’s Brookhaven eatery serves food so good and so reasonably priced that each bite seems like a bargain. Featuring high-quality ingredients like meats that are antibiotic- and hormone-free, the menu offers breakfast favorites including frittata, eggs Benedict and scrambled eggs, alongside savory bites, such as wok-fried calamari, country-fried chicken and the award-winning burger topped with pimento cheese, slaw, green tomato chow chow and bread and butter pickles.
Opened in early 2012, this spot was quickly embraced by neighborhood residents thanks to its upscale menu offerings, moderate prices, friendly servers and cozy surroundings. Brunch makes for a tasty introduction. Once named “Best New American Chef in Atlanta” by Bon Appetit, Executive Chef Jonathan St. Hilaire is considered one of Atlanta’s premiere pastry chefs. But he’s also a skilled savory chef, proven by such dishes as the spicy whole-grilled shrimp, the lamb sandwich with horseradish cream and the Georgia trout with haricot verts. Still, the bread basket with chocolate and pistachio croissants is tempting.
South City Kitchen – Midtown
Housed in a historic bungalow with two fireplaces, this Atlanta favorite is known for its contemporary Southern classics and has been a mainstay on the city’s dining scene for 18 years. On the brunch menu, Chef Chip Ulbrich puts a creative spin on classic dishes, offering fried green tomatoes topped with goat cheese and pepper coulis, Caesar salad with Calabash shrimp and smoked salmon Benedict with truffle hollandaise. Ease into the week, pampered by skilled servers, throughout your relaxed feast.
Chefs Josh Hopkins and Adam Waller team to present local, seasonal fare with an Italian twist. Airy-crusted pizzas topped with combinations like eggs Benedict with prosciutto and arugula (as well as traditional margherita) not only taste great, they’ve earned a stamp of approval from the Italian Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani, which certifies pizzas as authentically Neapolitan. The brunch menu also offers hearty oven-roasted duck hash; oven-baked eggs with ham and sausage Bolognese; artichoke, pepper and Fontina frittata and more.
Bacchanalia This West Midtown institution offers an $85 prix fixe menu that includes two appetizers, an entrée, a cheese course and dessert.
Bone’s Since 1979, this Buckhead landmark has been hailed as one of the top steakhouses in the nation.
Holeman & Finch Public House Small plates and specialty cocktails are the focus of this popular gastropub. It also serves one of the city’s most coveted burgers, available only after 10 p.m. on Sunday.
Rathbun’s Celebrity chef Kevin Rathbun’s flagship restaurant offers an upscale but accessible menu with a sense of humor, as evidenced by its “second mortgage” selections.
Restaurant Eugene Recent James Beard award-winner Linton Hopkins oversees this atmospheric Buckhead spot renowned for its locally sourced take on Southern and American cuisine.