The Best Places to Eat and Drink in Atlanta

With a crop of new chef-driven restaurants, attention is shifting to the culinary scene in Georgia's capital.
 

Golden Eagle, photo by Andrew Thomas Lee Photography

Atlanta’s downtown serves as a business and hotel hub, but, to eat like a local, you need to venture into its nearby neighbourhoods, collectively known as “intown.” In Peachtree Hills, Inman Park and Reynoldstown, diners will find seasonal dishes in sleekly designed restaurants where none existed before.

Imbibers will find pleasure in the city’s recent boom of breweries and distilleries, and in meeting bartenders at local cocktail bars who aren’t afraid to flex their mixing muscles.

3 Must-try Restaurants

Restaurant Eugene

Photo courtesy Restaurant Eugene

It’s no wonder Restaurant Eugene, north of downtown in Peachtree Hills, has been one of Atlanta’s most celebrated dining establishments for 15 years. After all, husband and wife team Linton (the chef) and Gina Hopkins (the sommelier) championed the farm-to-table movement before it was popular. Diners will find dishes that reflect the season’s offerings from farms in and around Atlanta. Sometimes, the produce even comes from Linton’s garden. Dishes, such as the potato crusted North Carolina flounder with scallop mousseline and black truffle purée, are elegant with subtle flavours and simple presentation. Restaurant Eugene also doesn’t skimp on the desserts, with pastry chef Jennifer Yee crafting sophisticated creations, such as a parsnip tart with elderflowers.

restauranteugene.com

Gunshow

Photo by Andrew Thomas Lee Photography

Inspired by Chinese dim sum carts and Brazilian churrascarias, Gunshow, in Ormewood Park, is a one-of-a-kind dining experience in the city. The brainchild of former Top Chef finalist Kevin Gillespie, the restaurant’s open design allows diners to see into the kitchen, while chefs walk around the dining room to present their dishes tableside on carts. The food is highly seasonal, with a menu that doesn’t shackle itself to one particular culinary style—though there is a heavy southern influence. Even the drinks are served via cart. Cocktail director Mercedes O’Brien wheels her bar from table to table, where she mixes creative tipples such as the Toasted Old Fashioned with bourbon, bitters, burnt sugar, brûléed cinnamon and flamed orange, which always gets a resounding “Ooh…” from the table.

gunshowatl.com

Atlanta is fortunate to have nearly year-round availability of local produce because of our mild climate and proximity to farmland.

Chef Kevin Gillespie, Gunshow

Staplehouse

If you can snag a reservation (openings are released a month prior and go quickly), the tasting menu at Staplehouse is a must. A labour of love dreamed up by the late Ryan Hidinger and his wife, Jen, Staplehouse opened its doors in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward neighbourhood in 2015. The vibe is come-as-you-are, but the tasting menu is representative of Atlanta’s growing sophistication, with its whimsical plating and seasonal ingredients. Diners can always expect two staples, though: the chicken liver tart garnished with seasonal flourishes (such as persimmon gelee in the winter) and Grandma Lillian’s potato bread (an homage to a family recipe), fluffy rolls that melt in your mouth and are served with whipped thyme oil. If you can’t get a reservation, you can always eat at the restaurant’s bar or at Paper Crane Lounge, located upstairs.

staplehouse.com

Want Dessert?

Photo courtesy Little Tart Bakeshop

Light and Fluffy: Little Tart Bakeshop

Buttery pastries reign supreme at Little Tart Bakeshop. At its newest store in Summerhill (there are two other locations nearby), you’ll find a display case overflowing with galettes, tarts and sables.

littletartatl.com

Smooth and Creamy: Butter & Cream

On hot Atlanta days, it’s a tradition to swing by Butter & Cream, a small-batch ice cream shop found on the BeltLine—a revitalized train track-turned-walking path lined with public art.

butterandcream.com

Chocolatey: Xocolatl

Chocoholics swoon over Xocolatl, a chocolate micro-factory in Inman Park’s Krog Street Market. Try the Kissed Mermaids bar with Costa Rican cacao, coconut milk, vanilla bean-infused salt and roasted nibs.

xocolatlchocolate.com

Need a Drink?

Golden Eagle, photo by Andrew Thomas Lee Photography

Whisky lovers: ASW Distillery

With nine varieties of spirits, including rye and brandy, ASW Distillery offers weekend tours. Visit the tasting room to sip an Old Fashioned made with the distillery’s Fiddler bourbon.

aswdistillery.com

Beer lovers: Monday Night Garage

Located in West End, Monday Night Garage boasts plenty of outdoor space and thirst-quenching sour brews such as the Mischief Managed, a series of fruited Berliner Weisses.

mondaynightbrewing.com

Cocktail lovers: Golden Eagle

Set in a historic train depot in Reynoldstown, Golden Eagle is reminiscent of a 1970s supper club. Sip one of its classic tipples such as the Mai Tai with rum, Curaçao, and orgeat and bitters.

goldeneagleatl.com

Three Meals a Day

Breakfast: The General Muir

The General Muir, found near Emory University, serves Jewish-inspired deli fare with a southern twist. Order one of the bagel platters or try the poached eggs and grits with gruyere, roasted mushrooms and madeira sauce

thegeneralmuir.com

The General Muir, photo by Andrew Thomas Lee Photography

Lunch: Mushi Ni

Mushi Ni, which is tucked away in East Atlanta Village’s We Suki Suki, a micro food hall dedicated to upstart talent, lures people in with its freshly made bao. You’ll also find japchae bowls, tempura-battered Nutella Oreos and curries.

mushini.net

Photo courtesy Mushi Ni

Dinner: Tiny Lou’s

French cuisine is served with fanfare at Tiny Lou’s in the revitalized Hotel Clermont. Try the Blue Ridge trout almondine with green beans, capers, cipollini (wild onions), toasted almond and sourdough brown butter.

tinylous.com

Tiny Lou’s, photo by Heidi Geldhauser
[This story appears in the May 2019 issue of WestJet Magazine]