Food & Drink

The Best Restaurants in Athens

Updated On 09/07/2018 at 06:12PM EST

BEST NEW RESTAURANT: THE EXPAT

1680 S Lumpkin Street
This French-American bistro, which opened in Athens’ Five Points neighborhood in spring 2018, is loaded with European charm. It’s in a renovated 1930s home and draws inspiration from the days when literary greats such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Gertrude Stein were swanning around overseas. Executive chef Savannah Sasser prides herself on mixing traditional French cooking techniques with locally sourced ingredients for an ever-changing menu. Bonus: The restaurant is helmed by Krista and Jerry Slater, which should be especially appealing to those who mourn the beloved Atlanta cocktail bar, H. Harper Station.

BEST FOR SOMETHING HEALTHY: THE TABLE BISTRO

1075 Baxter Street, B102  
Don’t be fooled by the small, simple space -- the food here packs a big punch. Lots of gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegetable-forward options are on the menu for those looking to eat healthy, and the pasta and handhelds sections will satisfy if you’re extra hungry.

home.made

BEST FOR BRUNCH: HOME.MADE

1072 Baxter Street
A few doors down from The Table Bistro, this spot is known for its Saturday brunch menu. Yes, Saturday -- the restaurant is closed on Sundays. But moving your brunch plans up a day is worth it: The food here is as delicious as it is beautiful. Plus, the restaurant’s shop has southern-inspired gifts for your foodie friends (think cheese straws, pecans, and sweet tea caramels).

BEST FOR A COFFEE & AVOCADO TOAST: FRANKLIN HOUSE CAFE

480 E Broad Street, Suite 101
Located in a historic building on the corner of Broad Street and Thomas Street downtown, this new cafe serves both drip coffee and espresso, and offers a scaled back food menu where you can’t go wrong. Avocado toast is a staple, but their other food offerings -- including paninis, waffles, and toasts -- rotate seasonally.

South Kitchen + Bar

BEST TATER TOTS: SOUTH KITCHEN & BAR

247 E Washington Street
With dark wooden tables, a brick bar, and plenty of natural light, this award-winning restaurant exudes warmth and southern charm. It’s sophisticated, but has just enough casual familiarity to put you at ease. On its menu, you’ll find items like lamb chops and amberjack, next to fried chicken and duck-fat tater tots (the latter is South’s unofficial signature dish).

Rinne Allen

Good for grabbing lunch: The National

232 W Hancock Avenue
The menu changes regularly since the ingredients are sourced locally, but you can expect Mediterranean-inspired sandwiches, salads, and soups. Most plates are meant to share, so you'd be smart to arrive with a group. Even better news? The prices are very friendly on the wallet.

Good for bringing the parents: Last Resort Grill

174-184 W Clayton Street
Set in the former space of an iconic music club of the same name, Last Resort features local artwork, an amazing ambiance, and high-quality Southwestern-inspired food. Be sure to try the fried green tomatoes or potato onion pancakes. Add the jalapeño honey mustard dressing to any salad for a hefty kick, and save some room for dessert, because the delicious, homemade cakes are served in generous portions.

Kaitie Bryant

Best biscuit: Mama’s Boy

197 Oak Street
These fluffy, buttery, award-winning monsters are the ultimate hangover cure. And you'll see for yourself when you show up (every weekend the line is out the door). Biscuits aside, the poached eggs, cheesy grits, and potato hash are also on the menu and worth the wait.

Best Southern food: Pulaski Heights BBQ

675 Pulaski Street
Without a doubt, it has the best pulled pork and richest mac and cheese in town, but every real Southerner knows it’s all about the sauce. And that's why they'll load you up with all the spicy vinegar you can handle. And don’t forget, it's still BYOB.

Best place to go on game day: Rooftop of the Georgia Theatre

215 N Lumpkin Street
Rowdy music venue by night, rooftop hangout by day. There’s no better place outside Sanford Stadium to watch SEC football than atop the Georgia Theatre. Straight out of The Branded Butcher kitchen, loaded burgers and chili cheese fries are prepared for wild -- and occasionally obnoxious -- Georgia fans who need some sustenance on those very long, hot days.

Best late-night eats: The Grill

171 College Avenue
This 24-hour diner is known for its waffle fries served with feta cheese dressing. And they just so happen to taste even better around 2-3am, which is precisely when The Grill tends to be on a wait. Other items to quell your late-night hunger include the triple cheeseburger, the double grilled cheese sandwich, chicken fingers, and an old-fashioned milkshake. It's not known for its service, but you won't care.

Five and Ten

Best special occasion spot: Five & Ten

1073 S Milledge Avenue
No tour of Athens is complete without a stop at Hugh Acheson’s flagship restaurant. It boasts some of the best fine dining in the Classic City, with a sophisticated menu of duck breast, seasonal fish, and mouthwatering stews -- all sustainably sourced and beautifully plated. It is a bit on the pricier side, so come with an empty stomach... and a wealthy benefactor if available.

Ike & Jane

Best bakery: Ike & Jane Cafe and Bakery

1307 Prince Avenue
A little place on Prince, Ike & Jane is like your grandma’s house away from home, and has all the gourmet, home-baked goods you’ve been missing since you went away for school. Here, you’ll find cereal-coated donuts, holiday-themed cupcakes, banana breads, brownies, and more, all baked from scratch, and all available by custom order.

Courtesy of Trappeze Pub

Best drinks: Trappeze Pub

269 N Hull Street
This laid-back gastropub not only carries craft beers from the best breweries in Georgia, but from everywhere else you'd imagine. Whether you’re an out-of-towner from Virginia, California, or Pennsylvania, Trappeze will likely have your beer of choice on tap. Its Belgian fries were voted best in Athens, and its bar food is top notch. And while said award-winning Belgian fries come with blue cheese, raspberry ketchup, or garlic aioli, we recommend getting all three.

Best vegetarian: The Grit

199 Prince Avenue
This vegetarian-friendly Athens stalwart prides itself on variety. Choose from noodle bowls, veggie plates, falafel platters, tofu dishes... you name it. A laid-back environment with enormous portions, The Grit has become the go-to for vegetarians, vegans, celiacs, and omnivores alike. Oh, and don’t forget to grab a slice of the Grasshopper Cake to-go on your way out.

Best chicken and waffles: The World Famous

351 N Hull Street
Nestled in historic Downtown Athens, this eccentric entertainment venue is home to local comedians, musicians, and friends. However, we don’t really care about that, as it’s also home to The world famous chicken and waffle club. It boasts crispy fried chicken sandwiched between two waffles doused in hot sauce, and served over a bed of fries. Supplement it with one of the signature craft cocktails -- like the Maui Wowie -- for the complete Athens experience.

Creature Comforts

Best brewery: Creature Comforts

271 W Hancock Avenue
The makers of the constantly coveted Tropicália have an even better selection of ales on tap at their headquarters than in third-party stores. The brewery’s indoor/outdoor space is equally as impressive, with plenty of games to keep you occupied -- which is perfect when the weather's nice and day drinking is on the agenda.

Seabear Oyster Bar

Best seafood: Seabear Oyster Bar

297 Prince Avenue, Suite 10
Need a great seafood happy hour? You've found it. We’re talking $1.50 oysters and beer specials. Doors open at 3pm and you'll want to show up on the dot to grab a seat on the patio or at the bar. Other seafood options include lobster bisque, shrimp po-boy, and mussels (which are served with fries to help you sop up the sauce). There are plenty of non-seafood choices as well (avocado toast and sticky buns) and the service is some of the best in town.

Best Cuban Sandwich: Cali N Tito's

1427 S Lumpkin Street
This Athens staple is known for its eclectic patio, BYOB policy, and the Cuban sandwich. The latter is authentic and a must-order for first-time diners. The meat is tender and juicy and sits perfectly between two slices of fresh, pillowy bread. After your meal, don’t be surprised to find yourself lingering and maybe even dancing.

Pauley's Original Crepe Bar

Best crepes: Pauley's Crepe Bar

134 E Clayton Street
Great for brunch, dinner, and of course dessert, Pauley’s has become a beloved Athens destination. So much so, the restaurant has actually expanded to Atlanta. It offers sweet and savory crepes and has more than 150 beers available. If you're extra hungry, start your meal with the chicken tchoupitoulas -- warm ciabatta bread topped with chicken salad and melted cheese -- then move on to the delicious crepes.

Up Next
C. Ellet
Food & Drink

Atlanta's Best New Restaurants of 2017

Published On 11/13/2017
W e saw a lot of new restaurants get launched this year in ATL -- almost too damn many, to be honest. If you simply add up the dining options at SunTrust Park and Mercedes-Benz Stadium, you’d have more spots than a lot of cities could handle in a year. With all that edible optimism, you have to be meticulous in making sure you get to the goods before you’ve stuffed yourself silly on second-tier suppers. Which is why you’re reading this list.
Some restaurants that were actually good were left off this year’s roundup. Others are missing simply because they’ve got a good buzz, but they opened so recently that it’s hard to give them a yay or nah so early on (shout out to Rose + Rye). Until then, here are the best of ATL’s new restaurants that arrived in 2017.
Courtesy of Holler & Dash

Holler & Dash

West Midtown

Perhaps the best new fried chicken biscuit in town
Look, Cracker Barrel is good, no matter how bad you millennials might feel saying its name and eating its glorious breakfast. But they’re thinking about your tender feelings, so they started this new biscuit chain and brought its sixth location to ATL, so you can continue to live on a fluffy cloud of flour. The fried chicken biscuit is the place to start, but don’t let that keep you from the Hamabama biscuit, topped with country ham and red-eye gravy. They’ve also got beignets, grits bowls, and cold-brew coffee. But seriously, get the biscuits.

Chicken + Beer

College Park (Airport)

Luda came, saw, and opened the best restaurant in our airport
The closure of Straits brought closure to the days when Ludacris was new to the restaurant biz. With C+B, he partnered with Jackmont Hospitality, Todd Richards, and others to create an easy-to-love representation of Atlanta dining, simply by giving us what he knew we really wanted at the airport.

Bon Ton

Midtown

Amazing NOLA-inspired fusion restaurant doling out catfish banh mi
This funky, ‘70s-inspired Cajun/Vietnamese seafood boil spot has had a roller-coaster year. The general consensus is that Bon Ton, located in the former space of Top Flr, does a good, consistent job on its mash-up food (catfish banh mi, smoked snow crab, Nashville hot oyster rolls, etc.), and in keeping up a great bar vibe. On the less happy side, Bon Ton lost its head bartender a few months ago due to an automobile accident. Still, the good times roll in his honor, as well as the founder of the original New Orleans Bon Ton location, via on-tap Sazeracs and other cocktails like the smoked bourbon mai tai, and an absinthe-rinsed Jamaican rum hurricane.

DAS BBQ

Westside

Inventive BBQ (pork quesadillas) in a sprawling space out west
Over on the smoked meats side of things, BBQ newcomer DAS has brought much-needed comfort food to the westside’s Defoors Ferry and Collier Road crossing. The patio’s string-lit ceiling and bourbon barrel-legged dining tables create a just upscale enough vibe that also encourages your tipsiness. The hickory and pecan wood puts the flavor into the meats that go into combo plates and sandwiches, from brisket to sliced turkey, sausage links, wings and pulled pork (try the pork quesadillas if you care about yourself). It’s always nice to have new barbecue; it’s even nicer when it’s good.

scout

Scout

Oakhurst

Pro ATL chef Michael Semancik is mastering traditional southern food in historic digs
It’s located inside a former Old Scottish Rite Hospital, and charges itself with a sense of duty akin to the meaning of its name... but in terms of food and not all that tying knots, reading compasses, and opening things with Swiss Army knives. Executive chef Michael Semancik, who worked with chefs Kevin Rathbun and Jay Swift before either had their own restaurants, leads the mission from the airy, naturally lit historic space. The kitchen puts out shareable snacks like split smoked chicken wings, Western-style beef jerky (basically teriyaki), and PBR-battered cauliflower, as well as regional entrees such as bowls of Georgia red shrimp Creole, and cast-iron tasso ham-crusted red fish. The drinks, courtesy of ATL barman Nate Shuman from the P’cheen days, are also expertly made. 

Festivals Jerk Chicken Grill

Glenwood Park

The Jamaican food Glenwood Park's been missing is finally here
ATL could always use more Jamaican food -- especially jerk chicken. Festivals Jerk, which is amazingly located in Glenwood Park (across from Gunshow and down the street from The Shed), brings the jerk to the people in whole, half, or quarter bird portions, with deliciously tender, evenly spiced, char-grilled flavor that doesn’t overheat you and isn’t overdone. And if you’ve never had actual “festivals,” the hush puppy-esque Jamaican bread snack you get with entrees or can order as an extra side, you’ve not fully celebrated life.

Jai Ho Indian Kitchen

Ansley Park

The family behind Savi Market opens an Indian spot that stands out amongst the crowd
There will never be enough Indian food in Atlanta. Maybe Decatur, but that’s another city. As for ATL city limits, Jai Ho had a running start, since it’s from the family behind Savi Market which began selling grab-and-go Indian meals before branching out into a standalone restaurant brand. Now you can get a plethora of Pondicherry (think French-Indian) food, including the super-tender sous vide tandoor rack of lamb, as well as bowls of tandoori chicken, tikka masala, and all the usual suspects.

Turner Blackburn

Double Dragon

Oakhurst

The best "authentic and inauthentic Chinese food" you'll find around Oakhurst
Why did it take so long for an Atlanta Chinese restaurant to be named after one of the greatest low-bit arcade games ever? Did you forget that the two main characters in the beat-’em-up game were named Billy and Jimmy Lee, as if that doesn’t sound country as hell? Never mind the failings of the past; get to DD and enjoy local, seasonal, and sustainable meats and produce in the form of some of your standard favorites, as well as a few things you might find unfamiliar. Start with Chinese boiled peanuts (which being in Georgia, you should dig), and don’t leave out the pan-fried pork or chicken dumplings before you get into General Tso’s, shredded moo shu pork, honey-walnut Georgia shrimp and broccoli, or specials like spicy Sichuan white fish.

Greens & Gravy

Westview

Your new soul food staple from chef Darius Williams
Chef Darius Williams is a force on social media and in the celebrity chef world. He also had the foresight to place a restaurant with a can’t-fail name in a historically African-American neighborhood currently being revitalized by the Southwest BeltLine and other new construction. It’s certainly up-kicked, creatively imagined soul food, which you’ll know when you bite into the lemon pepper honey fried chicken, or the banana pudding (or peach cobbler) waffle, or the sweet potato grits, or the watermelon chow chow. Oh, there’s no alcohol, so keep that in mind. You’ll probably be so full after dinner or brunch that you won’t mind. OK, that’s a lie, but it’s still amazingly good.

c. ellet

C. Ellet's

SunTrust Park

In a sea of restaurants, C. Ellet's and their steaks stand out as the best in SunTrust Park
Not to be outdone by Arthur Blank (with the tiny exception of personal net worth), Linton Hopkins opened a steakhouse in the new home of the Braves, and named it after his great-grandfather, a US Army Corps engineer who died from a gunshot wound after fighting alongside the Union Army in the Battle of Memphis. Hopkins went all out on beef, sourcing his from farms in Nebraska, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Alabama, and wherever else he can source the very best bovine meats. The fresh seafood and daily rotating oyster selection are also major league draws, and the burger will be more of a steakhouse format than the all-American diner version you get at Holeman and Finch. It’s easily the best restaurant in the ballpark, but it also gives every other steakhouse in town a run for the plate.

Petit Chou

Cabbagetown

French food and Southern food combine to give you sandwiches so good you'll want two
French food and Southern foods have a lot in common. They’re both really good when done right, and you want to eat them constantly. Combining both in Cabbagetown, this little bistro that decided to fill you up with sandwiches -- there’s even a note on the menu that says “I take sandwiches very seriously.” The declaration is proven through the Sarah-Witch, which is shaved ham, Brie, arugula, and house preserves on a Southern baguette, along with the house biscuit with Boursin and chicken sausage, and the croque monsieur (“the French version of ham and cheese”).

Co

Co

Poncey-Highland

Many hopped on the pho craze... but Co mastered it
Pho is good any time of day, but it’s not always good depending on how close you live to some of the city’s best pho houses. Co brought fantastic bowls of the brothy noodle soup from its original Charleston location to Ponce, along with lots more Southeast Asian fare that ranges from sushi to banh mi, Thai noodles, ramen, Malaysian coconut curry soup, tuna tacos, and kimchi beef dumplings. It’s all part of a cooking philosophy that emphasizes four words -- "open-mindedness, desire, eagerness, and art,” -- none of which you can eat, but still things you can appreciate when you’re slurping down delicious bowls of steaming noodle soup without having to drive up to Doraville.

Food Terminal

Chamblee

Amazing Malaysian food in what's easily the best new restaurant in ATL
Malaysian street food is probably unbelievably good in Malaysia, and sure, ATL has flights, but the drive to Chamblee is much more convenient and highly convincing that you’re eating an authentic facsimile thereof, so skip the air travel and hit Buford Highway instead. The look of the interior is almost rewarding enough, with its glowing street-light-inspired design against dark wood. But you’re here to eat, not stare, so have a curry noodle soup or the Cheese N’ Cheese tomato-braised fried rice, which is cooked in cast-iron and mixed with Cheddar, mozzarella, smoked bacon, and yes, grilled Spam. If that doesn’t sound good, clean your ears, then opt for wonton BBQ pork noodles, or poached Hainanese chicken, which is one of the most popular dishes in Singapore. Read why Thrillist chose Food Terminal as one of our Prime 13 best new restaurants of 2017.

Taverna

Taverna

Buckhead

Have you ever had an Italian brunch? Come by Buckhead and treat yourself. 
Any new restaurant in Buckhead will automatically be expected to show and prove, and that’s especially true when it comes to Italian food. Doing the northern Italy thing, Taverna goes big on risottos (the burrata/heirloom cherry tomatoes/prosciutto version is killer), and their pastas are also amazing, particularly the rustic spinach and ham lasagna. Definitely come back on weekends before 3pm for Italian brunch, which includes a serious brisket hash and vanilla French toast with mascarpone -- maybe not the most Italian menu items, but Italians know how to cook everything, so just be there and eat whatever you can.

Donetto

West Midtown

Italy comes to ATL via small plates, amaro, and Italian sodas
The Indigo Road is a well-respected restaurant group in Charleston, but we know by now that a Charleston success does not necessarily make an ATL hit (just ask your favorite Charleston-based rap artist). Donetto earns props for meaty Tuscan dishes from small plates to big pastas; the duck sausage fusilli is a standout, as well as the ripiena, or stuffed pasta with quail and smoked mushrooms. They’ve also got an outstanding beverage program, with tapped Negronis, an extensive amaro program, and a host of Italian sodas.

Bar Mercado

Krog Street Market

The Spanish tapas spot needed to make Krog Market complete
If you were thinking, “Damn, why aren’t there any Spanish tapas at Krog?” you are surely ecstatic to know that the group that brought us Cooks & Soldiers, Double Zero, and other noted restaurants around ATL were reading your brainwaves and fixed your life. The Madrid-inspired market bar has certainly fancied up KSM a bit, with little plates of full garlic/sherry shrimp, braised octopus, seared trout and other seafood, but there’s enough plant-based items to invite your vegan friends for a round or two. Think Catalan spinach, padrón peppers, oyster mushrooms, or thrice-fried saffron potatoes. You can also nab wagyu beef tartare, pork cheek empanadas, béchamel, chicken and mushroom croquetas, and cured meats and quesos. They also serve booze. And speaking of, you should totally try the rum, Creme de Framboise, orgeat, pineapple and mint Cadiz Punch 2.0, or one of 18 wines by the glass. Spoiler alert: they’re Spanish.

Jeff Gaines

Barleygarden Kitchen + Craft Bar

Alpharetta

A rooftop beer garden that'll make you actually go to Alpharetta
Not many people would have guessed Hop City’s Kraig Torres would eventually open a restaurant in Alpharetta when his craft beer shop first arrived on the Westside of Atlanta. Yet here we are, braving terrible traffic (lest you actually live in Alpharetta) and pretending to be able to afford upscale shopping, at Barleygarden. The partnership between Torres and Kevin Outz of The Spotted Trotter is a meaty and sudsy match made in heaven, or literally Avalon, because the rooftop beer garden atmosphere stays extremely casual -- which is important when you’re wolfing down a perfect pastrami grilled cheese sandwich. They also serve Spotted’s amazing pepper umami beef jerky (worth any drive), pork brat burgers and hot dogs, including a chicken Cheddarwurst that might be the Cheddar-best in the ATL metro area.

Taras Zaluzhny
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Updated On 03/16/2018 at 04:31PM EST