Everything You Need To Know About Outdoor Dining in Atlanta
These patios and rooftop bars are open, but with significant changes.
After temporarily closing 8Arm in mid-March, co-owner Skip Engelbrecht and his team realized they needed to expand their outdoor space if they wanted a chance to survive. He doesn’t feel comfortable dining in a restaurant and knows that neither do most diners, but that a patio could be key to 8Arm’s survival. “There's a lot of restaurants that are like, ‘Fuck it, we'll just close until this is over with,’” Engelbrecht says. “They have a bunch of money behind them, but we're scrappy, we want to work."
So they built out a patio and outdoor kitchen along their parking lot using repurposed materials from the adjacent Paris on Ponce which suffered a fire at the end of 2019 (also owned by Englebrecht). Cheekily dubbed Sidepiece, the patio features railing and limited seating and the kitchen has a brick pizza oven that was supposed to be used at Ama, his dashed pizza concept. Engelbrecht also commissioned artist Carl Janes to paint a mural on the ground.
Similarly, A Mano in Old Fourth Ward created an outdoor seating area in its parking lot. There was already a patio, but to create more space, owner George DeMeglio laid astroturf over two parking spots and placed garden tables on top of it. While some restaurants with patio space, like Le Petite Marché in Kirkwood, are still not comfortable even reopening patio seating, DeMeglio felt they had to do something beyond takeout.
“There’s so many other places that are opening full-service dining that it's time for us to make a step in that direction,” he says. “We're ready to get back into full service dining.”
Is dining outside the safer option?
If you’re going to dine in a restaurant during the pandemic, dining outside is typically the safest option (although the CDC guidelines say that curbside and takeout pose the lowest risk). Social distancing and hygiene practices, like servers in masks, must be maintained, but the constant circulation of fresh air in an open space makes it considerably safer than dining indoors.
What are the dining restrictions in Atlanta?
On Tuesday, June 16, statewide restrictions loosened. Restaurants no longer had reduced dining room capacity and restaurant employees no longer had to wear masks unless they’re interacting with guests. When it comes to patio dining, restaurants have to ensure that tables are spread six feet apart, but, according to an infosheet put together by the Georgia Restaurant Association in response to Governor Kemp’s latest executive order, masks are not required for patrons.
To make matters confusing, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced on July 10 that she was moving Atlanta back to Phase 1 of reopening, calling for restaurants to close their dining rooms and only offer takeout. But, Governor Kemp said that her order is unenforceable and per his executive order restaurants’ dining rooms and patios can stay open. Many restaurants announced that they are taking the governor's lead and staying open.
Should patrons wear masks?
There are now very few restrictions imposed on guests or restaurants despite the fact that the pandemic is still very real and cases in Georgia are trending up. Many restaurants have implemented their own policies. For example, at Hotel Clermont, guests visiting the rooftop must wear masks while in the building. Some restaurants only require masks while waiting for a table and others want guests to wait in their car until their table is ready.
What about using restrooms?
Restaurants are allowed to open their restrooms to patrons (they’re only required to maintain cleanliness and to mark the pathway to and from the bathrooms). But, some restaurants, like Junior’s Pizza, are prohibiting the use of its restrooms. To be absolutely sure which policies a restaurant is implementing, it’s best to check the restaurant’s website or social media to see what their COVID-19 policy is.
Where are the best outdoor dining spots around Atlanta?
The pandemic may have driven people to outdoor dining, but they’re also rediscovering just how downright pleasant it can be (at least until those 100 degree temps get here). People want to be outside after being cooped up for so long, says Engelbrecht, and 8Arm in particular has a unique set up on Ponce de Leon Ave. “As much as [Ponce] is being developed, I love the sort of realness of it. It feels like a real city feel, you know?” Whether you’re looking to dine on a patio or rooftop, here are some great outdoor spots to visit. Just remember to have a mask on hand.
Old Fourth Ward
Starting on June 17, A Mano offered full-service dining on its patio, where you can also order takeout of their classic dishes, like the bucatini with beef rage and ricotta, and enjoy it in their extended outdoor seating area. There’s also an outdoor bar.
Old Fourth Ward
Ammazza has a location in Old Fourth Ward and Decatur which means two locations to get your Inferno pizza fix (it’s topped with tomato sauce, spicy sopressata, Calabria peppers, and house mozzarella). The dining room is closed, but you can order takeout to enjoy on the patio of either location.
Delicious Thai food in a palatial setting? Yes, please. That’s what you get at Bangkok Station’s outdoor dining area that features plenty of greenery and comfortable seating.
Big Oak Tavern offers delicious pub grub like Buffalo-roasted cauliflower and barbecue chicken nachos. You can sit outside under one of their umbrella patio tables (and on certain days of the week you can catch live music out there, too).
It's hidden in an office park, and the patio isn’t the most glam, but if you're craving Bone Garden’s empanadas and tacos (and who could blame you?) then theis space works perfectly.
Boxcar is from the same team as Hop City, so, if you want a refreshing beer or two to enjoy in Atlanta's West End you know where to go. The restaurant has switched to a counter service model (wear your mask while in line to order) and also sells locally-sourced meats on Saturdays.
A trip to France is out of the question, but you can capture some of the magic at Bread & Butterfly. The reopening menu is a little tighter than it was before, but there are still plenty of options to say oui to.
If any restaurant was made for forced outdoor dining, it’s Canoe. The riverfront restaurant found in Vinings is known for its resplendent backyard and now it’s being used to its full potential. In addition to their patio, Canoe has extended its “al fresco” seating to the lawn with prime river views. Perfect for brunching on a Sunday morning.
You can’t miss the vibrant orange patio furniture at this Oaxaca-inspired restaurant. Go between 4-6:30 p.m. and catch their happy hour menu featuring $8 cocktails and a complimentary snack.
Chom Chom is currently open, but it’s serving a pop-up menu from nearby Mamak. On the menu you’ll find classics like roti canai, chili soft shell crab, and chow kway teow (wok fried flat rice noodles).
If that sweet tooth hits, head to Cremalosa. Cool off with one of its creamy, dense flavors and enjoy it on their patio.
Despite the fact that it's a cool 99 degrees most days, Cypress Street's patio stays cool enough thanks to all the shade. It's a great spot to post up and have a cold beer while munching on pub grub (the sweet potato waffle fry nachos are ideal).
Located close to, but far enough away from, the hustle and bustle of Inman Park's main drag, is Delbar. The recently opened Persian restaurant has a covered patio set below the street so it feels nice and quiet. Open for dinner daily and for lunch on weekends.
Serving up Ethiopian and Eritrean food in the Sagamore Hills area, Feedel has a covered outdoor space. Order a few of their specialities like the selata with lettuce, tomatoes, jalapeños, and tuna, or the chef's special tibs (ribeye sautéed with herbs, spices, tomatoes), and cool off with a refreshing drink like the Tej Mimosa made with honey wine.
Old Fourth Ward
The recently opened spot is only open for takeout with patio seating available. The deck is a charming spot to enjoy brunch treats like loaded latkes and dutch babies. (Not that the specials change often.)
Both the Buford Highway and West Midtown locations of Food Terminal are open for patio seating. The restaurant has eliminated its famous magazine-style menus so that patrons can safely order online from within the restaurant. Grab a table outside and enjoy Malaysian street food standouts like the five spice shrimp roll, cheese n’cheese rolling hot plate, and curry chicken tossed noodles.
There’s plenty of shade at this Rome-inspired restaurant in Westside Provisions District. Start with an Aperol Spritz and take it from there.
If you want to enjoy barbecue al fresco, head to Fox’s Candler Park location. The patio is semi-covered and offers just enough shade so you can chow down on brisket in comfort. Another alternative is the the Que-osk, their walk-up shipping container on Ottley Drive with plenty of outdoor seating.
The recently opened Italian restaurant in Piedmont Heights features two outdoor spaces. Reservations are available for indoor seating but the patios are first come, first serve. Grab a seat on the upper level to enjoy a meatball flight with views.
Hotel Clermont’s vintage-chic rooftop is open for drinks. There’s a $5 cover charge (credit card only) to enter, masks must be worn while inside the building, and once you leave the roof you must leave the hotel.
It's not quite the beach or even the inter-coastal, but Hugo’s has a spacious patio if you're looking to enjoy some oysters. Raw gulf oysters are always available as are chargrilled oysters with parmesan and garlic butter.
The Sandy Springs Italian spot created al fresco dining before reopening this summer. Now guests can reserve a table outside (request a table under the awning for extra shade and protection from rain).
Kyma has long been one of the go-to spots for Greek-inspired seafood in Atlanta. They recently spruced up the patio and added garden seating with Santorini flair. Yamas!
The New Orleans-style eatery recently expanded its patio for pandemic-friendly dining. They’re offering their usual menu which includes standouts like charbroiled oysters and shrimp and grits as well as new drink offerings like the frozen chocolate mudslide.
If you’re looking for a fancy evening out, Lazy Betty has a redecorated patio and eight-course menu with your name on it. Chef-owner Ron Hsu and his team have made the place a charming respite complete with bistro lights, Danish-style dining chairs, and plenty of plants. Make sure to reserve your table first.
Leon’s Full Service already had a gorgeous patio, and now it’s open for lunch and dinner (check website for specific hours and days). Good news: to help with social distancing, they are now offering reservations for their patio.
Dining on Lyla Lila’s patio is a great idea if you want to feast on delicious handmade pasta in the heart of the city. Whatever you do, start with the bread and butter and an order of the burrata with eggplant. Reservations suggested.
Atlanta’s beloved veggie-forward institution is open for full-service dining, along with its patio. In addition to their covered patio space, they created new outdoor seating that’s casual and perfect for drinks and bites. For now, only dinner is available.
Mission + Market may be in the thick of Buckhead and not far from 400, but it’s easy to forget that when you're on their patio. The sunny space is a lovely spot to enjoy one of chef Ian Winslade’s modern-American dishes like the tuna tartare, vegetable pesto pizza, and the seared black bass.
This Smyrna establishment is a deli by day and high-end bistro at night, but no matter when you go, the patio is covered and cool. Make a reservation!
So many Mexican restaurants in Atlanta are not actually Mexican-owned, but Patria Cocina is. It also happens to have a lovely patio. Grab a seat and enjoy one of their eye-catching cocktails and a signature dish like the chicken mole negro.
If you find yourself hungry in the Johns Creek area, head to Persian Basket. After running an online Persian market, husband and wife team Max Lofti and wife Arezoo Armaghan opened Persian Basket the restaurant in June. There's an intimate courtyard with outdoor seating if you want to enjoy your chicken kabob with saffron rice and barberries in the fresh air.
For the time being, Petit Chou is offering takeout that can be enjoyed on their patio. Order one of its summer menu items like the watermelon salad with granny smith-mint vinaigrette and the Georgia trout with pea mash.
Old Fourth Ward
Ponce City Market’s rooftop venues, Skyline Park and 9 Mile Station, have reopened for fun in the sun. Capacity is reduced and reservations at 9 Mile Station are recommended as well as other guidelines listed here.
The Select is known for its Art Deco-inspired interiors, but the patio is setup is pretty sweet, too. Standouts on the menu include the duck meatballs, crab cakes, and lobster wedge salad.
8Arm’s new patio, Sidepiece, offers limited seating and wood-fired eats. You can visit it Tuesday through Saturday from 5-10pm.
Both the Grant Park and West Midtown locations of Six Feet Under are open for patio service. You can’t go wrong with either spot, but Grant Park does offer that double whammy view of the skyline and Oakland Cemetery.
Joey Ward and his team serve up some of the city’s best takeout, but the patio is a nice respite. There's a biergarten-style patio found behind the restaurant -- look for the cheery floral mural by William Mitchell -- and some seating in the front of the restaurant, too. Open for dinner Wednesday through Saturday and brunch on Sunday (with Bloody Mary platters).
Dining on Table & Main’s patio is like dining in a high-end backyard: super plush seating, greenery, and plenty of shade. The occasion calls for their Kingsbury Lemonade cocktail made with vodka, raspberry syrup, lemon juice, and ginger beer.
Tucked away in the Edgewood neighborhood, El Tesoro is a happening spot for tacos with fillings like barbacoa and chipotle chicken, tamales, and refreshing drinks like horchata iced lattes (skillfully made hot coffee drinks are also available). Now there’s a festive lawn patio situation if you want to stick around to enjoy your food.
Chef Deborah VanTrece will reopen her soul food gem on Friday, June 19. Patio seating is available, but will be limited, so make a reservation first.
You could take your pizza to Piedmont Park for a picnic, but the Neapolitan pizza joint has a sneakily nice patio. Or, if you head to their Krog Street Market location, you can order Italian subs and enjoy them in the market's makeshift outdoor seating area.
Decatur, Inman Park
Both locations of Victory Sandwich Bar are now open for patio seating. Grab a famous whiskey Coke slushie (or spiked soda -- the Paloma with grapefruit soda, tequila, and lime is perfectly thirst-quenching), a sandwich or two, and relax at one of their outdoor tables.
Although Whiskey Bird’s dining room is reopened with appropriate social distancing, the patio is a lovely way to go if you want to enjoy their Asian-inspired eats. The restaurant currently has a limited menu available (try one of the crispy sushi rice treats like the spicy tuna or umami bomb).
Wood’s Chapel, and its open air patio, reopened on June 17. The barbecue spot is currently offering a limited menu but it’s still packed with plenty of delicious options like jalapeño cheddar sausage and smoked salmon on Sundays.
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