Where to Eat in Atlanta Right Now
Indulge a little.
It’s warming up outside, and we are here for it. Why? Because there are plenty of new and exciting restaurants to cool off at around the city. Now that everyone is eligible to get vaccinated in Georgia, more dining rooms are reopening—though there are plenty of patios available, as well as takeout. Also, a friendly reminder that many businesses are still enforcing masks so please be courteous when you’re dining out (even if you’ve had the jab). Even though the pandemic has been devastating to dining scenes throughout the country, Atlanta’s restaurant owners are scrappy and have even opened essential new eateries during this tough time. Whether you’re comfortable dining in or prefer to get takeout, here are the new spots in Atlanta to try this spring.
The gist: Weekend-only breakfast burritos with creative fillings.
The food: After launching a pandemic-fueled pop-up out of their home, Nick and Kristen Melvin have opened up a brick-and-mortar restaurant for Poco Loco. Only open Thursday through Saturday, Nick and his team serve up breakfast burritos like “The Jeff Beck” with cauliflower “chorizo,” chickpeas, eggs, and feta cheese in a house-made flour tortilla. Other provisions like meat by the pound and cookie dough are typically available, too.
The cost: Burritos are $8 each.
How to order: Pre-order online for Saturdays or walk-in.
The Gist: A mid-century modern supper club-style restaurant in the Kimpton Sylvan.
The Food: If you’re looking to get dressed up and delight in elegant dishes in cocktails The Betty is the place to go. There’s a wide range of offerings though the standouts include the spaghetti with Georgia clams, crispy magret duck, and the wedge salad. Don’t overlook the martini list, which includes James Bond’s favorite, the Vesper.
The cost: Apps and pasta dishes are around $14 - $17 while mains go for $38 - $59.
How to order: Make a reservation.
The gist: With floor-to ceiling windows, on-site garden, and ample outdoor seating, it’s like having a piece of Carmel, CA in Atlanta
The food: Christopher Grossman and Christian Castillo left their posts at Atlas to open The Chastain so you know everything is seasonally driven and presented beautifully. Visit their cafe set-up in the morning for biscuits and yogurt bowls or go in the evening for dinner in the airy, well-appointed dining room. There’s also an excellent wine list and cocktail menu to match.
The Cost: Not cheap, but worth it.
How to order: For breakfast, order at the counter; make a reservation for dinner.
Continent Restaurant & Cigar Lounge
The Gist: Continent is chef Scotley Innis’s love letter to Afro-Caribbean cuisine.
The food: The swanky spot on Buford Highway serves bold flavors found in dishes like the spiced lamb chops, oysters with duck bacon and smoked paprika breadcrumbs, and whole fried snapper with red coconut curry sauce. Mike Haze oversees the drink program as the creator of playful cocktails like the hibiscus Moet martini with vodka, hibiscus syrup, and Moet. Garnished with a hibiscus flower, naturally.
The cost: Starters start at $14, mains start at $22 and go up to $120 (but that’s for a tomahawk steak in jerk rub), sides are $6 - $8.
The gist: Chefs Richard Tang and Karl Gorline opened Girl Diver in December. The high-end seafood house features a sleek interior with 3D bead flooring to evoke thoughts of the ocean and a heated patio.
The food: The restaurant specializes in Southeast Asian-meets-Cajun cuisine inspired by the dishes he grew up with as the son of a Chinese father and Vietnamese mother. Standouts on the menu include the lobster macaroni and cheese with chives, bacon, and furikake seasoning, barbecue octopus smoked over hickory chips and served with popcorn grits, and the Key lime baked Atlanta, a play on the classic steakhouse dessert baked Alaska. Try a “Ferris Bueller” made with bourbon, amaro, and two kinds of bitters.
The cost: Small plates range from $7 - $16, large plates $17 - $27, and seafood-by-the-pound $15 - $55. Seafood platters start at $100, but don’t mind the Phd platter which costs $1,000—it’s just a joke.
How to order: Make reservations or takeout.
The gist: You know what the Inman Park area lacked? A Persian restaurant. Delbar gave us one with beautiful design and food that tastes good whether it’s enjoyed in the upscale confines or at home.
The food: Persian food is known for being labor-intensive, and you can tell that the chefs at Delbar don’t cut corners. Dishes like the adana kabob (lamb) are incredibly tender and flavorful, while the kashk bademjoon (eggplant spread with mint and cream of whey) spread on a piece of warm taftoon bread is pure comfort. Make sure you order one of the rice dishes so you can see just how delicious rice can be, especially when it’s served with a crispy tahdig.
The cost: Spreads and appetizers cost around $11 - $14, meals served a la carte are around $15 - $32, and rice dishes are around $9. Portions are generous.
How to order: Make reservations or takeout.
The gist: Bar Mercado, part of the Castellucci Hospitality Group, has been around for a few years, but last winter they promoted Raul Dominguez to the role of executive chef which completely reinvigorated the eatery. Along with Luis Guevara, he’s changed the menu to be less Spanish-focused with a heavier emphasis on Latin American cuisine.
The food: Bar Mercado still serves tapas, and while there are still some dishes with Spanish roots (paella), new dishes on the menu include street corn (corn on the cob with lime-garlic aioli), sweet plantains with crema, and provoleta (grilled cheese). The drinks match the vibe with standouts like sangria and the “Late July” with mezcal, tequila, fernet, pineapple, lime, and habanero tincture.
The cost: Tapas range from $5 - $12, while large plates are between $16 - $36. There are also family meals that start at $32.
How to order: Make reservations or takeout.
Scoville Hot Chicken
The gist: You might think Atlanta didn’t need another hot chicken restaurant, but then you sink your teeth into a Scoville Hot Chicken sandwich, and all is forgiven. If the restaurant gives off a chain vibe that’s because it’s the first location of multiple planned by owner Justin Lim, who also owns ramen restaurant Okiboru.
The food: Hmm, would it surprise you if we said hot chicken is the star here? The menu is pretty straightforward: Choose between a hot chicken sandwich or a hot chicken sandwich combo served with fries. You can customize how hot you want your sandwich with a range of “not hot” to “reaper” (in our opinion, “chill” is the way to go if you like a little heat). Coleslaw and pickles are available for purchase.
The cost: A combo is $10, just the sandwich is $8.
How to order: Limited dine-in seating is available at this counter service restaurant. Order in person or online.
The gist: The hottest pizza joint in Atlanta right now is barely a joint at all. It’s a stall inside Irwin Street Market with a takeout window conveniently adjacent to the BeltLine’s Eastside trail. Glide is the brainchild of Rob Birdsong, an Atlanta native who returned home after living in NYC. He missed the pizza, so he opened a place here.
The food: You’ll find New York-style pizza (some claim that it’s the best in town) available by the slice or whole pie. There are three options: cheese (with two kinds of mozzarella), pepperoni, and the garlic (it’s like the cheese, but with a lot of garlic, too). Whichever one you order, it’s imperative that you get a side of house-made pizza ranch and pickled pizza peppers.
The cost: Slices start at $3.50, whole pies $24.
How to order: In-person or online
The gist: Jarrett Stieber has long wanted to open his own neighborhood restaurant inspired by the haunts food in cities like San Francisco and Montreal. After being in takeout mode for a year, he’s finally reopened the dining room. }The food: Produce meets Stieber’s playful style which results in dishes like the “Little Bear PSL,” a combination of lettuce, sweet potato, radish, pecans, with coffee vinegar and PSL oil. Served in a major brand’s coffee cup, to boot. That dish hasn’t been on the menu since October, but it’s an example of what you’ll find coming out of the kitchen. Stieber is currently offering a take on Jewish-Chinese food with dishes like satsuma chicken (boneless chicken thighs dry fried and covered in a satsuma orange sauce), hot 'n’ sour matzo ball soup, and sweet potato and apple latke pancakes.
The cost: Dishes range from $6 - $12. Treat yourself and get the Just F*ck Me Up Fam (prix fixe) for $35, which includes four courses.
How to order: Reservations for indoor seating; order takeout online
Lake & Oak
The gist: After working together making airport restaurants better than some of your favorite neighborhood spots, two talented chefs join forces for smoky and saucy superiority.
The food: Chefs Todd Richards and Joshua Lee are doing the kind of work that people drive across town to sample. There’s the wickedly decadent brisket, seemingly cut from a giant smoked steak with burnt ends worth fighting your friends over. Or the expertly smoked pork ribs that don’t need a drop of sauce, but don’t let that keep you from tasting them when coated in Chicago red or Carolina mustard. There’s even smoke in the sides, including the mac and cheese and the grilled onions tossed into the tomato and cucumber salad. It’s another win for boss-level Black cheffery.
The cost: With the exception of a full slab of pork ribs at $32.99, everything’s under $20, including $10 chicken pimento cheese sandwiches, and 8oz brisket rubbed in coffee and black pepper for right around $17.
How to order: Order takeout online or walk up to the to-go window.
The gist: Known for three years as one of the city’s most celebrated pop-ups, this pandemic-born Thai restaurant with locally sourced ingredients is the new vanguard of consistently changing but always-awesome flavors.
The food: It’s not yet certain when you’ll get to eat inside Talat Market’s dining room, but the house of Chef Parnass Savang (a James Beard semi-finalist last year) and Rod Lassiter has built such a solid rep for their takeout Thai cuisine that it could come off the back of a pickup and still dominate. If you find a shrimp fried rice dish with yellow chili, or a braised short rib curry with fingerling potatoes, get both while you can and keep ordering.
The cost: Most dishes run $9-16, with an occasional special dish that gets closer to $30.
How to order: Dishes routinely sell out and there’s often a different menu by the day, available to order from 12-7pm, Wednesday through Sunday. Order through Toast.
The gist: Just when you thought Atlanta’s taco game couldn’t get any stronger, a new champion emerges on Memorial Drive.
The food: When 8ARM owner Nhan Le first put a taco truck outside the Ponce restaurant and everybody showed up and remarked at how great those tacos actually were, it wasn’t clear what was to come. Today, across the parking lot from Grindhouse Killer Burgers, Supremo is an instant landmark due to tortilla-shelled, Southern California street food you simply can’t front on, unless you’re unlucky enough to have not yet eaten the mole poblano, aguachile (that shrimp though), or simply spectacular carne asada.
The cost: Yes, these are $4 tacos, but here it’s worth every Washington. Matter of fact, get at least four tacos, and a $3 horchata.
How to order: Order takeout through ChowNow or just walk up.
The gist: Though Ticonderoga Club was expected to impress in the cocktail department, the food and crowd of insiders make it phenomenal.
The food: Normally with a seafood- and poultry-heavy menu (dry-aged roasted duck was a favorite), Ticon now serves a hodgepodge of food styles -- from snacks like fried clams and street corn to sweet and sour charred pork, a grilled yellowfin tuna burger, or smoked mackerel fried rice. You can also take bottled cocktails to-go.
The cost: The priciest item is the $22 Bali (tuna) burger, but you can get a helping of shrimp chips for $3.
How to order: Order from its “Ticon-To-Go” menu through Toast every day but Wednesday.
The gist: Chef Zeb Stevenson was bold to open a whimsical restaurant in the former space of Bacchanalia, but his uniquely imaginative flair for plants and veggies has proven he was qualified to plant his flag.
The food: The beer-battered eggplant with sweet pickle remoulade, and BBQ carrots in black garlic molasses are samples of Stevenson’s starter curiosities. But his fish dishes are where you’ll find him really taking flight, especially in the perfectly pan-roasted red trout, with its picturesque topping of sizzling green scallions. On Saturday mornings beginning at 11 am, Birdy Biscuits pops up at the takeout window. Choose among sandwiches like the Little Birdy with fried chicken, cheddar, and chili maple sauce. Or buy a box of six (including good butter and jam) for the long week ahead.
The cost: The lowest is $6 for pretzeled focaccia, and it gets up to $30 for blackened redfish.
How to order: Make reservations online or order takeout through BentoBox.
The gist: This chef-driven Dekalb Avenue spot with seven- and 10-course tasting menus was the best new thing in the city, and one of the best new restaurants in America last year.
The food: Run by Ronald Hsu and Aaron Phillips, who first cliqued up at Le Bernardin, it’s pure awesomeness on plates. Obviously you can’t completely duplicate something like this with takeout, yet the to-go offerings -- family-style bibimbap or duck coq au vin with polenta -- are fantastic. The dining room also reopened, and the menu changes every day, but might include favorites like the cauliflower “bone marrow,” and the radish-crusted sole.
The cost: The coq au vin is your best budget bet at $30 for one person. The tasting menu with drinks is closer to $250. Trust that you won’t count the money when you’ve finished eating.
How to order: Book a table through Resy or order takeout through Toast.
The gist: Totally true story: The name of this snazzy, sexy Hotel Clermont restaurant actually came from a stripper who turned down an invitation to give Adolph Hitler a table dance.
The food: Love is the word that comes to mind as you scarf down this French-American brasserie’s appetizers, whether it’s the black cocoa foie gras torchon or the simple house bread service with sea salt and whipped butter -- great bread is always a great sign. Hit the menu’s
“L’abattoir” section and order the amazing pork chop with cornbread mousseline, roasted courgette, smoked tomato vinaigrette, roasted corn and chanterelles, or the whole roasted fish. Order a classic cocktail like a Negroni, Aviation, or French 75.
The cost: You can do a proper dinner for two at around $150. Or you can be improper and do a little more.
How to order: Make reservations online or order takeout through ChowNow.