The Most Legendary Places in Atlanta for College Game Day Eats
The return of college football means the return of game day food.
While the end of summer can feel bittersweet, it’s also got a silver lining: college football is back in action. The start of football season means digging through storage for that jersey that may or may not fit like it used to, inviting your work friends over for a watch party, and calling up your college friends to see when you can all reunite for a nostalgic parking lot tailgate. Most importantly, however, the return of college football means the return of game day food — you know, the fun stuff that you can’t really justify eating all the time throughout the rest of the year. So whether you need some grub to get you through your favorite college team’s game tonight or you’re looking for the perfect sports bar for you and your friends, these legendary restaurants and bars will definitely get you right. Now go out and enjoy game day!
Some games throughout the season aren’t just games. There’s history, sensational narratives, and so much more that go into the schedule’s biggest moments, and as a result, those games often require special scenery. If you’re in need of a bar that’s as rooted in history as your own important — even if misunderstood — game day traditions, Atkins Park Restaurant & Bar is the place to go. Established in 1922, Atkins Park is proud to point out that it’s “Atlanta’s oldest continuously licensed tavern,” and it’s decked-out burgers and sandwiches will give you all the fuel that you need. The spicy Texas chicken sandwich comes sauced up with either buttermilk ranch or Atkins’ wing sauce, and the salmon BLT is packed with house-smoked bacon, arugula, tomato, and kale pesto. Of course, if your game day mantra is to keep things simple, fill up with the classic Park burger, a 5-ounce Angus beef patty that’s served with the works.
Wings and pizza are many people’s go-to for game day eats, and by combining the two, Phew Pies has created a legendary game-day meal: the Lemon Pepper Wet Pizza. Atlantans have a long-documented obsession with lemon pepper wings, and soon, they’ll have an unyielding love for Phew’s innovative signature pizza as well. The peculiar, yet worthwhile pie is made with a lemon pepper base and topped with shredded mozzarella, dried basil, and Parmesan cheese, but what takes it to the next level is its one-of-a-kind garnish: a couple of savory lemon pepper chicken wings. The Westside joint has regular sports-related specials, so whether you want one of its more innovative takes on pizza — we’re talking oxtail & ricotta pizza, here — or a pie with a more traditional flavor, Phew Pies is the perfect place to order takeout from on game day.
STATS calls itself “Atlanta’s ultimate sports bar,” and it takes its self-proclaimed title pretty seriously. This technologically advanced bar and brewpub, which is expected to reopen for the season the last weekend in August, boasts premium features like self-serving beer tap systems, and there are more TV screens than you can probably fathom. With all of its flair, however, STATS still feels like a spirited neighborhood bar, and that’s largely because of the close attention that it pays to its menu items and house-brewed beer. STATS’ nachos come with chicken, black beans, cheese dip, pico, sour cream, and pickled jalapeños, and they make for a great shareable starter. Then there’s the Dirty Bird, and whether you’re a Falcons fan or not, STATS’ signature chicken sandwich is a must-try. The Dirty Bird consists of a nice-sized and perfectly crispy piece of chicken that’s complemented by vinegar slaw and spicy mayonnaise and tucked between toasted brioche buns. In addition to the mouthwatering food options and innovative beer tap tables, STATS has five bars — one of which is on the roof — and 70 high-definition TVs, so although you could just grab a quick bite from this fan-favorite sports bar before walking over to one of the downtown sports stadiums, watching the game from there is an equally exciting alternative.
Old Fourth Ward
For game days that require a little more effort — say an at-home viewing party or a parking lot tailgate — the trick is to work smart, not hard. Stop stressing about what you’re gonna cook or grill for everyone and keep it simple by grabbing some grub to-go from Hop’s Chicken. The restaurant has a wide selection of family meal packages, including large plates of juicy jumbo chicken tenders, chicken sandwich party platters, and fast-food-style fried chicken buckets. Hop’s has all the Southern fried finger food that you could ever desire, and even though it’s not a sports bar in the slightest, the Ponce City Market eatery can help make the next big game day as stress-free as possible.
There’s nothing like the history, tradition, and legacy of HBCU football. That’s why Cricket Wireless is proud to sponsor two Atlanta-based showdowns between the MEAC and SWAC conferences, the Challenge Kick-Off on August 28 and the Celebration Bowl on December 18, as part of their ongoing commitment to HBCUs and their community work. Whether you’re attending in person or watching on TV, make sure you order all your game day snacks before kickoff — you won’t want to miss the half-time showdown between the legendary HBCU marching bands.
Smith’s Olde Bar may be a renowned multi-level neighborhood bar that has welcomed music legends over the years, but in its nearly three decades in operation, it has also built a reputation as a bonafide college sports haven. Fans of the reigning champions will feel particularly at home here because you can always count on Smith’s Olde Bar to treat Alabama football like the main event whenever the Crimson Tide hits the field. In addition to Smith’s assortment of craft brews, there are regular food specials and kitchen takeovers, from mouthwatering (and extremely limited) birria tacos on Tuesdays to the Korean-inspired bites at the Seoul Chikin pop-up on Fridays from 4-9 pm.
East Atlanta Village
The Midway Pub is one of the best places to watch soccer in Atlanta, but despite its intense love for association football, this cozy and locally beloved pub is a great place to watch American football as well, from college to the professional level. There are plenty of TVs stationed inside and outside of Midway’s quaint neighborhood pub, so you can enjoy its unique light bites while watching the game indoors or outside on the patio. You can’t go wrong starting off with some of the pub’s beer cheese dip, garlic pretzel bites, veggie corn dogs, or green chicken chili, but whatever you do, save room for the main course. From traditional patty melts to vegan options like the fried tofu bahn mi, Midway’s sandwich game is out of this world, so order one while you enjoy whatever games are playing during your visit.
From its friendly staff to its newly launched outdoor bar, there are plenty of reasons to like Hampton+Hudson as a game-viewing destination. But the ultimate reason to grab a game-day meal from the Inman Park eatery is the ongoing Billy Burger special — a random, but consistently great burger, fries, and a locally sourced craft beer, all for $10. In the past, H+H has gone inventive with its weekly burger rotation, from Japanese-inspired shiitake burgers to jerk beef burgers adorned with fruit salsa and pepper jack cheese. There are a lot of places you can go to in Atlanta to get a decent burger on game day, but only at Hampton+Huston will you be able to get an unforgettable three-part meal for only $10.
You didn’t think that we were done talking about chicken wings, did you? Good, because every sports fan needs a dependable wing spot that they can hit up without fail on game day. That’s where Mama Mia Pizza & Wings excels. Not only are its wings delicious — especially its hot & lemon pepper mix, which is not to be confused with the criminally common hot with lemon pepper sprinkles cop-out — and expertly priced, but Mama Mia is conveniently located within walking distance of Downtown’s sports arenas as well as several of the most popular hotels in the city. Whether you’re a Georgia State alum (cheers to all of the Panthers out there!) who is visiting campus for a game, a Hawks fan heading to the arena, or a weary traveler who just wants to enjoy a college game in their hotel room, Mama Mia has you covered with takeout and delivery options.
Inspired by Atlanta’s historic West End, Whitehall is a homey sports tavern that is obsessed with locally sourced beers and alternative adult beverages like hard ciders and kombucha. Going for 10 years strong, the cherished eatery is actually a direct descendant of Cheyenne Grille, which previously served sports fans for nearly 17 years before being sold and reopened as Whitehall Tavern. (It’s also worth noting that Whitehall is an unofficial gathering spot for Buckeyes football fans that, for some reason, are hiding out in Atlanta.) This legendary tavern’s communal tables in the bar area contribute to its cozy aesthetic, but beyond its longevity and welcoming vibes, Whitehall separates itself from other sports bars by offering fresh and finely crafted menu options. For those who are tired of greasy bar food, the menu features health-conscious eats like its lamb burger, salmon-topped Caesar salad, veggie wrap, and Cajun pasta.
There is a rich LGBTQ+ history and culture in Atlanta, and in addition to the city being home to one of the last surviving lesbian bars in the Southeast, Atlanta also boasts one of the leading gay sports bars in the US. Since 2002, Woofs has been serving the city’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans community, and nearly two decades later, it’s still barking. As for food, its menu has the full lineup: sandwiches and wraps, chargrilled burgers, plus a vast assortment of tacos, fried baskets, and wings. Things get really interesting at Woofs on Wednesdays, when the price for its jumbo chicken wings drops to 75 cents/wing for patrons who dine in. On the off-chance that cheap wings aren’t your thing, you can also order a burger (beef, turkey, or plant-based) for just $5.
With the return of football season, it’s only right that you spend at least one game day paying homage to one of the city’s football greats. Cam Newton was born and raised in Atlanta, and after graduating from Westlake High School he went on to become one of the biggest stars in pro football. The current New England quarterback also happens to own a fine dining restaurant, bar, and lounge called Fellaship. It’s an upscale and swanky alternative to all of the previously mentioned sports bars, but that’s what makes Fellaship a special experience. The chic Castleberry Hill establishment provides a place where sports fans can get dressed up to the nines, smoke cigars, and enjoy premium menu options — from lamb chops and filet mignon to glazed salmon and lobster tail. Just two years after its grand opening, Fellaship has already solidified as one of the most lavish places in Atlanta for game day eats.