We are officially in 2021, and our clean slate has begun. Sure, the issues of 2020 haven’t just suddenly vanished, but there are still plenty of things to look forward to over the next 365 days. Positivity is key, especially at the beginning of the year, so prepare to get excited for all of the new restaurants, returning events, and great things happening in 2021. Here is your guide to the things that we’re looking forward to most in Atlanta this year.
If you haven’t been living under a rock since the presidential election in November, you’ve likely seen more than your fair share of them, so we can probably all agree that we’re ready for these runoff elections to be over. Thankfully, voting is one of the first issues on the docket for Atlantans in 2021. After Tuesday, January 5, hopefully we can finally put this past election season behind us and move on for good. Until then, however, don’t forget to vote!
This year, like any other, has plenty of restaurant openings slated for the coming months, and one of the most highly anticipated concepts hitting College Park in 2021 is Johnny’s Chicken & Waffles. The upcoming partnership between Crystal Smith, singer-songwriter Ne-Yo, and Karlie Redd (of Love n’ Hip Hop and Saints & Sinners) will feature full-menu service, champagne served with sparklers, and an incredible schedule—open seven days a week, closing only from 3-4pm every day. The restaurant opens for dine-in, takeout, and delivery sometime in January, so keep checking the official Instagram account for Johnny’s Chicken & Waffles for more information.
Another food spot popping up in Atlanta this year is Highland Bistro, a 50-seat bistro-style eatery that will offer vegan and traditional menu items such as broccoli nuggets, portobello Phillies, fried wings, house-made kettle chips, and much more. Spearheaded by Isaac White and Anthony Singleton, Highland Bistro is set to open for dine-in and delivery early 2021, bringing its new, community-driven flavor to the Old Fourth Ward.
There is still plenty of uncertainty in the air as we prepare for this first stretch of 2021. With that said, we’re really hoping that proper safety measures will allow for the return of the annual Dogwood Festival. Tentatively scheduled for April 9-11, Atlanta’s favorite open-air event could cure all of our spring fever this year with arts exhibitions, disc-catching doggos, an artist market, live performances, and much more.
HOBNOB Neighborhood Tavern | Photo Courtesy of HOBNOB Neighborhood Tavern
This February, Hobnob Neighborhood is opening its new, two-story location in Atlantic Station. Lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch will all be on the docket for the latest Hobnob, which will be overseen by general manager Cindy Farrah and chef Catherine Dill. In addition to offering menu items via takeout or delivery, the new Atlantic Station location will boast Hobnob High Up, a rooftop patio dedicated to guests 21 and over on a first-come, first-served basis.
One Atlanta attraction that you can count on year in and year out to inspire and challenge your creativity is the High Museum of Art, and the upcoming programming proves that the High will continue to do so in 2021. Incredible exhibitions include David Driskell: Icons of Nature and History, Our Good Earth: Rural Life and American Art, and Underexposed: Women Photographers from the High Museum. We can’t wait to check them all out.
Everyone knew that setting up shop during a pandemic would be a challenge, but no one could have predicted Mujō’s success this past year. After a mid-pandemic launch and a one-table stint at Cooks & Soldiers, Mujō is officially gearing up to bring modern edamame sushi to the Westside with a fully operational restaurant. Opening mid-2021 for dinner, it will combine intimate and luxurious vibes for a unique omakase dining experience.
One of the largest gaming, sci-fi, and popular culture conventions in the world, Dragon Con is back on the schedule for 2021, and we’re remaining faithful that it will in fact return come September. So dust off that cosplay costume that you couldn’t sport in 2020—all of those costume contests, panels, workshops, and other fun events at Dragon Con 2021 will be calling your name soon enough.
Attending Shaky Knees and other local music festivals
With a handful of concerts and live performances happening with new safety protocols throughout 2020, it’s only a matter of time before live music events like Shaky Knees, Music Midtown, and A3C Conference & Festival return to Atlanta’s events calendar. Hopefully, it happens this year, starting with Shaky Knees later this spring.
Sign up here for our daily Atlanta email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun the ATL has to offer.
Joshua Robinson is an Atlanta-based contributor for Thrillist, who can’t wait to enjoy every second of 2021. Follow him on Instagram at @roshjobin.