I lived in Atlanta…
…for a few years and it quickly became one of my favorite cities ever. I would move back in a heartbeat if the opportunity presented itself. They say the best way to the heart is through the stomach and so Atlanta, you’ve subsequently bewitched my heart (and belly)! I honestly have never met a food city quite like the ATL. I’ve said for years that you can go for a weekend or a week and literally have the greatest meal of your life three times a day and never eat at the same place twice. THAT’S. HOW. GOOD. IT. IS! So now that I’ve completely and inevitably oversold yet another thing near and dear to my heart, I thought it only appropriate that I put together a list of my favorite places to eat when I’m in Atlanta, Georgia. Another important note about myself and my travel/food/lifestyle beliefs is that I’m a huge supporter of keeping it local, and I think that eating local is the best way to get the feel of a city. Atlanta was my home for a many years and I found a passion of food (specifically southern food) and supporting local HERE! Back before being a foodie was cool, Hotlanta was already doing that. I’m so excited to share my personal haunts and go-to hangouts in this incredibly diverse and amazing town I once called home (and still do even in spirit).
Atlanta Food Guide
Breakfast & Brunch
This sweet old school diner makes my inner history geek/all-things-vintage lover have a literal meltdown! The Silver Skillet has basically been preserved to a T since it first opened in 1956. I’m talking impeccably preserved vinyl booths along side hand painted menu boards from the 50’s. This place has been in so many movies, you’ve likely even see it in one already! Honestly, there’s nothing like it that I’ve ever seen that feels so authentically true to it’s time.
Favs: I mean, can you really go wrong with any breakfast food, especially at a diner?!? However, there is one specialty here that you MUST give a go. The Lemon Ice Box Pie is unmatched!
I mean, it’s in the name. Want to make some new best friends?? Just show up with a box of these babies! People will legit fight over you!
Favs: Fresh Strawberries & Cream Doughnut…because they actually use fresh strawberries & cream. OMG.
The Flying Biscuit Cafe is an old standby in the ATL community. They’ve actually been such a hit that they have locations all over the Southeast now, but they started in ATL (Candler Park location) so they’re still a local hit as far as I’m concerned. And if you’re guessing where you should start, obvi the biscuits are where it’s at!
Favs: I do like to keep things simple at a Flying Biscuit breakfast and really let the biscuit shine all on it’s own. So, the Famous Flying Biscuit Breakfast is a perfect start. Why mess with perfection, right?? It’s a dangerous thing to claim to have the best biscuits anywhere in the south, but THESE deserve a special place on the list. Plus, the creamy dreamy grits are where it’s at! NEW to grits? START HERE. You’ll become an instant fan. Also, I know we’re here for breakfast BUT the Biscuit Pot Pie is a grand slam! It’s a deconstructed take on a classic pot pie. Fills the belly and satisfies my creature comforts.
Looking for another local chain in the morning? J. Christopher’s is always a crowd pleaser. You can pretty much find one in most neighborhoods of ATL and if you’re lucky, there’s a few more across the state. This place is much more of a traditional breakfast place that makes anything you could ever dream of. If you’re familiar with First Watch, J. Christopher’s reminds me of their style. Fresh, healthy breakfast options with a little southern flair.
Favs: Huevos Avocado over grits or the Route 66 Skillet
This place is hands down, my all time most favorite breakfast stop in the ATL! Unmatched. They are doing some pretty sick culinary sorcery here! I’ve honestly never had a mean that didn’t knock my socks off but I do have some usual go-to’s that are a MUST. They have lunch too and it IS delightful, but when breakfast is served all day, would you really even consider something else?? This spot has a great hipster/diner vibe set in one of my favorite neighborhoods in East Atlanta.
Favs: The ever decadent Buttermilk Pancakes with Caramelized Bananas (this is most def my favorite meal on this entire food guide) OR the Breakfast Brisket. A word of advice…DON’T plan on sharing ANYTHING with your date here. Fingers will go missing. Divorces or break ups are possible side effects.
Mary Mac’s holds a special place in my heart. It was my first taste of the South and I genuinely think it should be everyone’s. If it’s a classic southern dish, you can bet this place has it! Mary Mac’s has been serving up quintessential southern comfort foods since 1945. Make sure to tell them it’s your first visit so you can sample the pot likker soup!
Favs: Start with Fried Green Tomatoes, then try the Meatloaf with Tomato Sauce OR sometimes I prefer to go with just a plate of sides, none of which you can go wrong with. My top picks are broccoli soufflé, collard greens, mac & cheese, or sweet potato soufflé. Now you MUST wash this all down with a sweet tea and finish it off with a piece of warmed Georgia Peach Cobbler! Can you get more Southern than that?!?
Pig ‘n Chik is a local BBQ hole-in-the-wall that has my personal fav BBQ dishes! With 3 locations around the city, you’re usually close to at least one. I’m sure there is plenty of argument for the best BBQ in the ATL, but this one was always my favorite local spot. Make sure to load up on ALL the BBQ sauces which are all homemade! The vinegar based one is my favorite and I snag a bottle to bring home every time I’m in town.
Favs: A plate of Pulled Pork, with Corn off the Cob and Collard Greens. Don’t forget to slather everything in your preferred BBQ sauce. Mine’s the vinegar based one!
Surprisingly, there is quite a large Latin American population, particularly Mexicans in Atlanta. Pollo Campero is a small chain in that serves up amazing Latin American (not specifically Mexican) food that’s quick but never lacking in flavor! I recently learned that the nearest location in my home state (what? there IS one?!?) is over 4 hours away so you can bet that I’m going to make a trip here when I’m in town. Their food is fresh, filling, and did I mention packed with flavor?! Even though I didn’t grow up with this food, there’s something about it that just feels like comfort food.
Favs: 2 piece meal with Citrus Grilled Chicken with a side of Corn Salad and Sweet Plantains. Don’t forget to wash it all down with a Horchata!
Willy’s is the local version of some other burrito joins that you may be familiar with but in my opinion, they far surpass the big chains in quality! Plus, many of their locations offer alcoholic beverages which puts them many notches above the rest. Pop in for a delish meal served up with a fresh marg. My favorite location is on the edge of Piedmont Park, a great place to walk off that burrito and take in one of the prettiest places in the city.
Favs: Make it your way but I like my burrito with Chipotle Pork on a Fresh Tortilla with black beans and rice, Corn Salsa, Guac, sour cream, tomato, and lettuce. Don’t forget the Margarita! (make sure the location your choose has a bar)
Antico is a family style concept with Italian food, predominantly pizza. You BYOB here so come flush with red wines and enjoy sitting in a group environment well chowing down on some legit Italian pizza cooked in a wood burning oven.
Faves: The Pomodorini pizza pie
I love the ambiance of this place. It reminds me of my time in Paris with it’s classic décor and complex dishes. That’s why I come to Bistro Niko, to escape to another place and time. But don’t worry, you won’t be disappointed by the quality. This is definitely a place for a celebratory dinner or a romantic date night.
Favs: Tureen French Onion Soup with Beef Cheek Bourguignon followed by a Crème Brulee a la Vanille for dessert.
Want to feel like a trendy, city socialite? Two Urban Licks is likely one of the best restaurants in the ATL to hit that mark. They have an amazing view of the city day or night and their trendy décor and dishes are impressive. This place was voted the number one location to bring an out-of-towner, so that seems to have your name all over it!
Favs: Burrata for starters, then the Spicy Cesar Salad with the Brisket.
I go to Pure for the ceviche. It’s some of the best and freshest I’ve ever had. The ambiance is cute and welcoming. The food is even better. Each location I’ve been to has had a real local vibe to it after work on a week day. It’s a must try!
Favs: Pure Ceviche, the Puerco al Pastor taco or Pescado a la Parrilla taco.
Brick Store Pub is all about the beer! I don’t know if they are a trend setter or just well ahead of their time but either way, I forget about that debate once I enter this place. It’s cozy, warm, inviting, and usually packed. And that’s because it’s in demand. For a good reason. Their beers are on point and their food compliments it so well. The ambiance reminds me of a quaint European pub that I want to snuggle up in a dark corner with a brew on a cold night. Check it out at Christmas time, they do it up cute and classic!
Favs: Beef & Cheddar sandwich or the Chicken Pot Pie
Drinks & Late Night Bites
Oh how I’ve spent many a night huddled around the firepit, imbibing local craft brews here. I love this little spot. It’s just off the main streets in the city and feels like a real neighborhood bar. They boast an amazingly large patio complete with fire pit for summer and winter evenings alike. They carry a hefty amount of local beers and have delicious pub style comfort food that can keep you hanging out til the wee hours. Want to feel like a local and go where they go? I couldn’t think of a more perfect spot!
Favs: This place is more of a mood thing for me. I like to chill on the patio with a nice pint and an appetizer.
Twain’s is the perfect place to meet up with a bunch of friends, host a party, or to bring someone on a date. They were one of the first microbreweries, long before those had started trending, and there tons of games scattered throughout the place to keep everyone busy. Plus the walls are lined with pages from any of the myriad of Mark Twain’s books. How cool is that?!
Favs: Wheat Beer: Florence Forgive Me and Flanders Red Sour Ale: In The Dark Last Night
Okay, I’m not sure where to start in explaining this place and sometimes I think, I shouldn’t. You should just go and find out for yourself. Yet in any case, The Clermont Lounge is the remnants of what was once a hotel. Only the lounge in the basement is still open today, slinging classic drinks, while the same girls who’ve been working those poles from when it was a hotel are still working. You’ll find an older crew of exotic dancers here but these girls don’t disappoint. Have an open mind and no expectations and you just might have the time of your life!
This place! O.M.G. Want some LEGIT Mexican food? Remember when I mentioned the large Mexican population here. Look no further! Don’t let this place’s modest exterior fool you. The food is to die for! Well worth short trip out to this spot for a late night taco.
Favs: Breakfast Burrito or a shredded beef taco. Get the Green Sauce!
The Majestic is the 24 hour old school diner of your dreams! Pop in at literally any hour to be served that perfect after hours meal you need at 2 am. I have to be honest, I usually wind up here during the early hours of the morning after a long night but this sweet and nostalgic diner seems to go hand in hand with the late night vibe I’m looking for.
Ok, I know this one’s a chain. BUT if you’re not from the South, you have to try it! Sunday mornings in the South you can find every Waffle House packed. It’s a bit of an institution and it certain is in Atlanta! I love it for breakfast but I love it more after a long night of drinking. I love me some greasy spoon diners and this one always makes me and my belly happy! Open 24 hours.
Favs: Hashbrowns diced (grilled tomatoes), smothered (sautéed onions), and double covered (melted cheese) with tabasco sauce. A waffle with chocolate chips if I’m feeling frisky!
Novelty & Just for Fun
Delia’s! Oh how I dream of this place when I’m far from Georgia. Now, the chicken sausage sandwiches are amazing but my inner fat kid goes bonkers for their milkshakes. That’s because the put a WHOLE cupcake into them. You heard me right, a WHOLE CUPCAKE! Can you imagine?? Red velvet, chocolate, you name it, they do it. And these aren’t just any cupcakes, they are locally made and fresh baked. I can’t exactly explain what it’s like to watch your server drop the cupcake you selected into the blender or how delicious each sip with bits of cake tastes. But um…could you just imagine!
Favs: Red Velvet Cake Shake
If Willy Wonka had a shop, this place would probably be what it would look like. They literally candy or chocolate dip anything they can! You genuinely will be a kid in a a candy shop! Bring your wallet because you’re going to want to drop some Greene (ha! get it!?) in this place.
H Mart is an Asian grocery store on steroids. Basically think of the size of one of those club membership big box stores and fill it with anything that comes out of Asia. You can seriously get lost in the place for hours. It’s the only place I’ve been able to find these red bean pastries outside of Japan along with many other goodies that can only be found abroad. You’ll want to carve out a good chunk of the afternoon to spend shopping and eating here.
Favs: Find the counter that makes fresh Red Bean Pastries. Just do it.
Atlanta has so much to offer and this short list is just a start.
I hope you can find something that gets you excited on this list. If you’ve never thought of going on a vacation specifically to eat, I HIGHLY recommend starting with Atlanta. It won’t and honestly can’t disappoint!
keep Georgia on your Mind with these cute finds…
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