Atlanta is a fantastic food city, and even if you’re not a foodie, you’ll still be spoiled for choice when it comes to the sheer range of amazing restaurants. Treat yo’self and eat some good food while you’re here for the Super Bowl! Just remember, it’s going to be crowded and these are popular spots, so make reservations if you can.
We’ve broken this post down into sections based on cuisine with our favorite pick heading the top of each list. You’ve got seafood, Southern food, fried chicken, barbecue, breakfast, fast and cheap, quirky fusion, and international fare. We’ve rounded out this post with a few great places for a drink and a bite – the city’s best breweries and food markets!
It receives rave reviews and all the hype for a reason. The seafood at The Optimist is sensational and there’s a mini-golf course outside. Need we say more? Okay, we will: there’s a lengthy oyster menu, amazing lobster rolls, perfectly grilled octopus, fantastic swordfish, delectable hush puppies, and complex cocktails. And the service is impeccable. Make a res.
Other great seafood restaurants we’d recommend? Noble Fin, Octopus Bar, Atlanta Fish Market, Lure, and Steamhouse Lounge.
One Eared Stag
A restaurant focusing on Southern cuisine and local ingredients where you can’t make substitutions? We’re sold. Monday is fried chicken night at One Eared Stag, and on weekdays from 5 to 7 PM, you can get $1 oysters and beers. The off-menu burger (called the “meatstick”) is a favorite, and their ever-changing regular menu features regional products like Carolina golden rice, collard greens, and Sapelo Island clams. Some of their dishes are playful while others are traditional and comforting. They’re open for brunch too!
Other incredible Southern restaurants to try? Check out Miller Union, Wisteria, Restaurant Eugene, Kimball House, and Watershed on Peachtree.
Mary Mac’s Tea Room
Voted the best fried chicken in Atlanta, Mary Mac’s Tea Room has been making its crispy, double-battered fried chicken since 1945. (Many have tried to copy their recipe, but none have succeeded!) It’s a cozy, old-school place, and while you’ve obviously got to order their fried chicken, the sides are impeccable and the free biscuits and cornbread don’t hurt. Try the squash souffle, white pepper gravy, hoppin’ john, mac and cheese, fried green tomatoes, and fried okra. But maybe not all at once – portions are huge.
For other baller fried chicken joints, check out Busy Bee Cafe, The Colonnade Restaurant, Table & Main, and Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken.
Heirloom Market BBQ
There’s a lot of barbecue in Atlanta. But this casual restaurant with owners from Tennessee and Korea offers you the best of both those delicious culinary worlds. The spicy pulled pork sandwiches, smoky beef brisket, and ribs with all sorts of sauces are popular for good reason, plus with sides like kimchi slaw, Korean sweet potatoes, Brunswick stew, collards, and mac and cheese, there’s something for everybody at Heirloom Market BBQ (well, if vegetarians don’t mind ordering a bunch of sides). Go early.
Other fab BBQ joints? Fox Bros. Barbecue, B’s Cracklin’, Grand Champion Barbecue, Fat Matt’s Rib Shack, Bone Lick BBQ, and Community Q BBQ.
Atlanta Breakfast Club
Lots of folks who visit the South are looking for that quintessential home-cookin’ diner-style food. Well, you’ll find Atlanta Breakfast Club conveniently close to several downtown tourist attractions. They’ve got classics like chicken and waffles, biscuits and gravy, and shrimp and grits. And something called a Southern Benedict which is made up of biscuits, fried eggs, crispy bacon, and gravy. It’s always bustling in here, but the staff are pretty good at getting people in and out.
More delicious breakfast, brunch, and diner eats? For more casual, try Home Grown and Thumbs Up Diner, and for something slightly more upscale, check out Buttermilk Kitchen, The General Muir, Canoe, and Murphy’s.
Looking for an affordable, greasy meal with a side of history? The Varsity is an iconic institution in Atlanta and the world’s largest drive-in. It’s got hamburgers, hot dogs, fresh-cut fries and onion rings, and frozen drinks like the Frozen Orange or (if you prefer) chocolate shakes. The staff yells out, “What’ll ya have? What’ll ya have?” and you better be ready to order when you get to the front of the line. It’s fast food and a tourist attraction, okay guys?
Other cheap eats? Well, there’s nothing quite like The Varsity, but for other quick, tasty eats, try Grindhouse Killer Burgers, Woody’s CheeseSteaks, Little’s Food Store, and Delia’s Chicken Sausage Stand.
For something totally unique and innovative with an international flare, check out Gunshow (if you can get a table). This new restaurant combines Chinese dim sum with the atmosphere of a Brazilian steakhouse while using Southern ingredients and bold flavors. Dishes include things like Szechuan mapo tofu with lo mein, local broccoli, and spring Vidalias and dishes of crispy royal red shrimp with local fennel, celery, with a beer and shrimp butter sauce.
Looking for more unique, fusion-esque spots? Try Bon Ton (Cajun, Vietnamese, and Mediterranean), Takorea (Mexican and Korean), and Chai Pani (Indian street food).
Desta Ethiopian Kitchen
When you come to the big city, try some stuff you don’t have at home! Desta Ethiopian Kitchen is ranked as one of the top restaurants in all of Atlanta on TripAdvisor for a reason. Ethiopian food is flavorful, colorful, and you get to eat it with your hands! Soak up the many stewed veggie and meat options with spongy injera bread, try the spiced steak tartare, or opt for something vegan. It’s affordable and there’s an outdoor seating area.
Looking to try some other authentic international cuisine? Yet Tuh (Korean), Mamak (Malaysian), Nam Phuong (Vietnamese), Madras Mantra (Indian), and Porch Light Latin Kitchen (Puerto Rican) are all great choices.
This city isn’t immune to the craft beer craze sweeping America, so check some new beers out while you’re here. Take a tour, do a tasting flight, or just chill out with a few rounds. Here are seven options for a casual drink and great atmosphere:
Scofflaw Brewing Co. is located in the Bolton neighborhood and it boasts a fun outdoor area, huge selection of IPAs, and the occasional food truck in its parking lot.
SweetWater Brewing Company is the big boy of all these ATL breweries, not exactly a small operation anymore since its popularity skyrocketed around the country. Tour the facilities with a guide or just visit the taproom and patio – there’s live music sometimes.
Second Self Brewing Co. is tucked away in an industrial neighborhood with a great selection of draft, can, and bottled beers. They have a screen showing sports and you can bring your own food. Snag a tour, tasting, and souvenir glass for $15.
Red Brick Brewing Company features an updated taproom, 20 beers on tap, board games, and beer flights with optional short tours. They just got a new brewmaster and the place has a family-friendly atmosphere.
Monday Night Brewing is a great fun for hanging out with its huge patio, cornhole boards, and tasting flights (with a souvenir glass) for $12. Their comfortable taproom is built into a warehouse with couches and a projection screen.
Urban Tree Cidery is perfect if you’re not that into craft beer… or you’re looking to explore the world of cider. They serve several types of cider as well as cocktails that use cider as their key ingredient. They’ve got games, music, food trucks, and a few craft beers on tap too.
New Realm Brewing just opened in January 2018 and it’s huge. The complex includes a rooftop bar, tasting room, and a restaurant featuring Southern flavors that pair well with their pints.
Food Markets in Atlanta
Ponce City Market
The biggest food market in the city, Ponce City Market is now a popular destination for foodies, shoppers, and anybody looking for a daytime drink in their mini amusement park – so yeah, that’s pretty much everybody, right? Take the freight elevator up for panoramic views, mini golf, and old school games on the rooftop. Have a craft cocktail, visit the City Winery, check out the Sunday artist market, or try one of the many food stalls and restaurants. They’ve got everything from oysters to shawarmas to gelato, plus a dog-friendly brunch and even a speakeasy.
Sweet Auburn Curb Market
Over 90 years old, this public market is filled with high-quality, passionate vendors selling produce and unique products like Sweetwater beer-infused soaps, whole butchered pigs, oxtail, and crawfish. There’s a bakery, bookstore, and lots of meat vendors. Come to the Sweet Auburn Curb Market to explore and then have a snack here – bring your friends so everybody can try something different and share! The outside of this small-ish market contains food stands selling burgers, soul food, popcorn, barbecue, and meat pies.
Krog Street Market
This hip market is growing in popularity, so come early! Try the small-batch chocolate from Xocolatl, dumplings from Gu’s, sandwiches from Fred’s, ice cream from Jeni’s… or the fried chicken, bao, tapas, and Korean barbecue you can find all over this well-executed food hall. Check out the artisan crafts for sale and look for live music at Superica with its patio and, oh, the puffy tacos! The Ticonderoga Club also comes highly recommended for cocktails, bar snacks, and Sunday brunch! Krog Street Market is easily accessible from the Beltline and it’s a great spot for having drinks with friends.