Atlanta's Best Eats
February 20, 2014 11:15 AM   Subscribe

I'll be in Atlanta next weekend, and am looking for restaurant recommendations. I'm staying close to the CNN center but will have a car, and am willing to travel for good food. I'm a moderately lax pescatarian. All price ranges welcome. Shrimp and Grits is one of my favorite foods, so if there's a 'Best Shrimp + Grits in Atlanta!' place I'd love to hear about it. Also, if there are any craft brewers/brewpubs in the area making good beer, please tell me who those are as well.
posted by Fig to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Mary Mac's tea room is an experience. It's the only restaurant I know of that puts pot likker on the menu. It's collard greens in a beef broth, but there are no chunks of beef in it, so I'm not sure if that meets the moderately lax guidelines. They have shrimp and cheese grits. I got a sampler platter there and loved everything, especially the tomato pie.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 11:26 AM on February 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

Try Wrecking Bar Brewpub on Moreland. It's a funky neighborhood and they have tours on Saturday.

Try South City Kitchen for Shrimp and Grits.

If you want to munch a burger, The Vortex (one midtown, one in Little Five Points) is the place.

I recently went to Lure for a corporate function. The food was good, but I wouldn't call it earth shattering.

I also enjoyed Blue Ridge Grill, a LOT, so if you're into that sort of thing, I give it seven thumbs up.

Go to Buford Highway for an amazing selection of cheap and cheerful ethnic eateries.

Oriental Pearl is our neighborhood Dim Sum and Fresh Fish (as in swimming in a tank) place. It's a bit of a hassle to find, but it's really, really good.

We do have a Trader Vics. Which to my mind is goofy, good fun. (Best bar in Atlanta)
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:28 AM on February 20, 2014

Six Feet Under has decent shrimp and grits and decent local beer (Sweetwater). Either location is probably equidistant from CNN center. The Porter in L5P has the best beer selection. If you can make it to Decatur, Leon's is great for food and beer, and Brick Store is supposedly one of the best beer bars in the world.
posted by BabeTheBlueOX at 11:37 AM on February 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Three Atlanta restaurants made GQ's best new restaurants 2014 list:
King + Duke (Hearth Roasted Fish of the Moment)
The General Muir

The Colonnade has been serving Southern food since 1927 and has shrimp & grits.

Brick Store Pub is a great beer bar.
posted by Frank Grimes at 11:38 AM on February 20, 2014

The best grits in Atlanta are at The Flying Biscuit Cafe, but they'd be more for breakfast (which, incidentally, is served all day).
posted by jquinby at 12:00 PM on February 20, 2014

The Flying Biscuit Cafe

I've never been a fan, but you can have some in a couple of locations and decide for yourself.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:04 PM on February 20, 2014

I've had good food at Miller Union.
posted by lydhre at 1:15 PM on February 20, 2014

West Egg is close to downtown in the area that used the be the Provisioning District, and is now the Westside. It can get crowded on the weekends.

Ormsby's is a fun pub with lots of games, pool, bocce and some other pinball-type things. The corn dogs are amazing and they too, have Shrimp and Grits.

Here's a listing of some fun places in the Westside neighborhood.

Check out Red Brick Brewing Company while you're down there.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:37 PM on February 20, 2014

Red Brick is still around? Wow. I drank some of the first bottles off their production line. A friend was an early investor.

Nobody mentioned The Varsity yet. It's more iconic than good, but no trip back to Atlanta is complete for me without 2 chili dogs, and rings.
posted by COD at 1:58 PM on February 20, 2014

Travel up Buford Highway for Crawfish Shack Seafood. The decor doesn't inspire confidence, and there aren't many tables, but the food is good.

Definitely the Porter and Wrecking Bar in Little Five Points (The Vortex has good burgers, but if you don't care about "iconic" Atlanta places, don't bother. I feel the same way about Flying Biscuit and, to some extent, Mary Mac's).

Busy Bee has great fried chicken.

Decatur is a drinker's mecca, with Brick Store, Leon's and Kimball House. . Chai Pani is in that neighborhood and has good Indian street food. Raging Burrito is kinda fun and has a nice patio for good weather.

Propose a meetup! We'd love to meet you.
posted by runningwithscissors at 2:20 PM on February 20, 2014

South City Kitchen (Midtown) is probably what you're looking for in terms of shrimp grits. You can skip Flying Biscuit, the Varsity, Mary Mac's (love them all, but life is short and you're only here for a weekend). Gladys Knight's Signature Chicken and Waffles (Downtown) actually has good chicken and waffles, but the atmosphere is a little weird for somebody dining alone (not sure why I'm recommending this to you, it just feels right). You can take a tour at Sweetwater Brewery. The Porter Beer Bar has 3985730958743 different beers and really good salt & vinegar popcorn (plus is nice for a solo drinker).
posted by semaphore at 2:26 PM on February 20, 2014

As far as a microbrew where you go and drink the beer at the brew pub, Wrecking Bar is fantastic. Atlanta has a number of upstart microbrews which don't (yet) have their own pubs. Three Taverns Brewery and Monday Night Brewery are both making some damn fine beers that are served at many places mentioned above. Try them now, before they get famous!
posted by hydropsyche at 2:39 PM on February 20, 2014

Everyone has given you really good suggestions and you are only here for the weekend... I'll just add a little extra commentary and give you a "dark horse" recommendation or two that are near CNN center. You mentioned craft brew and brew pubs and a couple of people mentioned both The Wrecking Bar and the Porter (which are about a quarter mile apart, by the way). I would actually recommend the Porter if your goal is to sample some Georgia-brewed beers... they carry some of the Wrecking Bar beers and have representative brews from most of the other Georgia brewers there. As a bonus, they have a pretty decent shrimp & grits item on the menu and you could also hit them up for a late brunch (on Sunday, they won't start pouring anything alcoholic until 12:30, it is the law).

Another breakfast place to keep in mind is Ria's Bluebird, which is just out memorial and maybe a mile away from CNN center. It is right next door to one of the Six Feet Under locations mentioned above, and there is also Octane, one of my favorite coffee shops in Atlanta. That is the coffee shop where the Hipster Barista meme comes from.

Finallly, I'll mention a completely overlooked little gem in downtown, Paul Luna's Lunacy Black Market. It is funky and eclectic, serving "small plates". Luna is known in Atlanta for a couple of his other restaurants and for throwing a diner out once who asked for salt. He is also ran for Mayor of Atlanta last year.

Have fun on your trip to Atlanta! Please follow up in the thread and let us all know where you ended up eating and how it was.
posted by kovacs at 7:18 PM on February 20, 2014

I think the following recommendations from above are awesome: Porter Beer Bar, Wrecking Bar, Colonnade

I think the following recommendations from above are overrated: Vortex (redneck tourist magnet), Flying Biscuit (formerly great, now not), Six Feet under (ditto)

If heading to East Atlanta Village, and it's really late and you're hungry, do not miss Delia's Chicken Sausage Shack.

Lunacy Black Market is a great, uniquely homey experience, but check with them (CALL) before you go. The last time I was by there they were closed because Paul Luna had gone on vacation.

Gunshow is always packed, I still haven't been able to make it in there. Make reservations.

You know what? This is silly. You're downtown and here for a weekend. If you end up in a neighborhood near one of the above restaurants then go for it. I'll just point out some downtown locations that you can walk to:
- Lunacy Black Market
- Taco Mac in CNN Center, huge beer selection, sports bar if you need that for some reason
- Trader Vics for a late drink (or food even, I guess)
- Daddy D'z BBQ, a bit of a walk from downtown but worth it for that smoke shack grub
- Park Bar is a nice little joint just east of the park, a block from the Tabernacle

FYI the new Atlanta Streetcar is starting up soon. You'll see the tracks in the streets and signs of construction. The streetcars themselves were just delivered this week.
posted by intermod at 8:06 PM on February 20, 2014

The best food in town is at the Dekalb Farmers Market. There's a hot food bar--don't miss the vegetarian samosas--and lots of fresh breads and cheeses and fruits and spices and teas...I had to buy a suitcase to bring home all the wonderful things I got last time I was there.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:45 AM on February 21, 2014

Response by poster: Man, you guys are awesome. You took my level of excitement up about 50 notches, from "eh, it'll be fun to bum around the city and see things/eat some food/hang out" to "can't wait!!! i wish i could eat like 7 meals per day. Gluttony weekend, here I come!"

Gunshow looks really awesome, but is fully booked for the weekend, boo. Lunacy Black Market will (hopefully) have to stand in (although, it looks like Paul Luna has left for Switzerland?).

Proposed Meet-Up is here. (thanks for the suggestion, runningwithscissors!)

I was starting to mark best answers, but really, all of these are. Thanks so much, and I will definitely report back with where I ended up.
posted by Fig at 7:56 AM on February 21, 2014

Response by poster: Here is what I ended up doing over Saturday and Sunday, and commentary -- I had an amazing time overall. It was perfect weather for bumming around the city, and a very welcome break from the never-ending winter suckiness in Chicago.

Brunch at Highland Bakery (cilantro corn pancakes, served with salsa, egg, and black beans. amazingly delicious)
MLK Museum/Historical sites (very inspiring, may have gotten weepy at points)
The Beehive (cute little store for Atlanta-based artisan stuff. Found some earrings and really good 'spiked espresso' marshmallows)
Your Dekalb Farmer's Market (complete madhouse. Bought some snacks, was sorta fun to walk around in, parking not fun)
Decatur for shopping, attempted to go to Chai Pani but it was closed.
Broke down and got quick food at Chipotle, was getting hangry, and it was there. I was able to eat on the patio though, which was great.
Three Taverns - was looking to buy a 6-pack or something to get me through my work time here, but I got there 20 min before closing, it was packed, and they did not seem to sell their beer, so I left.
Attempted to go to The Porter, parking was insane, so went to The Wrecking Bar. It was good, decent food, okay beer (some IPA).
2-person IRL Meetup at Park Bar. Cute little place, food looked good, beer was definitely good. Maybe a little too good.

Plan was for breakfast at Ria's Bluebird, but aforementioned meetup had me just hungover enough to where I didn't want to do anything, so I got room service. Still had cheesy grits; no regrets.
Coca-Cola Experience (fun, giant ad for Coke. The tasting room was neat, although you really have to fight your way to the soda spouts)
Museum of Design (they have a really well-done exhibit going on now about the 'hidden heroes' of everyday industrial design. I really enjoyed it)
Brunch at South City Kitchen (warm biscuits and cornbread with butter and apple butter, so so good. Got pimento cheese and shrimp and grits, went into food coma, worth it)
Planned on shopping in the Westside Provision District, but decided instead to go to final hotel and prep for work stuff. Stopped at Flip Burger Boutique, got a nutella+burnt marshmallow shake (SO GOOD. WANT MORE.), and a 'fauxlafel' (good, not nearly as good as the shake though) to take with me for dinner that night.

I think I covered a good bit of the city, but I have enough in your suggestions to do this 2 or 3 more times, which will hopefully happen some day.
posted by Fig at 3:13 PM on March 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

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