Atlanta has been dubbed everything from the "capital of the new South" and "the next international city" to "the best place to do business." It's also a great place to visit. Fueled by the prosperity of local mega companies like Coca Cola and Holiday Inn, the prestige of hosting the 1996 Summer Olympic Games and the energy of young upwardly mobile types who have migrated to the city in droves - Atlanta is on fire. And this time it's a good thing. From world-class restaurants and a myriad of cultural attractions to a hip nightlife and sporting events galore, the city is cosmopolitan in every sense of the word. But Atlanta has also managed to maintain its historic character.
Places to Visit
Stop by the Atlanta History Center or visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Historical Site, a moving tribute to an American icon. Browse through the former home of famous author Margaret Mitchell or pop into the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum for details on the life and times of the former president and his family. Whether you choose modern urban endeavors or old southern pleasures, Atlanta will not disappoint.
WORLD OF COCA COLA: The museum in Atlanta showcases the history of the Coca-Cola company in a quite entertaining way. There is a 4D cinema, multiple exhibits, a pop culture gallery, and loads of other attractions. One of the highlights is to try more than 100 different coca cola beverages, from all around the world. They all have one thing in common: very sweet.
CNN CENTER: Don't miss this: The CNN Studio Tour, It gives you an exciting glimpse behind the scenes of the global headquarters of CNN. There are several studios, news rooms, restaurants and stores located within this gigantic building. Impressive: The informative tour starts with the longest escalator in the world.
GEORGIA AQUARIUM: The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta is the second largest aquarium in the world and the biggest in the United States. It houses over 500 species, such as whale sharks, dolphins, penguins, beluga whales, manta rays, turtles and many more. If you're brave, dive with the whale sharks!
ATLANTA BOTANICAL GARDEN: The Botanical Garden in Atlanta is a 30 acres of lush green garden with several exhibits and beautiful flowers that are waiting to be explored. A great place to relax, perfect for an afternoon stroll. In case you get hungry, there is an excellent restaurant called Lintons Cafe, located inside the garden.
ATLANTA HISTORY CENTER AND THE SWAN HOUSE: The History Museum was founded in 1926 and consists of several exhibitions about Atlanta's past. You can easily spend an entire day there exploring over 6000 memorabilia from the Olympic games, such as uniforms, victory medals, etc. There is even an original running track.
SHOPPING IN BUCKHEAD: Buckhead is an upscale neighborhood with ultra chic boutiques, cool cafés and fancy restaurants. Take a walk in its beautiful tree lined side streets which are often referred to as the "Beverly Hills of the East". If you're into high-end retailers, you will completely lose yourself in Buckhead. You can find some of the world's best fashion brands including La Perla, Jimmy Choo, Helmut Lang, Louis Vuitton and Hermés.
STONE MOUNTAIN THEME PARK: Take a hike in the largest piece of exposed granite in the world. The Stone Mountain Theme Park is located on more than 3,000 acres and features interactive family friendly attractions, panoramic views of the city, plus natural and historical sights. Don't miss the spectacular laser show, projected on the mountain.
JACKSON STREET BRIDGE: The Jackson Street Bridge is one of the best places to get a fantastic photo of Atlanta's gorgeous downtown skyline. Bring your camera and tripod and capture the scenic views of the city. This spot is quite popular among photographers so if it gets too busy at sunset I suggest getting up early and catching a picture before sunrise.
Places to Dine
MARY HOOPA'S FRIED CHICKEN & OYSTERS
It’s exactly what the name suggests, done incredibly well
Sometimes when you have specialties you should let people know. At Mary Hoopla’s, the suggestion is clear; you pick your bird’s size (half or whole) and how many, then have it flavored sweet, hot or plain, and they’ll fry it for you. They offer oysters raw or grilled with fermented lemon, confit garlic, French parsley, and butter, or you can get them hot fried as an entree on white bread. There’s more on the menu, but the key is to trust the house, and move forward from there.
OLD LADY GANG CASTLEBERRY HILL
A Real Housewife shares family food
Kandi’s contributions to Atlanta have already earned her a place on any future Mount Rushmore replica we build. But she might get a statue all her own now that she put her mom and two aunts in the kitchen to literally cook yams and more of the singer/personality’s favorite childhood dishes. OLG is a serious family restaurant that serves everything you’d expect loved ones to cook for you when you’ve made them proud, such as Macallan-glazed blackened salmon, or whole wings and crème anglaise French toast. Now you know who you can run to when you need soul food.
CHAI YO MODERN THAI BUCKHEAD
Premium noodles and Thai from experts who expect a dress code
The Tuk Tuk Thai team, which has roots in Midtown’s beloved Nan restaurant, knows Thai cuisine. Chai Yo brings their penchant for flavor-flexing into lunch and dinner service for Buckhead’s midday and early evening crowd, offering them inventive takes on traditional dishes, such as egg noodle-wrapped lobster tails (the fried kind) with yellow curry and mustard greens, or 12-hour sous vide beef cheeks with Brussels and jasmine rice. Yes, there’s a dress code that disinvites those in athletic or beach wear, but that just means you won’t have to run into Mark Cuban at dinner.
THE LOCAL PIZZAIOLO WEST MIDTOWN
A pizza world champion comes for the crown
With the first of four locations planned for ATL now open, Naples native Giulio Adriani is making an attempt at conquering ATL with his inventive Montanara pizza, which is built on a flash-fried crust, and other pies that feature toppings from imported prosciutto to ATL’s own Heirloom Market brisket. There’s also a market for take-home goods (and gelato in case your doctor says all that the pizza isn’t enough).
THE WHITE BULL DECATUR
Farm-forward, Hemingway-inspired fare
This restaurant is named after what Papa Hemingway called blank sheets of paper, and similarly wants to create timeless meals while sticking exclusively to Georgia-sourced ingredients (from farms like Finch Creek, Riverview, and Stone Mountain Cattle Co.). They’ll also be serving up to 80 guests at a time with a menu that offers 15 always changing dishes that could include Sapelo Island clams with pigtails, kohlrabi, celery, lemon, or maybe tilefish with aji amarillo, daikon, tapioca, and kale. Also, maybe not! You’ll have to stop in and see.
THE PAINTED DUCK WESTSIDE
Upscale gaming with damn-good eats
There’s been a consistent rise in the number of places where gaming, drinking, and dining are combined, and after Buckhead stepped forward with The Painted Pin it was only right that the Westside got a version of the surprisingly good food that comes with shuffleboard, knuckleball, duckpin bowling, and horseshoe-throwing. Have you ever even heard of fried spicy chicken shins? Don’t duck confit nuggets sound good to have around when you’re in serious competition? And should you be victorious, don’t you deserve a whiskey-glazed turkey leg, or a few skewers of king crab scampi or Peruvian filet mignon?
DEEP END OLD FOURTH WARD
SoCal Tacos in the old Fourth & Swift
The team behind The Mercury and The Pinewood Tippling Room figure you’re into late-night eating, so they’re feeding you tacos like you’re in Los Angeles (and it’s three hours earlier than it really is). Hours are from 5pm to 2am nightly (excluding Saturdays and Sundays, which have earlier opening hours but different closings), and tacos include buttermilk-fried mahi-mahi, pulled chicken tinga, veggie, seasoned ground beef, and more. They also have beer, wine, and cocktails like the ready-for-summer “Bueller?”, mixed with vodka, pear, lemon, and Cloosterbitter.
GOLDEN EAGLE & MUCHACHO REYNOLDSTOWN
Classic continental fare in a moody mid-century den
On “Mafia Music 2,” rapper Rick Ross begins by saying, inexplicably, “Larry Hoover jumped off the mountaintop and turned into a golden eagle.” Who knows what the hell that means, but you do feel like a boss with ‘70s gangster shades on when you’re sitting in this former train depot, surrounded by plaid patterns, leather seats, and taxidermy, and eating old-school classics like bricked chicken w/ Hoppin' John, fisherman's stew filled with mussels and pork belly, or grilled branzino. That’s for nighttime. If you’re out earlier, visit adjacent Muchacho for grain or poke bowls, various tacos (short rib barbacoa, breakfast chorizo, etc.), and sit around to enjoy espresso or your preferred coffee beverage, a horchata, or some early afternoon wine.
STAPLEHOUSE OLD 4TH WARD
High-level cuisine with a charitable heart
Staplehouse has seasonal, farm-fresh ingredients, and an inventive kitchen that make for a rotating chef’s tasting, and a la carte menus that are complex, unique, and delectable. Plus, proceeds benefit the Giving Kitchen, which provides aid to industry folks in need. Pro tip: don’t miss out on their perfectly executed wine pairings.
TICONDEROGA CLUB INMAN PARK
Perfectly paired supper and cocktails from ATL bar veterans
This quiet new restaurant in the corner of Krog Street Market has a seafood and poultry-heavy menu with standouts like the clam roll and dry-aged roasted duck, but their cocktails are the true attractions. Belly up to the bar and sip on everything, including their signature Ticonderoga Cup: a ridiculously good combination of rum, cognac, sherry, pineapple, lemon, and mint.
HOME GROWN EAST ATLANTA
Your weird cousin Tevin’s incredible breakfast basement
While everything Home Grown makes is worth sampling, their Comfy Chicken Biscuit (crisp and juicy fried chicken atop a buttery biscuit and drowned in creamy sausage gravy) is noted as the best thing to eat in the entire state of Georgia. So yeah, get that if you HAVE to pick just one.
Delicious and delectable bites... like steak. Get the steak.
Settle into one of the deep booths in the beautiful and spacious dining room at this upscale brasserie and prepare for some serious bliss in the form of a couple of courses, including the foie gras with fig terrine, escargot, and the L’Entrecôte steak with frites and insanely flavorful sauce verte.
Small yet polished plates kept casual and clean
With delicious, international-inspired small plates, excellent craft cocktails, a solid mostly-domestic wine and beer selection, and a gorgeous, ambient setting, Saltyard has gained a cult following for good reason. Their seasonal offerings vary, but arguably peak in summer when they rely on fresh Georgia peaches. We can’t get enough of their creamy, homemade Burrata accented with lemon, thyme, and chili flakes served alongside pickled peaches, crispy country ham, and delectable cornbread crumbs. It may well be the city’s best sophisticated Southern dish.
Up-ticked Southern fare for lovers of secrets and great drinks
Known among many ATLiens as the city’s best kept secret, 1Kept slings some of the city’s finest meat-based dishes. From pork loin to steak frites and more, their meats are all melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Maybe even more impressive? Some of their most beloved dishes are meatless (or easy on the meat). Don’t let the delectable pimento cheese board, with its grilled, crusty sourdough and pumpernickel breads, assorted jams, and homemade pickles pass you by. And for a dose of healthy greens, check out the warm kale salad with spicy chorizo, quinoa, carrots, and sweet, plump golden raisins tossed in a spicy chili oil vinaigrette.
CHAI PANI DECATUR
Easily the coolest and tastiest Indian restaurant around town
Their food is legendary, but now, their service model has changed, which makes impatient patrons love this place even more. Instead of dodging servers in their charming dining area, you can place your order at the counter, take a seat, and wait leisurely for your meal. No matter what you get, don’t even think of missing out on their signature matchstick okra fries. That said, it’s impossible to go wrong with the Maharaja Lamb Burgers: a thick, juicy lamb burger flavored with ginger, mint, garlic, pistachio, and more. And then wash it all down with a Lime Rickey.
LADYBIRD GROVE & MESS HALL OLD 4TH WARD
BeltLine brunches and camp-inspired cookery
Arguably the most popular Beltline-adjacent spot in town, Ladybird is the rare restaurant whose menu and ambience are both exceedingly amazing. Their outdoor, pet friendly patio is the perfect spot for people watching, eating their outrageously good eats like chicken fried chicken (or, for brunch, their French toast or chicken biscuit), and tossing back cocktails like their Fool in the Rain, a unique blend of Old Fourth Ward vodka, smoky brandy, sweet pear, and prosecco with a hint of earthly thyme. Regulars and newcomers alike will be pleased to know they’ve recently opened an outdoor “Grove” space, featuring a bar inside a vintage, painted camper, comfy Adirondack chairs, string lights, Ping-Pong tables, and a lot more.
MILLER UNION WEST ATLANTA
Farmstead-driven, James Beard-certified food that never falls short
Consistency earns respect in Atlanta’s culinary community, and Steven Satterfield’s talent with preparing organic local goodness has kept him and the Miller Union team in the city’s top tier of places to feast. In other words, not many places could pull off having a seasonal veggie plate and housemade pork sausage that are equally popular, along with other super-authentic regional meals, from smoked rabbit mousse starters and shrimp/andouille gumbo at lunch to sauteed quail w/ smoked beets and Vidalia onions. Their wine list, curated by sommelier/GM/partner Neal McCarthy, is one of the top 100 in the US, according to Wine Enthusiast, and their dessert menu includes a peach and buttermilk cake.
Posh New American power dinner with Picasso (no, really)
It will be you that shrugs when other guests of this titan-inspired restaurant marvel at the amount of newly added pounds you carry after eating at this European-inspired American supper house. Advised by Gerry Klaskala (the founder of superstar ATL restaurants Aria and Canoe), and run by Christopher Grossman, who Klaskala trained at Aria and swiped from Napa Valley’s The French Laundry (which Anthony Bourdain calls “the best restaurant in the world”), Atlas gets its food exclusively from local farms, changes its menu weekly to spotlight seasonal goodness, and even has an exquisite collection of curated 20th-century art. So what the burger is $29? It’s so damn good that you’d willingly carry the chefs on your shoulders for all eternity.
SOUTH CITY KITCHEN BUCKHEAD
Perennial crowd favorite with beloved fried chicken and fantastic service
There’s no such thing as a bad South City Kitchen location, but Chef Jason Starnes has made a major impact with the Buckhead spot, offering a location-exclusive menu that fits well with the area’s demanding culinary clientele. If you insist on having the famous fried chicken, shrimp-'n’-grits, or any of the other favorites from the Vinings or Midtown locations, it's available. But don’t miss out on the Southern Plates menu where an amazing bone-in ribeye, poultry (including seared sour cherry-sauced duck and spice-grilled quail), and seafood dishes from pan-seared cobia to Georgia mountain trout are waiting for you to tastefully gorge upon. You are in Buckhead now; show a little class.
8 ARM VIRGINIA HIGHLAND
Early to late-night dining and tiki with a showy simplicity that works
When Octopus Bar founders Nhan Le and Angus Brown closed Lusca, they clearly decided to simplify things a bit to not lose those of us who aren’t used to their talents with fine seafood dining. With 8 Arm, the menu -- which always changes but can be kept up with on Instagram -- is based on a few standard recipe styles that use alternating proteins. Whatever they put in it from day to day, try the tagliatelle. And then look for the main meat or seafood dish of the evening, which could be lamb shoulder, grouper, a porterhouse, or kinda anything. Just trust that it’s delicious.
COOKS & SOLDIERS WESTSIDE
Lofty, classy, feisty Basque cuisine
The name enough should draw you in. You almost expect a brawling gang of chefs in camouflage and red Rambo bandanas. But C&S is only at war with whack food, which it fights with “pinxtos,” or Spanish-French tapas inspired by the foods of Basque Country. For evidence, try the escabèche toast w/ Georgia white shrimp, Bayonne, chili-saffron oil, and marinated salad. Or go for small plates like grilled Spanish octopus, local rabbit, beef hearts from White Oak Pastures, and Berkshire and Ibérico pork meatballs. Regardless of your diplomatic tendencies, this is one culinary draft you’re not going to wanna dodge.
EMPIRE STATE SOUTH MIDTOWN
A modern Southern restaurant still making Hugh Acheson a household name
There’s no way you can leave Hugh Acheson off a list of where’s-where in ATL’s eating scene -- not while the Canadian transplant is still proving his mastery of authentic Southern food from breakfast to dinner (and even during brunch). Just look at what he’s doing with catfish: In the mornings it’s smoked and slapped on a bagel, during lunch you can get a catfish banh mi hot dog with pickled trimmings, and for dinner it’s an entree served with Hoppin’ John, dashi, sweet potato, and cucumber. During weekend middays, it’s served with rice pudding, celery, tomato, and shrimp jus.