ATL City Guide: Where to Eat + Drink
I can't believe I haven't done one of these already! I've lived in the metro Atlanta area for the last 15 years and it's been amazing to see the awesome changes that have been taking place in the city. So whether you find yourself in Atlanta for a weekend, stopping by in between flights, or just driving through, I hope this guide can serve you well!
Let's start off with some COFFEE!
Probably the best coffee you'll have in Atlanta, hands down. Their Caramellattos are amazing and whenever I'm in Westside, I make it a point to stop by to grab one. They also have great cappucinos and french presses. Because it's a small cafe on M street, near the Georgia Tech campus, you'll find that it's usually packed and super busy. Not the best place to sit quietly and study, but totally worth stopping by. Plus, their baked goods are soooo delish.
Brash is quaint, unique, and represents Atlanta so well. You'll find yourself so in love with not only their coffee, but their interior design! If you think it looks like a shipping container... You're right. They repurposed an old shipping container and converted it into a coffee shop that serves the most amazing cafe mocha, roasting their own beans in house and serving simple, yet excellent coffee. Their menu consists of only 6 drinks, being as simple as can be, so you don't have to overthink what you're drinking while you explore nearby Westside shops.
3. Chattahoochee Coffee Company - Riverside
Chattahoochee Coffee Company also has a location in Westside, but you have to visit the Riverside location. It's located in an apartment community, so you'll have to enter through a gate (just buzz and say "I'm here for coffee!"). The coffee here is great, and they have house-made syrups (their lavender syrup is my absolute fav), but what makes it my favorite coffee shop in the area is its location. You grab your coffee in the cafe next to the leasing office, then you can decide to chill inside, or take your coffee down by the river. I love coming here to study, journal, and catch up with friends.
4. Land of a Thousand Hills
An honorable mention for Land of a Thousand Hills. I've only been here twice, and I've gotten their americano and latte and both were awesome! The ambiance is great for studying or getting some work done, but I'm rarely at Atlantic Station so that's why I don't frequent this place often!
Our Favorite Lunch/Dinner Spots
1. Bar Taco
With 3 locations all in the Atlanta area, it's the best place to go with girlfriends for drinks and dinner. I personally love the Westside location best because they have an adorable outdoor seating area. Tacos are at a great price point with various toppings, with pork belly being my absolute favorite. The falafel and baja fish are close contenders. They also have delicious tamales, as well as delicious, fresh fried churros for dessert. And you can't forget about their amazing cocktail. Get a mojito for me if you're there!
2. Local Republic
LR in downtown Lawrenceville is probably one of my and Caleb's favorite restaurants... ever, and the best place to get a burger. Their Kitchen Sink burger is SO fun and we make it a point for one of us (usually me) to get it every time we go. It's epic - they top it with as much as humanly possible and serve it to you.
The first time we went, I got an entire ham&cheese sandwich ON my burger, as well as mango pico, a fried egg (classic), lettuce, tomato, green beans, ham, and a cheeseburger patty.
It was a bit more subdued the next time, with a greek salad, arugula salad, pico, and a fried egg.
3. Ponce City Market Food Hall
Ponce in itself is an awesome place to visit if you're in Atlanta. A historic Sears, Roebuck & Co building, Ponce City Market has been renovated to feature local shops, the most amazing restaurants, and residential lofts. And the rooftop features Skyline Park (mentioned later in the post). But the food hall is unmatched. Here, you can find local beers on tap, Revelator coffee inside the West Elm, the infamous Holeman & Finch burgers, a beef jerky bar, authentic Chinese food, Cuban food, Five Daughters donuts (AMAZING), gelato, a bitters bar, Japanese ramen, Mediterranenan, you name it.
Holeman & Finch opened a spot in Ponce as a sister store of their main brick & mortar to serve their delicious burgers all day, as their main store only serves around 24 burgers all day and stops serving them when they're out.
Biltong Bar isn't just a jerky bar - they serve delicious food and cocktails, too.
El Super Pan is Latin-inspired and has one of the best vegetarian sandwiches I've ever had, and killer yuca fries. Make sure you get their chimichurri!
4. Heirloom Market Barbecue
This joint is right next to Chattahoochee Coffee Company and has the best barbecue I've ever had. The reason for that? They serve Korean fusion barbecue and it's killer. Not only are the owners also an interracial couple, but their food is seriously so out of this world, we actually decided to have them cater our wedding!!! Caleb and I highly recommend getting their 2 meat plate with brisket and Spicy Korean Pork with their Mac & Cheese and Korean Sweet Potatoes. You've also got to have their Jasmin Sweet Tea - I don't like sweet tea but this stuff is so delicious. Oh! And you have to try all of their sauces. They don't have any seating, so you'll have to eat standing up, but with their awesome music and plenty of fans to keep you cool, it's all part of the experience.
5. Souper Jenny
There are 4 different locations, but they all serve the same delicious food. The Buckhead location is in right in the Atlanta History Center, so you could easily make a day out of learning the history of Atlanta, and getting lunch here! The food here is just absolutely amazing and so fresh, and so is the vibe. You're encouraged to get off your phones and enjoy the food and the company and it's really not a hard thing to do with their delicious sandwiches and sides. You have to try Dad's Turkey Chili, and their Stuffed Avocado with Tuna Salad is divine. Honestly, anything you get here is delicious. And you get a free roll and/or cookie, too. Win win!
1. The Optimist
Caleb and I actually have only been here once and we can't wait to be back. Not only is the ambiance just so cozy and romantic, they have mini putt putt outside, as well as an oyster bar. We started off with the squid which was phenomenal - we still talk about it. He got scallops and I got swordfish, both incredible.
2. Bread & Butterfly
Oh god, I still dream of this burger. Maybe not about the fact that it was $20, but that's why it's on the bougie list. This small cafe in Inman Park serves this juicy "Burger Americain" and I've never had a burger quite like it. On a brioche bun, the juicy patty is covered with gruyere, caramelized onions, grain mustard, and the aioli fries are quite honestly to die for. And I'm a harsh fry critic. (Five Guys has the best fries, hands down) Would you believe me if I said all 5 of us at the table got the exact same burger?
Oku is a great place to get sushi and drinks in Midtown, and you have to sit upstairs on their roof deck to get a great view of the skyline. Their Hamachi Carpaccio is the perfect appetizer, and their rolls are great. But next time, I'm gonna have to try their Otoro spoons. If you get those, let me know how they are! I've heard nothing but good things. PS their lychee caipirnha is a must. Even if you don't like cachaca.
Caleb and I celebrated our first anniversary here and it was nothing short of amazing. We started off with their house smoked salmon on potato cakes, and feasted on their assortment of breads and crisps. Located right along the Chattahoochee River, you can enjoy a fabulous dinner inside or outside on their riverside back patio, and then make your way toward their chicken coups. It's really such a special place.
Caleb had their slow roasted rabbit with mushroom tortellini which was so decadent and delicious. I had the lamb chop and it was so juicy and truly melts in your mouth. We ended the meal with their famous caramel popcorn ice cream sundae! So unlike us, but it really was so good.
And you can't forget the Korean/Asian food in Atlanta.
1. There are so many places to get Korean Barbecue, but 678 is my favorite.
There's nothing quite like charcoal barbecue and 678 does it so right. You can opt for the unlimited menu which offers pork belly, spicy pork belly, marinated pork, pork skin, and pork neck/shoulder for $30. This includes unlimited sides and refillable cheese corn, egg souffle, kimchi, bean sprouts, and salads. However, you'll notice that this menu doesn't include brisket or any beef which is my personal favorite. When I go with my family, we usually order a beef + pork combo set which includes a variety of meats, such as short rib, brisket, pork belly, marinated pork, etc, and also comes with complimentary spicy handcut noodles at the end of your meal. I always tell people visiting ATL to make sure you eat at 678. You won't regret it, even though you'll smell like charcoal for the rest of the day!
2. Jang Su Jang
If you're looking for traditional Korean food, then Jang Su Jang is the place for you. They have about a million items on their menu, but it's the place to go to get a variety of real Korean food. I personally love their Yook Gae Jang Kal Guk Su (Spicy Handcut Noodles in a Spicy Beef Broth), their Dolsot Bibimbap (mixed rice in a stone pot), Bossam for 2 (Steamed Pork with pickled vegetables to wrap), and their Seafood Soon Tofu (spicy soft tofu stew) which comes with a stone pot of rice that you fill with hot tea after to get Nooroongjee (kind of like a porridge/congee).
Danmooji represents a new generation of South Korea, also known as New Korea. Here, you can get really good street food, or food you would find from vendors on the streets of South Korea. Some of my favorites are: Spicy Squid Kimbap, Ddukbokki with ramen (spicy rice cakes), Donkatsu (fried pork cutlet), and Jjolmyun (a really chewy, cold, spicy noodle). This is definitely not traditional Korean food, but it's a great place to go for lunch or for a quick bite without spending too much!
4. Golden Buddha
Unfortunately, this is the only picture I have from here. But I think that's a good sign because whenever I'm at Golden Buddha, I'm with good company and don't have time to take my phone out to take pictures. Every time I come here, I order the same 3 things no matter what, and we share family style. These 3 dishes are: Jjajangmyeon (black bean noodles), Jjamppong (spicy noodles with seafood), and their AMAZING (YES, ALL CAPS), Empress Chicken, BONE IN. THESE WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.
Honorable mentions: green beans and Golden Buddha Fried Rice. But listen to me. You have to get the empress chicken. Send me pictures if you do.
5. Pho Tai Nam at Pho Dai Loi 2
This was my go-to Vietnamese restaurant when I was in nursing school, because it was only 5 minutes from my apartment. The broth is the perfect amount of sweet, the depth of flavor is amazing, and the serving size is definitely on the generous side. Highly recommend, but Pho Bac and I Love Pho are great, too!
1. Boba at Tea House Fermosa
Tbt to when I thought Quickly's was good bubble tea. You haven't had good bubble tea until you've had Tea House Fermosa bubble tea, because it's high quality bubble tea with the most amazing boba (tapioca pearls). Their grass jelly is really good, too. I usually get their Oolong mik tea with boba, and it is, hands down, the best bubble tea I have ever had. No pictures because I'm usually #dead when I'm drinking this. That's how good it is.
2. Red Bean and Custard Filled Mini Fish Cakes at White Windmill
This Korean bakery has several locations, but you can make a meal + dessert out of coming here after you eat at Danmooji, because it's located in the same strip mall. Caleb and his family love getting mini fish cakes here and so do I. They're stuffed with either red bean or custard and make the perfect dessert. And no, they don't actually taste like fish! They're just shaped like little fish but are actually made with a pancake/waffle batter.
3. Jeni's Ice Cream - Westside
Again, Jeni's has several locations in the metro Atlanta area, but my personal favorite is the West Midtown location because you can grab your ice cream, walk around and over the train tracks, and remember why you love Atlanta. If you've never had Jeni's, you're definitely missing out. They have the most unique flavors. Their most known flavors are: Brambleberry Crisp, Brown Butter Almond Brittle, and Roasted Strawberry. However, my favorite are: Supermoon, Wildberry Lavender, and Darkest Chocolate. Brb gotta go wipe my drool.
PS: you can purchase pints of Jeni's in select supermarkets. I usually find plenty of flavors at Fresh Market, Whole Foods, and Publix.
4. Butter & Cream
Before you read this statement, please don't judge me or hate me. Butter & Cream ice cream is better than Jeni's. !!!!
But really. Decatur Square has both Jeni's and Butter & Cream, but Butter & Cream just wins. They serve the most delicious handcrafted, small batch ice cream and my favorite flavor is the Honeycomb Forest.
Honorable mentions: Summer Strawberry and East Pole Coffee.
5. Cafe Intermezzo
Among all its locations, I think the most unique is on Ashford Dunwoody, but our favorite is the Midtown location. Intermezzo is truly one of a kind. They have breakfast, brunch, lunch, dessert, drinks, coffee and it's the best place for dessert + drink after dinner. I love their tiramisu, and I make it a point to try something new each time. Their brie platter is divine, as are their flatbreads. Recently, Caleb got their crab + sherry crepe and oh my god it was amazing. I had their croque madame and it was also, not surprisingly, fantastic. I found my new love of cucumber martinis here, and they continue to make amazing alcoholic coffee drinks. If you've never been to Intermezzo, you must. For breakfast, brunch, lunch, post-dinner, I don't care. But they are open until midnight or 1AM so it's the perfect place for post-dinner when you don't want the night to end but you still want to be out but not get drunk. (being completely honest)
7. Little Trouble
An honorable mention for where I spent my 21st birthday because it was a nifty lil bar with plenty of Japanese influences (sake shots among other things). It's a cool place that I want to come back to, and think you guys would like, but not a must.
8. Skyline Park
Located on the rooftop of Ponce City Market, Skyline Park is so unique and I think if you're in the area and you're looking for something fun to do after dinner, you definitely should go here. There is a $10 entrance fee, but just think of it as a cover. It's honestly worth it even if you don't decide to play mini golf or play games. Get a Skyline Mule or a Frosé and play some games! But make sure to check their Facebook or Instagram page to make sure they're not being rented out for the night (happened twice to me!)
So that's it! And I'm realizing this is just a compilation of what to eat and drink in Atlanta, but I have a feeling you guys are a-okay with that. Atlanta is a neat little place, and I'm pretty proud to call it home. Let me know if you go to any of these places, and send pics! I hope you guys find this helpful whether you're here for a layover or a long weekend.