The Atlanta Brunch Guide guide image

photo credit: Andrew Thomas Lee

ATLGuide

The Atlanta Brunch Guide

You haven't done brunch in Atlanta until you’ve hit at least one of these hotspots.

There’s a lot to like about brunch. There’s booze and pancakes, and everybody’s in a better-than-usual mood because it’s the weekend. The only issue is finding a place that’ll motivate you to get out of bed and put pants on before noon. These are those spots. So the next time you’re trying to get your friends to agree on a restaurant or need a place to take your out-of-town crew, turn to these tried and true Atlanta favorites.

THE SPOTS

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Breakfast At Barney's

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349 Decatur St SE, Atlanta
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On the weekend, a velvet rope and line makes it feel like you’re waiting to get into a club where drinks are free before midnight, so arrive before 10am for your best chance of sliding right into a green velvet booth. With some of the best brunch offerings in town, Barney’s, near Grady, is kinda worth the wait (and it’s open every day). There’s a dish for everyone here, from favorites like their sweet 24 Karat Gold Pancakes–these “thicc,” big body pancakes topped with edible gold leaf and an orchid taste as amazing as they look—to savory items like lamb and eggs or the regionally controversial fried catfish with spaghetti. The vegan friends in the crew, who you usually avoid sending invites to, can also come out to play with plant-based entrees and fresh pressed juices.


There’s usually a line snaking around the corner at El Tesoro, so build in some wait time to avoid hangry frustration. Luckily, you can grab a margarita or Bloody Mary at the bar to pass the time while you stand in line at this popular Edgewood taqueria. You can’t go wrong with the tasty Migas taco, which is packed with scrambled eggs, esquite corn, corn chips, cheese, and pico de gallo. But the unmissable breakfast taco is the filling Ranchero, which has scrambled eggs, onion, cilantro, and bits of salchichon hot dog cut up and dispersed throughout, proof once and for all that hot dogs are not just for kids. After you order at the counter, sit at a picnic table and bask in the relaxed atmosphere of this neighborhood hangout.


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Buttermilk Kitchen

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People in Atlanta take breakfast biscuits pretty seriously, and Buttermilk Kitchen’s sweet-tea-brined fried chicken biscuits are a really solid way to start a morning. This Buckhead spot is one of those hearty brunch diners where you should consider scheduling a nap after and before any other weekend errands. Ray’s waffle burger and Benton’s smoked bacon omelet with pimento cheese are also big hits. When you’re in the mood for something not built on a foundation of butter and bacon, there’s a vegan cereal bowl with almond-chia pudding.


The General Muir serves New York classics, such as latkes, pastrami hash, and housemade bagels and lox, along with a delicatessen menu that’ll make you feel like you’re in a Seinfeld episode where everyone naps at the end. Since it’s right next to Emory, it’s always packed first thing in the morning, but this is one of the rare brunch spots that’s worth waiting while draining your phone battery on funny animal videos.


Sun In My Belly is an indoor/outdoor cafe in Kirkwood that works regardless of whether you wake up strangely early and want to beat the morning rush or decide to turn brunch into an afternoon activity (they’re open until 3pm daily). Find a seat on the awning-covered patio and order one of their Capri Sun cocktails while you look over the menu. Make sure to get some of their big housemade lavender biscuits to share and the PBLT, which comes loaded with pimento cheese and crispy honey bacon, if you’re especially hungry.


Ria’s Bluebird, by the Oakland Cemetery in Grant Park, feels like a classic diner that was taken over by artsy SCAD students with a thing for colorful mosaics. Ria’s is rightly famous for their buttermilk pancakes, and there’s really nothing that disappoints here. Grab a seat at the counter and get the slow-cooked brisket with poached eggs or, our favorite, the country-fried tempeh, which is covered in a white pepper gravy and sits on a big biscuit with tomato slices. Note that there’s always a wait here on weekends, but friendly waitstaff will offer you coffee while you wait. And out of respect for the interred across the street, please avoid telling the staff that you’re so hungry you could die. Not cool.

Why should brunch be a weekend-only perk? Open Wednesday through Sunday until 5pm, the all-day brunch bar maintains a steady crowd, so reservations are highly suggested. During the weekend, you’ll find the usual brunch folks, friend groups and families, but during the work week, there are plenty of WFH’ers along the bar dirtying up their laptop keyboards in between bites of tender short rib breakfast skillets or salmon croquettes that have a wee bit of kick.  And for those who can’t fit the usual post-brunch nap into their workday, there are plenty of lighter options like acai bowls, avocado toast, and their flight of daily fresh-pressed juices.

If you’ve lived in Atlanta long enough, there's a good chance that you’ve celebrated a birthday dinner here, or won a dinner-for-two gift certificate from some random fundraiser that you were guilted into joining. But you may not have been to Canoe for brunch yet, so book a reservation ASAP. Start with their daily bread basket, filled with sticky buns, flavored scones, and three spreads du jour, which are often a mix of things like prickly pear jam, honey butter, and peanut butter cream cheese. The fluffy brioche French toast is almost a must, as is their house-smoked salmon—you should commit to the salmon latkes or salmon benedict. Then walk off that post-brunch lethargy in their riverside gardens.

When the usual brunch pairings are no longer enough to persuade you from a fully sedentary weekend in bed, Oreatha’s in Cascade is the antidote to bring you back into the joys of breakfast dishes. The rum butter alone makes the muffins and bread basket worth the order and then there are starters like their panzanella salad, which is a fun Southern spin on the traditional bread salad, here with cornbread croutons and shredded collards. Oreatha’s also transforms Southern diner classics with items like biscuits with duck gravy or pork steak with eggs and masala gravy.

There’s always a wait at Murphy’s in Virginia Highlands, but we will happily line up for their complimentary biscuits and muffins with seasonal jams. They also have a great wine selection, so you can sip a glass of Provence rosé while you ponder your life choices and scan the menu, which includes everything from pancakes to corned beef hash. Murphy's has housemade breads, the base for some really excellent sandwiches (like their Turkey Club) if you’re not in a breakfast mood. Best of all, brunch goes until 4pm, so you can turn off all seven of your alarms and head here whenever you wake up.


With its wood paneling and long counter, Home Grown looks like a place your dad took you for breakfast when you were a kid and told you stories that started with, “Back in my day.” This 70s-style Reynoldstown diner serves Southern comfort food, like steak hash and a pimiento cheese sandwich on Texas toast, but if you want something green on your table, they have a few healthier sides that come straight from their garden out back too.


After an energetic morning on the BeltLine, you’ve probably mustered up an appetite for something more than smoothies and toast. Take your hunger to Folk Art. With vintage signs all over the brick interior and a massive menu, it’s a great choice for a casual brunch in Inman Park. There are a few essential picks, like their sweet potato waffle with fried chicken and sweet potato beignets, but we would and do gladly eat everything on the menu.


For the days when you want to use brunch as a jumping-off point for day drinking, Mezcalitos in Grant Park is where you should start. Their huge patio is dog-friendly and especially good for groups, and their huevos rancheros is one of our favorite brunch dishes in the city. They also serve a wide range of margaritas with flavors like blackberry or watermelon and your choice of tequila. As brunch goes on, working from home on Monday will sound like an increasingly good idea.

Bread & Butterfly is about as close as you can get to a the look and feel of a French bistro without leaving Inman Park. This all-day spot has a big marble bar that’s conveniently located next to all of the pastries like seasonal scones and croissants, but try to get a spot on the glass-encased patio instead if you can. Food-wise, the menu changes throughout the day, but the quiche, omelet, and crepes are usually what we make it out of bed for.

Started in 1993 in Atlanta, this brunch classic is now all over the Southeast but is still very much cherished by locals who flock to their favorite Flying Biscuit restaurant for their signature creamy grits, oatmeal pancakes, and of, course, their sugar-coated biscuits, which come with apple butter. Whether you’re a meat eater or vegan, looking for a light bite or something so indulgent that you’ll be set to hibernate the rest of the weekend (eyes on you queso-covered fried chicken and chorizo hash), there’s something for everyone here.

The popular brunch franchise originated in D.C., so there’s no surprise that this location in Cascade is filled with seafood options from crab cakes to seafood hash, and even a lobster gumbo pot pie. Of course, there’s also shrimp and grits—a Southern breakfast classic that can also be jazzed up further with fried lobster tail and gouda grits. But don’t let some of the other great brunch items sneak by you: the gravy-soaked lamb lollipop hash is a surprise contender for best order at the table. And you might as well share one of their cinnamon-infused waffles at your table if you can’t commit to taking one down on your own.

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