The 15 Best Downtown Atlanta Restaurants
photo credit: Tabia S. Lisenbee-Parker
We wanna let you in on a secret that only conventioners and families with Georgia Aquarium memberships know—there is some good eating happening around Downtown Atlanta these days. We’re talking solid barbecue, top sirloins, and serious philly cheesesteaks, and they’re all within walking distance of State Farm Arena and Mercedes-Benz Stadium. So, the next time you see a group giggling in their matching lanyards on Marietta Street, just know their smiles probably have more to do with their last meal than the afternoon’s symposium.
Hiding in plain sight across the street from Centennial Olympic Park, Park Bar is a dimly lit tavern filled with beer, burgers, and Bruce Hornsby tunes. Though it feels like the wings should be better in such a pub-like space, they make up for the misstep with a fantastic grilled mahi sandwich. The playful burger of the month (the pretzel-bunned Oktoberfest still stands out) might be tempting, but the simple, flavorful beef option (and its 20+ potential toppings) is probably the best sandwich in a two-square-mile radius.
photo credit: Tabia Lisenbee-Parker
Though you’re so close to the College Football Hall of Fame that you can almost hear the call from the huddle, Twin Smokers doesn’t feel (or taste) like a tourist trap. There’s real wood on these floors, and that’s a real smoker out back. But don’t take our word for it. Look at the char on that juicy dinosaur beef rib. The smoked chicken and brisket here are moister than they are at many popular spots around town. But just when we’re about to anoint this a real barbecue joint, they’re flagged for neglecting to include french fries and baked beans on their menu.
photo credit: Cameren Rogers
For business tourists who’ve been given company clearance to expense a couple hundred on a meal, turn to Ray’s in the City—a great Southern seafood spot and faithful go-to. There are half-circle leather booths by the sceney bar and a dark, multisection dining room that feels like a place where a fictional crime boss would have secret meetings in the far back. But at Ray’s, it just fills up with loud firm partners maxing out their per diem on Cobb salads topped with chilled lobster and hot seafood platters with tasty barbecue shrimp that should make up for the off-work hours spent with annoying colleagues.
photo credit: Tabia S. Lisenbee-Parker
If you’re looking for somewhere to pre-game before the Hawks play or post-up after an early concert, Stats, a popular sports bar situated just a few blocks from State Farm Arena, is a smart move. The multi-level spot has more than 70 televisions—along with an award-winning brewmaster crafting a wide range of IPAs, sours, lagers, and seasonals from a 10-barrel brewery. Besides getting virtually every big game, the elevated bar menu and tables with built-in taps make this 16,000-square-foot space an easy downtown draw.
photo credit: Mhandy Gerard
The key to a good Atlanta Breakfast Club experience is timing. If you hit this restaurant sitting across from the aquarium any time after 10am on the weekend, you might as well pitch a tent for the wait. So come earlier (or better yet, stop by on Tuesday morning) to slide right into a seat, where you’ll still be greeted by an efficient waitstaff scurrying about the simple, spacious dining area. While the consistent kitchen churns out expected morning fare (pancakes, chicken biscuits), folks keep lining up here for their fun signatures like the gulf shrimp and creamy grits, peach cobbler French toast, and an egg-topped waffle off a secret menu.
photo credit: The Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta
If you're dressed up for a show, you’ll stand out at Margaritaville. So march your suede steppers into Atlanta Grill, the signature restaurant at Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking down at Peachtree Street from your patio table or sitting in the dark, leather-boothed dining room, you’ll be greeted with formal salutations and presented with five water options. An assortment of seafood and satisfying sides (including a skillet mac and cheese we’d consider staying overnight to try again) are available, but the headliners are the steaks, ranging from skirt to a 36-ounce tomahawk so tender the meat falls into the chimichurri sauce on its own.
photo credit: Tabia Lisenbee Parker
Understated with its signage and unbothered by any modern design expectations, Centennial Olympic Park’s Kwan’s Deli would rather spend its lunchtime preparing fresh sandwiches and superb Korean dishes. And that’s great news for the area office workers and visiting families who only have tuna melts and spicy chicken bibimbaps on their minds anyway.
photo credit: The Sun Dial Restaurant
Though the dining room no longer revolves, the Sun Dial in downtown’s Westin hotel has been a fixture for American fine dining in the city since the ’70s. The Westin remains one of Atlanta’s tallest buildings, so their 360-degree panoramic skyline views make your glazed salmon or bearnaise-drench lobster dinner feel a little extra special. Sky high prices keep most locals at bay (get your mind right to pay $65 for a plate of fried chicken), but we’d clear things with our financial coach if it means impressing our out-of-town fam with a great meal and good views. Between the bill, the U-shaped leather booths, and the white-glove service, you’ll be the talk of the next reunion for sure.
The color red is brushed all over Southern-flavored Restaurant 10. With the Atlanta Falcons and Georgia Bulldogs playing so much at Mercedes-Benz Stadium across the street, the hue makes the sports bar feel like home to their fans. But the shade also resonates in the food, specifically in the hot honey wings and unbelievably good turkey ribs tossed in a semi-sweet barbecue sauce. Pair the latter with an order of collards and some of the best mac and cheese we’ve had all year. Just apologize to your Falcons tailgate crew when you make this your new pre-game headquarters.
The Food Shoppe makes some of the best bread pudding we’ve had outside of NOLA, and it's worth the 10-minute walk here from State Farm Arena. If you're the type who can't eat dessert first, get their “Walk and Eat Bowls” (which makes sense since the narrow eatery only has two dine-in tables). Whether you opt for the aptly named (and incredibly cheesy) Ooey Gooey Chicken & Mac or the hearty Voodoo Jambalaya, these bowls go down easy with a blast of flavor. Or just skip the mains altogether and enjoy the massive portion of Angie’s bread pudding. Your call.
photo credit: Christina Slaton
After a grueling day of museum walking or half-listening in a conference, you don’t want to think about dinner plans. And that’s where Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken, a casual, utilitarian restaurant at the base of Peachtree Center, comes in. Stop here for just-crispy-enough chicken, slices of white bread, and none of the do-you-have-a-reservation foolishness. If your friends want the pomp, fine, let’em go elsewhere. More fried okra and ranch dipping sauce for you.
photo credit: Amadi J. Phillips
Amalfi’s massive high-back leather booths, which are even big enough for polyamorous relationships, set the mood for a romantic date night. Although Amalfi is in the unsexy part of downtown often forsaken by locals, its giant windows that open to a painted brick foyer covered with canopy lights helps trick your brain into thinking you’re in some Italian courtyard. Or at least the Venetian in Vegas. Plus, Amalfi’s fabulous star-shaped, stuffed-crust margherita is the masterpiece that motivates us to pay $20 for parking, with its dollops of creamy ricotta tucked into the corners of the puffy Neapolitan dough.
Though old pictures hanging up of Yao Ming and Betty White might hint otherwise, Hsu’s Gourmet remains a downtown go-to for Chinese food and is very much the same social gathering spot it’s been since the ’90s. Couples and work crews huddle over the chunky Spicy Anna’s seafood soup like they always have. The curry chicken remains a tender, well-seasoned treat that’ll make others in your dinner party jealous. And while you’ll have questions about the whole red snapper’s lack of meatiness, you still can’t deny that the photogenic catch deserves a spot on the wall.
photo credit: Tabia Lisenbee Parker
Big Dave’s is one of the best places in the city to grab a cheesesteak, and their Forsyth Street location is only four blocks from State Farm Arena (and there are stalls in Mercedes Benz Stadium, too). You could conceivably eat a three-cheese-topped Dave’s Way cheesesteak and fries and still walk to the venue. But then again, we’re talking about a sandwich that’s liberally piled with cheese, delicious ribeye, onions, mushrooms, and peppers. Are you really going to walk? Should you opt for something lighter, salmon egg rolls make sense. With an order of these gently fried bites, some fries, and the chili dipping sauce, we’re always satisfied and a little more buoyant for the walk down Decatur Street.
Located right across the street from the ever-hopping Hyatt Regency, White Oak doesn’t need to do much to draw a crowd. To keep customers coming back, however, it prepares a slew of Southern-influenced specialties that outshine almost anything you can find within a block of the hotel. The bright, farmhouse-inspired space is ideal for a power lunch over fried green tomatoes or a few vodka cocktails and hearty halibut at dinnertime.