Where To Eat & Drink In Buckhead guide image


Where To Eat & Drink In Buckhead

19 of our favorite places to eat and drink in Buckhead.

The popular Atlanta district has long been known as the “fancy” side of town, where business crowds flock to max out their dinner per diems and big spenders can keep up appearances at white tablecloth steakhouses where the forks grow in size for each course. In fact, Buckhead very well may be in the global running for most steakhouses per square mile. 

So, yes, Buckhead has an exciting collection of swanky restaurants, even one with million dollar, museum-quality art on the wall. But the district isn’t all glitz and glam, there are plenty of good eats in all price ranges from brunch and omakase sushi to lamb bolognese and hot dogs.



Even for Buckhead, everything about Zakia is excessive. It reminds us of an old MTV Cribs episode–sure, we’d never decorate our house that way, but for Zakia, everything feels appropriately grand. There are four dramatic chandeliers and giant pillars lining the dining area that have us Googling the breadth of ancient Rome imperialism (yes to Tyre, but et tu, Buckhead?). Zakia’s classy interior mirrors Buckhead's many bougie spots, but their food stands out from the pack, thanks to excellent takes on Lebanese staples like fried kibbeh, impossibly fresh baba ganoush with pomegranate seeds, and crispy batata harra.

Dining at this Buckhead hotspot in the St. Regis can be a bit over-stimulating. There’s the whole ultra lush Victorian fantasy garden setup, but then a celebrity walks by a table filled with other celebrities, the waiter saunters over with some theatrical food and drink presentations (is that a rubber ducky floating in pink champagne? Yes. Yes, it is), and a live performer is hitting Mariah Carey-level octaves. The menu ranges from pricey tomahawk steaks to simple wagyu burgers and crisp fries, and the cocktails are as good as they are dramatic.

Aria is the place you think of when you hear fine dining, from the small, daily-updated seasonal menu and enormous list of wines by the bottle to the carefully designed interior and artfully-plated dishes. Bring a date to flex a bit or take your parents in an effort to convince them that all your life choices have worked out…except for maybe that one cryptocurrency pyramid scheme. This elegant, white tablecloth establishment is a safe space because there’s really no wrong moves here. You could probably just close your eyes and point to things on the menu and be happy, but get the brie and the yellowtail sashimi if they’re available.

From celebrity chef Scott Conant, this Italian steakhouse is another top steak option in the district, but it throws in great pasta options as well. Located in the Intercontinental Buckhead, the restaurant rarely draws large, noisy (and perhaps nosy) crowds—perfect for navigating any awkward getting-to-know-you conversation out of earshot of others. Most of the menu items are simple but elevated takes on the usual steak cuts, house salads, and pasta—we like the spaghetti with pomodoro, and the cocktail menu has a noteworthy list of fun and showy drinks (think glass smoking cloches and misting bottles) that can help you jumpstart a dying discussion.

Whenever your friends hit you with the “I’m so hungry, I wanna order half the menu” moan, take them here and let them prove it. This relaxed Balinese gastropub offers several small and shareable plates at prices that will tempt you to request one of everything. The tasty saté options—from juicy chicken to lamb—are easy finger foods to pass around the table and while entrees like the lightly battered, crispy whole red snapper will be something you’ll covet all for yourself, with these flavors, it’d be criminal not to share.

Maybe you have a big anniversary coming up or your performance-based bonus just hit. Either way, when you have a big occasion and some money to spend, Chai Yo is where you should be eating. Most entrees at the fine dining Thai restaurant range from $30 to $60, but menu items like their lobster tom kha and tender beef cheek panang curry almost make you forget the prices. Everything on the menu feels a little special, and it’s a great alternative to the places you already have in your splurge rotation.

Yes, Atlas is also located inside the St. Regis hotel, but it’s a very different vibe than the whimsical Garden Room. Atlas is likely what your place would look like if you won the lottery and knew the difference between impressionism and post-modernism. With on-loan rotating art works by names like Picasso, Monet, and Foujita on the walls and plenty of fancy dishes with ingredients like truffles and caviar, this is somewhere you go for a big anniversary or a client dinner when someone else is paying. If you’re looking for a slightly more casual experience, but still want to bask in the presence of nice art, check out the tavern menu at the bar across the hall.

The person you locked eyes with over heirloom tomatoes at the farmer’s market told you they’re vegan. If you’re not vegan, don’t give up on true love just yet, just plan your first date at Cafe Sunflower, where vegans and vegetarians can go in on a plant-based menu full of interesting and innovative options that meet (or un-meats) all dietary needs. Go for brunch and get the plant-based chicken and waffles and blueberry pancakes or during the dinner hours for nut-free “shrimp” tacos and, our favorite, the gluten-free “chicken” lollipops. If love at first sight isn’t enough to make you entertain veganism, perhaps their desserts (especially the key lime pie) will.

When you’ve been seeing someone for long enough that they have your Netflix login, and your last three date nights have all been in dimly-lit restaurants serving burrata, it’s time for something else. That’s where Umi comes in. It’s a scene packed with beautiful couples you want to hate, smug types who feel extra smug because they’re spending corporate dollars, and friends celebrating special occasions. Umi sushi is widely touted as some of the best sushi in the city, so prepare to spend some money here—you can order a la carte, but if you’re there to have a really big night, go for one of their omakase options, which start at $155 per person.

Why should brunch be a weekend-only perk? Toast is open Wednesday through Sunday until 5pm, and the all-day brunch bar brings a steady crowd (make a reservation to secure your spot). During the weekend, you’ll find the expected brunch crowd. But during the work week, there are plenty of WFH’ers seated along the bar on their laptops, typing away in between bites of short rib breakfast skillets or moist sweet potato waffles with fried lobster. And when you can’t fit the usual post-brunch nap into your workday, there are plenty of lighter options like their acai bowls, avocado toast, and flight of daily fresh-pressed juices.

If you’re feeling the midweek blues, book a dinner at Dirty Rascal, an upscale Italian-American restaurant inside the Thompson Hotel. It isn’t just a mood, it’s a mood changer. Setting the scene for a little escapism, the mid-century, retro-looking bar just outside the hotel’s entrance to the restaurant is the perfect place to grab a drink and pretend you’re not only in another place but in another decade—notably a decade where your work deadlines don’t yet exist. Then move onto the dimly-lit dining room to enjoy carb-heavy comforts like their cheesy lasagna for two or tortellini with a meaty lamb bolognese.

You’re bound to see triathlete-looking types biking and running around Chastain Park. Ignore them, because we’d say there are more important things to get into in the park, and The Chastain is one of them. The neighborhood bistro serves Southern dishes, like big plates of fried okra, single-serving ramekins of chicken pot pie, and locally-sourced trout. The menu largely revolves around seasonal produce from local vendors and from The Chastain’s own on-site garden. So, expect a menu that changes with the season, but we’ll bet favorites like the picturesque TC burger will be a mainstay.

Parking at the Irby parking garage near East Andrews kinda feels like it could be an opening scene in the Taken franchise, but when you walk through the doors of Le Bon Nosh, you’ll find a setting better suited to those romantic American in Paris tropes, where the main character casually reads a book by the window with a coffee and croissant just before true love saunters into their life. At lunch, you can order big sandwiches, tasty pastries, salads and other items at the counter. Definitely return for the restaurant’s formal dinner service, where you can decide on your own trope over wine, crudite, and beef tartare. Don’t forget the frites.

There are two Buckhead Souper Jenny locations—one inside the Atlanta History Center and the other on the border of Brookhaven on Peachtree. Both casual locations give you options for a quick, fulfilling lunch that won’t lead to a 2pm crash. The entire menu of soups, salads, and sandwiches generally all fall somewhere on a Venn Diagram for Paleo, Keto, vegetarian, or gluten-free diets. That said, the people watching–from CrossFitters to the fresh-from-Botox retirees—is just as all-encompassing as the menu.

If you’re one of those people who involuntarily dances in their chair in response to a soul-pleasing forkful of food, then you’ll find yourself at home at Apt 4B. A DJ booth set up by the entrance ensures the dining experience is fully soundtracked, which can also help disguise your table gyrations. Just as long as you pair them to the beat. Blending Caribbean and Georgia soul food, Apt 4B offers enjoyable fusions like their short rib with tamarind glaze, whole fried snapper with Haitian-style pickled vegetables, and good old fashioned mac and cheese. If the DJ still isn't moving you, the housemade rum punch will get you swaying.

Yebo Beach Haus (or Ski House, depending on the time of year you visit) is a South African spot with a fantastic patio. Both the menu and decor make you feel as if you're dining in some trendy oceanside resort in Cape Town. When you go during the beach season, the menu will include things like fresh carrot salads, taquitos, and a curried chile relleno that you’ll immediately want to go back for. It’s worth a visit at least once every summer as it’s one of the city favorites for patio dining.

Remember that hometown diner that your grandparents always dragged you to because they couldn’t fathom paying for a meal elsewhere? Roshambo is like that, but it’s a diner we actually love and that doesn’t smell like generations of collected grease and line cooks’ tears. For starters they serve ribeye, crudo, and raw and Rockfeller oysters all day. The upscale diner also has big, cushy U-shaped leather booths, and a long cocktail menu, so in the dimly-lit evenings, the place feels like a fancy steakhouse. But when you eye the table next to you enjoying an order of three-inch thick french toast and a retro-looking mug filled to the brim with coffee, the diner vibes rush back in. 

If you’re looking for a venue to celebrate a graduation, promotion, or hallmark moment with your frighteningly large family, make a reservation at St. Cecilia. The spacious dining hall can accommodate you all, and from the floor-to-ceiling windows to the big menu of mostly Italian entrees and pasta, even your really picky uncle won't find a reason to complain. And with a long list of cocktails, wine, and beer, it's even possible your aunt might forget to badger you about reading your cousin’s new conspiracy theory blog.

Lucian’s intimate dining room is framed by a floor to ceiling bookshelf, stocked with books about art, food, and wine for purchase. But their best reading material has to be their thick, saddle-stitched wine menu, which offers page upon page of wines by the bottle and a small section dedicated to cocktails and wines by the glass. By the time you make your way through the wine menu, you’ll likely appreciate the limited entree choices that can help you find your way quicker to a final decision, which should include the paté, the omelet with caviar, and the cheese plate.

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photo credit: Amy Sinclair

Where To Eat & Drink In Buckhead guide image