There are plenty of reasons you might find yourself in Buckhead. You might work in the area, only see movies at Phipps because of the recliners, or you regularly make the trek up the 400 to drive past houses you’ll never be able to afford. But when you inevitably get hungry the next time you’re here, don’t settle for the Lenox food court. Instead, check out one of the places below. From a wine bar in a strip mall to a restaurant with a Picasso on the wall, these are the best places to eat and drink in Buckhead.
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Storico Fresco has a lot going for it, like the mini Italian grocery store inside and pasta-making classes, but we’d still come here without all that because they serve some of our favorite pasta in the city. Start with the fried squash blossoms and get a few different pastas to share - the lasagna and cacio e pepe are both excellent. Grab a table on the patio to people watch and drink too much wine, and make sure you finish with the burnt ricotta pie with raspberry jam.
Maybe you have a big anniversary coming up, or you took a lump sum payment from a scratch-off win. Either way, when you have a big occasion and some money to spend, Chai Yo is where you should be eating. This upscale Thai restaurant is one of the most expensive spots in the area, but also one of the best. They serve high-end takes on classic dishes, like their lobster tom kha and beef cheek panang curry. Everything on the menu feels a little special, and it’s a great alternative to the places you already have in your splurge rotation.
When you want food cooked over an open fire, but don’t have time for a weekend trip to Tallulah Gorge, head to King and Duke instead. It’s a big space with a 24-foot hearth as its centerpiece - which makes sense given that a lot of the menu here involves open-fire cooking. Bring a date or your parents, or anyone who is willing to share appetizers - like deviled eggs and hush puppies - and lots of grilled meat. And, if you’re looking for another excuse to hang out on their patio, they serve a great weekend brunch.
Located inside the St. Regis, this high-end Southern spot is what your place would look like if you won the lottery and knew the difference between impressionism and post-modernism. With paintings by Picasso and Monet on the walls, and plenty of dishes with ingredients like truffles and foie gras, 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 some nice art, check out the tavern menu at the bar instead.
When it’s your fourth day in a row of sad desk lunches and you never want to see tupperware again, go to Henri’s for a sandwich. Get the pastrami or the turkey po’boy to-go, or eat in the courtyard to remind yourself what fresh air feels like. Everything is under $10, so grab a box of lemon squares or eclairs on your way out to share with your less fortunate coworkers still stuck at the office.
There are two Buckhead Souper Jenny locations - one inside the Atlanta History Center, and the other on the border of Brookhaven on Peachtree - and both are worth going out of your way for when you need a lunch that won’t lead to a 2pm crash. The menu is made up of soups, salads, and sandwiches and everything is kind of healthy, quick, and easy to take to go if there’s no time to sit on their patio.
When you’ve been staring at the clock at work since this morning, and your team plans to sneak out early, head to Mission + Market. The cocktails aren’t cheap, but they’re all unique, with ingredients like black lava salt and kombucha. The beer list is short, but more reasonably priced, and you can make a meal out of sharing a few pizzas and small plates. The floor to ceiling windows and big open patio are huge draws after a day under fluorescent lighting, and are the perfect setting to recount how your manager asked what Chrome was today.
There are plenty of restaurants in Buckhead that serve farm-to-table Southern food, but few have been doing it as long as Watershed. They recently redid their menu to include more unique twists, like barbecued octopus with popcorn, but luckily their fried chicken survived the menu purge. There’s a big patio out front overlooking Peachtree, and it’s the perfect place to bring a date who watches enough food TV to order a dish with cornbread puree.
When you spent too much money on a new shirt, and want to wear it somewhere that could be referred to as trendy, head to Saltyard. This place is always crowded, but between the drinks, photogenic interior, and unique small plates, like sweet potato empanadas and banh mi sliders, it’s worth the wait. Bring a group that’s down to share and order a large portion of the menu, and if you want to go big, get the 22oz strip for the table.
If your boss asks you to plan a client dinner, or you get chosen to plan a meal for your extended family, make a reservation at St. Cecilia. From the floor-to-ceiling windows to the big menu of mostly Italian entrees and pasta, anyone you bring here will be happy. And with a long list of cocktails, wine, and beer, your aunt will probably forget to badger you about reading your cousin’s new conspiracy theory blog.
When the person you locked eyes with over heirloom tomatoes at the farmer’s market tells you they’re vegan, take them to Cafe Sunflower. Go for brunch and get the “chicken and waffles” and blueberry pancakes. Or head here for dinner to share a few appetizers. Their desserts (especially the key lime pie) will make you debate going vegan, if it was guaranteed that everything you ate would be this great.
Your friend is dog-sitting in Brookhaven for the weekend and bribes you to come meet them for brunch. Put on something that isn’t sweatpants and head to Haven. It’s a nicer spot on a quiet street that’s always packed on the weekend. If you didn’t make a reservation, you might have to wait a bit, so grab a mimosa and take that time to look over the long menu. They have breakfast classics like eggs Benedict and a smoked salmon bagel, but if you’re more in a lunch mood, go for the fried chicken sandwich.
Aria is exactly what you think of when you hear fine dining - from the small, seasonal menu and carefully designed interior to the overly friendly service. Bring a date or your parents when you feel like taking a break from sitting in the divot you’ve created in your couch. You could probably just close your eyes and point to things on the menu and be happy, but make sure to get the brie and the yellowtail sashimi if they’re available.
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. You’re definitely going to spend some money here, but they serve the best sushi in the city. You can order a la carte, but if you’re there to have a really big night, or impress your friend who went to Japan last year, go for one of their three omakase options.
Buckhead Diner is everything you picture when you think of a classic diner, from the aluminum exterior to the bright neon signs, but without the harsh lighting and small, cramped booths. They serve some old-school classics with modern twists, like a brisket and short rib burger and four cheese macaroni, in a more upscale space than you’d expect. Get the meatloaf and a few desserts to share.
Aside from a massive sale at the As Seen On TV store, there are few things worth braving mall traffic for. Seven Lamps is one of them. It’s located in a relatively quiet corner of the Lenox Mall and is a great spot to meet a friend for lunch if you both work in the area, or to bring a date who will forgive you for taking them to a restaurant in a mall. The entrees can get expensive, so share a few of the small plates, and if there’s one thing worth splurging on, it’s the lobster bun.
Yebo Beach Haus (or Ski House, depending on the time of year you visit) is a South African spot that bases their menu and interior off a specific town that has inspired them for the season. If you go during the beach season, the menu will include things like fresh carrot salad, 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 and winter just to see what they’re up to, and it gives you a great excuse to grab drinks at the St. Regis across the street if you want to make a night of it.
When you pull into a strip mall and find a restaurant next to a Rite Aid, you might be a little skeptical. But once you’re inside Terra Terroir, you realize that you’ve stumbled upon something special. The menu here is a bit all over the place, but split some small plates and go deep into the wine list. Try to get a spot on their outdoor patio because between the covered canopy and greenery, it’s a great place to spend a few hours.
Bistro Niko is a great spot to bring a date, your parents, or that friend who studied abroad in Paris six years ago. The food is classic French and served in a huge dining room with plenty of chandeliers and paintings of the Eiffel Tower. The staff is super knowledgeable about wine, which will help as you try and make your way through the long bottle list. Ask for a spot on the patio, order the steak frites, and pretend you’re looking out on the Champs Elysees instead of onto Peachtree.
Going out to eat is great, but sometimes the pull of your couch is too strong, and takeout is the way to go. Vero Pizzeria is a place worth going out of your way for to pick up a few pizzas, and maybe a salad if you feel like something green. They’ve got 10 pizzas on the menu, ranging from simple to more-toppings-than-cheese, but everything is worth a try, and will always be better than having to cook it yourself.
Blue Ridge Grill feels like an expensive ski lodge that was relocated to a city that never sees snow. It’s almost entirely wooden, with huge leather booths and a fireplace beneath a painting of a bunny-man in a suit drinking wine. The menu is seafood-heavy, but with plenty of meat dishes, along with Southern-style sides, like collard greens and corn souffle, served family-style. The wine list is massive, so you can order a glass or bottle of red and pretend it’s not 90 degrees outside.