Where To Eat In Southwest AtlantaFrom Caribbean and Chinese to collards and Chicago dogs, when it comes to good food, the SWATS got sumthin’ to say.
Though a who’s who of Black politicians, doctors, and celebrities have lived in Southwest Atlanta for decades, keeping a range of decent restaurants open in the area has proven tougher than finding new Outkast music on Spotify. But as the following mix of sit-down spots and takeout recommendations suggests, things in the SWATS are swaying in the right culinary direction.
The Cascade Heights restaurant occasionally has a performing jazz musician, in which case you can pretend you’re in some romance movie where all the characters coincidentally have an expert-level knowledge of music theory. But even when no one is playing, Oreatha’s just feels jazzy. From the gray abstract floor tiles and the cool blue glass drinkware to the creative riffs on soul food classics, the place just sings to you. Start with the panzanella salad, a fun Southern spin on the traditional bread salad that uses cornbread croutons and shredded collards. Then share the smoked duck pot pie or the fried Thai-seasoned catfish and grits.
If we’re telling you to be at the host stand at 9am sharp, it’s for a good reason. If you’re not at this busy Cascade diner when it opens, you might as well detour to a drive-thru. It’s not that we wouldn’t wait for Gocha’s delicious gulf shrimp and flounder over jalapeno grits. We’d just rather eat the dish than be stuck dreaming about it in a line outside. The parsley potatoes are good enough to eat as a meal, but once they’re topped with sizzling steak, an egg, and parsley, the photogenic dish turns into something so euphoric you’ll have zero regrets about leaving the house in sweats.
The big, flower-covered step and repeat outside the entrance stands out boldly enough to lure you into this all-day brunch spot in this Cascade shopping center. The inside of Milk & Honey gives classic neighborhood diner vibes with a few small tables and a larger outdoor patio. The picture-heavy menu makes it hard to choose between breakfast options and seafood dishes like the lobster pot pie or the huge portion of seafood hash. Everything is good, but just make sure you get a waffle. Because decisions are hard, we like getting the combo waffle of a red velvet and the key lime.
While dark gray exterior paint and a fenced-in front patio aren’t the most welcoming sights as you pull into this Cascade restaurant, you’re rewarded with bright Marley art, faux plant walls, and chill vibes inside the Caribbean-leaning eatery. If you’re coming for dinner, the mood can be bouncy (live music on Fridays), so pair the crispy jerk chicken egg rolls with a Purple Haze (gin, St. Germain, lime, simple syrup, and tonic) and get in formation. Coming in for a quieter lunch? Cool, just be sure to have water nearby because the spices in the Cajun salmon-topped Rasta Pasta will have your tastebuds doing the two-step.
In a weathered building that we vaguely remember being a Dairy Queen back in the day, Atlanta Meat & Fish Market cooks some of the best Senegambian (Senegalese-Gambian) food in the city. When you walk in (stay left, the building’s right side is a basic market), don’t worry about the tables full of spirited conversations or the faded menu hanging up. Concentrate on the food, because the lamb jollof rice is superb. The marinated lamb dibi with mustard onions is a treat. And the grilled white fish and rice is packed with flavor. This is consistently fantastic West African cuisine. You won't care that you have to trek through a largely-abandoned plaza to get to it.
Sitting in a standalone building that could have easily been a KFC in a former life, Big Daddy’s (unaffiliated with the Cascade business of the same name) has been a steady soul food option for decades on Campbellton Road. The spacious cafeteria-style eatery’s loyal base loves the big selection (two rows of daily options) and portions so generous you need both hands to carry your plate. We usually go safe and satisfying with fried chicken, yams, and collards on most days. But if we’re wearing our elastic waist pants, we do a massive helping of shredded turkey over rice with a side of black-eyed peas.
A grown-and-pretty-sexy Cascade spot from R&B queen/reality show star Kandi Burruss and husband Todd Tucker, Blaze looks (well-lit bar, leather banquettes) and sounds (Toni Braxton in the speakers) exactly how you’d expect. Because we’ve been fooled by so many so-so celeb-owned establishments, we’re happy to report that Blaze is ready for its closeup in the kitchen. Garlic-sprinkled turkey wings are a unique starter that works. Marinated lamb chops make a solid main, but spot-on sides such as garlic mashed potatoes, crispy brussels sprouts, and seafood fried rice are Blaze’s real headliners.
Rickette’s is a beloved Chicago barbecue restaurant that's made its ATL debut with a modest takeout operation in a Greenbriar Parkway strip mall. Their specialty, perfectly-fried whole wings covered in a sweet barbecue sauce, isn’t a typical combination for the A, but it’s one we’re hoping catches on quickly. Turkey tips and fried perch are other tasty alternatives on the menu. No matter your order, just be sure to tell ’em to separate the fries. We don’t know how they do in the CHI, but down here, picking from a tray of sogginess on the drive home ain’t it.
Mulan has quietly minded its business at the far end of a Fairburn Road shopping center for years. It’s become a favorite for food delivery services, and it’s also the rare non-chain on the Southside that offers dine-in service and has a small bar, too. Unfussy yet charming, the spacious restaurant shows its appreciation for Asia’s many cuisines with a menu consisting of items like kabobs, California rolls, and cashew chicken. If you’re in the mood for Chinese, try the crispy egg rolls and a chicken sizzling rice soup that’s just salty enough. The pepper steak is well-flavored, but you won’t get enough for a to-go container.
A takeout spot in a shopping strip across from Greenbriar Mall, Stuffy Dawg works as a decent option for folks who’ve been running around all day and forgot to grab dinner. While you may pause at some of the hot dogs’ playful toppings (shrimp alfredo, buffalo barbecue), you're likely to applaud the fresh ingredients and the kitchen’s grilling techniques. Elaborate burgers are done with similarly fun fixings, but oddly, you don’t quite taste the same chargrilled love as the dogs. But most things here are solid. In fact, the banana pudding is damn good. So, if you’re on Headland Drive when your stomach starts growling, you might as well detour for a dawg.