ATLGuide

The Best Walk-In Restaurants In Atlanta

You don't have to call, it's OK. Embrace spontaneity and revisit the thrill of no dinner reservations.
Pieces of medium rare steaks with a bowl of french fries.

photo credit: Amy Sinclair

Surprise, surprise. You forgot to book the reservation (again). Or maybe you’re non-committal and can’t even tie yourself to an exact dinner time. Perhaps you enjoy the visceral thrill of sweet-talking your way into a booked-out space. Whatever the reason and whenever your original non-planned dinner plans fail, we’ve rounded up a list of the five best walk-in restaurants in Atlanta. So embrace spontaneity and roll up whenever you want.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Tabia S. Lisenbee-Parker

American

Edgewood

$$$$Perfect For:Date NightDrinking Good WineBig GroupsLiterally EveryoneSmall Plates
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Staplehouse went back to their fine dining roots with a prix fixe dinner service that does require a reservation. But from noon to 4pm, the Edgewood spot still offers some of their signature dishes through the walk-up service counter. We love that we can still bring the whole family (kids and dogs included) to their cheery courtyard to eat a lunch that swings from tender, braised bamboo barigoule to tasty comforts like meatball subs.

photo credit: Amy Sinclair

$$$$Perfect For:Drinking Good CocktailsDate Night

Situations will arise in our lives (like a traffic jam that made you an hour late to your original reservation). But you gotta be smart about it, and heading to West Midtown to dine at Bar Blanc is really the smartest thing you can do when date night is in jeopardy. The small and stylish French bar is where we'd go to drink classic cocktails with a French electronica soundtrack. Très chic. It also serves a prix fixe menu of respectable steak frites, table salad, and bread. A $50 per person price tag will get you a better steak dinner around town. But when our choices are either a costly meal or a night of sleeping alone on the couch, we’ll take the prime rib and unlimited fries with a tasty bearnaise every time.

This old-school Reynoldstown bar and restaurant is small and fills up fast with neighborhood locals, so getting here early to beat the crowds is a good idea. But even if you have to wait on a table, there’s a full bar with a rotating cocktail menu (we still dream about their gin and absinthe concoction) to help pass the time. If prime rib is on the menu, get it, it's so thick we thought there were two slabs on top of each other. But even other dishes like their moist chicken thighs or porchetta are great reasons to put Whoopie's in your rotation for a laid-back date.

This place is usually buzzing on weekends, so get here early or be prepared to wait. And that's fine with us since reservations would probably ruin the come one, come all spirit that’s made this Grant Park diner a consistent favorite for brunch. Ria’s sits just across the street from historic Oakland Cemetery, which gives it an extra layer of cultural cool. While they've extended their patio into the parking lot to accommodate the steady crowds, the place has largely remained fixed in time with the same colorful, artsy interior and the same menu staples. Grab a seat at the counter, and enjoy your fluffy buttermilk pancakes (a must-order here) or spicy shrimp and grits, and watch the comings and goings at an Atlanta classic.

Sure, you can walk into any BBQ spot in Atlanta, but a spot this phenomenal should really have a velvet rope. Cumberland’s Heirloom BBQ doesn’t have any indoor dining, only a small fenced-in courtyard with umbrella-covered high boys. But even cold and rainy days don’t stop navy suit crowds, neighborhood families, and other fans of this cherished BBQ-meets-KBBQ spot from filling up the space. And while you can’t call ahead for dibs on a high boy, you can place your order ahead of time online. So by the time you arrive, you can scurry your barely-needs-chewing brisket and spicy Korean pork to the nearest available tabletop and watch with smug satisfaction as the first-timers struggle with the QR code menu. 

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