When you’re looking to experience what food Atlanta is known for, you’ll see that what stands out are its innovative and varied culinary offerings — with chefs inventing contemporary twists on classic and familiar dishes. The city’s diverse culture lends itself to several types of cuisines, ranging from classic Southern to high-end, chef-driven dining. Many restaurants in downtown Atlanta also pride themselves on their fresh, sustainable ingredients sourced from local purveyors and farmers.
Chefs in Atlanta aren’t afraid to try something new or combine different culinary styles to create something unique that can’t be found anywhere else. Gone are the days where every restaurant offers the same basic menu choices.
If you are looking for the best local food in downtown Atlanta, these spots are a must-stop for every foodie or anyone just looking for a good meal:
- Agave Restaurant
- Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint
- Nikolai’s Roof
- Amalfi Pizza
- White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails
- The Sun Dial Restaurant, Bar & View
- Cooks & Soldiers
- Pittypat’s Porch
- Wisteria Restaurant
- Yebo Beach Haus
- Catch 12
1. Agave Restaurant
Set in the historically important Cotton Mill general store, Agave Restaurant offers an eclectic Southwestern menu and an energetic atmosphere. Agave’s award-winning margaritas feature fresh-squeezed lime juice, and their Hatch Green Chile and Red Chile are shipped in weekly from New Mexico. Nearly all of Agave’s menu items are gluten-free or can be prepared gluten-free with substitutions, making it a great option for those with allergies or sensitivities. If you are dining with a party of six or more people, call at least 24 hours ahead to book The Chef’s Menu — a three-course tasting of the menu served family-style featuring nine dishes of your choice.
Start your meal off right with Agave’s Smoked Salmon Tostadas, Grilled Street Corn, or Chicken Poblano Soup. Order from their extensive entree selection to try the Chile Grilled Swordfish or Agave’s Famous Cayenne Fried Chicken and don’t forget to add a side of Sauteed Red Wine Mushrooms. What dinner would be complete without dessert? Give Agave’s Key Lime Pie on a Peppery Ginger Crust a try.
2. Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint
Located in the former Macy’s building, Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint combines live entertainment and deep south cuisine for a unique dining experience. Stop by to admire the historic artifacts and period photos on display while enjoying popular music throughout American history. Sweet Georgia’s decor honors historic juke joints and features a custom mural created by a local artist. Dance the night away on their wood dance floor or sit back, relax, and enjoy the live performances.
Start your evening with an order of Collard Green Spring Rolls, Catfish Fingers, or Seafood Gumbo. Pick from classic Southern entrees like Bayou Salmon or Chicken and Waffles and don’t forget to add a side of Parmesan Cheese Grits or Fried Green Tomatoes. Round out the meal with an order of Juke Joint Peach Cobbler or Spiced Apple Bread Pudding. Looking for a taste of the South earlier in your day? Go in for Sunday Brunch at 11 a.m. to enjoy endless mimosas with their Crab Cake Benedict or Salmon Hash.
3. Nikolai’s Roof
Atop the Hilton Atlanta, Nikolai’s Roof offers a modern dining experience with a beautiful view of the city skyline. Nikolai’s Roof underwent a renovation in 2014 to update its interior to a more modern design while still retaining its historic feel. Stop by on a Wednesday Evening from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. to enjoy live jazz music while sipping your choice from their award-winning wine list. The menu at Nikolai’s Roof features modern American cuisine, yet it still pays tribute to the restaurant’s Russian influences. They offer a daily selection of items made with locally sourced ingredients to ensure guests receive fresh, seasonal dishes.
Nikolai’s Roof’s menu is subject to change on a nightly basis, so depending on when you visit this establishment, you could enjoy Braised Beef Tenderloin Piroshki, Jumbo Lump Crabcake, Burgundy Escargot Tart, or a variety of other offerings. Their entrees could include Seared Grouper, Magret Duck Breast, or Herb Crusted Lamb Chops. And if you’re lucky, they’ll have their Orange Creme Brulee meringue cookie or Coconut Panna Cotta on the menu for dessert.
4. Amalfi Pizza
Enjoy traditional Neapolitan-style pizza at Amalfi Pizza. Baked in wood-burning brick ovens imported from Italy, the pizza at Amalfi Pizza is cooked at temperatures in excess of 900 degrees for approximately 60 seconds. Amalfi Pizza co-founders not only apprenticed with master pizza makers in Italy, but they also scoured Naples and its surrounding region to find quality ingredients to use in their pizzeria. The dining room at Amalfi Pizza features classic Italian design with Juliet balconies and an Italian-inspired entryway.
Though pizza is Amalfi Pizza’s main focus, they also offer a variety of popular Italian appetizers and savory pasta dishes as well. Order a full plate of Mussels Bianco or Fresh Burrata with Beets and Avocado to start your traditional Italian meal. If pasta is your preference, try Pasta Con Gamberi or Rigatoni Di Napoli. Choose from a selection of classic Italian thin-crust pizzas using imported ingredients including Tartufo E Funghi (mushroom and truffle pizza), and Pizza Amalfi, the house specialty, featuring spicy sausage, peppadew peppers, and house-made bacon jam.
5. White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails
With an interior featuring white oak and re-purposed wood accents, it’s no mystery what inspired the White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails name. The main dining room features three chandeliers manufactured out of sugar maple from the Jack Daniels Distillery, adding to the rustic-meets-modern aesthetic White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails achieves. White Oak prides itself on providing its guests with dishes that appear simple and familiar but contain carefully selected ingredients and are prepared using advanced culinary techniques. As the name would suggest, White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails focuses on cocktails as much as food and offers a bar featuring signature cocktails, wine, whiskey, and bourbon.
Visit White Oak at lunchtime for their Oyster Po’Boy, Fingerling Potato & Wild Mushroom Hash, or Scallops with Black Truffle Hash Browns. Dinner is a great time to try their Beet Salad, Venison, or Honey Roasted Hakurei Turnips. Finish your meal with a slice of Vanilla Chess Pie paired with a cup of White Oak’s coffee or tea — 100% certified organic and fair trade.
6. The Sun Dial Restaurant, Bar & View
High above the city, atop The Westin Peachtree Plaza, The Sun Dial Restaurant, Bar & View features a tri-level dining complex with a restaurant on the lower level, a 360-degree observatory on the mid-level, and a cocktail lounge on the top level. On the observatory level, you’ll find eight viewing platforms that provide guests with a full view of the surrounding cityscape. The Sun Dial Restaurant utilizes local resources in their farm-to-table, seasonal menus while providing guests with an upscale dining experience.
Enjoy brunch 723-feet in the air and order The Sun Dial’s Blueberry French Toast Casserole or Blackened Georgia Trout. The Sun Dial’s lunch menu offers a Coca-Cola Smoked Brisket sandwich paired with Parsley Parmesan Fries or a Vegetable Tortelloni. Admire the stars while dining on Seared Alaskan Halibut or split a Tomahawk Steak for two and finish the meal with a slice of Bourbon Pecan Pie or some Hazelnut Caramel Crunch.
7. Cooks & Soldiers
Inspired by the Basque Country in Spain and France, Cooks & Soldiers is a Pintxo Bar — the Basque version of a tapas bar. At Cooks & Soldiers, guests order plates for the table and share in lively conversation which sets the vibrant and communal atmosphere of the restaurant. The heart of the Cooks & Soldiers kitchen is the Asador, a wood-fired grill, where they cook meat and seafood over hot coals to be shared with your party and paired with fire-roasted vegetables.
The Cooks & Soldiers menu consists of three main sections — Pintxos Tradicionales (served on two pieces of toast), Pintxos Especiales (small Basque-inspired dishes), and Asador (woodfire grilled meats and seafood to share). Some of their Pintxos Tradicionales offerings include Smoked Mushrooms, Rabbit Porchetta, and Duck Confit while their Pintxos Especiales menu presents options such as Smoked Okra and Escargot Fried Rice. The Cooks & Soldiers Asador menu lets you choose between a whole, wood-grilled market fish, pork tenderloin, or a bone-in ribeye.
8. Pittypat’s Porch
Established in the early 1960s, Pittypat’s Porch was created in an effort to fill the need for more Atlanta restaurants offering classic, Southern
cuisine. The founder of Pittypat’s wanted to recreate the feel of an old Southern home. He furnished the dining room with American antiques,
outfitted the waiting area with wooden rockers, and named the restaurant after Scarlett O’Hara’s aunt in “Gone with the Wind” — as she was shown in the movie to be a gracious hostess entertaining visitors on her grand porch. At Pittypat’s Porch, the menus are printed on fans, and mint juleps are always on the menu.
As the founder intended, Pittypat’s Porch offers a classic selection of famous Atlanta food such as Georgia Catfish, Low Country Shrimp and Grits, and Savannah Crab Cakes. Step outside of your comfort zone and order their Pork Chops with Curried Peanut Sauce or their Black-Eyed Pea Cakes. And of course, you have to order a mint julep and slice of pie before you leave.
Now located in the Castleberry Hill Arts District, Paschal’s was originally established by two brothers in 1947 as a luncheonette on West Hunter Street. The brothers later began serving dinner and developed a secret fried chicken recipe to be the specialty menu item. The restaurant grew in popularity and hosted notable celebrities such as Aretha Franklin and Dizzy Gillespie and served as a meeting place for key civil rights leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In 2002, Paschal’s reopened as a modernized version of its original counterpart at its new location on Northside Drive.
Grab an order of Hot Crab & Pimento Cheese Dip or a basket of Crispy Fried Calamari for the table while you wait for your meal. Take a trip to the past by ordering Robert & James 1947 Fried Chicken, named for the Paschal’s founders or order a more modern dish like the Tilapia Sandwich. Choose a side of Creamy Cheddar Grits, Collards with Ham Shanks, or Fresh Sauteed Green Beans and make sure you order Paschal’s Award-Winning Peach Cobbler.
10. Wisteria Restaurant
Striving to combine classic flavors with modern trends, the Wisteria Restaurant provides classic comfort food with a refreshing twist. With an ever-changing menu to accommodate seasonal ingredients, the restaurant’s chef works to add refinement to the at-home feel of Southern cuisine. An exposed brick wall featuring local art for sale is the main attraction of the restaurant’s large dining room and an extensive menu of cocktails, craft beer, and diverse wine options will round out any meal you choose.
Enjoy organic and locally sourced ingredients with an appetizer of Beef Carpaccio or Pimento Cheese Deviled Eggs. The entree menu offers options such as Low Country Seafood Stew & Corn Bread, North Georgia Mountain Trout, and Braised Lamb Shank. Order a side of Sweet Corn Pudding or Kale & Poblano Pepper Slaw for a Southern twist. Be sure to leave room for dessert, too, and try the Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce or Meyer Lemon-Buttermilk Sherbert.
11. Yebo Beach Haus
Merging South African flavors with American cuisine, this restaurant operates as Yebo Beach Haus nine months out of the year. However, from December through February, it transforms into a pop-up experience known as Yebo Ski Haus. Yebo Beach Haus creates a refreshing, coastal environment that encourages guests to feel relaxed. Yebo Ski Haus offers a completely different menu and atmosphere from Yebo Beach Haus. You’ll find a cozy lodge experience that is focused on comfort and warmth.
During its Beach Haus season, Yebo takes inspiration from coastal destinations offering options such as Grilled Pineapple Salad, Ostrich Sliders, Red Snapper, and Crispy Pork Belly Tacos. During the Yebo Ski Haus pop-up, you can order Peri-Peri Popcorn, Curry Pot Pie, and Arctic Char. The Beach Haus dessert menu features flan and mango sorbet while the Ski Haus desserts include Snowman Gelato and Amarula Cheesecake.
12. Catch 12
Located on the ground level of Twelve Hotel Autograph Collection, Catch 12 provides an upscale experience to tourists and locals alike. Whether you want an intimate dining experience or want to admire the Atlanta skyline as you dine on the outdoor terrace, Catch 12 will provide you with the atmosphere you are looking for. Catch 12 features a sushi bar and open kitchen that allows guests to see the skilled culinary team in action. The menu at Catch 12 includes options for every hour of the day and features plenty of local ingredients and flavors. You can even create your own Bento Box for lunch on the go.
Catch 12’s breakfast specialties include Crispy Catfish and Smoked Gouda Grits, Avocado and Heirloom Tomato on Wheat Toast with Eggs, and Amaretto French Toast with Georgia Peach Compote. Feel like sleeping in a bit? Catch 12’s brunch menu features a basket of Warm Agave Cinnamon Rolls as well as some options available on the breakfast and lunch menus. For lunch, try the Grilled Gulf Shrimp Salad or the Crab Cake Sandwich or choose from a variety of sashimi, rolls, and teriyaki to create your own Bento Box. For dinner, order from the Seasonal Fresh Catch List or choose a cut of Flame-Broiled Steak. Your options are endless, and Catch 12’s extensive sushi menu can’t be beaten.
Grab a Bite at Catch 12
If you’re looking to find out for yourself what food Atlanta is best known for, be sure to visit Catch 12. Whether you’re in the mood for a classic dish or looking to discover a new favorite, Catch 12 has a variety of innovative selections to introduce you to Atlanta’s culinary scene. Reserve your table at Catch 12 today.