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Morgan Lanier or Valerie Miller
Melissa Libby & Associates
AN INSIDER’S GUIDE TO ATLANTA’S FAVORITE HAUNTS FOR FOOD AND DRINK
From the best place to dance the night away to a super-secret off-menu snack,
here’s a list of faves curated by locals
ATLANTA - When thousands of football fans descend on Atlanta for the big game in February, they’ll no doubt be looking for some expert advice from the locals on the best places to eat and drink. Below is a thoughtfully selected list of favorite culinary treats from throughout the city (including one off-menu item only locals know about!) for visitors to sip, savor and share.
Best Authentic Southern Supper: Revival in Decatur (revivaldecatur.com). He’s known worldwide as “Top Chef,” but in Atlanta, chef-cookbook author-restaurateur Kevin Gillespie is a beloved local treasure. Equally famous is his Sunday Supper-inspired menu at Revival. Visit for fresh interpretations of his Georgia grandmother’s classic Southern family-style recipes for fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, cornbread, lemon icebox cake and Gillespie’s famous “Closed on Sunday” chicken sandwich served at brunch.
Best People-Watching: Johnny’s Hideaway in Buckhead (johnnyshideaway.com). Now in its 40th year, Johnny’s is perhaps Atlanta’s most legendary nightspot (check out the framed telegram from Frank Sinatra on the wall of the room named for the singer), renowned for its vintage tunes, strong cocktails and iconic dance floor (also best spot to catch someone doing The Shag). Added bonus: Johnny’s is staying open until 4 a.m. Jan. 28-Feb. 4.
Best Sports-Themed Cookies: Henri’s Bakery & Café, three locations in Buckhead, Sandy Springs and Upper Westside (henrisbakery.com). One of Atlanta’s oldest and most cherished sources for baked goods, Henri’s has been keeping local sweet teeth satisfied since 1929. The bakery is known for its sports-themed cookies decorated for each team, perfect for tailgating or pre-gaming at home.
Best Off-Menu Boiled Peanuts: The Big Ketch Saltwater Grill, Roswell and Buckhead (thebigketch.com). The best beach house vibe in land-locked Atlanta, The Big Ketch is a favorite for locals craving fresh seafood, a hand-crafted cocktail and the eatery’s secret off-menu delectable boiled peanuts. Shell, share and enjoy but please, keep this local secret hush-hush.
Best Southern BBQ Burrito: Willy’s Mexicana Grill, multiple locations around metro Atlanta (willys.com). This instantly addictive mashup of Mexican and American Southern cuisine is the latest limited-edition addition to the Willy’s menu. Filled with chipotle pulled pork or spicy adobe chicken, the burrito is then lovingly hand-rolled and stuffed full of rice, pinto beans, Jack cheese, Southwestern coleslaw and Willy’s house made Alabama white sauce. Just make sure and grab extra napkins.
Best Brisket: 4 Rivers Smokehouse in Midtown (4rsmokehouse.com). This family-owned, community-focused barbecue restaurant is redefining the art of smoking, one brisket at a time. The 4R Signature Smoked Texas-style brisket put 4 Rivers Smokehouse on the map, so be sure to check out this joint’s commitment to bold flavor twists and creative ingredient combinations.
Best Bowl You Can Eat: gusto!, four locations in Buckhead, Midtown, Westside and Decatur (whatsyourgusto.com). Atlanta’s favorite build-your-own-bowl emporium, gusto! offers a choice of mixed greens or brown rice topped with grilled chicken, spicy chicken, grilled shrimp or grilled portabellas and choice of favorite sauce (but seriously, go for the Sweet Soy Sriracha).
Best Airport Eats: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (hbfairports.com). For a true taste of Atlanta instead of a fast food chain, try out one of the local culinary options operated by the Paradies Lagardère Dining Division. Score wings at the Atlanta Hawks Bar & Grill, hand-tossed pizza at Varasano’s, ribs and grits at Low Country, a choice of 35 beers on tap at Tap: A Gastro Pub, or sit down and relax at “Top Chef” chef Cat Cora’s Kitchen.
Best Cocktail: Gunshow in Glenwood Park (gunshowatl.com). There’s a reason the Toasted Old Fashioned at Kevin Gillespie’s Gunshow restaurant has been named one of the best cocktails in America by Restaurant Hospitality. Created tableside on Gunshow’s own signature cocktail cart, this Atlanta favorite is made with bourbon, bitters, burnt sugar syrup, flamed orange peel and a brûléed cinnamon stick. FYI: guests who order more than one of these should also plan to order an Uber for the trip back to the hotel.
Best Subterranean Bar: Edgar’s Proof & Provision in the basement of The Georgian Terrace Hotel (proofandprovision.com). Named one of “The Best New Bars in America” by Details magazine, this speakeasy-style hipster hang is one of the city’s most closely guarded secret haunts. Proof & Provision has its own slow sipping in-house bourbon, Edgar’s Truth, along with a signature grilled cheese sandwich that’s made with four cheeses on jalapeño cornbread and bourbon-spiked bacon. Caution: Order the grilled cheese early. Fights have broken out late-night when ingredients run out.
Best Patio: Livingston at The Georgian Terrace Hotel (livingstonatlanta.com). Yes, even in the winter, Atlanta’s climate occasionally allows for al fresco dining. And there’s no better view than the one from the terrace of the city’s oldest operating hotel that housed the stars of “Gone with the Wind” at the film’s 1939 Atlanta premiere. The patio overlooks Peachtree Street, where acclaimed Metropolitan Opera star (and frequent Georgian Terrace guest) Enrico Caruso once strode across a red carpet rolled out from the hotel to the Fox Theatre.
Best Spot for Celebrity Sightings: Umi in Buckhead (umiatlanta.com). Chef Fuyuhiko Ito’s modern take on Japanese cuisine has made Umi not only Atlanta’s hottest spot for exquisite sushi but for spotting Atlanta celebrities (like Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan) and A-list movie stars as well. While shooting films in the city, stars of Marvel’s “Avengers,” including Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson, “Hunger Games” actress Jennifer Lawrence and Oscar winner/restaurateur Robert De Niro have all made Umi a favorite hangout (Lawrence even calls ahead as soon as her plane lands in the ATL). Speaking of, reservations are a must, since tables can be booked months in advance.