Atlanta’s population is booming as people discover there’s more to this Southern city than conferences, Coca-Cola, and traffic. Months-long warm weather conducive to outdoor dining and a diverse culinary scene mean endless eating options, from French fare, soul food, and Sichuan dishes to Korean cuisine, barbecue, and a thriving pop-up community, and everything in between.
In Atlanta for a short stay or visiting for a holiday and looking for places to eat? Consider this 24-hour food tour as merely an introduction to the South’s gateway city, and get to know ATL in the best way possible — through its food. Don’t worry, there are still plenty of other restaurants to explore during that next visit to Atlanta.
It’s best to take MARTA (rail or bus) whenever possible or to travel by Lyft or Uber.
8 a.m. - Comfy biscuit at Home Grown
Start the day off with one of Atlanta’s most iconic (and super filling) dishes, the comfy biscuit at Home Grown in the Reynoldstown neighborhood. This Memorial Drive restaurant is a breakfast favorite among locals and chefs. The biscuit is topped with fried chicken and smothered in sausage gravy. There’s almost always a wait on the weekends, but it’s definitely worth it. Take a post-breakfast stroll through the beautiful and historic Oakland Cemetery, one mile west on Memorial in Grant Park. Check website for hours. Patio available. Located within walking distance of the Eastside Beltline. Accessible via MARTA buses 21 and 107.
BREAKFAST ALTERNATIVES: Lee’s Bakery on Buford Highway for an early morning bowl of hot pho and jasmine tea. Julianna’s in Inman Park for Hungarian-style crepes and coffee. If here on a Saturday, check out Taiwanese brunch pop-up Mighty Hans at Gato in Candler Park. Daily Chew in Piedmont Heights for breakfast bowls filled with jammy eggs or pitas stuffed with smoked salmon and labneh paired with coffee in a relaxed cafe.
10:30 a.m. — Coffee and empanadas at Golden Drops Cafe
This quaint coffee shop on the edge of Decatur includes a variety of Latin American pastries and sandwiches on its food menu for mid-morning snacking, including guava and cheese empanadas and teardrop-shaped coxinha filled with shredded chicken. Beer, wine, and even mimosas can be had here, too. Order a cafe con leche to pair with the pastries or a misto sandwich for an early lunch, and take a seat inside or on the covered patio. Accessible via MARTA bus 19.
MID-MORNING ALTERNATIVES: Buteco for Brazilian street snacks and a cortado (head here in the evening for stellar caipirinhas) in Grant Park. Buzz Coffee and Winehouse on Cascade for nitro coffee on draft and macarons or a daily pastry (wine and wine cocktails served later in the day, alongside sandwiches and sharable snacks). El Vinedo Local in Midtown for a latte and spinach and mushroom empanada (head in later for South American wines and ceviches and larger entrees at dinner.) The Daily in Berkeley Park for a black sesame latte or power smoothie and refreshing spring salad filled with local greens.
1:00 p.m. — Hand-pulled noodles at LanZhou Ramen on Buford Highway
While not in the city of Atlanta, Buford Highway is a must-visit for dining, with restaurants offering cuisine from more than two dozen countries. A staple on Buford Highway, LanZhou Ramen serves heaping platters of hand-pulled noodles and noodle soups on its menu, including pork, oxtail, and roast duck. People can even watch through the kitchen window as chefs roll, twist, and whip long strands of noodles into shape. Make sure to also order soup dumpling here. Accessible via Doraville MARTA station and taking MARTA bus 39.
LUNCH ALTERNATIVES: Kategna Ethiopian on Buford Highway for sambusas, tibs, or gomen mixed with short ribs. Busy Bee Cafe on the edge of Vine City for some of Atlanta’s most iconic (and best) fried chicken served with an assortment of Southern and soul food sides. El Tesoro in Edgewood for street tacos, fresh tamales, and mulitas on the outdoor patio. Lake and Oak Neighborhood BBQ in East Lake for pork and brisket pimento cheese deviled eggs and a smoked chicken, collard, and pimento cheese patty melt or fried catfish. Triton Yards food truck park in Capitol View for a variety of eating.
3:30 p.m. - Exploring Sweet Auburn Curb Market
Grab a mid-day snack from one of the many food stalls at the Municipal Market in downtown Atlanta, like Jamaican beef patties from Afrodish or poke and egg rolls from O’ Mi Ga. Wash it down with a cold-pressed juice or smoothie from Rawesome Juicery or order coffee and gelato from Three Peaches. Then explore the market’s produce, meat, and seafood vendors. Make sure to pick up some pralines from Miss D’s, too. Accessible via the Atlanta street car and MARTA bus 3.
MID-AFTERNOON ALTERNATIVES: Just Add Honey for tea service and light snacks on John Wesley Dobbs. LT’s Wings on Fairburn Road for lemon pepper wet wings. Bread and Butterfly for coffee, wine, or an aperitif and a scone, a slice of quiche du jour, or rice croquettes. Cafecito Cafe for a horchata latte and pan dulce in Capitol View.
5:30 p.m. — Happy hour in the patio garden at Staplehouse
Before heading to dinner, grab a charcuterie and cheese spread and a bottle of wine to share with friends at Staplehouse, an Edgewood Avenue neighborhood market offering a menu of daily dishes from its back counter. Food here ranges from seriously large grinders and perfectly smoked pork tacos to burrata and farro bowls topped with a jammy egg and fresh-baked hand pies. Order wine and beer by the bottle or glass as well as cocktails and head out back to sit on the covered patio or in the garden. Accessible via the Eastside Beltline trail.
HAPPY HOUR ALTERNATIVES: Located next door to Staplehouse, Biggerstaff Brewing Co. is a brewpub serving shareable snacks on Edgewood, like smoked Vidalia onion rings and crispy cornbread bites, paired with pale ales, pilsners, lagers, and sours. Martinis and shrimp cocktail at LLoyd’s on DeKalb Avenue. Empire State South for wine and oysters, fries with hollandaise, or pimento cheese and accompaniments in Midtown. Take a seat out back in the garden. Happy hour at Thai restaurant Talat Market in Summerhill could include a bowl of shrimp chips and a martini made with vodka, gin, or pisco mixed with blanc vermouth, dry madeira, pandan, artichoke, and orange bitters. The cocktails at Talat Market are some of the best in the city right now.
7:45 p.m. - Dinner at Lucian Books and Wine
Located at Modera Buckhead, Lucian specializes in titles centered around art, design, food, and culture and carries nearly 250 wines by the bottle and 15 wines by the glass, curated by co-owner and sommelier Jordan Smelt. The approach to food at Lucian is with the same thoughtfulness and care as owners Katie Barringer does with books lining the back shelves and Smelt does with wine on the menu. Make sure to order the crispy fries paired with aioli and a glass of champagne. Reservations required. Accessible via MARTA bus 110.
DINNER ALTERNATIVES: Highland Tap, a local hangout in Virginia-Highland for below-street-level steaks, martinis, and vibes. Little Bear in Summerhill for a low-key meal of wildly creative food from chef Jarrett Stieber. Southern Belle/Georgia Boy for delightfully playful tasting menus paired with wine and cocktails in Poncey-Highland. The Lawrence in Midtown for dishes like grilled snapper collar with nuoc cham sauce sprinkled with peanuts and jalapenos atop a bed of sushi rice. Aziza at Westside Provisions District for wood-fired dishes inspired by owner Tal Baum’s childhood in Israel.
11 p.m. - Late-night drinks and ramen at 8ARM
After taking a bit of breather following dinner, head over to Ponce for late-night bowls of tonkotsu ramen, gyoza, or a karaage chicken sando and cocktails at the buzzy patio bar or in the dimly lit dining room at 8Arm. Accessible via MARTA busses 2 and 102.
LATE-NIGHT ALTERNATIVES: La Pastorcita for late-night tacos on Buford Highway. Octopus Bar in East Atlanta Village for drinks and snacking into the wee hours. Our Bar ATL on Edgewood for drinks, dancing, and late-night wings or food from a rotating array of pop-up chefs. Northside Tavern for cheap beer, shots, and Blues music. Pop over to Euclid Avenue Yacht Club in Little Five Points for Yacht tots and a cold beer or Jack and Coke. Grab a King slice from Edgewood Pizzeria on Edgewood Avenue in the Old Fourth Ward.
1 a.m. - Beer and a show at the Clermont Lounge
It’s time to hit up the infamous Clermont Lounge in the basement of the Hotel Clermont on Ponce, directly beneath restaurant Tiny Lou’s (another great option for dinner in Atlanta). This iconic strip bar is a frequent stop for both tourists and locals, and has been for over 50 years. The dubious vice den is where to head for PBR and a peep show filled with aging strippers, including beloved Atlanta icon, Blondie. Watch the Atlanta living legend crush a few beer cans between her breasts. Absolutely no photos allowed. Lyft or Uber. Buses tend to stop running after 1 a.m.
8 a.m. - Redemptive breakfast at R. Thomas’ Deluxe Grill
Seek out the comfort foods found on the menu R. Thomas’ Deluxe Grill on Peachtree Street in Brookwood Hills. After more than 30 years, R. Thomas’ is still bringing a healthy dose of breakfast and brunch paired with strong coffee and power smoothies. The menu here caters to folks living vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free lifestyles, too. Try the breakfast quesadilla in a sun-dried tomato tortilla filled with eggs, cream cheese, basil, cheddar, bacon, peppers, and onions or the breakfast stew with red potato corn chowder, quinoa, and veggies topped with dulse and nori. Accessible via MARTA bus 110.
BREAKFAST ALTERNATIVES: Bomb Biscuit for chicken biscuits and a cinnamon bun at Irwin Street Market. Panaderia Karina for a bean and cheese pupusa and a side of plantains and coffee in Forest Park. Mount Paran Country Store in Buckhead for gas station biscuits and biscuit sandwiches. Sublime Doughnuts on 10th Street for an A-Town Cream, a chocolate-glazed, A-shaped doughnut filled with custard. The Little Farmhouse Cafe on Presidential Parkway for a brunch Cubano with bacon and eggs or chicken biscuit topped with ghost pepper cheese. The Atlanta Breakfast Club on Ivan Allen for chicken and waffles and salmon croquettes.