Atlanta’s population is booming these days as people discover there’s more to this Southern city than conferences, Coca-Cola, and even its traffic. Months-long warm weather conducive to al fresco dining and a culinary scene offering everything from whole hog barbecue to Bangladeshi along Buford Highway means endless dining options for residents and visitors alike. In town for a short stay 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 Atlanta in the best way possible — through its food.
Don’t worry, there’s plenty more to explore during that next visit.
7 a.m. - Comfy biscuit at Home Grown
Start the day off right with one of Atlanta’s most iconic (and filling) dishes, the comfy biscuit at Home Grown in the Reynoldstown neighborhood. This Memorial Drive restaurant is a breakfast favorite among Atlanta 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. Afterwards, take a post-breakfast stroll through the beautiful and historic Oakland Cemetery one mile west on Memorial in Grant Park.
10:30 a.m. - Second breakfast at Bread & Butterfly
After meandering through Atlanta’s history at Oakland, head over to Inman Park to refuel with second breakfast and coffee at the Parisian-inspired cafe Bread & Butterfly. Grab a good book to read and order the omelet du jour or a slice of quiche and pair it with a café au lait on the restaurant’s sun porch out front.
1:00 p.m. - Barbecue lunch at B’s Cracklin’
Hop in the car and hit the road to the Riverside neighborhood in northwest Atlanta for South Carolina-style, whole hog barbecue at B’s Cracklin’. Bryan and Nikki Furman opened this second outpost of their uber popular Savannah smokehouse in September 2016; becoming an instant hit with neighbors and Atlanta’s barbecue lovers. The order here is definitely chopped whole hog, ribs, greens, and hash and rice made from hogs head meat.
3:30 p.m. - Afternoon tea and snacks at Sweet Auburn Curb Market
Order afternoon tea from Just Add Honey in Sweet Auburn Curb Market in downtown Atlanta and stroll through the food stalls inside the historic municipal market. Grab a mid-day snack like an arepa from Arepa Mia or a Jamaican beef patty from Afrodish. The market offers everything from pizza to a raw juice bar at its stalls, in addition to produce, meats, and seafood at the various retail counters.
5:30 p.m. - Oysters and cocktails at Kimball House
Kimball House is arguably the best oyster purveyor in metro Atlanta. It offers a strong mix of oyster varietals daily on its menu and includes many west coast selections — a rare find in Atlanta. The restaurant works closely with the aquaculture nonprofit Oyster South. Kimball House recently donated over a million oyster shells to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources for their use in restoring a portion of a reef just off the Georgia coast. Happy hour here sees its regular bivalve menu listed at half-off from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. For cocktail enthusiasts who love the classics, this is the bar to head to for martinis, Old Fashioneds, and standard-bearers made with ingredients straight from the garden.
7 p.m. - Dinner and a view at Hotel Clermont
Several years and a multi-million dollar renovation later, and the historic Hotel Clermont (motor lodge) reopened to the public in June on Ponce de Leon Avenue in Poncey-Highland. The hotel’s bottom-floor brasserie Tiny Lou’s has already become one of Atlanta’s hottest places to dine, too. The nouveau French restaurant is named for an Austrian dancer who worked at the hotel’s Gypsy Room (pre-Clermont Lounge) in the 1950s. Try the duck consommé with foie gras dumplings or the Hudson Valley snails to begin the meal. For dinner, there’s steak frites or the lamb chop with polenta vert and sauce au poivre. Do not leave without ordering one of pastry chef Claudia Martinez’s beautiful (and delicious) confections. Head up to the rooftop bar after dinner for a quick drink and a stunning view of the Atlanta skyline.
9:00 p.m. - After-dinner drinks at Ticonderoga Club
Digestifs are in order at Ticonderoga Club in Krog Street Market following all of that French fare. To be a member of this cocktail club, one simply has to walk in, grab a seat, and order a drink. Ticonderoga is owned by three forefolk of Atlanta’s cocktail movement — Greg Best, Paul Calvert, and Regan Smith. Cocktails rotate regularly here, but T-Club’s mint julep riff the Ticonderoga Cup and an Irish Coffee are always on the menu. The bar also offers a well-rounded selection of Madeira, sherry, and vermouth for post-dinner sipping. Ticonderoga’s food, created by chef-partner David Bies, is equally as impressive as the drinks, so consider the Club an option for dinner. For those wishing to burn off their meal at Tiny Lou’s, hop on the Atlanta Beltline’s Eastside trail just west of the restaurant for a 1.5-mile walk to Krog Street Market.
11 p.m. - Late night eats at Octopus Bar
This East Atlanta Village bar and restaurant is owned by chef Nhan Le (8ARM, So Ba) and is a popular late-night hangout for restaurant industry workers in search of a great post-shift meal and equally great cocktails in a punk rock atmosphere. Octopus Bar doesn’t even open until 10:30 p.m. Order the popular lobster roll or dine on dishes like braised rabbit leg or salt and pepper shrimp while sipping a Hemingway collins. The bar and kitchen close at 2:30 a.m.
1 a.m. - Beer and a show at the Clermont Lounge
Attention night owls: it’s time to hit up the infamous Clermont Lounge in the basement of the Hotel Clermont, directly underneath Tiny Lou’s. This iconic strip bar on Ponce is a frequent stop for both tourists and locals. And, it 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 everyone’s favorite, Blondie. Watch the Atlanta living legend crush a few beer cans between her breasts. Two rules to abide by at the Clermont: no touching the entertainers and absolutely no photos allowed.
7 a.m. - Redemptive breakfast at R. Thomas’ Deluxe Grill
Atlantans looking for a redemptive meal after a night of debauchery often seek the comfort foods of 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 to cure the hangover blues. 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. R. Thomas’ was one of the first restaurants in the city to offer vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free dishes on its menu. But, the best part about this restaurant might be the fact it’s open 24/7.
Need more Atlanta dining options? Here’s a comprehensive guide to dining around Atlanta; including the city’s 38 essential restaurants and the hottest restaurants on the scene right now. Or, take a day-long dumpling crawl down Buford Highway — Atlanta’s most famous culinary street.