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 al fresco dining and a culinary scene offering everything from classic French fare to Bangladeshi dishes along Buford Highway mean endless eating options abound for ATL’s residents and visitors.
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 ATL in the best way possible — through food. Don’t worry, there are plenty of other restaurants to explore during that next visit.
This guide is updated quarterly to keep it fresh with new suggestions on where to eat.
7 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.
10:30 a.m. — Pastries and a matcha latte at Momo Cafe
Midtown’s Momo Cafe on 8th Street is a small, two-story Japanese style coffee shop part of restaurant Momonoki from chef Jason Liang and John Chen of Brush Sushi Izakaya. Momo serves Stumptown beans and other traditional coffee drinks, including espresso and nitro on draft. But, try one of the cafe’s tea drinks, like the matcha or hōjicha latte paired with one of pastry chef ChingYao Wang’s pastries or desserts. The cafe offers indoor seating on the second level overlooking the cars whizzing by on the Connector. Momo also shares a patio with Momonoki. Head here for a mid-afternoon treat of matcha-black sesame soft serve, too. Interested in sticking around for lunch? Order a bowl of ramen or a Japanese sando next door at Momonoki.
1:00 p.m. - Fried chicken lunch at the iconic Busy Bee Cafe
Busy Bee Cafe has been in business since the 1940s on the edge of Vine City. It has now become a staple on Atlanta’s historic Westside, and undoubtedly serves some of the city’s best fried chicken, alongside an assortment of other meat-and-three staples. The restaurant is always packed, so prepare to rub elbows with fellow diners. Busy Bee is also opening its second location in downtown Atlanta later this year.
3:30 p.m. - Afternoon tea and exploring at Sweet Auburn Curb Market
Order afternoon tea from Just Add Honey in Sweet Auburn Curb Market and stroll through the food stalls inside the historic municipal market just east of Downtown. 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. Just Add Honey also has a full-service tea cafe along the Eastside Beltline.
5:30 p.m. - $5 martinis and happy hour snacks at LLoyd’s Restaurant & Lounge
LLoyd’s Restaurant & Lounge, a Midwestern-style bar, opened at the Dickey on Dekalb Avenue in Inman Park for low-key, throwback vibes, blue plate specials, and seriously old school beers. Don’t sleep on the cocktails here, including the martini, the vesper, and the Manhattan during LLoyd’s $5 weekday happy hour. Make sure to order the chips and spinach dip. If looking to stay for dinner in the dining room, the restaurant offers weekday night specials like Monday night snow crabs, Tuesday prime rib night, and a fried chicken dinner on Wednesday.
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 on Ponce de Leon Avenue in Poncey-Highland in 2018. The hotel’s bottom-floor brasserie Tiny Lou’s has become one of Atlanta’s hottest places to dine. 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 escargot to begin the meal. For dinner, try the 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 Paper Crane Lounge
What was the private dining room at Staplehouse is now a cozy cocktail bar called Paper Crane Lounge. Located on the second floor of the Edgewood Avenue restaurant, the drinks are ever-evolving and organized on the menu by flavor intensity and strength. Expect cocktails using local ingredients paired with the focused selection of spirits, liqueurs, bitters, and garnishes. The Paper Crane cocktail menu is also served on the Staplehouse patio, along with a small list of snacks that includes a decadent chicken liver tart.
11 p.m. - Tinned seafood, vermouth cocktails, or gong fu-style tea service at INK
Ink is the 20-seat, Japanese-style kanzume bar serving caviar and tinned seafood at 8ARM on Ponce. Order the pickled herring paired with fresh baked sourdough bread as a late night snack. Be warned: Ink doesn’t list specific cocktails on the menu. Bartenders create custom drinks based on the flavor preferences of each guest for a highly personal sipping experience. In addition to cocktails, Ink also serves a selection of natural wines, vermouth, madeira, sherry, sake, and beer, along with a gong fu-style tea service. Ink patrons must check in at the host stand inside 8ARM’s dining room to gain access to the bar.
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 following 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 that hangover. 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. The best part about this quirky restaurant with its flock of talkative parrots outside might be the fact it’s open 24/7.
Need more Atlanta dining options? Check out this 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 food tour down Buford Highway — Atlanta’s most famous culinary street.