A mile-long stretch of Ponce de Leon Avenue, from the edge of Midtown to the Poncey-Highland neighborhood, has become one of the hottest dining destinations in Atlanta over the last decade. This heavily trafficked thoroughfare has seen more than its fair share of recent restaurant openings and brand new developments taking shape, thanks to its proximity to the Eastside Beltline trail and multi-million-dollar makeovers of the Hotel Clermont and the former Sears, Roebuck Co. warehouse, now home to Ponce City Market.
With so many restaurants and bars now lining Ponce, it can be difficult to choose where to head for dinner and drinks and late-night bites after hours. Here’s how one could spend an evening dining, drinking, and taking in the scenes along Ponce de Leon Avenue in Atlanta.
Public Transit Info: Click here for MARTA bus schedules. Click here for MARTA train schedules. All restaurants and bars listed are within easy walking distance along Ponce. Lyft and Uber drivers frequent Ponce and are readily available for ride sharing.
Happy hour on the rooftop of Hotel Clermont
Begin an evening on Ponce with drinks during happy hour at the outdoor bar atop the Hotel Clermont. On a beautiful evening, there might not be a finer view of the city skyline or of bustling Ponce below. Order frose and refreshing cocktails during the warmer months, or hot toddies in the fall, while taking in the scene at this rooftop bar. If the weather isn’t conducive to drinking outdoors, head to the lobby bar for martinis, Manhattans, and vintage hotel vibes.
Dinner and cocktails at Southern Belle
At Southern Belle, chef Joey Ward and his team offer an ever-evolving food menu throughout the year that includes dishes like beef tartare with a truffle emulsion topped with caviar to a 90-day, dry-aged ribeye served with a side of braised collards and pork skin chaat. Definitely opt for dessert at Southern Belle, including the show-stopping sticky toffee pudding served from a Delta bar cart. The Biscoff cookie ice cream for this dessert is frozen table side with liquid nitrogen. Order dishes a la carte or as a four-course tasting menu with beverage pairings. Reservations highly encouraged.
Dinner alternatives: Atrium at Ponce City Market channels tropical vibes in its decor paired with French cafe fare on the menu and classic cocktails, including a summery take on the martini. There’s a great wine list, too. Reservations encouraged. Check out Ruby Chow’s for chef Guy Wong’s takes on American-Chinese classics or the iconic Ponce restaurant Eats for old-school, cafeteria-style comfort food. Mexican restaurant El Ponce features one of the best patios on the street and serves generous plates of tacos, enchiladas, and tamales, along with very strong margaritas.
Laidback drinks and vibes at the Righteous Room
Located next door to Southern Belle, this dive bar is one of many popular post-shift spots for Atlanta’s restaurant industry workforce. It’s hard to beat the low-key vibes at the Righteous Room any night of the week, or the people watching. Keep drink orders simple with a Jack and Coke or a cold beer on draft. The bar also features an extensive list of local and craft beers by the bottle.
Post-dinner alternatives: Bookhouse Pub, inspired by the 1990s television show “Twin Peaks”, for beer, wine, and solid cocktails. For beer and some of the best wings in Atlanta, head to The Local. If it’s before 8 p.m., grab bubble tea at Honey Bubble.
Time to visit the legendary Clermont Lounge — no photos allowed
After an evening of drinking and eating, it’s definitely time to head over to the legendary Clermont Lounge, beneath the Hotel Clermont. This iconic strip bar is a frequent stop for tourists and locals alike, and has been for well over 50 years now. Order a PBR (in a can) and take in the peep show filled with aging strippers, including everyone’s favorite, Blondie. The Atlanta living legend might even crush a few beer cans between her breasts. The people watching at this bar is truly unmatched. Two rules to abide by at the Clermont: no touching the entertainers and absolutely no photos allowed.
Late-night bites, natural wine, and cocktails at 8ARM
Follow the music and the hazy purple glow to 8ARM and grab seats on the parking lot patio or the covered patio for late-night cocktails, glasses of natural wine, and Japanese izakaya fare, like plates of pork and vegetable gyoza and bowls of chicken tantanmen ramen. The L8ARM menu kicks off at 11 p.m. and runs until 1:30 a.m.
Late-night alternative: Take in a late-night live show and dancing at the Drunken Unicorn inside MJQ just down the street from 8ARM.