Welcome to the Eater Atlanta food crawl, a series in which Eater’s editor and contributors take readers on a virtual tour of various food and drinks around metro Atlanta. When Eater dines out, it’s often done as a team with a specific dish, drink, style of cuisine, or neighborhood in mind with multiple stops. These crawls are meant to be relatively walkable or easily driven, and the amount of food and drink manageable enough for the average appetite of roughly two people. In other words, bring friends. Email Eater Atlanta if there’s a particular food crawl theme, dish, drink, or neighborhood needing coverage in a future installment.
For this crawl edition, local Atlanta writer Asif Lakhani grabbed some friends and headed out for an evening of food, drinks, and shenanigans around a rapidly transforming, one-and-a-half-mile stretch of Ponce de Leon Avenue, from midtown to Poncey-Highland. This heavily trafficked thoroughfare has seen its fair share of development over the past decade, including the $180 million makeover of the former Sears, Roebuck Co. warehouse now home to Ponce City Market, the rebirth of the beleaguered Hotel Clermont into a hipster’s paradise, the Beltline, and a new crop of restaurants and bars. There’s almost too much to do along this street in one night. So, here’s a few suggestions on how an evening could be spent on Ponce.
Happy hour at the rooftop bar of Hotel Clermont
Start the night on Ponce by admiring the view from above at the rooftop bar of Hotel Clermont. On a perfectly sunny day or stary evening, there may be no better place to spend a late afternoon or evening in Atlanta. It’s free to the public to go up but, the drinks, while well-made, aren’t cheap. The plastic cups are fun souvenirs, just ask for a clean one to take home. The gin drinks are a good choice here.
Light dinner and a glass of natural wine or a cocktail at 8ARM
Walk west down the street toward 8ARM and partake in one of Atlanta’s most extraordinary culinary experiences under the direction of chef Maricela Vega. The menu here changes quite frequently, but if it’s there, order the oyster mushroom. The dish is decadent yet filling and satisfying. The Carolina Gold rice packs a lot of goodness into that bowl. This is the place to grab a funky natural wine or a cocktail during dinner. It’s casual here, with good light in the dining room for taking those food photos. The majority of the menu is vegetarian with a few vegan options, too.
Wings and a beer or hookah at Dugan’s
After dinner, head over to Dugan’s to catch the start of a game and an after-dinner beer or hookah on the patio. Make that beer local with Three Taverns Brewery’s IPA “A Night on Ponce”. Wings come generously sauced here, if you ask politely.
Suggestion: Take a left out of 8ARM and walk behind the Chipotle across the street to catch a relatively rare daytime look at bar and club MJQ. This might a place to stop for dancing and drinks later on in the evening. On the way, pass by the beloved Bookhouse Pub and Drunken Unicorn, two other popular late-night haunts on Ponce.
More wings to consider on Ponce:
Another place to find good (even better) wings is across the street at The Local. The bar’s menu is small, but just order the wings here — it’s never a wrong move. Service could prove tough on busy nights, however, it’s a chill vibe and a good time. The buffalo and Korean wing combination is delightful.
For future reference:
On Monday nights, the Local offers karaoke, with trivia on Wednesdays. Order a couple of rounds here before the night truly begins at any number of area bars such as El Bar, MJQ, Drunken Unicorn, or even back to Hotel Clermont for old school cocktails in their dimly lit lobby bar.
Time to head to Clermont Lounge — no photos allowed and no touching the dancers
The buzz is likely real now and so it might be time to head down to the basement of Hotel Clermont and enter the world of the one-and-only — with its own Atlanta original, Blondie — the infamous Clermont Lounge. Drink a PBR and 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, so put those phones away. It’s cash only. Bring singles.
Depending on the time, order a sandwich from the pitmaster outside the lounge. Skip the chicken sandwich, though.
Late-night breakfast at Majestic Diner
Unlike other breakfast spots popular in the morning or at brunch, the Majestic is at its peak post-midnight. The crowds prove it, too. Breakfast is always a winner to soak up the booze, as is the veggie quesadilla. Other early morning hours options available include Fellini’s pizza or Plant Based Pizzeria up the street and around the corner off Ponce on Barnett Street.
3 a.m. doughnuts at Krispy Kreme
Depending on the mode of transportation to get home or if crawling back by foot to a nearby AirBnB or hotel, Uber or Lyft down to grab a dozen glazed doughnuts at Krispy Kreme for breakfast the next day. Thank Eater later. While the store may close for part of the day, the drive-thru is open 24/7. Basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal bought the 60-year-old doughnut shop in 2016 to satisfy his lifelong love of Krispy Kreme.