The historic neighborhood of Old Fourth Ward (O4W), just east of downtown Atlanta, has become a hotbed of development over the last decade since the arrival of the Beltline pedestrian trail. The O4W portion of the Beltline, referred to as the Eastside trail, separates Old Fourth Ward to the west from Poncey-Highland and Inman Park to the east.
Beyond the Beltline, Old Fourth Ward is filled with Craftsman bungalows and shotgun houses and includes attractions such as the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, home to the birthplace of Dr. King. It’s also within walking distance to Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. King once preached, and the Sweet Auburn historic business district and Edgewood Avenue entertainment district.
As suburbanites head into town to plant flags in this historic neighborhood and weekend tourists flock to the nearby Beltline, Old Fourth Ward has become one of the most pedestrian-friendly and dining-heavy neighborhoods in Atlanta.
Here’s how one could spend 24 hours eating, drinking, and exploring the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood.
9 a.m. Breakfast at Root Baking Co.
Start the day on the second floor of Ponce City Market (PCM) with a quiet breakfast at Root Baking Co. The bakery-cafe, owned by Chris Wilkins and Nicole Lewis, moved from Charleston last year to open in the market’s central food hall. Beyond the daily-baked cookies, pastries, and breads, the cafe offers breakfast, lunch, a light dinner, and a weekday happy hour (with pie.) Grab a ham, egg, and cheese croissant sandwich or toasted grit bread topped with labneh and jam and a cup of coffee for breakfast.
Breakfast alternative: Chef Anne Quatrano’s Pancake Social in the PCM complex, facing Historic Fourth Ward Park along North Avenue.
Check out Eater Atlanta’s list of the best dishes to try right now at Ponce City Market.
10 a.m. Stroll along the Eastside Beltline
Head downstairs to Spiller Park Coffee and order a cup of coffee or a latte to go. Follow the signs inside PCM to the Beltline for a mid-morning stroll. This car-free pedestrian trail will eventually loop the city of Atlanta, linking dozens of neighborhoods together. Make sure to keep an eye out for local art installations, plantings from local garden and nature conservation groups like Trees Atlanta, and street art created by local artists and muralists. There are plenty of restaurants and businesses along the trail to explore as well as Historic Fourth Ward Park and a skatepark, too. Turn right out of PCM onto the trail to head deeper into the Old Fourth Ward.
11:30 a.m. Pressed sandwich and fresh fruit cups at LottaFrutta
Pop off the Beltline at Irwin Street and head over to Auburn Avenue to LottaFrutta, just a couple of blocks from the trail. This longtime Old Fourth Ward cafe and market, owned by Myrna Perez, is one of the brightest spots in the neighborhood, both in terms of decor and service. Order a pressed cubano sandwich here and a fresh fruit cup, like the dolce vida made with bananas, oranges, apples, pineapples, honeydew, kiwi, mango, watermelon, grapes, and cantaloupe. It’s topped with vanilla yogurt, granola, and honey. Need something cold and frozen? Order the coffitta frio or frozen Cuban coffee with coconut cream.
Lunch alternative: Located at StudioPlex on Auburn Avenue, cycling-centric cafe the Spindle Kitchen offers light lunch fare, coffee, and cold brew.
1:00 p.m. Wander around the Krog Street Market complex
Just east of the Irwin Street Beltline entrance on the border between Old Fourth Ward and Inman Park, Krog Street Market and its food hall offer plenty of dining and drinking choices, including beer at Hop City’s bar, margaritas and tacos at Superica, oysters at Watchman’s Seafood and Spirits, and cocktails and wine at Ticonderoga Club. Check out the local shops here selling everything from chocolate to crafty sundries at the Merchant.
Afternoon alternative: Head west along Auburn Avenue to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site.
3:00 p.m. Tea and snacks at Just Add Honey
Hop back onto the Beltline heading north toward Ponce City Market to Just Add Honey, a tea shop and market located just off of the trail behind Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall. Order a pot of tea and nibble on a pastry or cookie. Just Add Honey offers 40 tea blends, ranging from Chinese pu’erh to green and chamomile teas. The original shop is located inside Sweet Auburn Curb Market on Edgewood Avenue.
5:00 p.m. Happy hour on the rooftop at Cold Beer
Just beyond the Edgewood Avenue bridge on the Beltline, the newly opened Cold Beer, owned by chef Kevin Gillespie (Gunshow), opened earlier this summer at the Edge complex. At 7,000 square feet and two stories, Cold Beer is the chef’s most ambitious and stylish restaurant yet. Check in at the host stand and asked to be seated on the rooftop patio overlooking the trail. The roof includes its own small kitchen and a bar. Cold Beer’s menu features a constantly rotating list of 15 dishes, broken up into appetizers, entrées, and desserts, accompanied by 15 corresponding cocktails, beer, and wine.
Happy hour alternative: The James Room, just north of the Edgewood Avenue bridge along the trail at SPX Alley.
7:00 p.m. Tasting menu dinner at Staplehouse, after dinner drinks at Paper Crane Lounge
Reservations are necessary to dine at the award-winning Staplehouse on Edgewood Avenue. Located about two blocks from the Edgewood Avenue entrance to the Beltline, chef Ryan Smith delivers a ten to 12-course tasting menu filled with innovative dishes where no ingredient is wasted. Wine pairings are optional. Head upstairs before or after dinner and sip on a cocktail in the restaurant’s cozy cocktail bar called Paper Crane Lounge.
10:30 p.m. Catch an improv comedy show at Dad’s Garage
Located in an old church on Ezzard Street near Staplehouse, Dad’s Garage is a non-profit theatre company featuring original plays and improv comedy shows from local actors, comedians, and playwrights. Late night shows usually begin around 10:30 p.m.
12:00 a.m. Cocktails and late night snacks at the Sound Table
After a show at Dad’s, turn left onto Edgewood Avenue and stroll down to the Sound Table, located at the corner of Boulevard and Edgewood. Part night club, part cocktail lounge, the Sound Table is one of Atlanta’s original drinking dens. Cocktails here are classically based and very boozy and the kitchen churns out a rotating collection of small plates. Expect to find DJs spinning tunes and dancing late into the night.
Late night alternative: Edgewood Pizza across the street for a “king slice” and beer.
9:00 a.m. Breakfast at Highland Bakery
One of the original restaurants situated along Highland Avenue and just off of the Freedom Park Trail (a Beltline spur), Highland Bakery serves up all-day Southern breakfast and brunch fare as well as fresh pastries. This Old Fourth Ward staple is constantly packed on the weekends, but it’s worth the wait for a piping hot Southern-style breakfast and a solid cup of coffee.