The Old Fourth Ward (O4W), just east of downtown Atlanta, has become a hotbed of development over the last decade, thanks in no small part to the opening of the Beltline pedestrian trail. The O4W portion of the Beltline, often referred to as the Eastside trail, divides Old Fourth Ward to the west from the Poncey-Highland and Inman Park neighborhoods to the east.
But beyond the Beltline, Old Fourth Ward is filled with Craftsman-style bungalows and shotgun houses and attractions such as the home of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ebenezer Baptist Church and the King Memorial in the nearby Sweet Auburn District.
As more people seek out places to live within this historic, in-town neighborhood and weekend tourists flock here to meander down the Eastside trail, the Old Fourth Ward has quickly become one of the most pedestrian-friendly and dining-heavy areas in Atlanta.
Here’s how one could spend 24 hours eating, drinking, and exploring the Old Fourth Ward.
Disclaimer: Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here. It is highly advised people wear masks indoors or in crowded situations, regardless of vaccination status, to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
9 a.m. Breakfast at Mrs. P’s Bar and Kitchen at the Wylie Hotel
Located at the newly opened Wylie Hotel on Ponce de Leon Avenue, Mrs. P’s Bar and Kitchen leans into Southern comfort foods, while bringing in some of the global food influences and ingredients now found at restaurants throughout metro Atlanta. Breakfast and brunch offer dishes like an avocado tartine with prosciutto, poached eggs, and arugula, almond croissant French toast, and breakfast tacos stuffed with nduja sausage, eggs, and beans. The century-old building in which the Wylie now resides first opened as the Garner-Wallace Hotel in 1929, before closing four years later due to the financial fallout of the Great Depression. The property reopened as the 551 Ponce de Leon Hotel and included restaurant Mrs. P’s Tea Room on the ground level. Grab a seat outside on the terrace or in the sunroom.
10 a.m. Stroll along the Eastside Beltline
Before heading down the trail for a leisurely stroll, pop inside the central food hall at Ponce City Market to Spiller Park Coffee and order a cup of coffee or a latte to go. If there are bagels on the menu from owner Dale Donchey’s pop-up Dear Friend, Bagels, order one immediately. The shop also offers toasts and muffins in the morning. Most restaurants and food stalls at the market typically open for lunch around 11 a.m.
Follow the signs inside the food hall to the Beltline. This car-free pedestrian trail will eventually form an inner loop around Atlanta, linking dozens of neighborhoods together. Make sure to keep an eye out for local art installations, plantings from garden and nature conservation groups like Trees Atlanta, and street art created by Atlanta 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 sandwiches, smoothies, and fresh fruit cups at LottaFrutta
Pop off the Eastside trail at Irwin Street and head over to Auburn Avenue to LottaFrutta, just a couple of blocks from the Beltline. 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 its decor and its service. Order a pressed sandwich here and a fresh fruit cup or smoothie and the coffitta frio or frozen Cuban coffee with coconut cream. There’s seating along the front and side of the building.
LUNCH ALTERNATIVE: Located nearby at StudioPlex on Auburn Avenue, order homestyle Puerto Rican fare from My Abuelas Food at Spindle Kitchen. There’s also Irwin Street Market with its handful of pop-up kitchens and takeout pizzeria Glide Pizza. A number of restaurants are also open for lunch along the trail at SPX Alley, including Nina and Rafi Italian restaurant, Bell Street Burritos, and Bennet’s Market and Deli.
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, and fresh-pressed juices, smoothies, and light snacks from Recess. Make sure to get a pastry from Little Tart Bakeshop, too. Head back later in the day for oysters and wine at Watchman’s Seafood and Spirits, tapas from Bar Mercado, and cocktails and tavern fare at Ticonderoga Club.
AFTERNOON ACTIVITY: Head west along Auburn Avenue to explore the sites encompassing the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Park, including his Atlanta home, the museum and eternal flame at the King Memorial, and Ebenezer Baptist Church.
3:00 p.m. Tea and snacks at Just Add Honey
Hop back onto the Eastside trail heading north toward Ponce City Market to Just Add Honey, a tea shop and market located behind Ladybird Grove and 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.
AFTERNOON SNACK ALTERNATIVES: Check out Biggerstaff Brewing Company’s patio on Edgewood Avenue for beer and/or a cup of coffee in the afternoon. Food is served starting at 4 p.m. Or, head over to Chrome Yellow Trading Co. for a latte.
5:00 p.m. Happy hour at Staplehouse Market
The award-winning restaurant on Edgewood Avenue transformed into a neighborhood market serving food in 2020. Order from the daily menu offered by chef Ryan Smith and his crew or purchase cheese, charcuterie, or fresh-baked pastries and desserts at the counter. Grab a bottle of wine, beer, or a cocktail and head out back to the covered or garden patios, complete with a camp-style fire pit.
HAPPY HOUR ALTERNATIVE: Find a seat on the covered patio flanking the Eastside trail at chef Kevin Gillespie’s Cold Beer for an early dinner or sit upstairs on the rooftop patio overlooking the Beltline for drinks and light bites.
7:00 p.m. Dinner at Kevin Rathbun Steak
Atlanta chef Kevin Rathbun’s eponymous steakhouse, located on the Eastside trail, is one of the city’s chicest restaurants for steak, seafood, and wine. Set inside a converted warehouse with a Beltline-facing patio, Kevin Rathbun Steak offers a variety of generous cuts of steak, alongside classic sides and accompaniments like lobster tail, seared foie gras, and Hollandaise sauce. Rathbun also owns nearby Italian steakhouse KR Steak Bar. Reservations are necessary here.
DINNER ALTERNATIVES: For a more laid-back meal, check out neighborhood Italian restaurant A Mano on Glen Iris or Field Day on Highland Avenue. There’s also the stylish Ruby Chow’s Chinese across from City Winery at Ponce City Market, too.
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.
11:00 p.m. to 1 a.m. Late-night pizza, beer, and cocktails
After a show at Dad’s on the weekends (or a later evening alternative), turn left onto Edgewood Avenue and stroll down to Edgewood Pizza for a “King slice” and a beer or pop over to neighboring the Handlebar at the corner of Edgewood and Boulevard for cocktails. If it’s still open, check out the wildly popular vegan burger joint Slutty Vegan and quirky dive bar Sister Louisa’s Church, which borders Sweet Auburn and Old Fourth Ward on Boulevard.
LATE-NIGHT ALTERNATIVE: Just a few doors down from Field Day on Highland Avenue, Jack’s Pizza and Wings serves up jumbo slices, wings, and beer-and-shot combos into the wee hours of the morning.
9:00 a.m. Breakfast at Highland Bakery
One of the original restaurants situated along Highland Avenue 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.
BREAKFAST ALTERNATIVES: At Irwin Street Market, order a fried chicken biscuit, bacon cheddar biscuit, or a gooey cinnamon roll from the Bomb Biscuits stall. There’s also Revolution Doughnuts on Edgewood Avenue offering a wide range of doughnuts, including vegan and gluten-free options.