Remember when bacon was the “It” food of the moment (and in or on everything) and trendy burger bars were opening all over Atlanta? Recently, food trends like mochi doughnuts and birria have taken hold here. And while some would say veganism is trending hard in Atlanta right now, others would argue such restaurants and Atlantans’ love affair with vegetables and meatless meals are just part of the city’s food culture and the culinary fabric of the South.
Now entering the second half of 2022, Eater is checking in on the emerging food and restaurant trends staking serious claims on the Atlanta dining scene. But will these food trends have staying power in Atlanta or just fade away like artisanal bacon bits and cupcake vending machines?
What food and restaurant trends are you spotting in Atlanta these days? Give Eater a shout at email@example.com.
Atlanta definitely transforms into brunch city on the weekends, where long lines form and folks dress in their spiffiest attire to pile into restaurants for shrimp and grits, Belgian waffles, and breakfast burgers paired with bottomless mimosas. But brunch is becoming an all day, every day affair in Atlanta, thanks to a new crop of restaurants dedicated to the highly sceney and sociable meal, including The Breakfast Boys, Toast on Lenox, and Belle and Lily’s Caribbean Brunch House. Are all-day brunch restaurants the new burger bars in Atlanta?
The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Atlanta, including on the pop-up food scene, which appears stronger than ever right now. An explosion of pop-ups in Atlanta over the last two years has only further infused the dining scene with fresh chef talent, fresh culinary perspectives, and fresh new foods to try. There’s even a dedicated website for tracking Atlanta’s many pop-ups that lists weekly schedules and locations and promotes special pop-up events and restaurant collaborations. For people who’ve followed some of these pop-ups since day one, there’s nothing more satisfying than watching an Atlanta chef transform their traveling kitchen into a permanent restaurant.
While arguably not considered a trend as much as a personal or necessary lifestyle choice for many people, non-alcoholic cocktails and bottle shops are here to stay in Atlanta. It’s a welcome addition, too, as more Atlanta restaurants and bars now list zero-proof drinks on menus that go beyond soda water topped with fruit juice and herbs. These are complex, booze-free cocktails using zero-proof spirits and mixers meant to mimic the taste and texture of liquors like gin, whiskey, or vodka. Zero-proof pop-ups Zilch Market and ATL Bar are helping to pave the way in Atlanta for non-alcoholic shops and bars to open, providing people with permanent places to socialize over drinks without alcohol. The Zero Co. becomes the first non-alcoholic bottle shop in Atlanta when it opens later this year on North Highland.
Atlanta may be a bit behind on this trend, but the bookstore cafe is finally making its mark on the ATL food scene. Atlanta booksellers have recently begun offering people spots in which to pair their love for reading with food, coffee, wine, and beer, including at Lucian Books and Wine, the Vibrary, and Bold Monk Brewing Co. Like these bookstore-cafe combos, wine bars have also been slow to catch on in Atlanta. But bars like Storico Vino, Lucian, El Vinedo Local, and the forthcoming openings of Midtown wine and coffee bar Larakin and Sea Legs wine bar in Poncey-Highland should get oenophiles excited for the future of wine-focused establishments in the city.
Food halls abound both inside and outside the perimeter of Atlanta, a trend that actually began with the opening of Krog Street Market in Inman Park and Ponce City Market in the Old Fourth Ward almost a decade ago. More food halls followed, including Chattahoochee Food Works, Marietta Square Market, Southern Feed Store, and Politan Row. The food hall boom will likely continue for another two years with the openings of the Hall at Ashford Lane in Dunwoody, the Lee and White food hall in West End, micro food hall Chamblee Tap and Market, and Citizens Food Hall at Phipps Plaza in Buckhead.
“Eatertainment” is big business in Atlanta, and that trend continues with the openings of at least 11 more game bars and restaurants around town over the coming year. Mixing playing games with food and drinks, look for dart bar Flight Club, sprawling multi-game restaurant complex Your 3rd Spot, pickleball bar and restaurant Painted Pickle, and old-school arcade bar Press Start to soon join mini golf restaurant Puttshack, Punch Bowl Social, gaming parlor The Painted Duck, and the Roof at Ponce City Market in Atlanta.