Few things make you feel like a VIP more than happily discovering a hidden bar or restaurant inside a retail shop that otherwise wouldn’t have such a space, or learning a restaurant conceals another restaurant or bar behind a bookcase or beneath the dining room.
Speakeasy-style bars modeled after those set up during the dark days of Prohibition are fine, but there’s just something about the thrill of actually finding an undisclosed, tucked-away bar, underground supper club, or secret dining and drinking establishment. You might not know these spots exist until you walk through the front door. Or, you might stumble upon these places by chance, walking up a staircase out of curiosity, or after inquiring about seeing people disappear behind a wall camouflaging an entrance to another room. These hush-hush operations simply appear.
Did you know the following hidden spots existed inside Atlanta restaurants and bars? You do now.
Inside Hop City Beer and Wine; West End
Even the most diehard Atlanta diner might not yet know about this underground supper club run by former Gunshow chef Chris McCord, bartender and butcher Alex Sher, and former Miller Union chef Mykel Burkhart. But for those who do, Bovino After Dark has been a delightful dining experience worth the trek to West End on the weekends. Hosted inside the bar and lounge at Hop City Beer and Wine in West End, this intimate chefs counter dinner seats between 10 and 12 people, offering five courses served omakase style, with optional wine pairing (and a few extra pours) from Sher. You should absolutely do the pairings (and the caviar service.) Sher serves as both host and sommelier, which helps give Bovino After Dark a dinner party vibe, and allows McCord and Burkhart to work their magic while diners watch in anticipation of the next course. Think courses of Funyun funnel cake over watermelon granita and royal red coconut shrimp or a char siu steamed pork belly bun with freshly made 1000 island dressing. $65 per person. Wine pairings and caviar optional for an additional charge. Reservations required.
Inside Southern Belle; Poncey-Highland
This may not be the best kept secret in Atlanta, especially among avid followers of the city’s dining scene, but for those who’ve recently discovered chef Joey Ward’s Poncey-Highland restaurant Southern Belle, the fact that it’s two restaurants in one is a happy surprise. Georgia Boy is only accessible via the dining room at Southern Belle. People enter the intimate tasting restaurant from behind a bookcase beyond the bar. Arriving at the waiting area, diners are ushered into Georgia Boy where they’re seated at a communal table for a 16-course tasting created by Ward himself, with optional sake, cider, and wine pairings. Four seatings are available nightly for $219 per person, each lasting nearly three hours. Reservations required.
Inside the Victorian plant shop; East Atlanta Village and Old Fourth Ward
The coffee shop and cocktail bar at the Victorian are hidden in plain sight, but that’s not what makes these spots so special. Imagine walking into a plant shop to purchase houseplants and finding a coffee bar among the lush foliage in the store or walking upstairs to discover a cocktail bar. Bellwood Coffee teamed up with friends Cary Smith and Libby Hockenberry of the Victorian plant shop to open a coffee bar inside the store in the heart of East Atlanta Village. Head in for coffee, espresso, mochas, and lattes while shopping for your next houseplant. Take a seat at the central coffee bar inside or outside on the front patio. And Smith and Hockenberry’s newest location of the Victorian at New City’s Fourth Ward development will soon include Burle’s Bar — a cocktail lounge located on the second level serving cocktails, non-alcoholic mixed drinks, beer, and natural and small production wines. Look for snacks from a rotating lineup of Atlanta chefs, too. Burle’s Bar officially opens September 16.
Inside Nordstrom at Phipps Plaza; Buckhead
For those old enough to remember the days when department stores like Rich’s and Macy’s also included restaurants, Cafe Bistro inside Nordstrom at Phipps Plaza is a nostalgic dining experience. It’s also a lovely discovery for people who didn’t know it existed at the luxury department store. Located on the second level, grab a seat in one of the booths and order everything from creamy crab bisque, cilantro lime chicken tacos, and wild salmon nicoise to shrimp scampi pizza, steak, and the Nordstrom burger topped with white cheddar cheese, red onions, lettuce, tomato, and roasted garlic aioli. Make sure to grab a slice of cake from the display case up front for dessert.
Inside Muss and Turner’s; Smyrna
Eleanor’s likely needs no introduction to regulars or longtime followers of the Atlanta dining scene. But for folks who’ve not heard of this hidden bar before, it’s the best surprise. Head behind the cooler door for a cocktail at Muss and Turner’s full-service bar, named for friend and “de facto Mom” Eleanor Seale. As the tale goes, Seale walked into the restaurant before it opened in Smyrna looking for a job. Seale’s business prowess became an instant asset for Muss and Turner’s. Beyond being the company’s trusted financial controller, owners Ryan Turner, Todd Mussman, and Chris Hall also consider Seale their head wine and bourbon taster. Eleanor’s is an ode to Seale, and one of the original hidden bars to open in Atlanta back when the term “speakeasy” was still associated with Prohibition. No secret code is necessary to enter, and you don’t need to be a VIP or member, as Eleanor’s is open to everyone. Just ask for the cooler door. Open Monday - Sunday, starting at 11:30 a.m. for lunch, dinner, and drinks.
Inside Brick Store Pub; Decatur
Everyone knows about the bar upstairs and the beer garden out back at Brick Store Pub. But did you know the critically acclaimed Decatur beer bar also includes a cask ale bar downstairs? In 2021, owners Dave Blanchard, Mike Gallagher, and Tom Moore opened Cask Bar at Brick Store in a cellar space housing rare and vintage beers. Decked out like a UK pub, the intimate space serves English and English-style cask ales on draft. There’s even a TV hidden behind the small bar, which typically is on full display during soccer matches on the weekends. The space is tight, but intimate, perfect for enjoying a pint or two with a friend.
Inside KR SteakBar; Peachtree Hills, Buckhead
Only open on Friday and Saturday nights, this dimly lit lounge hidden on the other side of the kitchen at chef Kevin Rathbun’s Peachtree Hills steakhouse features both bar seating and intimate booths for sipping cocktails, beer, and wine before or after dinner. There’s even a baby grand piano at the Bureau, with music adding to the sexy ambiance of the bar. Just ask for the Bureau when you’re ready to enter. Open 5 p.m. to 12 p.m., Friday and Saturday. Not open during private events or in December.