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The oyster bar at The Optimist
The oyster bar at The Optimist
Andrew Thomas Lee

Atlanta’s Prime Spots for People Watching

From a swanky hotel bar and French restaurant in Buckhead to a cafe patio and Beltline brewery on the Eastside

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The oyster bar at The Optimist
| Andrew Thomas Lee

Atlanta is a diverse place. Neighborhoods with distinct personalities demand their own local watering holes and restaurants, which serve as places for the community to gather, drink, and dine. But, some establishments attract such a splashy crowd that the real star is the people watching. Here are a few spots to spectate, from clever rooftop vantage points and busy dance floors to the best seat in the house.

Don’t see a favorite people watching restaurant or bar listed? Email Eater Atlanta with suggestions to check out for the next update via the tipline.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Las Delicias De La Abuela

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5600 Buford Hwy NE
Doraville, GA 30340
(770) 356-4451
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This place is always buzzing with energy, but on weekend evenings, the beloved Buford Highway Colombian restaurant has great live music and a dressed-up, see-and-be-seen crowd of its own. 

2. Garden & Gun Club

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2605 Circle 75 Pkwy #410
Atlanta, GA 30339
(770) 726-0925
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The Battery is a buzzing hive of sports fans and concert-goers at any given time, but for a quiet, safe-haven from all the hubbub, Garden & Gun Club offers a clubby (in the loungiest sense) vibe with a great crowd of in-the-know OTPers. Sit at the interior oyster bar for views of the front door and easy people watching in the dining room.

3. johnny's hideaway

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3771 Roswell Rd NE
Atlanta, GA 30342
(404) 233-8026
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Order a scotch and down it, because the best place to watch the magic at Johnny’s is on the dance floor (where drinks aren’t allowed). The bouncers and bartenders here proudly sport shirts and buttons touting the bar’s infamous cougars, but don’t be fooled: after midnight, the crowd gets decidedly younger as folks trickle over from nearby Buckhead bars.

4. The bar at St. Regis Atlanta

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Eighty, Eight, West Paces Ferry Rd NW
Atlanta, GA 30305
(404) 563-7900
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Forget the gin and tonics, the champagne sabering and the mixed nuts, and the transient crowd of this high-end hotel bar will enthrall. Look for Buckhead big shots doing business, ladies of the night drumming up business of their own, and throngs of dressed-up 20-somethings amongst curious hotel guests at what might be the city’s most notorious people-watching spot.

Two Buckhead Plaza, 3050 Peachtree Rd NW
Atlanta, GA 30305
(404) 841-0040
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Was that Drake in the corner? Crane the neck a little, and maybe catch a glimpse of a boldfaced name at this sexy Buckhead sushi spot, where Elton John is known to be a regular. Try and snag a lingering reservation at Umi’s membership-based sister bar Himitsu next door and make a night of it.

6. Le Bilboquet

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3027 Bolling Way NE
Atlanta, GA 30305
(404) 869-9944
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For those curious at what peak Buckhead looks like, search no further than Le Bilboquet Atlanta. Real Housewives shod in designer heels click clack past in a constant whir at the bar, but the best spot is at the blue velvet banquettes against the far back wall, a prime area to watch the action in the dining room, but also the parade of Maseratis coming and going at the valet. Go for lunch and take it in on a weekday. 

7. Any Waffle House after midnight

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3016 Piedmont Rd NE
Atlanta, GA 30305
(404) 231-0023
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Atlanta’s 24-hour hometown hero turns into a hilarious, hungry mashup of every walk of life in the wee hours of the morning, when folks are looking to soak up booze with all things smothered and covered. 

8. Joe's On Juniper

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1049 Juniper St NE
Atlanta, GA 30309
(404) 875-6634
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The patio at Joe’s sits right on the street. During nice weather, this patio makes for a great vantage point. Get the house burger, and grab a table under the shade.

9. Blake's On The Park

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227 10th St NE
Atlanta, GA 30309
(404) 892-5786
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A midtown stalwart, Blake’s is running a tight race with Mary’s in East Atlanta Village for Atlanta’s favorite drag show. The lip sync battles are not to be missed here, and do not sit down for them. 

10. The Optimist

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914 Howell Mill Rd
Atlanta, GA 30318
(404) 477-6260
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The Westside seafood restaurant owned by Ford Fry offers several alcoves for people watching: the oyster bar is more casual, and the interior bar is great for a date. But, see it all and ask for a table at the banquette in the middle of the restaurant. It includes views of the entire dining room and into the spotless kitchen, as one of Atlanta’s best-dressed and convivial crowds mill about the restaurant.

11. Clermont Lounge

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789 Ponce De Leon Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30306
(404) 874-4783
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Start the night upstairs at the Hotel Clermont’s swanky rooftop bar or the lobby bar, then head down to the infamous lounge, which needs zero introduction among local Atlantans. Crowds here are rowdy, raucous, and include every walk of life, from Georgia Tech students to Jennifer Lawrence. Drink beer from the bottle, sit at the bar — and bring singles.

12. Spiller Park Coffee

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Ponce City Market, 675 Ponce De Leon Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30308
(404) 919-2978
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The best vantage point in all of Ponce City Market is perched right in the middle of the first floor at the recently-renovated Spiller Park. Order a cup of coffee and a slice of toast and sit at the big, oval-shaped bar, which serves as the nucleus of the famed food hall.

13. New Realm Brewing

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550 Somerset Terrace NE #101
Atlanta, GA 30306
(404) 968-2777
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Like its Beltline neighbor Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall, New Realm Brewing occupies prime path-side real estate that allows outdoor views of the Eastside trail’s runners, walkers, bikers, and even birders. Like Ladybird, the crowd here leans casual, single, and upwardly mobile. Walk upstairs to the rooftop and look down over the Beltline and out toward the city skyline for real “king of the world” vibes.

14. Char Korean Bar & Grill

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299 North Highland Avenue Northeast S
Atlanta, GA 30307
(404) 525-2427
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Char in Inman Quarter might sometimes blast 90s hip hop over an Atlanta United game on TV. The menu is grazer-friendly and the bar staff chatty, so it’s a great place to post up to the bar solo. Sit on the patio side of the bar near the street corner to simultaneously watch people on Highland Avenue and in the interior of the restaurant, or as people come and go from Inman Quarter. 

15. Hop City Bar

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99 Krog St NE
Atlanta, GA 30307
(470) 355-2534
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The best seat in the house at Krog Street Market is at Hop City’s bar. Order a beer and roost on the tables in the open-air dining hall, and watch the comings and goings off the Beltline.

16. Fetch Park & Ice House

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520 Daniel St SE
Atlanta, GA 30312

People watching is good, but dog watching is better. Settle in at Fetch with a cold beer and let the dog do the socializing in their safe-to-roam enclosed patio. 

17. Carroll Street Cafe

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208 Carroll St SE
Atlanta, GA 30312
(404) 577-2700
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Street front cafe dining at its best and most quaint, Carrol Street Cafe is peak Cabbagetown. Sit al fresco for dinner on a nice night — and be sure to be friendly with neighborhood passersby and their dogs. 

18. SluttyVegan ATL

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1542 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd SW
Atlanta, GA 30310
(678) 732-3525
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The line at Slutty Vegan often wraps around the block but, it makes for excellent people watching. Can’t deal with the line? Tune into their Instagram. Videos of eager diners digging into the meatless burgers here have become a viral trend and provide a good sense of the palpable excitement surrounding the mega-popular food truck turned restaurant

19. ASW Exchange at Lee + White

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933 Lee St SW
Atlanta, GA 30310

The newly-opened West End tasting room of Buckhead’s ASW Distillery is already a hit at Lee + White, where crowds line up to taste the various whiskeys from the local distiller. Check Instagram for tasting room hours beforehand, then head over for a casual round of day drinks. 

1. Las Delicias De La Abuela

5600 Buford Hwy NE, Doraville, GA 30340

This place is always buzzing with energy, but on weekend evenings, the beloved Buford Highway Colombian restaurant has great live music and a dressed-up, see-and-be-seen crowd of its own. 

5600 Buford Hwy NE
Doraville, GA 30340

2. Garden & Gun Club

2605 Circle 75 Pkwy #410, Atlanta, GA 30339

The Battery is a buzzing hive of sports fans and concert-goers at any given time, but for a quiet, safe-haven from all the hubbub, Garden & Gun Club offers a clubby (in the loungiest sense) vibe with a great crowd of in-the-know OTPers. Sit at the interior oyster bar for views of the front door and easy people watching in the dining room.

2605 Circle 75 Pkwy #410
Atlanta, GA 30339

3. johnny's hideaway

3771 Roswell Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30342

Order a scotch and down it, because the best place to watch the magic at Johnny’s is on the dance floor (where drinks aren’t allowed). The bouncers and bartenders here proudly sport shirts and buttons touting the bar’s infamous cougars, but don’t be fooled: after midnight, the crowd gets decidedly younger as folks trickle over from nearby Buckhead bars.

3771 Roswell Rd NE
Atlanta, GA 30342

4. The bar at St. Regis Atlanta

Eighty, Eight, West Paces Ferry Rd NW, Atlanta, GA 30305

Forget the gin and tonics, the champagne sabering and the mixed nuts, and the transient crowd of this high-end hotel bar will enthrall. Look for Buckhead big shots doing business, ladies of the night drumming up business of their own, and throngs of dressed-up 20-somethings amongst curious hotel guests at what might be the city’s most notorious people-watching spot.

Eighty, Eight, West Paces Ferry Rd NW
Atlanta, GA 30305

5. Umi

Two Buckhead Plaza, 3050 Peachtree Rd NW, Atlanta, GA 30305

Was that Drake in the corner? Crane the neck a little, and maybe catch a glimpse of a boldfaced name at this sexy Buckhead sushi spot, where Elton John is known to be a regular. Try and snag a lingering reservation at Umi’s membership-based sister bar Himitsu next door and make a night of it.

Two Buckhead Plaza, 3050 Peachtree Rd NW
Atlanta, GA 30305

6. Le Bilboquet

3027 Bolling Way NE, Atlanta, GA 30305

For those curious at what peak Buckhead looks like, search no further than Le Bilboquet Atlanta. Real Housewives shod in designer heels click clack past in a constant whir at the bar, but the best spot is at the blue velvet banquettes against the far back wall, a prime area to watch the action in the dining room, but also the parade of Maseratis coming and going at the valet. Go for lunch and take it in on a weekday. 

3027 Bolling Way NE
Atlanta, GA 30305

7. Any Waffle House after midnight

3016 Piedmont Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30305

Atlanta’s 24-hour hometown hero turns into a hilarious, hungry mashup of every walk of life in the wee hours of the morning, when folks are looking to soak up booze with all things smothered and covered. 

3016 Piedmont Rd NE
Atlanta, GA 30305

8. Joe's On Juniper

1049 Juniper St NE, Atlanta, GA 30309

The patio at Joe’s sits right on the street. During nice weather, this patio makes for a great vantage point. Get the house burger, and grab a table under the shade.

1049 Juniper St NE
Atlanta, GA 30309

9. Blake's On The Park

227 10th St NE, Atlanta, GA 30309

A midtown stalwart, Blake’s is running a tight race with Mary’s in East Atlanta Village for Atlanta’s favorite drag show. The lip sync battles are not to be missed here, and do not sit down for them. 

227 10th St NE
Atlanta, GA 30309

10. The Optimist

914 Howell Mill Rd, Atlanta, GA 30318

The Westside seafood restaurant owned by Ford Fry offers several alcoves for people watching: the oyster bar is more casual, and the interior bar is great for a date. But, see it all and ask for a table at the banquette in the middle of the restaurant. It includes views of the entire dining room and into the spotless kitchen, as one of Atlanta’s best-dressed and convivial crowds mill about the restaurant.

914 Howell Mill Rd
Atlanta, GA 30318

11. Clermont Lounge

789 Ponce De Leon Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30306

Start the night upstairs at the Hotel Clermont’s swanky rooftop bar or the lobby bar, then head down to the infamous lounge, which needs zero introduction among local Atlantans. Crowds here are rowdy, raucous, and include every walk of life, from Georgia Tech students to Jennifer Lawrence. Drink beer from the bottle, sit at the bar — and bring singles.

789 Ponce De Leon Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30306

12. Spiller Park Coffee

Ponce City Market, 675 Ponce De Leon Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30308

The best vantage point in all of Ponce City Market is perched right in the middle of the first floor at the recently-renovated Spiller Park. Order a cup of coffee and a slice of toast and sit at the big, oval-shaped bar, which serves as the nucleus of the famed food hall.

Ponce City Market, 675 Ponce De Leon Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30308

13. New Realm Brewing

550 Somerset Terrace NE #101, Atlanta, GA 30306

Like its Beltline neighbor Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall, New Realm Brewing occupies prime path-side real estate that allows outdoor views of the Eastside trail’s runners, walkers, bikers, and even birders. Like Ladybird, the crowd here leans casual, single, and upwardly mobile. Walk upstairs to the rooftop and look down over the Beltline and out toward the city skyline for real “king of the world” vibes.

550 Somerset Terrace NE #101
Atlanta, GA 30306

14. Char Korean Bar & Grill

299 North Highland Avenue Northeast S, Atlanta, GA 30307

Char in Inman Quarter might sometimes blast 90s hip hop over an Atlanta United game on TV. The menu is grazer-friendly and the bar staff chatty, so it’s a great place to post up to the bar solo. Sit on the patio side of the bar near the street corner to simultaneously watch people on Highland Avenue and in the interior of the restaurant, or as people come and go from Inman Quarter. 

299 North Highland Avenue Northeast S
Atlanta, GA 30307

15. Hop City Bar

99 Krog St NE, Atlanta, GA 30307

The best seat in the house at Krog Street Market is at Hop City’s bar. Order a beer and roost on the tables in the open-air dining hall, and watch the comings and goings off the Beltline.

99 Krog St NE
Atlanta, GA 30307

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16. Fetch Park & Ice House

520 Daniel St SE, Atlanta, GA 30312

People watching is good, but dog watching is better. Settle in at Fetch with a cold beer and let the dog do the socializing in their safe-to-roam enclosed patio. 

520 Daniel St SE
Atlanta, GA 30312

17. Carroll Street Cafe

208 Carroll St SE, Atlanta, GA 30312

Street front cafe dining at its best and most quaint, Carrol Street Cafe is peak Cabbagetown. Sit al fresco for dinner on a nice night — and be sure to be friendly with neighborhood passersby and their dogs. 

208 Carroll St SE
Atlanta, GA 30312

18. SluttyVegan ATL

1542 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd SW, Atlanta, GA 30310

The line at Slutty Vegan often wraps around the block but, it makes for excellent people watching. Can’t deal with the line? Tune into their Instagram. Videos of eager diners digging into the meatless burgers here have become a viral trend and provide a good sense of the palpable excitement surrounding the mega-popular food truck turned restaurant

1542 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd SW
Atlanta, GA 30310

19. ASW Exchange at Lee + White

933 Lee St SW, Atlanta, GA 30310

The newly-opened West End tasting room of Buckhead’s ASW Distillery is already a hit at Lee + White, where crowds line up to taste the various whiskeys from the local distiller. Check Instagram for tasting room hours beforehand, then head over for a casual round of day drinks. 

933 Lee St SW
Atlanta, GA 30310

Related Maps