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A flight of three mai tais on a small wooden surf board Trader Vic’s

18 Touristy Atlanta Restaurants Even Locals Mostly Enjoy

These restaurants blur the line between total tourist traps and places even locals aren’t embarrassed to be seen in on occasion

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Atlanta is always playing host to some big convention, sporting event, concert, or major business gathering. That means a whole lot of tourists visiting ATL throughout the year who need to be fed. Locals know the restaurants to steer clear of, and generally avoid dining in tourist-heavy areas where chains and completely overpriced restaurants dominate the landscape. But there are a few places in the A that successfully blur the line between total tourist traps and restaurants locals aren’t afraid to be seen in on occasion.

Have a worthy tourist restaurant suggestion not listed here? Send Eater the details to atlanta@eater.com.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

The Battery Atlanta

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Located beyond the gates of Braves Truist Park, the Battery complex, with its shops, restaurants, and hotels, was built with visitors in mind. Restaurants like Ford Fry’s Superica for Tex-Mex, Latin sandwich shop El Super Pan, C. Ellet’s steakhouse and oyster bar, Antico Pizza, and Garden and Gun Club for Southern bites and cocktails are popular dining choices for locals and visitors, regardless of whether there’s a Braves game or a concert at the park. Make sure to also check out the Battery’s mini food hall Ph’east and its food stalls serving bubble tea, Chinese and Thai fare, ramen and poke.

Busy Bee Cafe

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Most Atlantans don’t consider Busy Bee Cafe a tourist destination, simply a much-loved, decades-old restaurant for great soul food. Over the years, visitors to the city have also discovered this Atlanta institution. In business since 1947, this Vine City staple serves some of Atlanta’s best fried chicken, alongside an assortment of other meat-and-three staples. Busy Bee Cafe was named a James Beard classic restaurant in 2022 and served as one of many meeting places for Civil Rights leaders Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph David Abernathy, Hosea Williams, Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young, and Joseph Lowery.

Chick-fil-A Hapeville Dwarf House

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The Dwarf House in Hapeville is where it all began for the Atlanta-based fast food chain back in 1946. This isn’t just any old Chick-fil-A. The Dwarf House includes a full-service restaurant serving an expanded menu filled with burgers, sandwiches, an all-day breakfast, and their most notable dish, the open-faced Hot Brown sandwich. The Chick-fil-A hot brown is served with chicken rather than turkey, bacon, and a whole lot of cheese. Sorry, it’s still closed on Sundays.

Silver Skillet

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In business since 1956, the Silver Skillet serves a classic Southern breakfast with exactly zero frills. The restaurant is packed every morning with city dwellers, college students, and nearby office workers and hotel guests, regardless of the day of the week.

The Varsity

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The Varsity is arguably Atlanta’s biggest restaurant tourist attraction. It still offers the most famous hot dog in the city, too. And, some locals are willing to brave the crowds for it, even on the weekends. Opened in 1928, the restaurant has served just about everyone. That includes a few presidents, like Jimmy Carter, George H. Bush, and Barack Obama, as well as movie stars such as Clark Gable and business tycoons like Warren Buffett. When the car hop asks, “What’ll ya have”, the answer is a chili dog with a frosted orange.

Sun Dial

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The iconic Sun Dial restaurant atop the Westin Peachtree Plaza gives diners a birds-eye view of the city skyline from 723 feet above the street. The restaurant often caters to hotel guests and locals seeking a truly unique Atlanta experience. The Sun Dial has played host to many an anniversary, birthday celebration, and several sky-high marriage proposals.

Red Phone Booth - Downtown Atlanta

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This cocktail bar and cigar lounge in downtown Atlanta requires a secret code to enter. Located in the old Dailey’s building, people must first dial a secret code inside a red phone booth to gain entrance into the bar. Once inside, order classic cocktails and take a seat at the bar or in the dimly lit lounge. Red Phone Booth features a walk-in humidor offering over 100 cigar options, too. Upstairs, Amalfi Pizza serves Neapolitan pies and pastas and cannolis for dessert paired with beer and wine.

Hsu's Gourmet

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This family-owned and operated Chinese restaurant has been a downtown staple since 1989. Located in Peachtree Center, Hsu’s is easily walkable from several area hotels and can accommodate large groups. The menu offers everything from lo mein and pan-fried noodles to spicy basil chicken and salt and pepper shrimp. But, come here for the three-course Peking duck, served with soup, Chinese crepe, and the star attraction, the crispy roast duck in a sweetly salted honey soy sauce. It feeds two.

Swan Coach House

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Located on the campus of the Atlanta History Center, this old coach house is part of a Buckhead mansion featured in the Hunger Games. Swan Coach House includes an art gallery, gift shop, and a restaurant and events facility on site. Southern ladies who lunch come here for crab cakes, tea sandwiches, chicken salad, fried green tomatoes, and sweet tea. Open Monday - Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Trader Vic's

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Few restaurants in Atlanta give diners of today a window into the past quite like Trader Vic’s. Opened in 1976 in the basement of the Hilton Atlanta Downtown, the interior hasn’t changed in over four decades. The Mai Tai cocktails still draw a crowd after all these years. The restaurant is often full of tourists and Atlanta residents seeking an infusion of Polynesian pop culture paired with strong tiki drinks. Fun fact: Atlanta is home to one of two Trader Vic’s remaining in the United States, and the only one still associated with Hilton hotels.

Mary Mac's Tea Room

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This beloved Southern restaurant on Ponce is known for its fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, and yeast rolls. In 2020, Mary Mac’s underwent a change of ownership, but very little has changed on the menu or with the decor and service. Mary MacKenzie first opened Mary Mac’s Tea Room in 1945. At the time, it was one of 16 tearooms in Atlanta. It’s been serving traditional Southern fare for tourists and residents ever since, who regularly stand in line for an infusion of Southern hospitality, fried chicken, and sweet tea.

Atlanta Fish Market

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It’s hard to miss the 65-foot leaping fish sculpture planted in front of the Atlanta Fish Market on Pharr Road. Tourist and locals flock to this seafood restaurant for oysters, sushi, jumbo crab claws, lobster rolls, and fresh fish dinners, like stuffed flounder, trout amandine, and skate wing.

Fat Matt's Rib Shack

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Heralded by the late Anthony Bourdain, Fat Matt’s Rib Shack on Piedmont often features a line out the door. Don’t be deterred. It moves fast. Order a slab of pork ribs with sides of “rum” baked beans, collards, and mac and cheese while listing to live blues music.

Ponce City Market

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Once home to Sears, Roebuck, and Co. and City Hall East, Ponce City Market (PCM), located just off the Eastside Beltline, is now Atlanta’s newest tourist destination. The ground floor food hall is home to several restaurant stalls owned by Atlanta’s most notable chefs, like Linton Hopkins, Anne Quatrano, Guy Wong, Meherwan Irani, and Hector Santiago. On the roof, there’s a mini amusement park called Skyline Park, along with restaurant 9 Mile Station and a cocktail bar in the tower. On weekdays, PCM is full of nearby residents and office dwellers grabbing lunch or dinner. Locals generally avoid PCM on the weekends when the market becomes overrun with tourists and folks heading in from the suburbs.

Clermont Lounge

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This iconic strip bar located in the basement of the Hotel Clermont on Ponce is a frequent stop for tourists and locals. And, it has been for over 50 years now. The dubious vice den is where to head for a PBR and shots and a peep show filled with aging strippers, including everyone’s favorite, Blondie. Watch the Atlanta living legend crush a few beer cans between her breasts. Two rules to abide by at the Clermont: no touching the entertainers and absolutely no photos allowed.

Majestic Diner

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The Majestic on Ponce de Leon has been serving up comfort food since 1929. The restaurant was open 24/7 prior to the pandemic, but it still offers strong coffee paired with diner classics on the menu starting early in the morning. Head in for steak and eggs, biscuits and gravy, grilled cheese and fries, and the Ponce dog piled high with chili, cheese, and onions. It’s a popular stop for tourists and locals seeking comfort food in Atlanta.

The Vortex

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Lines form early to get into the the Vortex in Little Five Points, especially on the weekends when curious out-of-towners flock to the eclectic Atlanta neighborhood to do a little people watching and shop for vintage clothing. There are locals here, too, who come for the lack of children (the bar is 21 and up) and Atlanta’s most outrageous burger. For those daring enough, order the Triple Bypass: three patties, three fried eggs, 14 slices of American cheese, 10 slices of bacon, and two grilled cheese sandwiches serving as buns. The Vortex also has a location in Midtown with a comedy club, the Laughing Skull Lounge. Both bars are now non-smoking.

Hattie B's Hot Chicken - Atlanta, GA

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Opened in 2018 in a former 1950s Phillips 66 gas station on the edge of Little Five Points, Nashville’s popular Hattie B’s and its hot chicken still generate lines. Prepare for six levels of hot chicken heat here: Southern (no heat); mild; medium; hot; damn hot to the daredevil’s dream; and Shut the Cluck Up. The menu offers sides like pimento mac and cheese and banana pudding for dessert.

The Battery Atlanta

Located beyond the gates of Braves Truist Park, the Battery complex, with its shops, restaurants, and hotels, was built with visitors in mind. Restaurants like Ford Fry’s Superica for Tex-Mex, Latin sandwich shop El Super Pan, C. Ellet’s steakhouse and oyster bar, Antico Pizza, and Garden and Gun Club for Southern bites and cocktails are popular dining choices for locals and visitors, regardless of whether there’s a Braves game or a concert at the park. Make sure to also check out the Battery’s mini food hall Ph’east and its food stalls serving bubble tea, Chinese and Thai fare, ramen and poke.

Busy Bee Cafe

Most Atlantans don’t consider Busy Bee Cafe a tourist destination, simply a much-loved, decades-old restaurant for great soul food. Over the years, visitors to the city have also discovered this Atlanta institution. In business since 1947, this Vine City staple serves some of Atlanta’s best fried chicken, alongside an assortment of other meat-and-three staples. Busy Bee Cafe was named a James Beard classic restaurant in 2022 and served as one of many meeting places for Civil Rights leaders Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph David Abernathy, Hosea Williams, Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young, and Joseph Lowery.

Chick-fil-A Hapeville Dwarf House

The Dwarf House in Hapeville is where it all began for the Atlanta-based fast food chain back in 1946. This isn’t just any old Chick-fil-A. The Dwarf House includes a full-service restaurant serving an expanded menu filled with burgers, sandwiches, an all-day breakfast, and their most notable dish, the open-faced Hot Brown sandwich. The Chick-fil-A hot brown is served with chicken rather than turkey, bacon, and a whole lot of cheese. Sorry, it’s still closed on Sundays.

Silver Skillet

In business since 1956, the Silver Skillet serves a classic Southern breakfast with exactly zero frills. The restaurant is packed every morning with city dwellers, college students, and nearby office workers and hotel guests, regardless of the day of the week.

The Varsity

The Varsity is arguably Atlanta’s biggest restaurant tourist attraction. It still offers the most famous hot dog in the city, too. And, some locals are willing to brave the crowds for it, even on the weekends. Opened in 1928, the restaurant has served just about everyone. That includes a few presidents, like Jimmy Carter, George H. Bush, and Barack Obama, as well as movie stars such as Clark Gable and business tycoons like Warren Buffett. When the car hop asks, “What’ll ya have”, the answer is a chili dog with a frosted orange.

Sun Dial

The iconic Sun Dial restaurant atop the Westin Peachtree Plaza gives diners a birds-eye view of the city skyline from 723 feet above the street. The restaurant often caters to hotel guests and locals seeking a truly unique Atlanta experience. The Sun Dial has played host to many an anniversary, birthday celebration, and several sky-high marriage proposals.

Red Phone Booth - Downtown Atlanta

This cocktail bar and cigar lounge in downtown Atlanta requires a secret code to enter. Located in the old Dailey’s building, people must first dial a secret code inside a red phone booth to gain entrance into the bar. Once inside, order classic cocktails and take a seat at the bar or in the dimly lit lounge. Red Phone Booth features a walk-in humidor offering over 100 cigar options, too. Upstairs, Amalfi Pizza serves Neapolitan pies and pastas and cannolis for dessert paired with beer and wine.

Hsu's Gourmet

This family-owned and operated Chinese restaurant has been a downtown staple since 1989. Located in Peachtree Center, Hsu’s is easily walkable from several area hotels and can accommodate large groups. The menu offers everything from lo mein and pan-fried noodles to spicy basil chicken and salt and pepper shrimp. But, come here for the three-course Peking duck, served with soup, Chinese crepe, and the star attraction, the crispy roast duck in a sweetly salted honey soy sauce. It feeds two.

Swan Coach House

Located on the campus of the Atlanta History Center, this old coach house is part of a Buckhead mansion featured in the Hunger Games. Swan Coach House includes an art gallery, gift shop, and a restaurant and events facility on site. Southern ladies who lunch come here for crab cakes, tea sandwiches, chicken salad, fried green tomatoes, and sweet tea. Open Monday - Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Trader Vic's

Few restaurants in Atlanta give diners of today a window into the past quite like Trader Vic’s. Opened in 1976 in the basement of the Hilton Atlanta Downtown, the interior hasn’t changed in over four decades. The Mai Tai cocktails still draw a crowd after all these years. The restaurant is often full of tourists and Atlanta residents seeking an infusion of Polynesian pop culture paired with strong tiki drinks. Fun fact: Atlanta is home to one of two Trader Vic’s remaining in the United States, and the only one still associated with Hilton hotels.

Mary Mac's Tea Room

This beloved Southern restaurant on Ponce is known for its fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, and yeast rolls. In 2020, Mary Mac’s underwent a change of ownership, but very little has changed on the menu or with the decor and service. Mary MacKenzie first opened Mary Mac’s Tea Room in 1945. At the time, it was one of 16 tearooms in Atlanta. It’s been serving traditional Southern fare for tourists and residents ever since, who regularly stand in line for an infusion of Southern hospitality, fried chicken, and sweet tea.

Atlanta Fish Market

It’s hard to miss the 65-foot leaping fish sculpture planted in front of the Atlanta Fish Market on Pharr Road. Tourist and locals flock to this seafood restaurant for oysters, sushi, jumbo crab claws, lobster rolls, and fresh fish dinners, like stuffed flounder, trout amandine, and skate wing.

Fat Matt's Rib Shack

Heralded by the late Anthony Bourdain, Fat Matt’s Rib Shack on Piedmont often features a line out the door. Don’t be deterred. It moves fast. Order a slab of pork ribs with sides of “rum” baked beans, collards, and mac and cheese while listing to live blues music.

Ponce City Market

Once home to Sears, Roebuck, and Co. and City Hall East, Ponce City Market (PCM), located just off the Eastside Beltline, is now Atlanta’s newest tourist destination. The ground floor food hall is home to several restaurant stalls owned by Atlanta’s most notable chefs, like Linton Hopkins, Anne Quatrano, Guy Wong, Meherwan Irani, and Hector Santiago. On the roof, there’s a mini amusement park called Skyline Park, along with restaurant 9 Mile Station and a cocktail bar in the tower. On weekdays, PCM is full of nearby residents and office dwellers grabbing lunch or dinner. Locals generally avoid PCM on the weekends when the market becomes overrun with tourists and folks heading in from the suburbs.

Clermont Lounge

This iconic strip bar located in the basement of the Hotel Clermont on Ponce is a frequent stop for tourists and locals. And, it has been for over 50 years now. The dubious vice den is where to head for a PBR and shots and a peep show filled with aging strippers, including everyone’s favorite, Blondie. Watch the Atlanta living legend crush a few beer cans between her breasts. Two rules to abide by at the Clermont: no touching the entertainers and absolutely no photos allowed.

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Majestic Diner

The Majestic on Ponce de Leon has been serving up comfort food since 1929. The restaurant was open 24/7 prior to the pandemic, but it still offers strong coffee paired with diner classics on the menu starting early in the morning. Head in for steak and eggs, biscuits and gravy, grilled cheese and fries, and the Ponce dog piled high with chili, cheese, and onions. It’s a popular stop for tourists and locals seeking comfort food in Atlanta.

The Vortex

Lines form early to get into the the Vortex in Little Five Points, especially on the weekends when curious out-of-towners flock to the eclectic Atlanta neighborhood to do a little people watching and shop for vintage clothing. There are locals here, too, who come for the lack of children (the bar is 21 and up) and Atlanta’s most outrageous burger. For those daring enough, order the Triple Bypass: three patties, three fried eggs, 14 slices of American cheese, 10 slices of bacon, and two grilled cheese sandwiches serving as buns. The Vortex also has a location in Midtown with a comedy club, the Laughing Skull Lounge. Both bars are now non-smoking.

Hattie B's Hot Chicken - Atlanta, GA

Opened in 2018 in a former 1950s Phillips 66 gas station on the edge of Little Five Points, Nashville’s popular Hattie B’s and its hot chicken still generate lines. Prepare for six levels of hot chicken heat here: Southern (no heat); mild; medium; hot; damn hot to the daredevil’s dream; and Shut the Cluck Up. The menu offers sides like pimento mac and cheese and banana pudding for dessert.

Related Maps