490 East Paces Ferry Rd., Buckhead
Aria has been around for fifteen-plus years, but its beautiful 2016 revamp by Atlanta firm Seiber Design has generated a lot of renewed interest. As ever, this is a white-tablecloth restaurant; there were a few bright oak tabletops added to the upstairs dining room, which is flanked by a leather banquette. The new bar, handsomely backed in dark wood panels, serves the full, seasonal dinner, and is a good option if you’re a pair without a reservation.
88 West Paces Ferry Rd., Buckhead
Inside the St. Regis is Southern-inspired Atlas, whose menu is overseen by Aria’s Chef Jerry Klaskala, and directed by Executive Chef Christopher Grossman, who cut his teeth at French Laundry. What’s great about Atlas, beyond the food, is their art collection: be it Matisse, Modigliani, Picasso, or works by local SCAD Atlanta students gracing the walls, it all adds beautifully to the experience.
1198 Howell Mill Rd., Knight Park
Star Provisions is one of our favorite places to shop in Atlanta: There's really good home and kitchen goods, takeout counters (the peanut butter and marshmallow sandwich is a hit), plus all sorts of prepared and packaged foods. Bacchanalia, accessible through the back of the store, is one of Atlanta's best restaurants. It's the perfect solution if you're looking for a sit-down meal: The bar is gigantic and deep, where you can feast on items like crab fritters and celery root ravioli a la carte. Otherwise, it’s a five-course prix-fixe situation.
75 14th St. NE, Midtown
The highlight of Atlanta’s Four Seasons is the delightful Bar Margot. As the name suggests, the cocktail menu here is a real draw; house specialties include the Lady Victoria, a lemon-fresh vodka-rosemary concoction, plus a local-beer program. The restaurant does lunch and dinner with a number of snackable, shareable items on each menu (e.g. crab toast, burrata with pistachio butter, deviled eggs) in addition to their more substantial plates (lobster roll at lunch, lobster thermidor or chicken mattone at dinner). After midnight, they have a short-lived but appropriately satisfying late-night menu—think fried chicken sandwiches and house burgers dressed with charred onions.
Barcelona Atlanta Wine Bar & Restaurant
240 N. Highland Ave., Inman Park
We were sold on this place already for its patio—complete with a fire pit—and, fortunately, the food is fantastic, too. The cozy outdoor space here will make you want to cuddle up with a glass of rioja and order enough tapas to stick around for a while. While we like to go at night (aforementioned fire), we hear the brunch (there’s a bloody mary bar and a seriously good sangria) is just as great. There's an additional location in Knight Park, but this one's our favorite.
969 Marietta St. NW, Knight Park
Bartaco also has a few locations in Connecticut, and you can definitely feel the beachy vibe when you walk inside: The patio is white-washed with blue cushions and accents, and the hanging pendants inside are made from woven baskets. The garage door separating the patio from the restaurant opens wide on warm evenings, when you can sit under the twinkle lights and order from their well-tended cocktail list (favorites are the margarita, the mojito, and a bold blend of chorizo spice, reposado, and mezcal called the CLT). If you're staying to eat, trays of guacamole, salsa, and an assortment of tacos take the stress out of ordering for a crowd.
299 N Highland Ave., Inman Park
Nautically themed, super-chic Beetlecat is part of Ford Fry’s Atlanta empire (Superica, St. Cecilia, King + Duke, Optimist, et al.). There’s a turquoise-seated bright oyster bar on the first level, and upstairs, a fun, 1970s vibe, complete with wood paneling and old-school leather couches. Prepare for a crowd and order the lobster roll.
887 Howell Mill Rd., Marietta Street Artery
While simply done, the Bocado stack—two patties with American cheese and house pickles—is arguably the best burger in Atlanta. The menu is rounded out with other sandwiches, soups, and salads at lunch; entrees like roasted chicken served with braised collards and seared trout with succotash at dinner, and some veg-friendly plates—but, again, the burger is really the star of the show.
753 Edgewood Ave., Inman Park
BoccaLupo is an Inman Park Italian restaurant by Atlanta native chef Bruce Logue, who previously worked under goop-favorite Mario Batali at Babbo in NYC. The pasta—from the daily risotto to pan-fried shells, twenty-yolk tagliatelle with wild mushrooms, and black spaghetti with hot sausage and red shrimp—is expertly done. For good-weather days, there’s casual porch seating that extends the interior’s slightly industrial feel with roll-up, glass garage doors. (Note that the restaurant is closed on Sunday and Monday.)
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