The 10 Best Restaurants in Atlanta

Atlanta, a bustling metropolis bubbling with culinary diversity, stands as a beacon for food enthusiasts. From historic soul food establishments to avant-garde dining experiences, the city’s gastronomic landscape is a testament to its rich cultural fabric and innovative spirit.

Here are 10 unmissable restaurants in Atlanta that promise an unforgettable culinary journey.

Mary Mac’s Tea Room

Mary Mac’s Tea Room is a journey into the heart of Southern hospitality and cooking. Since 1945, this Midtown staple has been the go-to spot for classic Southern dishes. Its menu, brimming with favorites like crispy fried green tomatoes and sweet, refreshing tea, truly captures the essence of Southern cuisine. Here, dining is about embracing tradition and enjoying a warm welcome, whether you’re a first-time visitor or a longtime regular.

The experience at Mary Mac’s goes beyond just eating—it’s about making memories surrounded by the warmth of genuine hospitality. This iconic venue is a living piece of Atlanta’s history, where each dish served is a nod to the rich cultural heritage of the South. It’s a place where you’re guaranteed not just a meal, but an unforgettable experience that keeps you coming back for more.

The Colonnade 

Stepping into The Colonnade is being greeted by the comforting aroma of Southern cooking. This Atlanta gem has been serving up some of the city’s fried chicken since 1927. Its simple exterior hides a world of culinary delights, where traditional dishes like biscuits and nightly specials are served with a side of nostalgia. The Colonnade is where every meal brings the warmth and familiarity of a meal with old friends.

Dining at The Colonnade offers a unique blend of past and present, with each plate telling a story of Atlanta’s rich culinary history. The restaurant’s cozy, vintage setting is the perfect backdrop for enjoying time-tested recipes that have been passed down through generations. Here, families and friends come together to share meals that feel like home, making The Colonnade a cherished spot for anyone looking to experience genuine Southern hospitality.

The Busy Bee Cafe 

The Busy Bee Cafe, nestled in Atlanta’s West End, serves up soul food that truly captures the essence of the South. With more than 70 years of history, this place is famous for its crispy fried chicken and creamy mac ‘n’ cheese, offering a taste of Southern comfort in every bite. It’s a favorite among both celebrities and politicians, marking it as a key spot in Atlanta’s food scene.

Visiting The Busy Bee Cafe feels like coming home to a warm, welcoming atmosphere filled with the rich scents of seasoned cooking. It’s a place where traditional soul food is celebrated, bringing together people from all walks of life. Here, every dish tells a story of tradition and community, making dining an unforgettable experience that embodies the vibrant spirit of Atlanta.

Paschal’s

Paschal’s is a culinary gem located in Castleberry Hill, celebrated for its exceptional Southern cuisine and significant history. Here, dining transcends the ordinary, with each dish like the famous fried chicken offering a taste of the restaurant’s rich past. It’s not just about the meal; it’s about partaking in a tradition that has been a cornerstone of Atlanta’s culture.

This restaurant is a site where history echoes through the walls, bearing witness to important discussions and gatherings during the civil rights movement. Enjoying a meal here, especially the beloved peach cobbler, connects you to the influential figures who once shared these tables, making Paschal’s a unique blend of culinary delight and historical significance.

Pittypat’s Porch

Pittypat’s Porch serves up a slice of Southern history with its traditional dishes like tender Georgia catfish and sweet, rich pecan pie, all presented with a touch of elegance. This Atlanta favorite invites you to step back in time to enjoy the comforts of Southern hospitality in a setting that’s both charming and nostalgic.

While enjoying the classic flavors, immerse yourself further into the experience with a refreshing mint julep in hand, sitting back in one of their vintage rocking chairs. This isn’t just dining; it’s a journey to the heart of Southern tradition, where every guest is greeted with warmth and every meal feels like a celebration of the South’s rich culinary heritage.

Canoe

Canoe is a culinary gem located by the peaceful Chattahoochee River, offering a dining experience that blends delicious New American cuisine with stunning natural surroundings. The standout dish, house-smoked salmon, delights diners with its rich flavors, perfectly complementing the serene river views. The restaurant’s setting provides a beautiful escape from the city, inviting guests to enjoy not just a meal, but a memorable experience amidst nature.

The beauty of Canoe extends beyond its menu to the enchanting garden and riverside views that surround it. It’s a place where guests can take a stroll after their meal, soaking in the tranquil atmosphere and lush greenery. This unique combination of outstanding food and idyllic location makes Canoe more than just a restaurant; it’s a haven for those seeking a special dining experience that engages all the senses.

Gunshow

Gunshow transforms dining into an interactive spectacle, blending the warmth of Southern cuisine with global flair. Here, chefs personally present their dishes to your table, making each visit uniquely engaging. The lively atmosphere, reminiscent of a bustling market, adds to the thrill, promising not just a meal, but an exploratory adventure in tastes.

In the heart of Glenwood Park, Gunshow stands out as a vibrant highlight of Atlanta’s diverse dining scene. Its innovative format encourages a communal dining experience, where every dish tells a story. This approach not only breaks down barriers between chefs and diners but also ensures that each visit leaves a lasting impression, marking Gunshow as a must-visit destination for culinary adventurers.

The Varsity

In the heart of Atlanta, The Varsity stands as a testament to the city’s love for fast food. Recognized as the world’s largest drive-in, its lively atmosphere is as famous as its chili-cheese dogs and onion rings. The familiar call of “What’ll ya have?” greets every visitor, making dining here an unforgettable Atlanta tradition filled with warmth and nostalgia.

Entering The Varsity is like stepping back in time, where each meal revives cherished memories of Atlanta’s past. This dining landmark offers more than just food; it’s a celebration of generations of Atlantans coming together. Amidst the hustle and bustle of Downtown, The Varsity remains a beloved spot for enjoying simple, satisfying meals amidst the camaraderie of friends and family.

Nakato

Nakato, a cornerstone of Atlanta’s dining scene for over 45 years, offers a true taste of Japan right in Buckhead. It stands out for its deep respect for traditional Japanese cooking, providing a special experience that includes dining in tatami rooms for an authentic feel. The attention to detail in every aspect, from the setting to the cuisine, transports guests to Tokyo.

The hibachi chefs’ skilled performances add a lively contrast to the peaceful dining environment, turning meal preparation into an engaging show. Here, crafting sushi and sashimi is an art form, showcased right before your eyes. Nakato doesn’t just invite you to eat; it invites you to embark on a cultural exploration, making every visit a memorable journey into Japanese culinary tradition.

Aria

Tucked away in Buckhead, Aria is a highlight of fine dining in Atlanta, inviting guests into an atmosphere where every dish is a celebration of flavor. Led by Chef Gerry Klaskala, Aria offers a dining experience that blends tradition with innovation. The restaurant’s elegant setting is the perfect backdrop for a menu that promises to surprise and delight, making each visit a memorable journey of culinary discovery.

Aria’s menu captivates the senses, showcasing a blend of local ingredients and unique twists on classic dishes. Whether it’s the delicate taste of butter-braised lobster or the rich depth of herb-crusted lemon sole, every dish is crafted with care and creativity. In the heart of Buckhead, Aria stands out as a dining destination where each meal is an occasion, reflecting the best of Atlanta’s dynamic food scene.

Each of these ten culinary gems, with their unique flavors and stories, invites you on a gastronomic tour of Atlanta that promises to delight and inspire. From the soulful rhythms of traditional Southern kitchens to the innovative beats of modern gastronomy, Atlanta’s dining scene offers a mosaic of experiences that are as diverse and vibrant as the city itself.