The restaurant scene in Atlanta has never been better—and that’s saying a lot considering some of the chefs that launched their careers there. Today the city is home to some of the hottest restaurants in the South—and the country—and lucky for us, Atlanta is an easy drive from Charlotte, making it ideal for a food-focused getaway.
One of the most restaurant-centric neighborhoods in Atlanta is Decatur. The quirky little community is just east of downtown Atlanta and accessible on MARTA (Atlanta’s public transportation). It has a walkable downtown area where you’ll find fantastic restaurants like Cakes & Ale, No. 246, Paper Plane, Iberian Pig and locals’ favorite the Brick Store Pub. But it’s the newest must-dine spot Kimball House where you definitely need to spend some of your night—the raw bar and oyster selection here are exceptional, as is the cocktail program. The über-cool restaurant, which is located in the old Decatur train depot, also includes five different classic caviar services and a killer selection of absinthe.
Just outside of Decatur near Emory University is where you need to go for the best New York delicatessen in the South. The General Muir has received rave reviews since opening last year—including being named as one of GQ’s 25 Best Restaurants in America for 2014. Chef Todd Ginsberg whips up traditional Jewish delicatessen favorites like house-cured pastrami, hand-rolled and kettle-boiled bagels, lox and homemade brisket. You can dine here for breakfast, lunch or dinner, but we suggest the weekend brunch for its delicious dishes like pastrami poutine and pecan-crusted French toast. The bakery is open daily, too, so at least stop in for a slice of cheesecake, a rugelach, or a cinnamon roll or sticky bun.
While you’re in Atlanta for the food, you better get to know the name chef Ford Fry. He’s the restaurateur behind some of the cities best restaurants, including JCT. Kitchen, The Optimist, King & Duke and the newly opened St. Cecelia in Buckhead. The stunning space on Peachtree Street is massive and opened in January with a simple Mediterranean-influenced menu of homemade pastas, fresh fish and crudo. You could make a meal out of the yellowfin tuna alone—it’s that good. But then you’d miss out on other delish dishes like braised beef agnolotti, charred octopus and killer Brussels sprouts with guanciale vinaigrette. Music plays a prominent role at the restaurant (St. Cecelia was the patroness of musicians) and it’s reflected in the names of the cocktails. Try the lovely Wooden Ships (Solerno, Aperol, ruby red grapefruit, Prosecco, soda and blood orange) or the non-alcoholic Rickey Don’t Lose Than Number (housemade lime cordial, soda with a twist).
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You definitely have your choice of high-caliber hotels when you’re visiting Atlanta, but for a fun, foodie-filled visit, check out the W Atlanta - Downtown. You’ll be right in the heart of downtown and have easy access to DRINKSHOP (the W’s own in-house bar created by New York-based master mixologist Sasha Petraske), the Living Room bar, and BLT Steak. Plus the hotel is celebrating its five-year anniversary all year long, so you can probably expect some sweet little perks during your stay.
Sidebar: Food Market MadnessA killer food market will open in Atlanta just in time for summer 2014. Krog Street Market in Inman Park will be home to at least 13 restaurants and food markets, including James Beard-nominated chef Asha Gomez’s Spice Road Chicken; The Spotted Trotter (a cheese, charcuterie and butcher shop; Fred’s Meat & Bread (from the team behind The General Muir); a Tex-Mex spot from Ford Fry; and more.
Kimball House303 E. Howard Ave. Decatur, GA 30030404-378-3502http://kimball-house.com
The General MuirEmory Point1540 Avenue Place, Suite B-230Atlanta, GA 30329678-927-9131http://www.thegeneralmuir.com/
St. Cecelia3455 Peachtree RoadAtlanta, GA 30326404-554-9995http://stceciliaatl.com/
Krog Street Market99 Krog StreetAtlanta, GA 30307http://www.krogstreetmarket.com/
W Atlanta-Downtown45 Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard Atlanta, Georgia 30308404-582-5800http://www.watlantadowntown.com/