Growing up just two-and-a-half hours north of Atlanta means that I’ve spent a good deal of time in the Peach State’s capital. While it’s the biggest city in the South, it’s oft-overlooked by travelers in search of culinary destinations. But every time I’m there, my stomach is satiated and I leave a few pounds heavier.
Back in February, I stayed in Atlanta on the way to and from Savannah for a bachelorette weekend. First up: a night at the Four Seasons Hotel in Midtown.
Luckily, we were upgraded to a suite as there were four of us. But the location was ideal, and the hotel was fantastic (was there ever a Four Seasons that wasn’t?).
We dined that night at JCT. Kitchen and Bar, which is currently one of my top picks for Atlanta restaurants. The food is great, the cocktail menu extensive, and my only caveat is that it’s extremely loud and tough to hear your dining companions. If you don’t have a reservation, it will likely be a long wait, so grab a table at the upstairs bar instead.
On the way back through, I stayed at the new Mandarin Oriental in Buckhead (an insanely gorgeous property) for my birthday with a couple of friends. We were in and out, as I so often am during my whirlwind travels, but got a quick taste of the luxury of the hotel and its convenience to everything Atlanta has to offer.
We dined at The Optimist, which lived up to all its national press hype (even though I’m not the biggest seafood fan). Unfortunately, though, it was too cold for mini-golf.
And then it was time for a late-night stop to Church…well, Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room & Ping Pong Emporium, that is. I never go to Atlanta without getting my religion on at my favorite bar, complete with choir robes for patrons to wear.
My most recent Atlanta jaunt in May was for a doctor’s appointment for my mom. She wanted company and so I obliged. On the way down, we stopped at the fantastic Westside Foundry which social media-turned-IRL friend Muriel highly recommended.
As I mentioned before, my family bought a Music Row condo a few months ago, and we are still very much in decor-hunting mode. This definitely fit our aesthetic. All of it.
But while I wanted everything at Westside Foundry, it was a bit out of our price range, so we wound up outfitting much of the condo from IKEA instead.
Still, this is worth a stop for those of you with more dough to spend.
On our way into town, we checked out Empire State South for dinner. It was a tornado-y evening, but we sat outside as the rain blew sideways onto our table, and only ate some apps before calling it a night. Truth be told, the dinner menu didn’t excite me that much, though the small bites in jars were delicious. The brunch, on the other hand, looks killer so I think I need a return visit to eat my way through the breakfast offerings.
Before checking into our hotel, a stop at Morelli’s for ice cream was in order. Since we already have two Jeni’s locations in Atlanta, I wanted to try out a beloved local institution instead. Two Emoji thumbs up.
Finally, we checked into the W Atlanta – Buckhead for two nights, and I’m not sure I can ever stay anywhere else in Atlanta after seeing how beautiful this hotel is.
Bonus: It’s usually around low-$200s a night, which is no more expensive than the other four- and five-star hotels in Atlanta. W is one of my favorite hotel brands, but I’m used to them often being double the price, which means I don’t stay there as often as I’d like, so I’m pleased that the three properties in Atlanta are so affordable.
And if we’re being honest, my favorite part about any W Hotel is the fact that they dole out Bliss products as bathroom amenities.
It was raining the next day so I didn’t get to have a drink on the rooftop at Whiskey Blue, but you can bet I’ll be stopping by on subsequent trips through.
The W is right next to all the Lenox stores, so I popped around the corner for a veggie-heavy breakfast at Roots Pressed Juices on the first morning. When I’m actually at home, I tend to juice all my breakfasts and lunches, so it’s nice to find a delicious juice bar while traveling so as to offset all the other calories I consume!
My second night in Atlanta Mom wasn’t feeling up to a dinner out, so I met Muriel at Asha Gomez’s buzz-y Kerala-style, Southern-influenced Indian restaurant Cardamom Hill, tucked away in a random strip mall not far from Buckhead (don’t let appearances be deceiving; you should definitely try this place).
I hate to admit this, being the Tennessee girl that I am, but I’ve never been too keen on fried chicken. However, if you’ve heard of Cardamom, you’ve no doubt been instructed to order the Kerala-style chicken and waffles. I did just that, and I’ll never eat another fried chicken that compares. It was that good.
The next day, a visit to the W’s well-equipped gym was in order because, well, see all the things I ate above.
We were selected as the W’s “Guests of the Day,” which entitled us to a complimentary breakfast at Cook Hall, the perfect fuel on our final morning for a drive back to Tennessee.
There are so many other Atlanta restaurants I wanted to try—particularly as I recently took over writing the Frommer’s Atlanta guide—but I guess I’ll have to continue checking them off on all-too-short, two-night trips to the ATL.
That reminds me, it’s time to go back for some fried chicken. 🙂
It was so fun hanging out!
How about we make that a standing date: Kerala-style chicken at CH once a quarter? I mean, I would drive down for the night just to go there again!
I’m down! CH is so good.
Looks like you hit all the good spots! I’m planning on a birthday dinner at The Optimist myself!
YUM! So tasty. And the service was some of the best I’ve ever had. I also liked that even though the place was packed and we brought two people more than our ressie was for, they readjusted and made it work. Didn’t give me even the slightest snooty response as many restaurants of this caliber might. The Optimist has a fan in me!
Awww this makes me miss Atlanta! We should meet there for a girl’s weekend sometime… when we’re both free. Hahaha. I’ve got jokes!
For real, though, I need to make a mid-week trip back down early fall. I’ll keep you posted, and just maybe we can make the stars align 😉
I know that Atlanta is referred to as the Capital of the New South, but I never knew that it was such a dynamic city in regards to restaurants, boutiques, and such. Thanks for giving us a look inside a place that is dear to your heart!
The Westside Foundry looks divine and who doesn’t love shopping and picking away. Don’t worry if you can’t fit everything into your home I say. It’s the love that counts; although I think Ikea is probably where I’ll be going to get my kicks. Sigh!
Nice pics!!!!!!!!!!! looking a delicious food..I will surely plan my upcoming vacation to this place. thanks for posting nice views.
I’ve only been in Atlanta once, but I fell in love with the city – not the traffic! I would suggest the following restaurants, not very expensive, and great food. Just don’t try driving there during rush hour or just about any time after 12pm on a Friday 😉
Breakfast/Brunch: South County Kitchen in Midtown, with great southern fare. If you are a foodie, even an amateur, you will be in heaven.
Lunch/Dinner: Holeman & Finch Public House is an adventure with reasonable prices. The cheeseburger alone may make even professional foodies to temporarily pass out.
My hometown! Admittedly, I’m spoiled in my travels by the cuisine of more cosmopolitan US cities, such as New York, San Francisco, Savannah and New Orleans. So you won’t find many Atlanta restaurants cracking the very top of my list.
Two decided exceptions are The Optimist, the awesomeness of which you note. And my very fave here, BoccaLupo, which is quite simply the bomb!
Love, love, LOVE The Optimist. I actually haven’t been to BoccaLupo so I’ll check that out next time I’m there! I also love JCT Kitchen.