With so many landmark eateries to consider, putting together a list of iconic Atlanta restaurants turned out to be no easy task. But we did it. To kick off a season of highlighting the great dining experiences Atlanta has to offer, we’ve prepared a list of restaurants that are quintessentially Atlanta, starting with…
“What’ll ya have?” It’s the question that generations of Varsity partons have heard, going back to 1928. The answer for most of that time has been hot dogs and onion rings at the world largest drive-in diner.
Must try: Hot Dog and Onion Rings
A year before The Varsity set up shop, The Colonnade was serving man-sized portions of fried chicken, pork, and other southern favorites. Originally located on the corner of Lindbergh and Piedmont, it moved to its current Cheshire Bridge location in 1962.
Must try: Chicken Fried Chicken
Of all the restaurants in all the towns in all the world, The Vortex might be the best representative of the neighborhood it resides in. At the heart of Little 5 Points (L5P), a giant laughing skull rises out of the pavement and a set of “policies” on the menu tells you, “We grill the best damn burgers in Atlanta.” They might be right.
Must try: Hungry Chuck’s Cowboy Burger
From the Vortex it’s a short drive to The Flying Biscuit, one of Atlanta’s most beloved breakfast and brunch restaurants. Although there are now 13 Flying Biscuits across the south-east, the original location on McLendon Avenue in Candler Park with its vibrant purple and orange decor holds a special place in the hearts of Atlantans.
Must try: Southern Scramble
As WWII was drawing to a close, Mary Mac’s Tea Room opened its doors on Ponce de Leon. Serving classic southern fare like roast pork with cornbread dressing, fried chicken, and sauteed chicken livers, walking into this restaurant is like stepping back into 1945.
Must try: Roast Turkey with cornbread dressing, gravy and cranberry sauce (make it the Holidays all year round!)
No surprises here, it’s fish on the menu, and there’s no mistaking the giant fish sculpture outside this legendary Buckhead eatery, whose building is based on a 1920s Savannah railroad station.
Must try: Surf and Turf. 6oz Fillet Mignon and 4oz Fried Lobster Tail
There’s a giant neon sign on Ponce de Leon that beams out the name of Fellini’s Pizza in big red letters. Antico and Varasano might be the Sonny and Freddie Corleone of pizza in Atlanta, but Fellini’s will always be Don Vito.
Must try: Anything on the menu
Originally established as a burger joint with a distinctly Californian vibe, R. Thomas has marched to the forefront of the free-range, macrobiotic, organic, vegan and vegetarian friendly movements and become the go-to place for health conscious Atlantans.
Must try: Magic Quesadilla
On Piedmont Road there’s a little restaurant that makes a big noise. Blues bands play every night, and the smell of delicious smoked chicken, brisket, and pulled pork hits you before you get through the door. Since 1990, Fat Matt’s has been serving perfect summer evenings to Atlanta’s discerning BBQ lovers.
Must try: Rib Sandwich
There’s another giant neon sign on Ponce de Leon, and it reads “Krispy Kreme Original Glazed Hot Now.” But the little store on Ponce didn’t open until 1965, nearly 30 years after Krispy Kreme served its first donuts in Winston-Salem. All the same, the donuts have been adopted by Atlanta and are a part of the city’s culinary identity.
Must try: Hot Fresh. Now.
In a converted house in Grant Park, Daddy D’z might not look like much from the outside, but it’s truly what’s o the inside that counts. And what’s on the inside is some of the best Q you’re going to find anywhere.
Must try: Ribs. Corn bread. Napkins.
Neon is something of a trademark for our Atlanta landmark eateries, so it’s fitting to end this list with The Landmark Diner and its giant “Open 24 Hours” signs. While there are a few locations now, the original Landmark on the corner of Roswell Road and Piedmont Avenue is more New York Diner than Waffle House, and its menu reflects a certain refinement that doesn’t immediately suggest that you’re in a diner.
Must try: Peasant Omelette.