Note: This article also appeared on GridironNow.com.
Throngs of college football faithful – especially Alabama and Georgia fans – are converging on Mercedes Benz Stadium this weekend for Monday nights College Football National Championship game. Southerners have a knack for finding great food and whether you’re a native or visitor, here are a few unique places to eat and drink in Atlanta.
From fine dining to small barbecue smokehouses to taverns, this vibrant city is loaded with outstanding cuisine for every taste. Take our advice and make sure you call ahead for reservations or to inquire about availability.
Inman Park area
Kevin Rathbun Steak, 154 Krog St. NE, 404.524.5600, Fri-Sat, Sun, Mon, 5:30-10 pm
Football and steak go together like wine and cheese and there is no better place in Atlanta to get your fill of protein. Everything from the Coca-Cola Baby Back Pork Ribs to The Wedge salad to the 20-ounce Ribeye steak is delicious. Excellent wine selection and a great bar to “people watch.”
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For a more casual atmosphere, check out the Krog Bar, another Kevin Rathbun property featuring small plates and an extensive wine list. Open Fri-Sat, 4:30-midnight, Closed Sunday.
Hampton & Hudson, 299 N Highland Ave NE, 404.948.2123, Fri-Sat-Sun-Mon, 11-2 am
An inviting neighborhood bar serving craft brews, cocktails, lunch, and dinner. A late-night menu is available after 11 pm. A super-cool place frequented by locals and a great place to watch all the weekends’ sports action, including Monday evening’s big game.
Georgia Tech area
Marcel, 1170 Howell Mill Rd, 404.665.4555, Fri – Mon. 5-11 pm, 11pm – 2 am Friday & Saturday
Named for the iconic French fighter, Marcel Cerdan, this popular steakhouse, and bar is owned by Chef Ford Fry. They are not only well known for their steaks but also for their late night menu of burgers and steak frites, which is much less pricey and available from 11 pm until 2 am Friday and Saturday nights.
Antica Posta, 519 E Paces Ferry Rd. NE, 404.262.7112, Fri-Mon, 5 -10 pm
If you’re in the mood for authentic Italian food then owner and Chef Marco Betti offer superb food in a quaint old home in Buckhead. Betti was born in Regello, Italy, in the heart of Tuscany, where he opened his first restaurant. Excellent bar and wine list. Order the pasta or the veal shank; you won’t be disappointed.
Umi, 3050 Peachtree Rd. NW, 404.841.0040, Fri-Sat-Mon, 5:30-11 pm, Closed Sunday
One of the city’s top Japanese/sushi restaurants, this trendy spot in has quickly become one popular with the see-and-be-seen crowd. Chances are you’ll spot a celebrity or two at the sushi bar this weekend. NOTE: The dress code is strictly enforced so no caps, sneakers or sports jerseys.
The Regent Cocktail Club, 3035 Peachtree Rd NE, 770.415.9961, Fri-Sat, 5 pm – 2 am Sun, 5-11 pm.
Located within the American Steakhouse, this trendy and elegant bar is a fantastic place to enjoy a craft cocktail prepared by expert bartenders before or after dinner.
The Optimist, 914 Howell Rd., 404.477.6260, Fri-Sat-Sun., 5-11 pm, Lunch Fri & Mon., 11:30-2:30
Seafood is what makes this restaurant famous. Another Ford Fry establishment, fresh oysters, Georgia trout and Maine sea scallops are served in an old converted ham-aging house. A unique ambiance with its open design and cozy bar make it a good choice for larger groups.
Home Grown, 968 Memorial Dr. SE, 404.222.0455, Sat-Mon, 7 am – 2 pm
Folks, it’s all breakfast here and considered one of Atlanta’s best spots to get homemade biscuits. Celebrities, including politicos and athletes, routinely stop in and besides all your breakfast favorites the pimento cheese is to die for.
Fox Bros Bar-B-Q, 1238 DeKalb Ave NE, 404.577.4030, Fri – Mon, 11 am – 10 pm
Jonathan and Justin Fox grew up in the Lone Star state so all you’ll find in this joint is Texas-style barbecue like beef brisket, sausage, and ribs. Pork barbecue is also available.
Revival, 129 Church St., 404.225,6770, Fri-Sat 5-10 pm, Sun., 10:30 am- 9 pm
Southerners know food and if you’re hungry for some down-home cooking then this is your place. Fried chicken, meatloaf, fried catfish, greens, cornbread and all kinds of vegetables are served in a family-style setting. Beer, wine, and cocktails are also available.
The Square Pub, 115, Sycamore St., 404.844.4010, Fri-Sat, 11 – 2 am, Sun., 11 am – midnight
Some college football fans believe food is overrated and beer is all that’s required. If so, this is your place. Located on the town square in downtown Decatur, they have 19 local craft beers are on tap with 30 more available in bottles. Three floors with different bars and the bartenders and servers know their stuff. Hey, and they have good food with a variety of sandwiches, salads, and pastas.
Williamson Bros. Bar-B-Q, 1425 Roswell Rd., 770.971.3201, Fri-Mon, 10:30 am – 9 pm
Considered one of Atlanta top barbecue spots, the pig rules this place. Sandwiches, platters, ribs, buffalo wings, homemade onion rings and the fixin’s – it’s all here. Wine, draft and bottled beef also served.
Other “Happening Areas”
Virgina Highland is a happening area with a vibrant bar and restaurant scene. Known as the original live, work, place Atlanta neighborhood, you’ll find places like Dark Horse Tavern, Murphy’s Restaurant and Highland Tap are popular spots.
Ponce City Market is located in the former Sears Roebuck and Company building. Their Central Food Hall contains a variety of eateries, some of which are owned by award-winning chefs. From burgers to seafood, to ethnic food, it’s all here. Wine bars and craft brews are nearby too.