Dark Horse Tavern in Virginia-Highland draws folks who want to eat, drink and sing karaoke.

Whether it's in the Lobby Bar or on the rooftop, the Hotel Clermont is a hot spot that simmers.

New Realm Brewery features craft beer, great food and people-watching from the patio that overlooks the BeltLine.

Atlantans have been getting their groove on at the Tongue & Groove for years. (📷 Tongue & Groove)

Le Colonial has become an instant Buckhead hot spot as guests enjoy the atmosphere and French-Vietnamese cuisine.

12 Cool Hangouts and Hot Spots in Atlanta

Sometimes a place instantly becomes the “hot spot” while others quietly simmer until enough people discover them and want to be there. Atlanta has lots of hot spots and cool places to hang out that excite the hip crowd, but here are 12 of our current favorites.

1. New Realm Brewery

New Realm Brewery is a triple threat: it brews great beer, has fantastic food and it’s on the East BeltLine. The brewery has several mainstays: United Craft Lager, The Commissioner, Euphonia, Perun, Hazy Like a Fox and Hoplandia, along with several small batch releases. You can also get a brewery tour.

The food matches the quality of the beer with regional dishes, made from scratch, that are worthy of a visit by itself. The burgers are made from hand-ground premium meat, the fries are hand cut and the desserts are made in-house. Menu options include spicy Korean pork cheek buns, ultimate Wagyu burger, pizzas and hand-pressed Cuban sandwiches.

New Realm is the new hot spot for gathering on the rooftop (which is heated and has seating for 90), watching the sun go down over the skyline, seeing the BeltLine walkers and meeting new people.

2. High Note

End your day on a high note, specifically the High Note rooftop bar that is between the AC Hotel and Moxy Atlanta Midtown. The casual upscale bar is quickly becoming a favorite of guests and locals with its comfort-inspired menu and over-the-top cocktails.

Enjoy the twinkling overhead lights, the comfortable seats and the fun atmosphere while sipping on a TKO (light rum, rhum clement, lime oleo, orgeat, falernum and amontillado) or our favorite named drink-2 Dope Boyz & A Cadillac (Miller High Life and a shot). On the food front, try the spiced fries, kimchi dog and tuna poke.

3. Hotel Clermont

The Hotel Clermont has been the turnaround story of the year–if not decade–as the seedy Clermont Hotel transformed into a superstar, a stylish boutique with a rooftop space that is the “in” space for in-town gatherings. The large radio radio tower is the beacon for all who want a great time and place to meet, have a cocktail and be seen.

The roof offers stunning Downtown views, but the real plus is a large bar with bartenders who know how to serve them up right-and quick. The roof is usually packed on weekends and even during the weekdays there will be folks having a drink or maybe playing some of the lawn games.

Even if the weather isn’t the best, the hotel delivers another hip spot, the Lobby Bar. The bar has been named as one of the best looking bars in the country and it prides itself on its bourbon-centric offerings. Hotel Clermont’s signature restaurant, Tiny Lou’s, serves up exquisite French cuisine.

4. Whole Foods Midtown

A grocery store is rarely-if ever-thought of as a “hot spot,” but if that’s what you think you haven’t been to Whole Foods Midtown. And, we highly suggest you go. This three-story, 70,000 square-foot square foot store has a variety of “usual” services such as custom cakes, a mocha bar, kombucha on tap, a certified cheese professional, certified artisan bread baker and custom flower arrangements (not to mention produce) but it also has become a place to hang out-a true Midtown meeting place.

The 14th Street Bar is a casual hangout serving draft beer and a curated selection of wines by the glass; the Canopy Court is a bar and grill where drinks are perfectly paired with grilled entrees; and the Express Kitchen is perfect for those who want their food quick, to either eat in or take out. There also is a Dtox Juice bar and Farm Burger restaurant. The rooftop bar is among the best in the city.

5. Ticonderoga Club

Ticonderoga Club prides itself on being a meeting place of “boisterous drinking and grateful dining, of revelry, revelation, revolution; a home for friends and wayward strangers.” Sounds good to us.

Located in the ever-fun Krog Street Market, the Ticonderoga Club is simply a perfect spot to meet for drinks, and you’ll end up staying for dinner. Or simply drink. The food choices are sophisticated, the drinks perfectly made and the wait staff is among the friendliest in town. You’ll definitely want to join the Ticonderoga Club.

6. Dark Horse Tavern

Dark Horse Tavern has been at the center of the scene for more than 25 years and if there is any question that this is still one of the city’s biggest hot spots, consider this: It is the number one drop-off spot for Lyft. Dark Horse is especially packed on the weekends but partiers have options.

The main floor features a large bar and has a basic bar/restaurant/horsey tavern feel to it. Go downstairs to the 10 High Club, which features Metalsome Live Band Karaoke that can go until 2:30 a.m. on the weekends (and 1:30 a.m. during the week). On the third level is is the Warren City Club, which features a rooftop terrace, bar and club-like atmosphere. Unlike Dark Horse and 10 Mile High, The Warren has a cover charge.

7. Tongue & Grove

Tongue & Grove has been a hot nightlife location since it opened its doors in the former Buckhead Village. Today it is is grooving at Lindbergh City Center, just off Piedmont Road with an 8,600-square-foot club.

The T&G consists of two rooms with different personalities, with The Joint (the smaller room) featuring reclaimed wood and up-cycled materials with alternative musical formats. For those who want music, the T&G boasts an electro-voice 16 element line-array sound system powered by tour grade amplification. Partner that with the light show and laser strobes and every evening will be memorable.

8. Red Phone Booth

Red Phone Booth, located in the iconic Dailey’s building downtown, features an exclusive cigar program and turn-of-the-century craft cocktail selection. The Red Phone Booth is open to the public (21 and over) but, in keeping with the speakeasy theme, one needs a code to get in. They don’t give out the code; you have to be a member or know someone who knows the code. That sounds tricky but there are a lot of people who “know the code” because the place is usually packed.

9. Koo Koo Room

Koo Koo Room is a Midtown nightclub that has something for everyone depending on the night. Tuesdays, for instance, feature world beats, reggae, R&B, house and hip-hop, while Thursday is the club’s version of “Ladies Night” with martinis, wine and champagne specials and a resident DJ.

10. The Bureau

The Bureau is a trendy speakeasy that can be accessed through KR SteakBar and a side entrance. If there is a red light bulb on over the door, the place is open. Once you find your way, The Bureau features a beautiful marble-top bar, brick walls, wraparound booths and vintage pictures from the Prohibition area. Located in Peachtree Hills, it is open only on Friday and Saturday and usually is packed.

11. The Consulate

The Consulate in Midtown (right across from the Midtown MARTA station) has attracted national attention for its fantastic food and drinks as well as being “sexy.” We’re not kidding. Zagat named it one of the top 10 “sexiest new restaurants and bars” in Atlanta. The Consulate may not admit to being “sexy” but it does say that it is the product of a “daring, adventurous chef and a detailed obsessed interior.”

This is not your “industrial chic” place. Rather, it has a timeless, luxurious feel to it that makes you want to stay and order another drink. Half the fun is its global menu where several items from one country are featured along with the resident menu-again from around the world. Among the countries whose traditional dishes are on the menu are Ethiopia, Spain, Korea, Cuba and China.

12. The Colonial

The Colonial just opened but already it has become the place to see, be seen and have fun. The famed French Vietnamese restaurant opened at The Shops Buckhead Atlanta and features 8,100 square feet of terrace and private dining spaces. The lavish dining room boasts leather banquettes and is flanked by a veranda with Parisian-style sidewalk cafe seating. Signature dishes include the crispy red snapper and roasted half duck.

Journalist Mary Welch writes business and lifestyle stories for local and national publications. 

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