The Varsity is an Atlanta classic. (📷 James Duckworth, AtlantaPhotos.com)

13 Iconic Restaurants in Atlanta

Atlanta is a foodie city. We have world-famous chefs who offer a variety of culinary delights-everything from Asian fusion to barbecue. We also have our longstanding iconic restaurants. Over the decades, these restaurants have been the sites where weddings, proposals, graduations, and family reunions took place, as well as just gathering places for friends to enjoy a great meal. Here are some of Atlanta’s most iconic restaurants.

1. Bones

Bones, a classic Buckhead Atlanta restaurant since 1979, is known for its legendary steak, seafood and service. From romantic dinners to business lunches and everything in between, patrons will enjoy a true fine dining experience at Bones. The restaurant is frequently found on various lists of best steak houses in the country.

Dine-in for dinner only.

Where: Buckhead, 312 Piedmont Road. Atlanta, Ga. 30305

2. Busy Bee Cafe

Busy Bee Cafe was started by Lucy Jackson in 1947. Located in the West End of the city, this Southern diner made its mark with its fried chicken, but its daily plates and Southern specialties such as chitlins and ham hocks keep crowds lining up for more. The Busy Bee Cafe has long served as a local meeting spot and has been a stopover for many politicians and celebrities over the years.

Dine-in, takeout and delivery available.

Where: Downtown, 810 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Atlanta, Ga. 30314

3. Colonnade Restaurant

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The Colonnade is a long-time favorite for family dinners. Its banana cream pie is delicious.

Atlantans have been dining at the Colonnade Restaurant, located on Cheshire Bridge Road, for decades. And, if they don’t dine in, they carry out some of their favorite foods, such as fried chicken, cheese squash casserole, and coconut cream pie. The portions are large and so is the hospitality.

Dine-in and curbside pickup available.

Where: Midtown, 1879 Cheshire Bridge Road, Atlanta, Ga. 30324

4. Majestic Diner

Located in the Poncy-Highland area on Ponce de Leon Avenue, the Majestic Diner has been serving “food that pleases” since 1929. The diner was open 24 hours, making it a big late-night hit. For now, guests will have to make do with Majestic’s very “pleasing” breakfast and lunch menu as the diner closes at 2:30 p.m. each day. You’ll find everything from burgers and sandwiches to omelets, pancakes and waffles.

Dine-in, takeout and delivery available.

Where: Eastside, 1031 Ponce de Leon Ave., Atlanta, Ga. 30306

5. Manuel’s Tavern

Manuel’s Tavern is as much a political and literati hangout as it is a place to dine. The de facto meeting spot for journalists, politicians (mostly left-leaning), neighborhood folks and the literary crowd, Manuel’s is the place to have a beer, talk politics and watch a Braves game. President Carter, whose Carter Center is around the block, used to be a frequent visitor. President Obama visited in 2016.

Dine-in, takeout and delivery available.

Where: Eastside, 602 North Highland Ave., Atlanta, Ga. 30307

6. Mary Mac’s Tea Room

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Now that’s a Southern meal. Mary Mac’s Tea Room has been serving Southern fare for decades.

One of the oldest restaurants in Atlanta, Mary Mac’s Tea Room remains incredibly popular. For more than 70 years Mary Mac’s has set the standard for Southern cooking in Atlanta. It is the last of the 16 tea rooms that once dotted in-town Atlanta. Not surprisingly, you will find a varied crowd at Mary Mac’s, everyone from politicians and students to church goers and sports figures. On your first visit you get a complimentary cup of pot likker. Guests start lining up early for Mary Mac’s comfort food which includes items like fried chicken, sweet tea, fried green tomatoes, and delicious peach cobbler. Mary Mac’s menu items are so popular that the restaurant even produced its own cookbook.

Note: Mary Mac’s Tea Room is temporarily closed at this time.

Where: Midtown, 224 Ponce de Leon Ave., Atlanta, Ga. 30308

7. Nikolai’s Roof

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Located in the Hilton Atlanta, Nikolai’s Roof was one of the first restaurants to introduce sophisticated European dining to the city. When it opened in 1965, Atlantans, for perhaps the first time, experienced such exotic items as piroshki, borscht and foie gras. Nikolai’s Roof also boasts more than 900 wines. The cuisine is overseen by chef Stephanie Alderete.

Note: Nikolai’s Roof is temporarily closed at this time.

Where: Downtown, 255 Courtland St., Atlanta, Ga. 30303

8. Paschal’s

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Paschal’s earned its place in Civil Rights history. (📷 James Duckworth, AtlantaPhotos.com)

Paschal’s is known as much for its place in civil rights history as its food. James and Robert Paschal opened a 30-seat luncheonette in 1947, despite not having a stove. The food was cooked at Robert’s home and then taxied to the restaurant each morning. During the 1960s the brothers became active in the civil rights movement, and leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his key strategists as well as the city’s white leadership would meet at Paschal’s to solve the problems of the day. Paschal’s signature, and most popular dish is the fried chicken, but make sure to save room for dessert. The peach cobbler is some of the best in Atlanta.

Dine-in available.

Where: Downtown, 180 Northside Drive, Atlanta, Ga. 30313

9. Pittypat’s Porch

Located in the heart of Downtown Atlanta, Pittypat’s Porch got its name from a character in “Gone With the Wind.” Book and movie lovers know that that when Scarlett O’Hara visited Atlanta, she stayed with her Aunt Pittypat. Today guests can visit Pittypat’s Porch and enjoy Southern delicacies such as crayfish dip, catfish, and peach cobbler, served in an antebellum atmosphere. Guests can also sip on a mint julep in a rocking chair on the upstairs porch.

Note: Pittypat’s Porch is temporarily closed at this time.

Where: Downtown, 25 Andrew Young International Blvd., Atlanta, Ga. 30303

10. Polaris

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Polaris, located in the Hyatt Regency Atlanta in downtown, opened its doors in 1967. Atlantans and visitors alike were excited about having a meal in a rotating restaurant. Today, the sentiment remains. The Polaris offers a variety of handcrafted cocktails that celebrate the Golden Age of spirits and libations. It is the only restaurant in Atlanta with its own bee garden where more than 60,000 honeybees buzz about in hives kept under the roof of the Polaris. The honey is used daily in drinks and dishes. The rooftop garden also grows tomatoes, beans, herbs, flowers, and other produce.

Note: Polaris is closed to dining guests at this time. To submit requests for private events, please email the restaurant at atlra-rfp@hyatt.com.

Where: Downtown, 265 Peachtree St., Atlanta, Ga. 30303

11. Silver Skillet

The Silver Skillet has long been a favorite of Atlantans for a hearty breakfast and an old-fashioned “meat and three.” Other must tries include their chicken fried steak and lemon icebox pie. But it is also a favorite of Hollywood. Its vintage decor has made it a top filming location for many tv shows and movies. The Silver Skillet can be seen in “Traveling Man,” “Remember the Titans” and “I’ll Fly Away,” plus many more movies, TV shows and music videos. It has been featured on the Food Channel’s “Diners Drive-Ins and Dives” and, most recently, “The Chew.”

Dine-in and takeout available.

Where: Westside, 200 14th St., Atlanta, Ga. 30318

12. Sun Dial Restaurant, Bar and View

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Perched atop the Westin Peachtree Plaza, the Sun Dial Restaurant, Bar and View serves seasonal, contemporary American cuisine for brunch as well as lunch and dinner. Enjoy a fine dining experience at Sun Dial with a menu that make the most of the city’s local, farm-to-table ingredients, while taking in some of the most breathtaking views of the city. You will also find an exquisite dessert and drink menu.

Note: The restaurants revolving feature, cocktail lounge and observatory are temporarily closed. Dine-in available starting October 2nd.

Where: Downtown, 210 Peachtree St., Atlanta, Ga. 30303

13. The Varsity

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Your ATL visit is incomplete without a visit to the Varsity. (📷 Gene Phillips, AtlantaPhotos.com)

“What’ll ya have?” is the language at the world’s largest drive-in restaurant. The Varsity, located across from Georgia Tech in Midtown, has been serving stadium staples since 1928 with its hot dogs (naked dogs), fried pies and onion rings. The restaurant can accommodate 600 cars and more than 800 people. During Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets home football games, more than 30,000 people grab a bite at The Varsity. The restaurant was also a pivotal locale in the movie “We are Marshall,” starring Matthew McConaughey and Matthew Fox.

Dine-in and takeout available.

Where: Midtown, 61 North Ave., Atlanta, Ga. 30308

What kind of food suits your mood? From bakeries to brunch to barbecue, Atlanta’s dining scene is superb.

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

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