New restaurants and some of the old classics are keeping Atlanta’s dining scene worthy of exploration. The options are endless, whether you seek a DJ vibe or a white-tablecloth escape. Pop into the new Spaceman at the Hyatt Centric behind Lenox Mall for a craft cocktail and skyline views of downtown Atlanta, settle into a fabulous tasting menu with paired wines at Atlas, or indulge in refined Mexican cuisine with Japanese and southern influences at Palo Santo.
Hartley Kitchen & Cocktails: Located at the shiny new Kimpton Hotel, Hartley is in the hands of Atlanta’s beloved Mark Alba, whose deep history of experience includes roles as executive chef at 5Church, The Optimist, STK, and JCT Kitchen. Here, yet again, he flexes his talent for dishing up polished riffs on southern cuisine (think hoppin’ John with fresh field peas, or a ridiculously addictive pimento cheese fritter –gently fried pimento cheese served with house-smoked tomato cream). The seared brook trout laced with the bright, focused flavor of a grilled orange vinaigrette is a standout dish; ditto the sweet tea brined and roasted chicken. Dessert is must as well, don’t miss the bewitching chocolate choux pastry—dark chocolate cream, cocoa nib hazelnut praline, milk chocolate whipped mousse, salted white chocolate ice cream. Finish off the evening with a nightcap upstairs at the hotel’s street side Aveline Lounge
Palo Santo: Ultra-fresh inspired Mexican flavors and Japanese influences come together without rules in this buzzy new restaurant from Chef Santiago Gomez. Gomez, formerly of Nobu Mexico City and Miami, takes bold steps with flavor, keeping things interesting on the plate—dishes like a poblano rice bring smoked scallops, pecorino, black truffle and aged carnarolli rice together, or a Hamachi tostada with charred serrano yuzu mayo, avocado, dry miso on a marvelous heirloom corn tostada (Gomez sources his corn, beans and chocolate from small producers in Mexico and grinds everything fresh). Located adjacent to the King Plow Arts Center, Gomez also has plans to open a taco-focused outlet across the street in 2023. The menu changes often, as Gomez explains, “Playing with other cuisines, that’s the idea.”
Feedel Bistro: This quiet little spot features spiced, flavorful vegan and vegetarian Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine from a family-run kitchen. Hard to beat for the price, with addictive dishes such as freshly prepared sambusa (two hand-wrapped pastries stuffed with savory lentils, diced tomatoes, onions, jalapeños, spices, and herbs and a side of their special spicy house sauce), Fu’ul—their signature dish of fava beans garnished with fresh diced vegetables (onions, tomatoes, jalapeños.) More mainstream diners will love Simon’s Favorite—a flatbread topped with red lentil paste and mozzarella cheese, or order a Tofu Chef’s Special Platter to share; it’s a great way to explore the cuisine with a large group.
Atlas Restaurant: “Informal yet luxurious” defines the Atlas experience under the direction of Chef Freddy Money—from the classic British-rock inspired playlist to the caviar and Krug kickoff bite, everything here is firing on all cylinders. Indeed, Atlas is arguably Atlanta’s best fine dining restaurant right now. Money concocts dishes of savory yet decadent brilliance with skills born of his experiences in kitchens with luminaries such as Alain Ducasse. “I want to break that fussy fine dining mold but deliver the service, level of cuisine, but still have fun.” His current menu features a halibut poached in an olive oil blend he crafted himself. He finishes the dish with a beurre blanc with a Japanese twist—by using rice vinegar and sake, the rich buttery sauce get a compelling umami kick. Money’s deft hand with layering flavor shines throughout the menu, whether you go with the full tasting (Eight courses, paired with sommelier Samuel Gamble’s inspired offerings), a Westholme short rib with black garlic, or just a dish of pillowy gnocchi topped with generous shavings of whole truffle, the journey promises to be unforgettable.
The Americano: Located in the freshly renovated InterContinental Buckhead, the Americano delivers the best of Chef Scott Conant’s modern riffs on Italian steakhouse cuisine. Conant, who is as famous for his role on Chopped as he is for his award-winning cuisine and selection of cookbooks, has composed a menu to feast on, featuring decadent from-scratch pastas (tagliatelle Bolognese with Wagyu and pork ragu), pristine seafood (from lobster to a silky chimichurri-inspired tuna tartare), and aged steaks cooked-to perfection (love the New York strip accompanied by truffle jus or horseradish crema). Be sure to try one of the clever craft cocktails or consult with the sommelier on the best Italian wine for your meal.
CHOPS Lobster Bar: This classic Buckhead restaurant is showing off it’s new look. After a fire closed the restaurant almost a year ago, the Buckhead Life Group spent the past ten months updating the interior with upscale finishes and bringing new life to the bar area—which now features floor to ceiling windows anchored by a set of red leather banquettes, perfect for a prime view into Buckhead Plaza. The cuisine, as always, is top-notch with perfectly seared custom aged steaks, salmon, lobster and all of the attentive, polished service that goes with it. They also have an entirely new dining room, the Plaza Room, for private group dining or individual reservations.
Gypsy Kitchen: Always a fine dinner spot, the team at Gypsy Kitchen has wisely taken advantage of their stellar patio overlooking Peachtree Street and opened their doors for lunch. During a recent visit the patio was humming with a mix of business and social gatherings—for good reason, it’s arguably one of the best patios in Buckhead with a nice mix of greenery and sunshine. Moroccan meets Spanish on this menu with dishes such as a chicken and black lentil soup, a Marrakesh Trio (zaalouk and olive, herbed labneh and harissa), and a seared tuna & little gem salad with Persian cucumber and sumac onions. We also loved the smart wine list with cool by the glass offerings such as Greek Assyrtiko and Spanish Albariño.
Spaceman: Located on the 15th floor of the new Hyatt Centric hotel in Buckhead, this bar and lounge delvers on the skyline views of both downtown Atlanta and Buckhead. Expect to find a nightly DJ, craft cocktail list and a menu of snacks and bites — including lamb sliders, parmesan fries and blackened shrimp tacos. Wash it all down with a Southern Sunset (La Gritona tequila, Amaro Montenegro, apple cider, lemon, and smoked maple syrup) and you can settle in for the evening.