Innovative Dining in Atlanta

Atlanta has always been an eating-out town.  Are you buying a house?  That kitchen is likely not far from brand-new more than likely!  OK, I exaggerate but we are not known to be a cooking urban citizenry – we love to eat out!

And food in Atlanta has evolved nicely thanks to many young cooking hands bringing innovation.  Ecco, Rathbun’s, Pura Vida, and others helped break ground in terms of new concepts.  Lately, I have finally gotten to branch out and try new places, some of them as new as a couple of months old.  And all close to me (within 3 miles) – which is great given how much I enjoyed them.

So if you visit Atlanta for business or pleasure, be sure to get out of that hotel, of downtown, or trek in from suburbia.  Atlanta’s great eateries are waiting for you to experience them!

The Spence

A true foodie’s place, located on 5th & Spring Sts. right at the edge of the Georgia Tech campus.  Pick platters like tapas and sample anything from beef tartar to quail deviled eggs – of course, the menu changes so these may not be on it if you go (which seems to be a trend in-and-of-itself) but know that every platter we had and shared amongst the three of us was great.  The Spence is also a great place for a happy hour, especially if the weather is not too hot and you can sit outside.  Never-ending streams of people walking around.


In the former location of Toulouse on Peachtree St. right by the creek, 1Kept is well-situation in Buckhead in an unusual lot.  Easy parking is very welcome in a part of town that doesn’t know what that means and how important it is.  On my first visit, though the menu offered interesting specialty cocktails, I was feeling like a good old whiskey-based cocktail so I asked for a whiskey sour.  Thaddeus, the owner, was at the bar and he presented a whitish drink and said he had taken the liberty of making me an unusual whiskey sour:  made with white whiskey and gin with fresh lime.  It was outstanding.  So much so that I have returned there to enjoy it again.  And we named it a “frisky sour.”

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The white whiskey sour which we appropriately named “frisky sour”

But the white whiskey sour was not the end of it, the pulled pork flatbread, the bacon caramel popcorn, and the kale salad were all outstanding too!

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The delicious bacon caramel popcorn

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Deviled eggs

Flip Burger

OK, not one of the newest places (at least the location on Howell Mill Rd.) but I have to call it out in its own section because its chorizo burger is my favorite!  Their specialty cocktails are quite nice too.  AND the burnt marshmallow and Nutella milkshake rocks.  Drink it up and forget about the calories:  you can worry about those the rest of your life but you can only enjoy the milkshake while you are there!!!!

Local Three

Located off Northside Parkway right where it is joined by Howell Mill Rd., Local Three feels like a speakeasy, tucked away in the lobby of a building with a non-descript entrance.  Cool.  They offer a KI-LLER whiskey cocktail – the Junior Healy – a great twist on an Old Fashioned make with bourbon and snap ginger liqueur.  Well done!  By the way, their Vesper Martini is so powerful only one per customer is allowed – yowza!  Other things to highlight to be sure you don’t miss them:

  • The Meat Butter was just that:  foie gras that melted on your mouth.
  • The “Bacon” (pork belly) was very tender and flavorful.
  • And the Chicken and Waffles was delicious.  Great job, Chef Chris Hall!
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Chicken and waffle

And I can’t stop there.  Let’s talk dessert!  The chocolate mousse with caramel and the key lime tart topped with blueberries – don’t know which I liked best (almost – I am a chocoholic)!

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The chocolate mousse with caramel – somebody stop me!

The Optimist

I had heard about this place but did not know much about it.  Until a friend said she was going there with some folks the next day and she wanted to know if I was interested in going.  Besides seeing my friend, I also thought it was a great opportunity to check out a new place.  I really liked how the place is set up in an old building in the west part of town (immediately west of Georgia Tech, around 9th St. and Howell Mill Rd.) that is very slowly finally moving away from industrial-decrepit.  The focus is seafood.

My friend had a shrimp appetizer with a spicy sauce that was worth scraping the plate with bread to leave it clean – and she did!

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The photo does not it justice – it is superb!

I had grilled mahi mahi with a garlicky ginger sauce that I ended up also scooping up with bread.  Clearly, they know their seafood and they know sauces!  The blackberry Chambord “ice cream” was very smooth and not over-stated – it has my seal of approval!

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The blackberry Chambord frozen dessert


I will keep exploring new places in Atlanta now that I am on a kick but I also do plan to return to these places because they do a great job with the food and service.  Bonus points for the ones with non-valet parking available!

Do you venture out and check new places out often?  Do you have any recommendations for your hometown?  Please share!



  1. I love Atlanta’s food scene. My wife actually just returned home tonight from a girls’ weekend in Atlanta. I know they had dessert at Optimist, but don’t think they made any of these others. I know they had great meals at Miller Union and Lunacy Black Market.
    Lance | Trips By Lance recently posted..Lodging History at Omni Severin IndianapolisMy Profile

  2. Leyendo todos esos platos de comida me abrieron el apetito! Solo he ido al Flip Burger, the best! En mi proximo viaje tratare de ir a los otros restaurants.

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