Go Out to Lunch at These Top Atlanta Restaurants
By Kelly Skinner
Atlanta Local Expert
Repeat this to yourself: Eating at your cubicle is bad. Going out for lunch in Atlanta is good. Seriously, it's not just good for your growling stomach and sense of dignity, it's great for relationships, your mind and your work flow (so long as you're not taking a liquid lunch). Whether it's a once a week occurrence, or a bi-weekly affair, you likely already have your go-to, close-to-the-office spots (cue the closest fast food near you). But, you're better than that. Spice it up a bit. Go local, go to lunch.
Here, we've pulled together 10 great places that don't just serve lunch as an afterthought, or as a trial-run to dinner service. No, they give lunch her deserved spot in the sun and offer up all of their best tricks.
Hailing from neighborhoods all over town, these 10 share a few common traits—great service, great environments and great food. From the humble burrito to the double-stacked Reuben to the leafy salad, you'll find a heap of casual and high-end spots to catch a mid-day meal.
Venture out! Step your toe into new territories where grander lunches await. The city's full of phenomenal restaurants for dinner, why not share a similar appreciation for lunch?
Victory sandwich serves slider-sized sandwiches for one of the cheapest price tags in town (most are under $4). Try the Hambo with prosciutto, mozzarella, arugula, balsamic and apple or the Castro, the restaurant's take on a Cuban sandwich. Sandwiches are mini-sized, so you'll either want to order two, or grab a side salad to finish up your meal. The industrial chic interiors are part of the charm, so if you can, stick around to eat. If it's packed, don't discount eating at the bar. It's a beautiful perch for watching the hipster staff in action--and admiring the restaurant's selection of craft brews and Jack-and-Coke slushie machines. Besides great sandwiches, the restaurant / bar has a fabulous patio for warm, sunny days. (404-377-9300)
Le Petit Marché
Kirkwood's local French-inspired cafe, "the little market," is a big favorite in this in-town neighborhood. Open for breakfast and lunch the family-owned restaurant serves sandwiches, paninis and salads with a side of Southern hospitality. Recently relocated to a larger address (across the street from its former digs), the space brims with fanciful decor. On top of the food, the shop also peddles local jams, gourmet food and odds-and-ends. Must-try dishes include the basil, chicken and pesto sandwich (with chicken breast, fresh basil, housemade basil pesto, tomato, feta and provolone)and the famous Chinese chicken salad (with marinated chicken breast, leaf lettuce, scallions, almonds, black sesame and sesame dressing). Catering is also available. (404-371-9888)
Modern white interiors and expansive windows lend to the breezy allure of pristine Bocado. Located on the Westside, it's home to one of the city's best burgers and an expansive menu to boot. Healthful, ingredient-driven dishes make this a popular spot for businessmen and ladies who lunch seeking a thoughtful, foodie alternative to fast food. A patio in the back is well-suited to a leisurely lunch, though the spacious interiors are welcoming as well. Besides the double-stacked burger, you'll find a respectable array of salads, sandwiches and soups brimming with fresh produce. The quinoa salad with creme fraiche, cucumber, radish, cilantro, cranberry beans and avocado is particularly good, as are the snack plate (party nuts, olives, pimento cheese, toast) and deviled eggs. (404-815-1399)
The General Muir
Get the New York Jewish deli experience at Emory Point. Boasting gleaming white environs with subway tiles and big windows, the light-filled space is a friendly one. It attracts a wide clientele with Emory and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention within throwing distance of the restaurant. Though, it's popular with business lunchers, friends and family too. It's easy to see why when you look at the menu: comfort food rules. It's a three-way tie between the roasted turkey sandwich (portabella mushrooms, lemon creme fraiche, arugula and gruyere), the reuben (made the good old-fashioned way, but somehow, the best we've ever had) and the chicken club (chicken salad with crispy pastrami, gruyere and potato chips... brilliant). Try 'em all at some point. (678-927-9131)
Star Provisions has been pleasing its patrons for years. This is the spot to visit if you are searching for hard to find meats, cheeses and breads. The prices are a bit on the high side, but expect quality goods. For lunch, order the prosciutto sandwich served with butter and Parmesan on a crusty baguette. Simplicity makes this sandwich sing! They also sell gadgets, dishes and kitchenware as well as gourmet foodie items for your pantry. Do save room for dessert as they have delectable treats you'll want to savor and take home to share with your friends. Similar praises can be given to the expansive cheese selection. Take a look. (404-365-0410)
Bell Street Burritos
The beloved local burrito stand got its start in Sweet Auburn Curb Market (where it still stands), but now has a brick-and-mortar location in the Midtown/South Buckhead area, too. It's a simple menu dedicated to quality ingredients and massive build-your-own burritos. Order your protein base (bean, green chiles, potato, broccoli, chicken, pork, steak or shrimp) which comes with rice, beans, melted jack cheese and salsa fresca, then add on until you're content. Get crafty, or feel free to ask the servers what's good--they'll steer you right. Tacos, salads, quesadillas and nachos are also on the menu. Pair it with a Mexican Coke. You've got the recipe for instant happiness. (404-815-0011)
Although there are other locations at Emory, Georgia Tech and in Buckhead and Midtown, the original in Old Fourth Ward remains a popular hub for weekday (and weekend) lunchers. The curried chicken salad is a customer favorite, as are the vibrant salads. Most soups, salads and sandwiches on the menu are under $10. The staff is friendly and courteous. Waits for tables can be very long on weekends. Many like to bring their dogs and sit on the patio. Don't have time to sit down? Get something from the bakery to go. There are lots of options for vegetarians too. (404-586-0772)
Cafe Jonah and the Magical Attic
Come lunch time, this nearly hidden gem comes alive with locals grabbing food to go and chatty regulars filling the tables within this cheery sandwich and salad spot. Served assembly line-style, you peer at the day's salads and sandwich/panini selections and order accordingly. You can either go with the daily hot special or order a la carte. Though the menu offerings change daily, there's almost always a gluten-free option (there is typically a wide selection of salads). Expect fresh healthful options that are big on flavor. The restaurant also offers breakfast and gluten-free cakes. Stay after lunch and head to the attic for a psychic reading! ((404) 343-4107)
Taqueria del Sol
Yes, there is always a line. That's because Taqueria del Sol is always good, regardless of date or time. Don't let the wait discourage you--management keeps the crowds moving. Tacos, margaritas, queso, enchiladas and some amazing shrimp corn chowder are the items to get. We're impartial to the Memphis taco (chopped smoked pork with spicy jalapeno coleslaw and tequila BBQ sauce)and the shredded beef brisket taco served with pico de gallo. Specials are daily occurrences. If the fried chicken happens to be the special, even if you're leaning toward Mexican food. Get it. It's truly delicious stuff that you won't see coming. (404-352-5811)
Housed within a space with rustic, industrial-chic stylings (the restaurant has locations in Decatur, Dunwoody, Buckhead and Asheville, N.C.), the burger concept sets itself apart from other fast-to-order restaurants not just by its design but by its ingredient-driven menu. While you can order from a numbered list of Blackboard Burgers (get the No. 1), you can also opt to build your own by selecting a patty choice (quinoa, chicken or beef), a regular or gluten-free bun, and then topping it with a range of typical and more unusual (think bone marrow) options. Sides are awesome (looking at you, sweet potato fries). The restaurant also happens to offer one of the best lunch salads in the city--(the market salad changes daily, get it with the goddess dressing). Burgers start at $6.75. (404.816.0603)
About Kelly Skinner
Kelly Skinner comes to Atlanta by way of sunny coastal city, Pensacola, FL. A lover of all things food, music and travel, Skinner found her perfect match in Atlanta in the food-centric hub of Decatur. A full-time freelance writer and editor, Skinner's byline has appeared in a range of publications including Paste, The Atlantan, Jezebel, Redbook, South and Living Intown. When she's not writing, editing and exploring Atlanta for the best places to eat, drink and play, Skinner loves doing yoga, running with her dog in Piedmont Park and scouring book stores and record shops for hidden treasures.
Read more about Kelly Skinner here.