Following up an Atlanta Falcons win with an amazing meal is par for the course in Downtown Atlanta. The Georgia Dome's location, a short hop away from the Georgia World Congress Center and Philips Arena, puts it smack dab in Downtown Atlanta. If you're in town just for the game and don't have the time (or the interest) in traveling much further than the Georgia Dome and your hotel, you're in luck! Though Downtown doesn't have as many dining options as Midtown or Buckhead, there are still plenty to satiate your appetite.
The picturesque Sun Dial serves upscale American fare among breathtaking views. Newly renovated Polaris, rotating on top of the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, offers small bites and cocktails in a handsome space.
Legendary spots like The Varsity won't disappoint those craving a burger, fries and a Frosted Orange. Likewise, the sports-loving crowd can find a polished pub in Dantanna's Downtown, located at CNN Center. Or, if comfort food with a twist is more up your alley, try the flavorful Mexican dishes at Alma Cocina.
For a pre-game afternoon option, scout out the numerous food stands at Sweet Auburn Curb Market. Located in the historic Sweet Auburn District, you can snag everything from barbecue and burritos to baked goods.
This blue-domed rotating restaurant and bar sits perched atop the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. The first rooftop restaurant in the city, it originally opened in 1967, then closed for a decade in the early 2000s. Recently reopened in summer 2014, the space now boasts a re-envisioned interior that's sleek and handsome. Full of large windows, you'll scope out breathtaking views of the city below. The menu is full of shareable small plates inspired by local, seasonal ingredients (including several grown on the restaurant's rooftop). Though you don't need to make dinner out of it in order for it to feel special. Having a cocktail at Polaris just might be the perfect end to a romantic date night. (404.460.6425)
Dantanna's Downtown blends the upscale sports bar with impeccable food that's good every time. The CNN Center location is truly in the heart of it all just a short walk from Philips Arena, the Georgia Aquarium and neighboring downtown attractions. You'll recognize most, if not all of the items on the menu, but don't dismiss this for typical pub fare. Get a steak or a burger (both are truly indulgent), and have fun with the appetizers and sides. The beef carpaccio is particularly excellent. Though the dining room is lovely, choose a seat on one of two outdoor patios, each boasting numerous plasma TVs. Pair it with a dirty martini and a ball game and call it a night! ((404) 522-8873)
This gluttonously greasy local fixture has been a national hotspot since 1928. Sidle into a booth inside or go authentic and place your order from you car. Order a chocolate shake and take your pick of traditional diner fare. You can't go wrong with the chili cheese dog, a Varsity Orange (sugary sweet orange soda), or the oh so delicious pimento cheese burger. Just remember to pace yourself. Take in the retro vibe of "the world's largest drive-in" and re-imagine the Atlanta of yesteryear as you dig into good old-fashioned American eats. It's the quintessential Atlanta dining experience. Don't leave without trying it at least once. (404-881-1706)
Yes, the place looks like a dump. But don't be dissuaded by it--the facade is part of its charm. Grab a seat and have your pick of gluttonous BBQ. For an appetizer, try the barbecue wraps, meat wrapped in crispy dough. Fried mushrooms, wings, chicken tenders, and shrimp comprise of some of the other appetizer choices. Order ribs by the slabs, barbeque plates with sides, or desserts. Cheesecake, cobbler, or cakes are available. For a taste of the South, try the shrimp and grits. On the weekends, the place attracts live blues bands. Check it out for a soulful show. (404-222-0206)
No Mas Cantina
Mexican restaurant No Mas Cantina sits within the hottest up-and-coming Atlanta neighborhood of the moment, Castleberry Hill. A thriving arts community just a stone's throw away from downtown, this historic warehouse district is on the National Register of Historic Places and has been attracting a wave of young professionals and trendy restaurants. No Mas Cantina's a prime example with its sprawling outdoor garden and popular margarita-sipping patio. Crowd-pleasing eats run the gamut from queso and chips and carnitas tacos to more adventurous seafood dishes, like the camarones brochette (bacon-wrapped shrimp stuffed with chipotle pepper and cheese and served over polenta). (404-574-5678)
Ray's in the City
With multiple locations throughout Atlanta, Ray's Restaurants are known for their dedication to quality ingredients, sustainable seafood and thoughtfully prepared entrees. After re-invigorating the bar program this past year, diners can expect seasonally inspired specialty craft cocktails alongside the usual offerings. On the food front, fish takes center stage (most often in grilled form) alongside the raw oysters and fresh sushi selection. We'll happily order from the market selection any day, though the specialty dishes are especially delectable (the horseradish-crusted grouper is superb). On par with the fine dining is the beautiful decor: An aquarium, onyx bar and tiled walls lend the place quiet sophistication (404-524-9224)
The Sun Dial Restaurant, Bar & View
The Sun Dial makes its home in the Westin Peachtree Plaza downtown. With an elevation of almost 1,000 feet, this lounge truly takes nightlife and romantic dining in Atlanta to new heights. Patrons enjoy unparalleled views of downtown Atlanta as a jazz trio ensures an upbeat ambiance for martini-sippers and cosmopolitan connoisseurs. The bar is a must around dusk, at which time the city lights up and the view is spectacular. The bar revolves ensuring each guest has a terrific view of the skyline. After seeing the sights, retire to the restaurant for an exceptional meal of American plates. Given the high-end environment (and pricey menu), this is an excellent spot to impress a date after a Falcons game. They also serve a nice brunch here. (404-589-7506)
Sweet Auburn Curb Market
The oldest public market in Atlanta is also, arguably, the tastiest. Located in the Martin Luther King Historic District, the market is jam-packed with vendors selling fresh produce and seafood, and at any given moment, is a popular feasting ground for Georgia State students, businessmen and regular folks, alike. In the last few years, the market underwent a transformative renovation restoring it to its former glory. The jazzed up building also coincided with the introduction of a number of exceptional new in-market restaurants as well. Comfort food is a common theme among the stalls with Grindhouse Killer Burgers, Sweet Auburn Bakery (pictured) Bell Street Burritos and Sweet Auburn BBQ topping our list of recommendations. (404-659-1665)
This sleek, modish restaurant feels nothing like your typical hotel restaurant chain. Lodged within the W Atlanta-Downtown it serves global cuisine with a carnivorous twist. Steaks and meats are a major facet of the hearty menu rounded out by a selection of seafood, small plates and salads. Among the offerings are Florida stone crab, Japanese Kobe-cut steak, chicken liver pate, raw oysters and a smorgasbord of rich desserts. You'd do well to order the delightfully fluffy popovers as well. Though be warned that they're dangerously addictive. After, take a cocktail to the roof and admire aerial views of the city poolside. (404-577-7601)
Since opening in late 2011, Alma Cocina has become a regular favorite for upscale Mexican food in downtown Atlanta. The restaurant interiors blend western stylings with contemporary furnishings for an ambiance that's both mod and welcoming, and the same extends to the food. Peruse the list and you'll see a slew of familiar appetizers and entrees, done up with an extravagant flourish. Presentation is top-notch and so are the flavors. Scoop into a vibrant dish of red snapper ceviche, crunch into savory fried avocado tacos and indulge in the flavorful pork pibil tamales. Good news for gluten-free folks: the restaurant has its own menu for you. (404-968-9662)
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.
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