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Feed Your Senses!

Prepare to see, taste, smell—and possibly have your mind blown—at Atlanta’s hottest food and drink destinations, from a hip gaming parlor to a midcentury-mod tavern.

C. Ellet’s

The Painted Duck

Photo by Heidi Geldhauser 

Hit Donetto’s bar for a cocktail (and hot bartenders).

Photo by Heidi Geldhauser

Day-drinking is always fun at low-key 8ARM.

Photo by Heather Fulbright

Bar Mercado’s pretty pink Cadiz Punch 2.0.  

Photo by Heidi Geldhauser

Strong sips and this neon sign are Bon Ton signatures. 

Photo by Heather Fulbright

DeeDee Niyomkul

Photo by Andrew Thomas Lee 

Chops' mac and cheese

Photo by Caroline Clements

Dessert and a nightcap at Himitsu

Photo by Heidi Geldhauser

The late-night crowd at futuristic Little Trouble

Photo by Patrick Heagney

Char Korean Bar & Grill is known for its killer cocktails and clubby vibe.  

Photo by Teddy Williams

Gypsy Kitchen’s sexy Spanish interior

Photo by Andrew Thomas Lee

INSTA-WORTHY SPACE
Prepare to be smitten mere steps from SunTrust Park.

There’s three criteria every stay-a-while-worthy environ should meet, and the swanky C. Ellet’s from chef/owner Linton Hopkins (whose great-grandfather served as inspiration for the name) checks all the right boxes. First, the coastal-inspired steakhouse’s elegant ambiance—which may surprise diners given its ballpark-adjacent locale at The Battery Atlanta—offers several intimate hideaways within its spacious Square Feet Studio-designed interiors, whether guests choose to cozy up in one of the deep-blue or gray booths that line the oak-paneled walls of the main dining room, or settle into a more sizable channel-backed booth clad in an imperial yet inviting crimson hue. Then there’s the statement-making accents, which come in the form of stylish brass accents, an alluring white marble bar that commands the club room—a space for sipping rosé and indulging in shellfish towers—and captivating 9-by-70-foot custom murals along the two recessed ceilings. And the final stipulation is, of course, plenty of natural light for achieving Instagram perfection, but by now you’ve probably already made a reservation to see for yourself. Check, check and check. @c.ellets

IN-DEMAND RESERVATION
If you can’t snag a seat to eat, opt for a spot at the new upstairs bar.

Yep, we’re still talking about Staplehouse—and deservedly so. More than two years after opening, the thoughtfully created, critically praised and locally beloved Old Fourth Ward restaurant remains the hottest ticket in town, with foodies clamoring for a chance to sample its seasonal a la carte fare and to experience the hospitality and warmth of its top-notch staff. Although landing a table requires a little planning ahead—and fast fingers on your laptop when reservations are released the second Friday of every month at noon for the next calendar month—there’s now a way for the less organized to still make it through the doors of this Atlanta gem. This past November, Staplehouse cut the ribbon on Paper Crane Lounge, the cozy private event space-turned-upstairs bar offering a rotating cocktail list of five or six drinks, as well as a sparkling Aviation and Negroni. It’s first come, first served—as is the eight-seat downstairs bar, where the full a la carte menu is available—and only open Wednesday through Saturday, so, as always, it pays to show up early since spots go quickly. @staplehouse; @papercranelounge

BOLDEST NEWCOMER
Eat, drink and play at the Westside’s buzziest new concept.

It’s fitting that the words “game changer” greet guests when they enter the Stockyards Atlanta development and walk down the graffiti-filled hallways into The Painted Duck. Indeed, the happening new hangout from Painted Hospitality (the same folks behind The Painted Pin in Miami Circle) is reinventing the idea of entertainment on the Westside. Blending the look of a refined, rustic lounge with the vibe of a laid-back sports bar, the “distinguished drinkery,” as co-owner Justin Amick calls it, offers ATL’s socialites hours’ worth of fun, all in one massive, chandelier-adorned space. This is a spot where you and your crew can bond over old-fashioned games like duckpin bowling, Belgian feather bowling, deck and table shuffleboard, indoor horseshoes and more, all while sipping the signature Frosted Duck L’Orange—a deliciously boozy ode to the iconic Varsity orange. Meanwhile, the menu boasts elevated backyard bar fare that’s made for sharing: everything from duck nuggets to a whiskey-glazed turkey leg to skewered wood-fired meats and proteins called “Quills.” (Want to go big or go home? Opt for the $100 whole-roasted peking duck, which takes the kitchen an hour to prepare and is served family-style.) And just when you think this hip haunt couldn’t get any better: On Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, the dance floor opens and a live band takes the stage to keep the good times rolling—and weekend revelers coming back again and again. @paintedduckatl

SIP & BE SEEN
These cocktail meccas are the true toasts of the town.

Meeting up for a drink may seem casual, but these new restos and their savvy beverage programs—not to mention stylish patrons—are taking things up a notch. Handsome Westside newbie Donetto (@donettoatl) has quickly become a popular spot for chef/partner Michael Perez’s innovative Tuscan fare and its good-looking scene—go for brunch and grab a seat at the bar to enjoy some eye-candy along with a Netspritz and Chill, a refreshing mix of house limonata, rosemary, aperol, prosecco and lemon. Over in Poncey-Highland, 8ARM (@8armatl) draws a cool, arty crowd for Joshua Fryer’s classic cocktails with a twist, best enjoyed at the outdoor shipping container bar that’s decked out in dayglow lights and lined with a pink-and-green palm frond mural. Fruity Spanish concoctions like the Cadiz Punch 2.0 and the Purple Peach—coupled with a gorgeous millennial pink interior—make Bar Mercado (@‌barmercadoatl), Krog Street Market’s buzzy tapas spot, a frequent stop for ATL’s blogger bunch. (Bottomless bloody marys, mimosas and sangria at brunch may also have something to do with that.) And late-night haven Bon Ton (@bontonatlanta) transports Midtown diners to The Big Easy with a cheeky, playful vibe and authentic (read: stiff) sips. Order the smoked bourbon mai tai or the frozen Pimm’s cup before a night out on the town.

STUNNING CHEF
Enjoy modern Thai food with a side of eye candy.

Not only is DeeDee Niyomkul a total babe, but she’s also a girl boss on the Atlanta food scene. Despite our city’s major shortage of female chefs, this hardworking beauty—whose family is behind popular restos Nan Thai Fine Dining and Tamarind Seed—happens to own Tuk Tuk Thai Food Loft and run the show as executive chef/owner of brand-new Thai concept Chai Yo, which opened next to Himitsu in Buckhead Plaza in January. Equally gorgeous as Niyomkul? Chai Yo’s modern and uberelegant space designed with dark wood finishes, glamorous gold light fixtures, a granite bar and art by Bangkok artists, all imported from Thailand (talk about authenticity). When it comes to the menu, expect flavor-packed dishes like lobster tail wrapped with crispy egg noodles, pickled mustard greens, rice noodles and boiled egg in yellow curry (Niyomkul collaborated with her mother, Nan, on the menu) plus fresh Thai-influenced cocktails. The restaurant’s intimate, with only 90 seats, so a reservation is a must—contact the maître d’ (maria@‌chaiyoatl.com) to score a table, and keep an eye on the kitchen for a sighting of this chef who’s hot in more ways than one. @chaiyoatl

OFF-MENU STAR
This dish is creamy, dreamy and only available to those in the know.

If the mood to dress up and pop some celebratory bottles at a white-tablecloth restaurant strikes, head to Chops, the upscale Buckhead mainstay that’s been pleasing our palates for more than 20 years. When it’s time to place your order, consider trading turf for surf—which Chops flies in daily, NBD—and impress your date while you’re at it by asking the server about the off-menu lobster mac. Combining two of Chops’ signatures—sweet, succulent lobster and the curly, creamy mac and smoked Gouda—it’s likely one of the most indulgent dishes in the city, but worth every luscious bite. In fact, the famous dish has garnered its devoted following of affluent diners without ever having appeared on the menu—that’s the power of a word-of-a-mouth rec, y’all. Try out this power move on your next visit, and prepare to set the stage for a memorable night out. @chopslobsterbar

SEXIEST HOT SPOTS 
No need to Google it; here are the city’s steamiest after-5 scenes.

With only enough seating for about 70 guests, the reservation-only Himitsu (@himitsuatl) is as intimate as it gets. Between the swanky cocktail-hour spot’s subdued lighting, which establishes a New York speak-easy-type atmosphere, and its seductive seating (think dark leather banquettes, sizable red velvet chairs and teal barstools positioned next to the 20-foot copper bar), the only thing missing from this Japanese lounge is a celebrity clientele... oh, wait, it has that too (most recently, Uma Thurman stopped by after dinner at Umi). Over on the Westside, Little Trouble’s (@littletroubleatl) red and blue neon logo has become an iconic Instagram spot in the city, just as the Blade Runner-inspired drink den’s cocktails have become a must-order. Char Korean Bar & Grill’s (@charkorean) edgy-industrial vibe; thumping tunes; and extensive menu of sake, soju and cocktails make for an adventurous night out in Inman Park—but the smokeshow crowd and grill-topped tables for DIY barbecue are what really heat things up. And for Buckhead’s socialites, nothing beats the Spanish ambiance and moonlit balcony with a view at Gypsy Kitchen (@‌gypsykitchenatl)—settle into a cozy lounge chair; order yourself a Seville Rose; and let the sultry scene do the talking.

#TRENDINGNOW
What’s old is new again as ATL’s hippest restaurants serve up retro vibes.

Every day feels like #ThrowbackThursday when you visit one of Atlanta’s retro-themed restos like Golden Eagle (@goldeneagleatl) that are soaring in popularity. The Reynoldstown newcomer from Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall owner Michael Lennox is housed in a former train depot, already lending a historic feel to the space that feels part midcentury lobby bar, part workingman’s tavern. The menu boasts continental classics (think brick chicken, steak tartare, potatoes au gratin and wedge salad, all served on vintage china) along with cocktails worthy of Don Draper’s happy-hour tab. Next door, Golden Eagle’s sister concept, Muchacho (@muchachoatl), is all about making you feel groovy, baby, with a sunny ’70s Venice Beach vibe to complement its selection of superfresh tacos and grain bowls. The old-school fun continues at Decatur’s S.O.S. Tiki Bar (@sostikibar), which pays homage to ’60s surf culture with kitschy barware that pairs perfectly with the Polynesian drinks, while mysterious Midtown hideaway The Consulate (@theconsulateatl) dishes out global plates in a James Bond-esque atmosphere (the Connery era, of course) decorated with Eames Eiffel chairs, luxe banquettes and eclectic antiques.