Let’s go ahead and state the obvious: the Atlanta restaurant scene has never been hotter. Duh, you know that already. It seems like every time we start talking about New Year’s resolutions, bikini season and #bodygoals, another lauded chef opens a restaurant we can’t resist. And honestly, why would we want to resist when we’ve got stacks on stacks on stacks of menus we’re ready to devour? We’re pushing aside the Pinterest boards of low-cal recipes, pulling on our stretchy pants and diving in to the deliciousness of five of the hottest new restaurants our fair city has to offer.
New Atlanta Restaurant: Cape Dutch
1782 Cheshire Bridge Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30324 • (404) 343-0313
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Closed Sunday and Monday
Occupying the former Woodfire Grill space on Cheshire Bridge Road, Cape Dutch was realized by restaurateur Justin Anthony during a visit to the home of South African winemaker Ken Forrester. No stranger to the Atlanta restaurant scene, Justin has South African restaurants 10 Degrees South and Yebo to his name and his most recent endeavor, Biltong Bar at Ponce City Market.
When Justin needed the 6,800-square-foot restaurant outfitted to set the tone, he looked no further than … well … his own house. Designer Kelly Anthony, Justin’s wife, oversaw the redo, featuring leather, tufted couches and long, inviting farm tables, while leaving the focal point of the dining room center the grill from the Woodfire Grill days.
As far as the menu goes, there’s an array of entrees to choose from, including braised rabbit leg ($25) and a vegetarian porcini ravioli ($21), but we’d recommend checking out the star of the show, the traditional South African braii (grill or cookout). Pick your protein, like an 8-ounce, center-cut filet ($39) or a whole Maine lobster ($40), cooked on the center grill, then add a sauce and a few sides to share.
Perfect for: Dinner with friends – this space and menu welcomes a social experience you won’t soon forget!
New Atlanta Restaurant: The Mercury
675 Ponce de Leon Ave., Atlanta, GA 30308 (inside Ponce City Market) • (404) 500-5253
Hours: Open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
When you need your #tbt to go beyond Instagram, The Mercury, now open at Ponce City Market, has you covered. It harkens the days of liquid lunches and steak dinners with wedge salad starters. The mid-century modern design is a pitch-perfect backdrop to the 1960s steakhouse menu.
The restaurant is the brainchild of the team behind The Pinewood in Decatur (look for the Pinewood Cheeseburger on the lunch menu, $16) and Proof Old Fashioned Cocktail Syrup. Located on the second floor of PCM’s Central Food Hall, the space offers a large, four-sided bar, perfect for grabbing a drink before dinner.
We love the raw bar offerings for starters, like a half-dozen daily fresh oysters ($18), but to really travel back in time, we’d suggest the wedge salad to start ($13). All of The Mercury’s steak comes from Revere Meat Co. and is certified prime. Try the prime rib in three cuts ($30 to $49) with a side of twice-baked potatoes ($9) and creamed spinach au gratin ($8).
Perfect for: When you remember there are no more new episodes of “Mad Men.“
New Atlanta Restaurant: JP Atlanta
230 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta, GA 30303 (inside Hotel Indigo Downtown) • (404) 523-4004
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Architectural buffs and Atlanta natives will recognize the name John C. Portman, Jr. The architect and Tech grad opened The Midnight Sun in 1965 at Peachtree Center, a downtown staple for Atlanta diners through the 1980s. Now, Portman has returned to his roots with his new restaurant, JP Atlanta, open in the Hotel Indigo Downtown in Peachtree Center, the complex he designed decades ago.
The restaurant comes complete with a 20-foot skylight and features a menu of creative American cuisine with some classic, mid-century dishes. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a late-night menu to boot, reservations can be made online through OpenTable.
Breakfast favorites like blueberry pancakes ($12) and housemade smoked salmon ($18) are available seven days a week starting at 6:30 a.m. For dinner, we start with a pimento cheese crisp for the table ($10) and the braised and grilled octopus ($15). There’s something for everyone, from the chicken a la king ($24) to the beef short rib bourguignon ($30), with sides like glazed heirloom carrots and honey-roasted sunchokes.
Perfect for: A killer breakfast, a classic dinner and a trip down memory lane.
New Atlanta Restaurant: Drift Fish House & Oyster Bar
4475 Roswell Road, Marietta, GA 30062 (at The Avenue) • (770) 635-7641
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Longing for the waves of the Gulf? Chef Doug Turbush, the man and executive chef behind East Cobb favorites Seed Kitchen & Bar and Stem Wine Bar, can’t bring you the actual ocean, but you won’t even care that it’s missing when you stop at his newest venture, Drift Fish House & Oyster Bar in Marietta’s The Avenue.
The coastal-casual space offers some of the best seafood the East Coast and Gulf have to offer, plus patio dining, an oyster bar and plenty of seats to grab a cocktail before dinner. If the weather’s nice, sip your craft drink at the outdoor bar.
The menu offers classic raw choices like oysters ($1.90 to $3.90 per oyster, depending on the variety) and yellowfin tuna poke ($12). For those who like their oysters a little more “done,” try the wood-roasted oysters ($14) with anchovy garlic butter, breadcrumbs, Parmesan and lemon. For mains, there’s Portuguese fish stew ($24) and classic, seaside sides like Old Bay fries and hush puppies. Land lovers can opt for chicken and steak, while vegetarians can nom on toasted orzo risotto ($19).
Perfect for: When you have the beach on your mind.
New Atlanta Restaurant: Bread & Butterfly
290 Elizabeth St., Atlanta, GA 30307 • (678) 515-4536
Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Closed Monday
The couple that works together creates hits together, right? The husband-and-wife team behind Cakes & Ale and Proof Bakeshop have teamed up for another winner, Bread & Butterfly in the Inman Quarter development. The bistro calls to mind European cafes that easily transition from one meal to the next, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.
We’re always looking for a new place to get our brunch on, and Bread & Butterfly definitely delivers on the weekends from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. We love any excuse to snap some photos of avocado toast ($8), and the farmer’s cheese ($6) with fruit compote and walnuts has us adding #EuropeVibes to our snaps.
For dinner, we like the fromage ($8), potato and raclette gratin ($14) and the three salads ($12) to start. There’s a roasted half-chicken ($18) served with créme fraîche and a burger Américain ($15) that just might be your new favorite, loaded with Swiss, caramelized onions, grain mustard and mayo on a brioche bun. Oui, oui!
Perfect for: Anytime – but especially when you want to overuse that bad French accent.