10 Best Late-Night Restaurants in Atlanta

Buford Highway tacos, Ponce cocktails, Korean barbecue—hungry yet?

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In descending order of lateness (and excluding 24-hour spots)

75 Best Restaurants in Atlanta: El Rey Del Tacos

Photograph by Cori Carter

El Rey del Taco

El Rey del Taco means “the king of the taco”—and not only does this place lives up to its name, but it stays open until an impressive 4:30 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 a.m. the rest of the week. If you’re feeling indecisive about the dozen taco options—from steak to goat, cow’s cheek to tongue, chorizo to al pastor—go for a bunch of $1.60 mini tacos (though we do prefer the full-priced $2.50 ones on a homemade tortilla). There are tons of other worthy things to eat at El Rey, including sizzled meats a la plancha and more than three dozen seafood dishes. Also: pitchers of margaritas. 5288 Buford Highway, 770-986-0032

75 Best Restaurants in Atlanta: Octopus Bar

Photograph by Cori Carter

Octopus Bar

Even before Octopus Bar opens at 10:30 p.m., the night owls will have swooped in to claim their perch. By 11 p.m., the dining room, which won’t close until 2:30 a.m., will be packed. The food is as unorthodox as the hours, and every bite is worth staying up late for. The 2011 brainchild of Nhan Le and the late Angus Brown, Octopus Bar is still the coolest restaurant in Atlanta, and chef Alexander Young’s dishes are as punk as they are pretty: dry-fried eggplant, served skin-on, is seasoned with black-garlic oil, and icicle radishes delicately intermingle with tendrils of radish pods atop a sheet of creamy chevre. There is no better meal to be had in the middle of the night—and few that are better at any time of day. (Closed Sunday and Monday.) 560 Gresham Avenue, 404-627-9911

Victory Sandwich Shop

Victory burst onto the scene in 2011 as a scrappy little sandwich spot with excellent sliders, an instant-hit ping-pong table, and a wicked sense of humor. Then, there was the slushie machine. It didn’t take long before Ian Jones and Caleb Wheelus’s frozen whiskey and Coke exploded in popularity, becoming an iconic Atlanta drink (and making them Georgia’s top seller of Tennessee whiskey). The original Inman Park location was razed in 2013 for a new development, but their nearby Bernina Avenue digs (there’s also a Decatur outpost) boast ample patio space, high-stakes table tennis, and grade-A people-watching, thanks to its perch near the BeltLine. And at both locations, the full menu of nearly a dozen sandwiches, as well salads, snacks, and sides, is available until 2 a.m. 913 Bernina Avenue, 404-963-1742; 340 Church St, Decatur, 404-377-9300

75 Best Restaurants in Atlanta: Argosy

Photograph by Amber Fouts

Argosy

Argosy is the rare restaurant that does more than it needs to—and does all of it well. It pulls off this juggling act in a large, easygoing nerd paradise where custom-built wooden sea creatures hang from the ceiling and analog parlor games are played in the back. The menu at this East Atlanta Village gastropub offers everything from Shaolin Wings (with Tokyo mayo and purple daikon) to charred octopus (with fingerlings, fennel, and fried capers), but if you’re here for late-night eats, your only option is the sleeper-hit pizza (served until 2 a.m. every day except Sunday, when the ovens shut down at 11:45 p.m.). This pizza might not be the most name-dropped in town, but its wood-fired crust and Spotted Trotter–sourced toppings place it among the best. 470 Flat Shoals Road, 404-577-0407

Poor Hendrix
French dump­lings with carrots and thyme

Photographs by Caroline C. Kilgore

Poor Hendrix

Blink and you might miss this small storefront on a mostly residential stretch in East Lake. Once you’re inside, you’ll find a long, narrow bar that feels like a clubhouse for young, stylish neighbors hip to chef Aaron Russell, whose career includes influential stints at fine-dining bastions Seeger’s and Restaurant Eugene (RIP to both). Russell composes marvelous salads (think local lettuces, Manchego, peanuts, and pickled green beans) and elevates deviled eggs with duck prosciutto—but he isn’t above serving wings and Rice Krispies treats. The extensive bar menu (20-ish small plates and several sweets, and not an afterthought among them) is served until 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday and midnight the rest of the week. 2371 Hosea L. Williams Drive, 404-549-8756

75 Best Restaurants in Atlanta: 9292 Korean BBQ

Photograph by Caroline C. Kilgore

9292 Korean BBQ (and D92, too)

If your ideal late-night nosh involves raw meat over an open flame, there are several exceptional Korean barbecue options. Our favorite is 9292, the flagship of a growing mini-empire that includes the almost-as-good D92 in Decatur. It’s open until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and midnight on weeknights, but be aware that the kitchen shuts down 30 minutes before close. Glistening slices of marbled brisket, pork belly, and ribeye are all cooked over charcoal grills, which we prefer to their electric counterparts often found at other Korean barbecue joints. If you don’t want to travel quite as far from town as Duluth, D92 is your next best option—though the kitchen closes a little earlier. (If it’s really late-night Korean barbecue you’re after, the totally respectable Hae Woon Dae on Buford Highway stays open until—gasp—6 a.m. five nights a week.) 9292, 3360 Satellite Boulevard, Duluth, 770-680-2951; D92, 225 East Trinity Place, Decatur, 404-514-6759

75 Best Restaurants in Atlanta: 8Arm
Beverage director Joshua Fryer shakes it up behind the bar

Photograph by Caroline C. Kilgore, mural by Carl Janes

8Arm

Under new chef Maricela Vega, 8Arm has turned over a new leaf. Vega’s food, perfected at a series of pop-ups in 2017 and 2018, suits the restaurant’s cool-kid vibe. But in addition to being more deeply plant-based than what came before, these dishes also are influenced by Vega’s cultural background (Mexican) and those of her team (Polish, Bangladeshi, Vietnamese). About half of Vega’s dozen or so dinner dishes are available on 8Arm’s late-night menu, which is available until 1:30 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 12:30 a.m. Tuesday to Thursday. There are no wrong choices, but a five-minute egg served over slightly crunchy rice that mingles with, say, zucchini, cabbage, radicchio, and chili paste is perfection at any hour of the day—as is a plate of oyster mushrooms served in a beautiful jumble of brassica fleurets, pumpkin seed creme, and chimichurri. This is the kind of late-night food that you won’t regret in the morning. 710 Ponce de Leon Avenue, 470-875-5856

The Bookhouse Pub

Come for the chill vibe and creative cocktails at this divey, faux–Pacific Northwestern lodge (by far, the coolest strip-mall destination in all of Atlanta). Stay for the covert Twin Peaks references and serious bar food (think poutine with mushrooms or braised beef and a grass-fed beef and chorizo burger). The back patio, anchored by an open-air tiki lounge, is as eerily enchanting as the dim interior, with its backlit panels of stained glass depicting various totems and its stern, wood-carved statues. The kitchen serves a late-night menu until 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and its full menu is available until midnight every night except Sunday and Monday. 736 Ponce de Leon Avenue, 404-254-1176

Leon’s Full Service

Leon’s U-shaped bar encourages conversation. Its clever cocktail program encourages experimentation. Its extensive beer list will delight any hops snob. And its menu of elevated, Mediterranean-inflected comfort food—served until 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 11 p.m. the rest of the week—is as much a draw as the drinks, from the warm chickpea and cherry salad with basil and aged provolone to the $7 fries (choose from nine dipping sauces) that are a meal themselves. On pleasant nights, ask for patio seating—and take advantage of the bocce court. 131 East Ponce de Leon Avenue, Decatur, 404-687-0500

This article appears in our September 2019 issue.

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