Downtown Dining: Not Just for Tourists


ATL Food Chatter: November 16, 2009
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Downtown has generally been regarded as Atlanta’s less inspired dining destinations—an area where only tourists or event attendees dine. However, in spite of the economic malaise that has sharply curtailed the tourist and convention trade and left lingering perceptions about safety and crime, and despite notable recent closings such as City Grill and Dailey’s downtown Atlanta’s dining scene continues to grow.

Downtown’s Sweet Auburn Historic District has seen some of the most activity lately, with the opening of Sweet Auburn Bistro, serving “New Southern” cuisine, and the immensely popular Grindhouse Burgers in the Sweet Auburn Curb Market. Other new additions include Terrace at Peachtree restaurant in the Ellis hotel, and a forthcoming location of Marlow’s Tavern.

One force driving Downtown restaurant growth is the marketing group, Central Atlanta Progress (CAP), which sponsors Downtown Dining Week. According to Wilma Sothern, VP of Marketing for CAP, the goal of the organization’s current marketing campaign, The Downtown District, is to brand downtown Atlanta as a dining destination for metro Atlanta. As an example of the program’s success, she points out that in 2009, Downtown Dining Week, the program’s primary initiative, was extended an additional week because of the overwhelming demand at participating restaurants.

Sothern and her team are planning to work with some of the new attractions like the College Football Hall of Fame that are being planned for downtown. CAP wants to integrate the proposed attractions’ marketing plans into the Downtown Dining District’s plans.

And for those of you who enjoyed 2009’s Downtown Dining Week, the dates have been set for 2010: July 26 to August 5.


Restaurant Eugene, Park 75, Bacchanalia and MF Buckhead were all named one of Georgia Trend magazine’s Top 10 dining destinations.

For the first time in 20 years, there are no AAA Five Diamond restaurants in Atlanta. In fact, the 2010 awards list has no Georgia restaurants.

Bacchanalia, Park 75 and Quinones Room at Bacchanalia are the Atlanta 2010 Forbes Travel Guide’s (formerly Mobil) Four-Star awardees.
Buckhead. The Blissful Glutton is reporting that Sheik Burritos & Kabob, serving fusion concoctions, has opened at 1877 Piedmont Avenue.  
Decatur. As first reported in Decatur Metro, a 100 percent locally raised, organic beef burger joint called Farm Burger, is hoping to open in the former Voila space on West Ponce de Leon Avenue, next to Watershed.
Downtown. Grindhouse Burgers won 1st place in the 2009 Cabbagetown Chomp and Stomp chili cook off and Festival contest with a classic chili recipe. Judges this year included Kevin Gillespie; Shaun Doty; Kevin Rathbun; Scott Serpas; and Joe Truex
Johns Creek. Gladys Knight and Ron Winan’s Bistro in that area has closed.  
Midtown. The Waffle House slated for the former American Apparel location in Tech Square will feature a decidedly Georgia Tech appeal, including gold and white striped chairs, a series of Tech themed murals, and a statue of the school’s mascot, Buzz.
Poncey Highland. The Majestic Diner has been named one of the top ten late night diners by Playboy magazine.
Question of the Week: What new Metro Atlanta based sports restaurant group is planning a Buckhead store in 2010?
PS.  The answer to last week’s QOTW—What former ATL bad boy chef is rumored to have returned to town?—is Paul Luna.