The verdict on 3 new Atlanta food and drink spots: Rwby, El Malo, and Finca to Filter

A Mediterranean gem opens in Midtown, a bar specializing in agave and rum opens in Reynoldstown, and O4W gets a new coffee shop

The verdict on 3 new Atlanta food and drink spots: Rwby, El Malo, and Finca to Filter

Photograph by Martha Williams

In the Midtown corner space that was once home to the Lawrence, now sits Rwby (pronounced like ruby), which opened its doors in October after an interior redesign. Under the same ownership as its predecessor—Eric Simpkins and Darren Carr, who also own Bon Ton and the Waiting Room—the restaurant bills itself as “New American with a Mediterranean accent.” Though the menu is really more wide-ranging than that implies (for example, it features a Châtel Farms beef burger and a Flemish stew), it’s those Mediterranean-influenced dishes that shine. The seared-halloumi salad, served with pickled fennel, olives, and orange zest, was bright and flavorful, and while the roasted salmon was tender, it was the accompanying green harissa potato salad that stood out as a fun twist on a classic (my dinner date and I fought over the last bites). In a Brussels sprout salad, kale was actually more prominent, but that didn’t stop the cruciferous dish from being a pleasingly crunchy delight, coated in a tahini Caesar dressing. The cocktails match the cuisine’s lighter tone, with hits like a classic Paloma and the more inventive Cherbourg’s Umbrella, a green-hued, sweet, and tangy tipple with gin, amaro, crème de violette, lemon, and absinthe. Artsy terra-cotta-colored decor makes Rwby a pleasant spot to enjoy a meal. Midtown

El Malo
Located in the Atlanta Dairies complex in Reynoldstown, El Malo brings a sexy, lush atmosphere to Memorial Drive. Think booths with red seats, flora-and-fauna wallpaper, a DJ booth wrapped in green tile, and plenty of black and neon-pink accents. Agave and rum star among the spirits here, in drinks like El Destino, with mezcal, Strega liqueur, ginger, lime, grapefruit soda, and vanilla. El Malo is a lounge first, but there is a limited food menu, which includes rock shrimp ceviche and a braised-pork sandwich. The real treats are desserts crafted by Claudia Martinez, who brings her signature fruit-inflected fare, such as passion fruit chocolate mousse and guava pastelito con queso. Reynoldstown

Finca to Filter
After operating as a pop-up out of Wild Heaven in the West End, Finca to Filter has opened its own place in Old Fourth Ward, across the street from Historic Fourth Ward Park. Cofounder Kayla Bellman and team have infused the space with so much character—plenty of plants, high-backed booths large enough to seat about six people, lots of bright-pink accents—that you forget it’s actually situated in an apartment building’s lobby. In addition to classic and seasonally inspired coffee drinks, Finca to Filter also sells housemade pastries. Old Fourth Ward

This article appears in our February 2024 issue.