The verdict on 3 new Atlanta restaurants: The Little Hippo, Birdcage, and Buttermilk Biscuit

A perfect spot for patio season in Avondale Estates, a new Latin-flavored restaurant on Memorial Drive, and buttery biscuits in College Park

The verdict on 3 new Atlanta restaurants: The Little Hippo, Birdcage, and Buttermilk Biscuit
The Little Hippo

Photograph by Martha Williams

The Little Hippo
The adage “good things come in small packages” proves true when it comes to The Little Hippo in Avondale Estates. With the namesake pink hippo lounging just below the eaves, the restaurant resembles a shotgun home in a sea-green hue. (The restaurant opened in December as The Velvet Hippo, but legal issues resulted in a name change.) It’s a cheery sight on a sunny day—the best kind of day to visit the new sandwich spot, since it offers only outdoor seating. A handful of those seats are under the covered patio, but the rest are in the “backyard,” sitting atop artificial turf with bistro lights strung above. Owned by Aaron and Jamie Russell of Poor Hendrix, The Little Hippo’s specialty is excellently executed simplicity. The menu comprises six sandwiches (including a vegan option), one soup, one salad, and a couple of snacks, like chicken nuggets and sweet potato hummus. On a recent visit with my five-year-old in tow, the fried-catfish sandwich was perfectly crisp, extending over the bun with pickled veggies stacked high on top. The umami aioli tempered the chilies’ heat, and a side salad of lettuce, spiced pepitas, golden raisins, and a honey–Aleppo pepper vinaigrette added a refreshing touch to the meal. I didn’t try any cocktails this time, but the list suits the alfresco surroundings, with options such as the “Smuggler Donn,” a blend of rhum, grapefruit, lime, and cinnamon syrup. Thank goodness patio season is upon us; I’ll be back soon. Avondale Estates

You can’t miss Birdcage while heading down Memorial Drive, with the splashy purple LED signage affixed to its exterior and orange feathered chandeliers hanging in the dining room. Birdcage is owned by Leslie Cohen, who also owns Firepit Pizza Tavern in the same plaza, and chef Shaun Whitmer. The name refers to both its ample chicken options and the classic Robin Williams film of the same name, set in Miami. Though it’s not a nightclub, the lively atmosphere, blue banquettes, and yellow chairs create a festive backdrop for standout dishes like sweet potato bravas, chicken tinga tacos, and black bean croquettes. The cocktails match the tone with their cheeky names, such as the Look at Your Pinky, made with vodka, prickly pear liqueur, Aperol, lime, and tonic. Birdcage is open for lunch and dinner. Grant Park

Buttermilk Biscuit
You can never have too many biscuit places, right? LeAnna Lynn brings her own buttery biscuits to College Park with Buttermilk Biscuit, which opened last November. The restaurant serves breakfast, brunch, and lunch seven days a week. In the confines of the modern farmhouse-style dining room, guests can indulge in a variety of biscuit offerings, like the biscuit trio—a sweet blueberry-lemon, savory garlic-cheddar, and classic buttermilk biscuit, served with jam—or the fried biscuit bites coated in powdered sugar. Other Southern fare tempts, too, like shrimp and grits, pancakes, and a veggie-loaded omelet. If you like a brunch cocktail, they’ve got you covered with drinks like the Proud Mary, which swaps vodka for tequila, and a Hennessy espresso martini. College Park

This article appears in our May 2024 issue.