Our 10 Favorite Outdoor Dining Options in Atlanta
If you’re anything like us, part of why you love Atlanta is the amazing restaurant scene. Sure, takeout is tasty and convenient, and we had a lot of fun meal prepping during our weeks in quarantine, but there’s something about getting dressed up and going out to eat that can’t be replicated.
But, while Atlanta restaurants got the go-ahead to reopen for indoor dining back on April 27th, many have felt reluctant to test the waters when it comes to dining out at a restaurant. We recommend dining outside as a first step: it is a wonderful way to play it safe, support local businesses, and enjoy our wonderful weather as we transition between the seasons.
Is outdoor dining safe during the pandemic?
While takeout, drive-thru, and curbside pickup are naturally the lowest-risk options, outdoor dining can also be safe. Knowing that is the case, numerous Atlanta restaurants have expanded their outdoor patios onto sidewalks and streets to help their customers more safely enjoy friendly service and great food.
When it comes to safety, a restaurant might have an ideal outdoor setup, but your actions will also play a part. The CDC’s guidelines for dining out include staying six feet away from other guests whenever possible, wearing masks when not eating or drinking, and washing or sanitizing one’s hands after handling commonly-touched surfaces such as door handles.
The Georgia Restaurant Association also published these COVID cleaning guidelines for restaurant staff to ensure a safe dining experience for their customers. These require employees to undergo a health screening before starting a shift, wear masks, increase their hand washing and sanitizing, increase sanitizing indoor and outdoor surfaces, and stay six feet apart.
The combination of these guidelines and practices are intended to greatly reduce the possibility of coronavirus transmission and allow healthy individuals to safely enjoy dining out.
What sort of restrictions should I expect when dining outside?
Many restaurants aren’t accepting cash or checks during this time, so be prepared to pay your bill with a debit, credit card, or an option such as Apple Pay™.
Additionally, some restaurants are not allowing the public to enter their indoor spaces—including the restrooms, as using them would require guests to enter the restaurant. These restaurants and popups often provide porta-potties and portable outdoor handwashing stations, but you may prefer to plan your bathroom trip ahead of time.
To be sure you are fully prepared for any situation, we suggest calling ahead or looking at the restaurant’s website to get details before you arrive. Knowing what to expect can help you enjoy your meal without a hitch.
What are the best places to eat outside in Atlanta?
Now for the good stuff. From white tablecloth to picnic bench, we’ve narrowed down the 10 best places in town to grab a bite outside.
- 5Church in Midtown. This modern American restaurant has a patio open for lunch and a new rooftop bar, Virtue Cocktail Club, that opens for dinner at 5pm (their full menu is available on weekdays). Enjoy 5Church’s famous Pappardelle pasta with braised beef short ribs, savory Maine sea scallops, and juicy filet mignon with lump crabmeat. They also offer private dining and event options.
- Bone Garden Cantina in West Midtown. Enjoy authentic, homemade Mexican food and agave spirits on Bone Garden’s breezy outdoor patio. This restaurant is off the beaten path and can be difficult to find, but their brisket enchiladas and house-made Sangria are well worth the adventure.
- The Bucket Shop Cafe in Buckhead. This neighborhood bar and restaurant features a massive outdoor sidewalk patio with plenty of room for social distancing. With multiple outdoor big-screen TVs, the Bucket Shop is your go-to game day destination. And if you’re craving some late-night drinks and bar food, the Bucket Shop’s kitchen is open until 1:15am on Fridays and Saturdays. Oh, and did we mention your furry friends are encouraged to dine with you?
- Desta Ethiopian Kitchen in Briarcliff and Emory Point. Desta has been serving award-winning Ethiopian cuisine since 2006. As of October 1, this crowd-pleaser is open for outdoor dining at both locations, with reservations required Friday through Sunday. For meat-eaters, try their KITFO (Ethiopian-styled steak tartar). For veggie lovers, they have an entirely vegan menu with nine dishes!
- Delbar in Inman Park. The former kitchen manager of Rumi’s Kitchen, Fares Kargar, opened this Persian eatery early in the pandemic. They have an outdoor patio with plans to expand and specialize in Basmati rice entrees. Atlanta Magazine writer, Mara Shalhoup, recommends the falafel and ashk bademjoon (fried eggplant). Reservations are encouraged.
- Sidepiece in Poncey Highland. The owners of 8ARM created Sidepiece, an exclusively outdoor dining experience, in June to adapt to the Coronavirus. Like 8ARM, Sidepiece sources its ingredients locally from places like Ellijay Mushrooms, Aluma Farms, and E.L. McIntosh Oysters. Their local craft beer and wine selection will impress even the choosiest alcohol connoisseurs. Try their authentic tamales, tasty spring rolls, and spicy kimchi rice. Satisfy your sweet tooth with a homemade fig pop tart, topped with holy basil frosting and pecans. Make sure to visit their Facebook page for rotating specials. Sidepiece is currently not accepting reservations.
- The Iberian Pig in Buckhead. This modern Spanish eatery boasts ample outdoor sidewalk seating and $5 tapas on Tuesdays. For you carnivores out there, we recommend the Wagyu beef and Berkshire pork belly burger. While they do have a vegetarian menu, The Iberian Pig is very meat-heavy.
- Table & Main in Roswell. Table & Main accurately describes itself as a Southern tavern offering simple seasonal dishes. Their cute outdoor patio, complete with couches and cushioned deck chairs, makes you feel like you’re eating dinner in your best friend’s backyard. Make sure to try their famous Bourbon Butter Pecan ice cream, served in a Mason jar. Plus, Table & Main recently spearheaded a campaign to donate nearly 40 laptops to children in need, so you can feel especially good about supporting this restaurant!
- Taqueria del Sol in Westside and Cheshire Bridge. Don’t let its modest decor and low prices fool you into thinking Taqueria del Sol isn’t quality—there’s a reason it was voted one of the top 75 best restaurants in Atlanta two years in a row by Atlanta Magazine. Both locations currently have their patios open for carryout customers to enjoy. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for weekly specials, and be sure to try their mouth-watering brisket tacos and house-made margarita pitchers.
- Wonderkid in Reynoldstown. Located in the revitalized Atlanta Dairies building right off the Beltline, this modern take on a diner features breakfast sandwiches, burgers, cocktails, and even soft-serve ice cream. Wonderkid has a colorful, dog-friendly outdoor patio, and is open for lunch Monday through Friday and brunch on the weekends.
Looking for more Atlanta restaurants with outdoor dining?
Check out this extensive list compiled by Thrillist.com or read some of our past dining recommendations in our blog. While these lists haven’t been specifically updated to reflect COVID restrictions, many of the featured restaurants have adapted for the times. Simply call ahead to see what dining spaces are available.
We hope our list has proven helpful and look forward to hearing about your fave dining experiences during your next appointment at the Swan Center!