As anyone who lives in Reynoldstown, Cabbagetown or Grant Park will tell you, the section of Memorial Drive that borders those three neighborhoods is booming with new developments.
But beyond the hassles of construction detours and traffic jams, there’s an enticing new wave of bars and restaurants to discover along a roughly mile-and-a-half stretch between Bill Kennedy Way and Hill Street.
Here’s a glimpse of five to try:
From Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall owner Michael Lennox, this tidy counter service space at the edge of the Beltline opened in October 2017 in the front of a former railroad depot. Serving up coffee and "California cuisine," and sporting a sunny Los Angeles look that stirred up a bit of controversy, it's quickly become an all-day destination.
904 Memorial Drive SE, Atlanta. 404-748-9254, muchachoatl.com.
Right behind the back wall of Muchacho, Lennox opened a second, more ambitious concept, Golden Eagle Diner's Club, serving a retro menu focused on cocktails and "throwback continental classics." The room itself may be the biggest draw, with the dark and comfy ambiance of the kind of 1960s supper club the Rat Pack might have enjoyed.
Eat: Tavern steak au poivre with onion rings served on thrift store china is the de facto signature dish. But the likes of garlic knots, crab Rangoon, charbroiled oysters, and duck confit are go-to, too. And the 5-7 p.m. "Golden Hour" menu offers $5 bar snacks such as the "fancy cheese plate."
Some eight years ago, Alex Brounstein opened the first of his retro burger bars inside the historic Sweet Auburn Curb Market. Since then, Grindhouse has become a fixture on the Atlanta dining scene, with locations on Piedmont Avenue and in Decatur and Athens, plus two franchise locations at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
701 Memorial Drive SE, Atlanta. 404-228-3722, grindhouseburgers.com.
Billed as "French Southern Style," Petit Chou opened at the edge of Cabbagetown in March 2017. The coffee shop and breakfast-to-lunch bistro has a distinctive neighborhood vibe. The dining room is centered on a see and be seen rectangular bar, where busy baristas work the espresso machine, and servers stir up botanical-tinged house-made sodas.
Opened in early June by chef Leslie Cohen, an Atlanta native and winner of the Food Network's "Cutthroat Kitchen," Firepit Pizza Tavern is part of the still-growing the Larkin mixed-use development. The menu is built around brick oven pizza, but as the name implies, the casual atmosphere and hearty food favor good times spent with friends and family.
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