Patio dining and crisp salads are wonderful in warm-weather Atlanta. But when the temperature drops, soul and belly both appreciate a cozy dinner spot.
This is the season to seek out places with a low-key, "get to know you" vibe, ones that will draw you in and let you unwind for a while. The menu should be a comfort, too, whether it offers crispy wood-fired pizzas, long-simmered sauces or grilled seafood.
If you can score candlelight or a roaring fire at the same place, the picture is complete. And it is possible, whether you're looking to dine in the suburbs, a small town near Atlanta or right in Midtown. Here are six cozy and quiet spots to enjoy dinner in the Atlanta area:
710 Peachtree St., Atlanta. 404-879-9962, baraondaatlanta.com
Warm and friendly, this traditional Italian place wafts spicy scents in the heart of Midtown. A wood-burning Euro-style pizza oven gives winter night dining a little extra coziness. Handmade artisanal pasta, a lamb rack specialty (they say "specialità" of the house) and roasted garlic cream and duck confit pizza are just a few of the satisfying and soulful dishes on the menu. To do them justice, you may require more than one cool-weather visit to Baraonda.
2840 S. Main St., Kennesaw. (770) 499-0974. www.tracksidegrill.com
This establishment in historic downtown Kennesaw proudly describes itself as a "quaint eatery," and in the winter months, it's extra cozy. The memorabilia in the decor evokes railroads without going overboard, and the menu boasts delicious comfort plates with braised pot roast, crispy catfish and the like. If it gets too toasty with the multiple stone fireplaces, you can always cool off with a local craft draft or seasonal cocktail from the bar.
124 North Avondale Road, Avondale Estates. 404-600-5297, www.risingsonavondale.com
This is such a nice place for a soul-satisfying, comforting meal in a small-town setting. Heck, they even call it "supper," but you can only get that meal at Rising Son beginning at 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. (The rest of the week they're busy dishing up all-day breakfast and rib-sticking lunch for hardworking folk). The supper menu, like all the Rising Son efforts, is locally sourced. It changes often but might include backyard radishes on toast, a soul-stirring shiitake carbonara or wintry comfort food like skillet chicken and succotash.
800 Mayfield Road, Milton. 770-817-0161, miltonscuisine.com
Relaxing but never sedate, this North Fulton eatery is set in a 150-year-old farmhouse with fireplaces galore. The menu is New Southern with fresh, local ingredients and interpretation. Particular recommendations for winter dining include piquillo pepper crab bisque or the grilled cauliflower steak entree. Or if your idea of a warm wintry meal is prime steak and premium whiskey, you're all set at Milton.
120 Chambers St., Woodstock. 770-926-6778, woodstock.firestonerestaurants.com
Fire Stone is the pride of small-town Woodstock. The dining room is intimate, but the fireplace that takes the chill off winter nights reaches right up to the ceiling. Continuing the fiery theme, the restaurant makes wood-fired pizzas in "let's get warm" varieties like spicy smoked chicken bacon ranch. Other cool-weather menu standouts include smoked chicken wings and a stuffed fried green tomato. Wine Wednesdays with half-price wine specials can be particularly cheery on dreary winter evenings. And if a gaggle of friends wants to dine cozily together, the Fire Stone also has a wood-paneled, shimmering private dining room.
817 W Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta. 404-815-9243, cypressbar.com
More cozy than quiet, Midtown's Cypress Street provides 17 beers on tap and a roaring fire of a different sort. In winter weather only, they fire up the patio fire pit, outside, aided by a couple of heaters but still, outside! Warm up, eat some of the restaurant's hearty winter bar food like Sweetwater beer-fried mushrooms or the Pickleback burger with Jameson whiskey glaze, applewood bacon and fried pickles. Are your cheeks rosy yet? Bear in mind that chilly-comfort seekers must be 21 and up after 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.