Surrounded by rustic brick walls, the guests at MillTown Arms Tavern raise frosty pints in celebration of their favorite teams' triumphs. Flat-screen televisions flicker with the evening's games, and dartboards aid guests in deciding who pays the tab or who is slightly lopsided. The patio seating gives diners an infusion of vitamin D as they enjoy a full menu of pub-style grub, including fish 'n' chips, enchiladas, hot dogs, and caprese salads.
Part tapas restaurant and part upscale lounge, bar ONE offers a sultry retreat from Atlanta's daily bustle and peach-avalanches. The lounge's ivory sofas, artful semi-nude photos, and mirror-polished surfaces create a chic background, no matter where or how guests choose to situate themselves. The best foreground, however, is a spread of small plates that blend the classic flavors of southern food with the spices and fruits of the Caribbean. Coconut curry shrimp, for instance, shares the spotlight with sweet potato waffles, and jerk chicken is folded into quesadillas. That combination of tastes is personal for Chef Natasha Wong, who draws on culinary know-how gleaned from both her years of cooking professionally in the states and her childhood spent in the Virgin Islands helping out in her parents' kitchen.
It's the very first dictum on Cafe Circa's list of house rules: "Try something new. You won?t be disappointed." An easy rule to enforce, since the cafe's menu makes newness hard to avoid. Familiar southern comfort foods surprise over-it taste buds with a modern burst of Caribbean, Latin, French, and Thai flavors. A whole fried snapper arrives alongside white corn grits. Mussels simmer in a broth tinged with coconut, basil, and lime. Even the crispy quail and waffles tops its unusual savory-sweet pairing with a combination of truffle butter, blue cheese, and balsamic syrup.
Novelty pervades Cafe Circa's activities as well. Depending on the night, the air above the high-topped wooden tables might fill with the fruit-flavored smoke of hookahs or music both live and DJ'ed. For an even more festive nighttime experience, the staff occasionally invites guests to venture up to the rooftop, where they can gaze out at the historic buildings of the Old Fourth Ward and the irrational architecture of the Old ?2nd Ward.
Strings of hot-pepper-shaped lights hang over the bar at Mezcalitos Cocina & Tequila Bar's main location, where they're accented by colorful toy parrots and bullfighting posters. This lively decor helps distract from the lurking menace behind the bar: a housemade 10-pepper tequila known as Devil's Water. Adventurous sorts can gulp it straight as a shot, and more timid diners can take its spicy edge off by blending it with one of the restaurant's other signature tequilas. It's a tradition so popular that Mezcalitos has carried it over to their newly opened Grant Park location, too.
When it comes to the food, everything on the menu is made from scratch, from the hand-rolled tamales to the cilantro-infused rice and mole sauces. Chipotle-cheese grits complement grilled ribeye steak, and oranges and cinnamon add an unexpected sweetness to the slow-cooked red pork mole. Vegetarians and vegans can fill up on tofu tacos or salads piled high with pumpkin seeds, grilled zucchini, and roasted red peppers.
Jerry Slater’s goal for H. Harper Station was a simple one: he envisioned it as a place where he and his friends would spend time on their days off. What resulted was a cozy mix of old and new, a combination that represents more than just the former train depot that the bar and restaurant inhabits. “Slater comes up with a slew of original cocktails, as the times demand. But his mastery of the classics is what really stands out,” a review in Garden & Gun says. Slater’s cocktails span from the fernet egg cream—a blend of crème de cacao, heavy cream, chocolate bitters, a whole egg, and, of course, fernet—to traditional brazilian caipirinhas and old-fashioneds. He also fills punch bowls for four–six people, each spiked with jamaican rum and peach whiskey or bourbon and housemade ginger beer. As for H. Harper’s food menu, diners can share small plates of shrimp and grits or ask for a few spare ones to juggle while they wait for entrees, such as the carolina trout with hazelnut vinaigrette. The kitchen also serves up brunch and dessert. In the dining room, the rustic wood-beam ceiling and exposed-brick walls are set against softer accents such as chandeliers, votive candles, and fresh flowers.
The moonshine is always flowing at P'cheen. Bartenders at this local bistro create seasonal cocktails from a selection of 10 or more moonshines, with flavors that include cherry, apple pie, and black tea. They also serve a full list of classic cocktails, such as the speakeasy old fashioned?a mix of bourbon, angostura + orange bitters?and craft beers. In the kitchen, chef Alex prepares a menu of international fusion dishes that complement the throwback libations. His specialties change with the season, since he sources many of his ingredients locally, but may include gazpacho made with local veggies, Guinness-battered fish and chips, and braised short ribs. Brunch is a favorite among regulars, with bottomless mimosas and a good mix of breakfast and lunch foods.