The chefs behind Cravings American Bistro please palates and eyes with elegant arrangements of hearty American and seafood fare, escorted to tables atop simple china. Begin a night of lively discussion and synchronized digestion with a choice of six appetizers, including lobster mac 'n' cheese smothered in truffle oil, jumbo broiled crab cakes swimming in sweet-chili aioli, and house-rubbed ribs glazed with a mango barbecue sauce. Seafaring entrees such as the tropical, pan-seared Island grouper and the spicy, fettuccine-laced shrimp Diablo occupy tables with sunken-treasure-finding tips before succumbing to the white noise of chewing. Ravenous carnivores can opt for a 12-ounce new york strip steak—a choice cut of Montana strip loin accented with fingerling potatoes and asparagus stalks that double as stylish stirring sticks for a date's martini.
There is always a lively spirit of creativity at The Sound Table, but it changes throughout the night. The upstairs dining room boasts a menu that "zigzags through global influences: Belgian-style frites, Oaxacan hanger steak with salsa verde, Chinese grilled ribs redolent of soy and chile," says Atlanta magazine, which placed restaurant on its list of the area's 50 Best Restaurants. However, the menu's capricious nature doesn't stop at the recipes, it also affects the availability. The selection changes frequently as the chefs incorporate new, seasonal ingredients. On the downstairs level, the bar is a bit more consistent, although still inventive. In addition to the international assortment of wine and beer, the bartenders mix drinks that Creative Loafing Atlanta hailed as "some of the best cocktails in the city." These shaken and stirred concoctions are separated into categories that range from bright & dry to strong, rich & strange, and they occasionally feature nontraditional ingredients such as pine liqueur or garam masala. Although the food and drinks help keep spirits high, it's the live music that transforms the two stories of exposed brickwork, booths made of wooden slats, and soft industrial lighting into a lively neighborhood dwelling. Typically starting around 11 p.m., an ever-rotating lineup of DJs and bands performs throughout the week, energizing the crowds with anything from the raw, percussive fusion of African and Latin jazz-funk to globally-influenced psychedelic.
Situated just steps from the historic Fox Theatre, Churchill Grounds tantalizes patrons with nightly live-jazz sessions and a menu of eclectic entrees and thirst-quenchers. During a scotch tasting, diners can sip, slurp, and dab their inner wrists with a quintet of mini whiskeys poured by laser-shrunken Scotsmen. Churchill Grounds' proprietor highlights different scotches frequently, though a flight might include Glenlivet 12, Glenmorangie 10, or Cragganmore. For patrons seeking more solid fuel, chefs slow-roast boneless beef ribs before dousing them in soy-garlic sauce ($18.95), and wild mushroom ravioli with a light garlic cream sauce ($10.95) fills empty stomachs. The hummus dip arrives with warm pita wedges ($7.95), stir-fried calamari rings ($14.95) inspire fork-diving into a pool of spicy red-pepper sauce, and spinach-artichoke dip begins meals with light fare ($7.95). Cure parched pouts with red or white wine ($5.50–$9/glass) complemented by artisanal cheese plates (market price), or a selection of beers from around the world, including Pilsner Urquell ($4.50) and La Fin du Monde ($6.25).
MidCity Cafe sates hunger pangs and quenches thirsty throats with a menu stuffed with eclectic cuisine, soda and coffee drinks, and creative martinis. Un-pitted french olives adjudicate as slices of toasted pita bread swan dive into the Mediterranean-style hummus plate ($7.25), allowing chefs to focus their cooking goggles on artfully bundling pork, shrimp, and vegetables into crunch-laden fried spring rolls ($4.94). For heartier fare, hands can happily wrap around MidCity’s banh mi ($5.95–$8.95), a Saigon-style sandwich built on a foundation of crispy baguette and layered with pickled daikon, fresh jalapeño, and a choice of meaty or meat-free protein. Fuel liquid lust with a selection from 15 inventive Grey Goose martinis ($9 each), such as the French Toast martini, which whips up a Bond-style breakfast of Amarula fruit cream liqueur, Frangelico, and a dash of self-destructing cinnamon.
Visiting CRÜ Urban Lounge is less like drinking in a bar and more like hanging out at your hippest friend's ultra-trendy loft, largely thanks to founder Chetan Goud's keenly upscale and eclectic sensibilities. Goud drew from his extensive travels through Europe, New York, and California in the creation of his hyper-modern yet intimate restaurant and cocktail lounge. With its high ceilings, luxurious black leather furniture, two-story layout, and unabashed use of umlauts, CRÜ Urban Lounge exudes a cosmopolitan, European-tinged vibe, matched to a T by its food and drink offerings.
The menu swings effortlessly from udon noodles and chicken tacos to hot dogs, as well as grass-fed burgers culled from local and seasonal ingredients, mirroring an international selection of wines and craft beers. Weekend brunches ply guests with hearty smoked-salmon frittatas and sweet apple-bourbon pancakes, and creative cocktails bring classic drinks to the 21st century—adding apple bourbon to a shandy or creamy egg white to a whiskey-amaretto sour.
Nabbing the top spot in Jezebel Magazine’s Best of 2013 contest for best night club, Opera Nightclub presents old-fashioned red-curtain glamour. After cracking the dress code, VIPs can romp freely through all areas under the club’s 100-foot ceilings, including a VIP-only upstairs area with cozy private nooks. Cash in two drink tickets for a beer or a cocktail to delicately balance while finally perfecting the Super Bowl Shuffle, or take in the deck’s panoramic view of the city and its galactic ceiling. Opera’s crowd-charming DJs spin top 40 hits alongside genre-specific jams, catering to hip-hop hankerings and salsa appetites alike.