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.
Gastronomic glamour comes standard at London Bistro, a combination eclectic-fare restaurant and after-hours lounge, dishing up Indian-, Kenyan-, and Mediterranean-inspired cuisine. Sink incisors into international menu items, such as the Oxford beef stew, featuring beef cuts simmered in brown sauce and veggies and paired with the cultural carbs of basmati rice or chapati bread ($10). The Kings Cambridge crab cakes features two crustacean circles trading for plate territory with claw-signed treaties, then relaxing among a garden of mixed greens drizzled in a mango sauce ($15). Parched patrons can wash down mouthfuls of sausage and mashed potatoes from the bangers and mash ($10) with a free cocktail Tuesdays through Thursdays.
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).
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.
From behind three black granite bars—the longest of which extends 36 feet—bartenders decant imported and domestic beer and shake up specialty cocktails. The posh bars, along with gold-accented black-velvet banquet seating, flank a dark-wood dance floor packed with grooving patrons perfecting dance moves and trying to pretend like they're not incredibly out of breath. Overhead, a 5-foot disco ball and a floating DJ booth lord over the raucous party, which is fueled by a premium sound system blasting popular tunes and Top 40 hits on Saturday night.
Upstairs, a horseshoe-shaped enclosed lounge with private tables, separates private parties from the dancing masses below, which VIP guests can view from a glass room that accommodates up to 125 patrons silently holding up scorecards to rate their moves.