Midtown Atlanta has plenty of gay bar options, but Burkhart’s Pub remains a popular spot due to its weekend-only drag shows, which kick off to capacity crowds at 11 p.m. If you’re hoping to catch the show yourself – or simply want to enjoy the tiny dance floor – plan on arriving early, lest you be left out in the cold. Smoking is allowed in certain parts of the bar, and with cheap drinks and a friendly crowd nearly every night of the week, Burkhart’s remains a low-key spot for the city’s gay population to come together. Waits at the bar can be lengthy during peak hours, but with a neon-lit second level and plenty of nooks for hiding away in, there’s always at least a little room to maneuver.
Top-of-the-line cuisine from the land and the sea meets in the kitchen of Toni Steakhouse, a family-owned restaurant that opened in 2008. Chefs hand-cut steaks such as the 28-ounce bone-in Cowboy rib eye and the center-cut chateaubriand for two, pairing them with traditional sides such as loaded baked potatoes and wilted spinach. Those who opt for seafood choose from specialties such as sushi-grade grouper and red snapper filleted onsite. Cocktail pairings range from classics such as the Ketel One vodka martini to the decadent creations such as the Godiva chocolate dessert martini.
Drawing upon his 16 years of experience cooking Asian and Mediterranean cuisines, Chef Zhe fills Tokyo Boat 2's menu with an eclectic array of dishes that draws inspiration from Korea, Thailand, and Japan. The Japanese influences are the most readily apparent, as evidenced the extensive selection of sushi rolls and the broiled meats in housemade teriyaki sauce. Even the hibachi chefs combine traditional cooking techniques with a bit of modern showmanship as they sear orders of red snapper, steak, or vegetables on tabletop grills while a small audience of diners watches the impressive displays of dexterity.
Although the occasional burst of flame erupts from the hibachi stations' grill surfaces, the areas are mostly lit by a modern collection of blue pendant lamps that dangle above the diners. The sleek metal surfaces and exhaust hoods stand in contrast to the simple wooden shelving of the sushi bar, which lies just behind a jet-black counter where guests can sit and watch as the chefs slice nigiri, roll maki, and mold rice into snowmen during the warmer seasons.
Waiters at Folia Brazilian Steakhouse waltz across dining rooms wielding spears full of sizzling meats lauded by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for their succulence. To signal their hunger to roving waiters, diners simply display a green card near their plate, prompting waiters to proffer juicy picanha sirloin, sling out plump sausages, or stampede toward the table in an ill-fated game of Red Light, Green Light. Guests can devise elaborate salads at the expansive salad bar, where traditional leafy options mingle with tangy ceviche and seared tuna. House wines, from chardonnay to cabernet sauvignon, pair off with bites of steak or nibbles of fish to sneak into stomachs on the heels of well-spoken toasts. Piquant flavors and traditional Brazilian spices find an easy home within the dramatic red and deep mahogany colors of the dining room, transporting patrons and their palates to a place where gauchos gather around fire pits to relish both food and flames.
Behind the bar at Diamond Dave's sits a full bar with plenty of mixers. It’s a rare show of restraint at a restaurant that believes quality and quantity can coexist as equals. Here, a choice of 11 sauces, from mild to "crazy insane hot," smothers orders of up to 100 buffalo wings. Twelve-ounce cuts of slow-roasted prime rib soak up au jus and horsey sauce, and a half-pound of beer-steamed peel-and-eat shrimp mingle with the savory tang of a generous dusting of Old Bay seasoning. The excess comes to a head in the deep-fried giant taco, a gargantuan conglomeration of beef, scallions, cheese, and sour cream. Diners looking to prove their eating mettle can tackle Diamond Dave’s Giant Taco Challenge, devouring their mammoth meal in fewer than three minutes for a cash prize, a T-shirt, and eternal glory.
Available from the kitchen every night until 3 a.m., such munchies keep patrons satiated during Diamond Dave's nightly entertainment. Rounds of blackjack and Texas hold 'em raise funds for charity, trivia events tease brains with obscure factoids, and karaoke and DJs inspire fancy footwork on the dance floor. Running within a 20-mile radius of the restaurant, Diamond Dave's free shuttle helps guests stay safe during these revelries. The service picks them up at the start of the evening and whisk them safely home when the night draws to a close.
A perimeter of brick walls and flat-screen TVs envelops AC Tavern, where seasonal craft beers wash down a menu of Southern-inspired pub fare and events busy guests with poker, karaoke, and football. In the kitchen, chefs lightly fry catfish morsels and layer them onto plates alone or stuff them into po boys flanked by Cajun tartar dipping sauce. The texas brisket pizza joins two hearty staples as jalapeños and onions top texas brisket, coated in the same root-beer barbecue sauce that also drenches a half or full rack of slow-smoked but fast-talking St. Louis–style ribs. Every day of the week, diners can pair their feasts with diversions, including live music on Fridays and college football on Sundays.