Between college and my year in Australia, I was living at home and interning at a now defunct newspaper. It was located on a side of Atlanta I hadn’t spent much time in, but my friend lived nearby so we would often meet for lunch. I was lacking funds back then, especially between working for free and saving up for my trip, so I quickly discovered the cheapest eats in the neighborhood. It involved a few coupons I wasn’t even ashamed to use and two dollar slices of pizza. But more than anything, those few months taught me about a part of town that has now become a regular hangout of mine.
Atlanta’s Westside, or whatever the brochures currently call it, is a former industrial neighborhood surrounded by the water works. It includes different areas like West Midtown, Berkley Park, Underwood Hills, Home Park and Atlantic Station, but my definition extends between Georgia Institute of Technology (“Georgia Tech”) and Atlantic Station. You can still find these industrial strongholds, including wholesale furniture shops and the like. Aspects are still working class, especially once you get off of Howell Mill Road, the area’s main thoroughfare, one that is almost always congested.
Today, you’ll find a number of live-play-work complexes with some of the city’s top restaurants. It’s one of the most desirable places to live because it’s extremely well-connected. In less than ten minutes, depending on traffic, you can be at your downtown office. In another fifteen, you can be on the border with Smyrna, a northern suburb. So the next time you visit Atlanta, see what all the fuss is about. I’ve included some of my personal favorites below.
Every week it seems like a new place opens up on the Westside. It’s hard to keep up with them all, especially when I only go out to eat once every few weeks. I’ve broken it down into cheap eats, mid-range and night out for your convenience.
There are so many great, affordable options in the area thanks mostly to its proximity to a college campus. I’ve taken full advantage over the years.
- Atlanta Food Truck Park and Market– Before a few years ago, most people wouldn’t have been able to tell you what a food truck was, let alone where to find one. Thankfully, this spot on Howell Mill has given a permanent home for a changing rotation of trucks. They’re open for lunch, dinner and special events, offering assorted styles of food with outdoor games and seating, not to mention parking.
- Hankook Taqueria– Who knew that Korean and Mexican would make such a delicious combination? You might drive right past this place without thinking anything of it. Grab the sesame fries, traditional bibim-bop, and their funky tacos.
- West Egg Cafe– If you can find a place for brunch, you’ll be lucky. The eatery, open all day, is known for their breakfast and pop-up dinners. Opt for the Westside Pileup for breakfast and the fried green tomato sandwich for lunch. They also have boozy milkshakes if you want to up the ante.
- Nuevo Laredo Cantina– For Atlanta’s most authentic Mexican food, you’ll find in-the-know locals at Nuevo Laredo. The owners opened the restaurant after an influential trip south of the border. Their chicken mole, tamales, and queso flameado all come recommended.
- Amélie’s French Bakery– This is the newest outpost of this Charlotte-based chain. Enjoy their pastries, desserts, sandwiches and Magnolia Coffee Company coffee. Best of all, they have free parking, hard to come by, and free WiFi.
- Delia’s Chicken Sausage Stand– The second location of Delia’s is on a busy corner with upstairs seating in a reused shipping container. You can have chicken sausage in the form of all day breakfast or in place of a traditional hot dog. Be sure to top with comeback sauce!
- Six Feet Under Pub & Fish House– Another meal with a view, the second location of Six Feet under overlooks Northside Drive and Howell Mill. Head to the roof for fried seafood or just a local craft beer.
- La Fonda Latina– Another favorite Mexican eatery, this chain also features Spanish and Cuban dishes like paella and their classic Cuban sandwich. Frozen margaritas are some of the best in town.
- Antico Pizza Napoletana– Italy’s best pizza ingredients are used at Antico, which has a cult-like following. It’s BYO, there’s no hostess and you can eat until they run out of dough. After gorging on the spicy Diavola pizza, take a few cannolis home.
- Taqueria Del Sol– Fast Mex is a thing of beauty in Atlanta and no one does it better than Taqueria del Sol. Don’t let the line out front worry you, as it moves quickly. Just know what you want before you get to the front of the line. Everything is good, but their specials are worth a try.
- Star Provisions– Part artisan market, part deli and part home decor store, Star Provisions is run by the team behind neighboring Bacchanalia. Their sandwiches are perfect for a light lunch, especially the prosciutto, butter and parmesan baguette.
- Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams– Top it all off with an ice cream from this Nashville favorite. While I can’t eat their ice cream anymore, the decadent flavors like bourbon salted pecan and wildberry lavender are truly unique. They also have some sorbet flavors for the dairy-free folks like myself.
For a night out with friends or a weekend dinner, these are a few of your options. I recommend splitting a number of items to share amongst you so you can try as many dishes as possible.
- O-Ku– As a sushi newbie, I recently had dinner at the new outpost of a Charleston restaurant. Their sashimi and other types of sushi are truly amazing, as are some of the more traditionally prepared entrees. They have a new rooftop bar that is great for cocktails.
- Le Fat– This Vietnamese-French restaurant combines the best of both countries. Open for lunch and dinner, highlights of the menu include soft shell crab buns, pho, and banh mi. The cocktails are well-made or you can experience the sweetness of Vietnamese coffee.
- Bartaco West Midtown– Who wouldn’t love a taco platter? Mix and match different styles or opt for a rice bowl. The grilled corn is reminiscent of Mexican street food and there’s more to the cocktail menu than your standard margarita. Sit outside if the weather is nice!
- Barcelona Wine Bar Westside Ironworks– The successful wine bar opened this second location this year, bringing their Spanish bottles and tapas. Among my favorites are the albondigas, patatas bravas, and grilled pulpo.
For a birthday or other special occasion, you can’t do better than these options. I recommend making reservations at all of them as they’re the hottest tables in town.
- Cooks & Soldiers– Another Spanish eatery, the only way I got a table here was by scoping out the bar. The Basque menu includes a cauliflower “steak,” pan con tamate and other pinxtos. I also loved their selection of Spanish ciders.
- Miller Union– This restaurant creates modern interpretations of Southern classics. They emphasize all things local with the farm-t0-table fare and have a great cocktail program.
- JCT Kitchen & Bar– Opt for either JCT Kitchen, the sit-down restaurant, or the bar, where you can get many of the same dishes with a more casual atmosphere. Be sure to grab one of their craft cocktails.
- The Optimist– This restaurant makes the ocean feel close by. You can get a selection of fresh seafood, including their specialties: oysters, Georgia shrimp, and all sorts of fish. Their cocktail program is equally good, so wait for a table with a drink at the outdoor bocce court.
- Bacchanalia– I’ve never eaten here, but there’s a reason that it’s been rated the best restaurant in Atlanta for decades. Chefs Clifford Harrison and Anne Quatrano know what they’re doing and have been a flagship of the area long before it became trendy.
Fancy a beverage? The Westside’s warehouses make for ideal locations for breweries and you can find both dive bars and chic cocktail bars in the same block.
- Northside Tavern– Atlanta’s original dive bar, Northside Tavern has become a stronghold from the Westside’s working class days. Here you’ll find the best live blues music and cheapest beer. Don’t let the scruffy exterior worry you!
Hipster Bars and Cocktail Bars
- Little Trouble– The Night Rider-inspired bar is located in the White Provisions complex in a dark corner lit by neon lights. They have an Asian-inspired food menu of noodle soup and buns as well as craft cocktails like the one pictured above.
- Ormsby’s– In the same complex behind a large wooden door, this speakeasy-style establishment features upstairs and downstairs bar. The fratty favorite has indoor bocce, shuffleboard, and other games to keep you entertained, along with a great beer list.
Breweries and More
- Second Self Beer Company– The newest to the neighborhood, and newly reopened, Second Self has a great selection of craft brews, including a Thai wheat, rye ale, and göse.
- Monday Night Brewing– Located next door to my old office, Monday Night has a regular selection of their beers alongside specialty brews, which they call their “clip on” series. Bring a men’s tie to donate for a discount on your tasting.
- Red Brick Brewing Company– A brewery has been called Red Brick or Atlanta Brewing since long before the craft brewing trend. Stop by for a tasting and one of their nightly events, including trivia and live music nights.
- Urban Tree Cidery– New to the block is Atlanta’s first cidery, which is ideal for the gluten-intolerant. Each of their ciders features local ingredients.
Get your fix at just one of many coffee shops that have outposts on the Westside.
- Brash Coffee– Set in a reused shipping container set on a sidewalk in Westside Provisions, there isn’t much in the way of seating and you’re better off taking your coffee to go.
- Chattahoochee Coffee Company – Westside– You might not notice this coffee shop at an apartment complex off Huff Road, but the coffee is good and it’s decorated like a hip hunting lodge.
- Octane Coffee– Located at the intersection of Marietta Street and Howell Mill, this space is smaller than their Grant Park location but just as good. You can get coffee in the morning along with cocktails and beer later in the day.
- Revelator Coffee– One of two locations, this small shop features large windows overlooking the train tracks and the neighborhood for prime people watching. They have free parking as well.
Furniture was originally the main item you’d head to the Westside to buy and you can certainly still find it, albeit at a higher price. There are also some maker pop ups and gift stores alongside major chains.
- Crafted Westside– Buy gifts from artisans throughout the city in one place. Here you’ll find items like jewelry and pottery in a regularly changing selection of pop up shops.
- Anthropologie– The store is the same as the rest around the country, but their location has a back parking lot that has one of the best views of the city.
- The Merchant at Howell Mill– The ultimate curated gift store includes both home decor and items for your friends. Check out their coffee table books, glassware, and items to make your home feel Pinterest-worthy.
- Westside Market Antiques– Speaking of home decor, this store features both modern furnishings as well as vintage at cost.
You can check out the city’s art scene on the Westside or even go to one of the many improv theaters.
- The Goat Farm– Part commune, part arts center, the Goat Farm is named for the goats that inhabit the place. Here you’ll usually find a photo shoot or even a movie being filmed here. They have their own coffee shop for when you need a jolt.
- King Plow Arts Center– This former industrial space has been transformed into an arts center and event facility. Neighboring Terminal West is a live music venue with its own restaurants.
- Atlanta Contemporary Art Center– See what’s up and coming in the art world.
- Topgolf– Play a round of their golf game, in which you aim for different zones with varied point levels. Their food and drinks aren’t bad either!
- Robert C Williams Paper Museum– Located on the Georgia Tech campus, this is a unique museum about the history of paper from early civilization to the present.
- Westside Bikes & Supply Co.– Rent a bike to get yourself around the neighborhood.