The insider's guide to night spots in Atlanta

  • Adam Kincaid
  • For the AJC
2:57 p.m Wednesday, April 26, 2017 Atlanta Events
via Whiskey Park

No matter what kind of night you're looking for, there are restaurants, lounges and night clubs in Atlanta that match all tastes.


The trick to this city is simple: for every occasion, a savvy destination.

Want to know the very best places to go, no matter the mood?

Well, let's go.

More on Atlanta nightlife:

6 places to spend an evening along the Beltline

4 of Atlanta's best speakeasies with secret rooms

5 of the coziest bars in Atlanta

You’ll have your pick of the best night spots with the following:

3771 Roswell Road NE, Atlanta

There are trendier, more youthful dance clubs all over the city. But straight up, if you want to dance like "nobody-puts-baby-in-a-corner type of dancing, do yourself a favor and go to Johnny's Hideaway. Disco jams on deck on all night? Check. Mirror on the ceiling? You know it. Watered down drinks that take half an hour to get? You betcha, so order them two at a time. The most, um, diverse crowd in Atlanta? You better believe it, especially with The Clermont on hiatus.

So, lets say the goal was to meet a celebrity on a Friday night in Atlanta. Or, more realistically, to navigate your night into the same establishment as someone recognizable, and then to stare awkwardly from across the room at them, even though it turns out that they are totally just a person out in the world just like you. Even once you've established that fact of humanity, you may still be a bit intrigued by that certain someone with a Wikipedia page, fancy car and a couple IMDB credits to tout.

In that case, Staplehouse is your place.

Becky Stein
Staplehouse, in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward, recently celebrated its first anniversary. (BECKYSTEIN.COM)

541 Edgewood Ave SE, Atlanta

Celebrities love trending restaurants. It's a fact. Corner tables. Seclusion. And yet, paradoxically, inclusion (in the cool next big thing). That's why its the best place to go for dinner, and you should just book a standing nightly reservation, starting their next availability in like six weeks, is Staplehouse. The food, as everyone ever, including people who definitely know food like Wyatt Williams, will tell you, is pretty tasty. 

And the brand cache couldn't be higher, on account of Bon Appetit's naming the restaurant The Best New Restaurant in America. The cocktails are well regarded too; I specifically recommend my old acquaintance and now bartender (or is it mixologist) Ben Richardson's Ivey League, which is a drink made in homage to a friend who passed away. Respect on you, Ben. Cool drink. Add to all that the fact that it's in the trendy part of town...Now, you've got a celebrity magnet.

Here's a question: Which matters more in deciding cocktail excellence−the cocktail alone, based on its creativity, deliciousness and other qualities of construction and hipness or the cocktail in the context of the deliciousness-to-fun ratio? What I mean is, would you rather have a "ten" cocktail in a "eight" environment, or an "eight" cocktail in a place that is "ten" fun?

999 Peachtree St. NE #140, Atlanta

For the straight ahead best cocktail around, try the Two World Hero at Empire State South. Hugh Acheson's Midtown restaurant seems like it's been around forever by now, and the Two World Hero has built up a reputation in the meantime. The drink is from mixologist Kellie Thorn, and is a take on the Vieux Carre: It's Cognac, rye, black tea, red wine syrup and vermouth.  

483 Edgewood Ave SE, Atlanta

For the eight cocktail in the ten spot? Go to Sound Table, order the Toronto. Here's the drink: 110-proof rye, Fernet Branca, sugar, bitters, and flamed orange. It's like an Old Fashioned, but different. And it's one of the most underrated drinks in the city, served in a spot that turns all the way up after 11.

327 Edgewood Ave. Downstairs, Atlanta

Another interpretive question for you: What constitutes the hottest hip-hop in Atlanta? I would lean towards the increasing hybridization of trap beats against EDM melodies (an example), which is a stew whose pot is stirred off Edgewood Avenue. Sound Table, mentioned above, gives you some of this flavor, and you can get more of it at Music Room.

For the AJC
Magic City putting that Miami Vice vibe down real hard.

241 Forsyth St SW, Atlanta

Alternatively, you could point to the young rappers breaking out now from ATL like Migos and Lil Yachty, with the auto-tuned stunting and the trap star swag as the "hottest" thing going. To really see the sausage getting made, you have to understand the economics of becoming a famous rapper in Atlanta via DJ Esco and Magic City, as proved by the ascendancy of our very own Future. The infamous strip club has been the go-to Atlanta hip-hop artist launch pad for many year. Everyone from Future to Rae Sremmurd, have featured their early songs as the soundtrack for Magic City’s dancers before they ever became radio hits. On Magic City Mondays, the favored night spot of celebrity athletes and musicians blasts the hottest underrated Atlanta tracks. There you’ll find the future hitmakers flowing over hazy trap beats that will eventually creep their way into New York, Los Angeles and, subsequently, the national music scene.

758 Ponce De Leon Ave NE, Atlanta

Why not keep it simple for a night out on the town? The Local is an end destination with these ingredients: trendy part of town, turn up spot, beatnik mindset and good drinks. Need another example of a place to fulfills the criteria? Monday nights at the Local -- the Ponce de Leon karaoke structure fire -- might work. John Hamm was there once. And he played in the movies.

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