Not just for morning people: Your neighborhood guide to Morningside-Lenox Park

The upscale Morningside neighborhood boasts a sandy stretch known as "dog beach."
Contributed by Atlanta Trails

Nestled between Piedmont Park, Druid Hills and the Highlands, this leafy residential neighborhood in Northeast Atlanta holds more than just a scenic drive between major thoroughfares. Its history grew as organically as the produce that once sprouted from its farmlands.

The first neighborhood established in this area was Easton in the 1860s, with a few farms and a Presbyterian Church just off Piedmont and Rock Springs Roads that still stands today. A train line was built a few decades later which ran between Atlanta and northeast Georgia and passed through, attracting residents. On the southern end of the area, the University Park subdivision sprung up in 1921, built around the Baptist Lanier University. Finally, in 1923, eight homes were built on nearby Sherwood Road, establishing Morningside as a new suburb.

Growth quickly merged these various historical clusters under the Morningside-Lenox Park banner. Two commercial strips emerged on Highland and Piedmont Avenues, and those still stand today with numerous small businesses and eateries. Morningside Elementary was built to serve the growing number of families in the area. Numerous small parks were established to take advantage of natural landscapes and denote entrances along major roads.

The state of Georgia’s push to build a highway right through the middle of Morningside and other adjacent neighborhoods in the late 1960s led to massive grassroots pushback. Neighborhood civic groups were established, lawsuits were filed to stop construction, and while residents won the battle, the area took a long time to get back on its feet afterward. (We won’t mention the Cheshire Bridge area’s reputation for seedy strips and burning bridges). However, this spirit of “people and parks over pavement” has — for better or worse — led to a thriving community that retains its suburban charm in the middle of Atlanta, complete with some excellent food and fun.

What can I do for fun around Morningside-Lenox Park?

Get in touch with nature at one of Morningside’s lush nature preserves. The neighborhood is home to tons of small parks and green spaces, but its two emerald gems are the Morningside Nature Preserve on its western side and the smaller Daniel Johnson Nature Preserve to the east. These lush parks are the perfect oasis for the car-friendly pathways that surround the neighborhood. Spend an afternoon exploring with friends, pets, or just take in the sounds of nature on a relaxing walk alone.

Jam out to a show at Smith’s Olde Bar. Located in one of the original 1920s retail strips, this long-standing music venue and restaurant has seen a bevy of big-name acts play on its small stage. Grab a meal and a drink downstairs, and then head up to see the show. Upcoming acts range from cover bands to comedy, from acoustic singers to hard rock groups. Check out the lineup on their website.

Where are the best places to eat and drink around Morningside-Lenox Park?

Alon’s Bakery

This iconic Atlanta bakery and market is always bustling, and for good reason. You can start your day with any of their freshly baked breads, pastries, and treats. Come back for lunch and grab a lovingly crafted sandwich or a salad from the deli counter. Or, if you just need a snack, grab something from the market shelves — there’s everything from drinks to dips to fresh pasta and much more!

Location: 1394 North Highland Avenue NE; Hours: Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sundays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Website:

The Buttery ATL

Tucked away on a side street off Cheshire Bridge Road, this small bakery is a great alternative for your morning sugar boost if Alon’s is too busy. Featuring breads, breakfast pastries, and fresh cheeses, among other treats, The Buttery lives up to its delectable name. They also serve a selection of beers and wines for your drinking pleasure. Don’t leave without trying their croissants!

Location: 2137 Manchester Street NE; Hours: Every day, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Website:

Whiskey Bird

Blending Asian flavors with American favorites, this cozy restaurant is bustling with flavors. Start with a selection of yakitori skewers or gyoza tacos with chicken or fish. Level up to the sesame panko chicken dish or seared ahi tuna on a bed of grains and veggies. Then pair it with a drink mixed at their extensive bar, including their frosé frozen cocktails. But the real gem of the menu is their weekend brunches, when everyone’s favorite chicken and waffles become infused with spice and laid on a bubble waffle, or when an egg benedict is hatched on a bao bun with gouda fondue.

Location: 1409 North Highland Avenue NE; Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 4-9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 4-9:30 p.m.; Sunday, 4-8 p.m.; Brunch, Friday through Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Website:

Fatt Matt’s Rib Shack

Legendary for its meats, this barbeque spot is one of Atlanta’s most renowned. As the name says, they specialize in ribs, whether on a slab or a sandwich. Pair those saucy, juicy meats with one of their many sides, such as a potato salad, rum baked beans, or good ‘ol mac and cheese. Top your meal off with a slice of sweet potato pie and some tunes from the live music playing most nights in-house.

Location: 1811 Piedmont Ave NE; Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Website:

Varuni Napoli

Neapolitan pizza was all the rage for a while, and Varuni Napoli is still going strong for a reason. Chef Luca Varuni doesn’t mess around when it comes to crispy crusts and fresh ingredients. Their artisanal red and white pizzas range from a simple Margherita to the spicy Nduja and soppressata of the Porreca Picante and the creamy Oro Bianco with cheese, pepper, and truffle oil. Be sure to grab a cannoli for dessert!

Location: 1540 Monroe Drive NE; Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 5-9 p.m.; Friday, 5-9:30 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 9:30 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 9 p.m.; Website:

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