Designers’ Guide to Atlanta Eats

Our Atlanta-based FLOWER showhouse interior designers share their secrets for visiting and living large in this booming metropolis

Navigating the ins and outs of Atlanta’s restaurant scene can be overwhelming for a visitor so FLOWER asked local interior designers participating in the showhouse to recommend places to grab a bite, sip a beverage, or enjoy a fantastic meal. Here, Mallory Mathison, Beth Webb, Nina Long, Melanie Milner, and Tish Mills Kirk share where to eat in Atlanta.

Howell's Kitchen & Bar
Howell's Kitchen & Bar

Mallory Mathison of Mallory Mathison Inc.

I love Howell’s Kitchen & Bar—it’s a great spot for families. They have a bocce ball court, and TVs and you can watch games and a good children’s menu. For date night, we often go to La Grotta. It’s a Buckhead institution and traditional Italian place. They have a wonderful sunken terrace for dining in the spring and fall. We always get the chef’s special appetizer sampler, which includes a selection of their wonderful pastas and the raspberry ricotta cheesecake is amazing! La Tavla in Virginia Highlands is another wonderful Italian as well. And, we love to go to the bar at Bones—a star steakhouse. They serve the full menu at the bar, which is not often the case. Just classic steakhouse sides and great martinis—a traditional old school Atlanta spot. The St. Regis does this afternoon tea that I’ve taken my goddaughter to, and it’s delightful.

Dining room of The Optimist restaurant with view into the kitchen where chefs are working, in Atlanta, GA.
The Optimist

Beth Webb of Beth Webb Interiors

If we are going to dinner with our children sans the five grandchildren, we’ve been trying out Dirty Rascal in the new Thompson Hotel and what I like is that they serve family style, and we also go to Miller Union which is always a favorite. It’s very Southern-centric and they do shared bites as well—it’s a communal experience. La Colonial is always special and the food is delicious. Brunch at Le Bilboquet —the Cajun chicken is divine and I never order anything else! If it’s just my husband and I will often go early to Houston’s on West Paces Ferry because it’s always crowded, but who doesn’t love Houston’s? If I have clients in town, I love to take them to Atlas at the St. Regis—it’s quiet and chic; plus the food is amazing. We often go there after events like galas or the Schutze award. For people coming in for the showhouse, it’s perfect if they are staying at the hotel or the Waldorf. Any of Ford Fry’s restaurants are incredible. When Barry Dixon was installing his room at the showhouse, we met at St. Cecilia. And The Optimist, Little Ray, Marcel, and Superica are wonderful too—his restaurants are a sure thing on any occasion any day of the week.

Dining room of St. Cecilia restaurant in Atlanta, GA
St. Cecelia

Tish Mills Kirk of Tish Mills Interiors

My husband Scott and I often frequent Anis in Buckhead. You feel like you are in the South of France and that’s where we got married—it’s a go to for us because it takes us back to Cannes and Marseilles. My favorite dish is the roasted chicken—it makes my mouth water! For an interesting outing, we love BoccaLupo. We enjoy the chef’s tasting of what’s on the menu seasonally. The flavor profiles are so complex but they come off really effortless; it’s like a beautiful room, once you start to break it down, you realize how many layers there are. It’s not super fancy; it’s just a very enjoyable experience.

We eat at Le Colonial, which is French Vietnamese, because of the whole snapper they make. It’s fun to go with another couple and share the snapper and all the sides that come with it—such a lovely communal experience. Scott and I also enjoy sitting at the bar in Blue Ridge Grill, which is near our house. Inevitably you see people you know, and their steak is amazing. For super casual, we go to Geo’s Chicken in Midtown—it’s Atlanta’s version of Little Italy. Antico Pizza place next door is great for those who aren’t gluten-free and across the street is a place where you can get gelato and cannoli.  At Geo’s you can bring your own wine or you grab one from the shelves—sometimes you are drinking in a plastic cup, but it’s a really fun experience; you feel like you are in Italy.  For finer Italian, we love Antica Posta.  Also super authentic and always on point.

And I really love The Chastain—the best hamburger in Atlanta! And the gluten-free buns are incredible and light as a feather. We once asked the bartender if they sell them! And they have an amazing pear salad and an outside fire pit where you can sit and have a cocktail before dinner. The Garden Room at the St. Regis is a happening scene. It’s the first place where I learned I liked caviar because they have the freshest and their cocktails are amazing. When I do carve out time for brunch, I go to Murphy’s in Virginia Highlands where I get the egg bake that has chorizo and salsa in it. And, Goldberg’s is so old school, and they make really good gluten-free pancakes when I want to splurge.

Anis restaurant in Buckhead, Atlanta, GA

Nina Long of Mathews Design Group

For date night, La Grotta is very old school and the location is bizarre (in the basement of a old condo) which makes it even more intriguing. Their Italian food is one of the best in the city and their service is impeccable. We also love Kimball House in Decatur, we had our wedding reception there, so we make it a point to go yearly on our anniversary. For a family meal we frequent Nuevo Laredo—authentic homemade Mexican food, always packed and the best skinny margaritas in town. For girl’s night, it’s Le Bilboquet—bring on the Champagne and Rosé! I love Houston’s for lunch. It’s always consistent and has great salads. It’s hard not to get their spinach dip but I really try not to! We unwind at Marcel. I love a good, cold dirty martini and the oysters, and if I’m eating bread, theirs is unbelievable! Also, Lobster Bar is always so good too. And the St. Regis truly has the best people watching. You never know what you will see here or whom you will run into! For breakfast in a hurry, I love the smoothies at Upbeet! If I’m doing breakfast, The Chastain has amazing gluten free banana bread with an almond milk matcha latte, and then I walk it off at Chastain Park afterwards!

Blue banquette booths in Le Bilboquet restaurant, Atlanta, GA
Le Bilboquet. Photo by Mary Kathryn Wells

Melanie Milner of The Design Atelier

Bacchanalia on the Westside always has an exquisite menu, and for less formal evenings, a seat at their bar will give you the most informative cocktail mixology lesson while enjoying the freshest oysters available. The sommelier will also educate you on the stellar if prompted. The menu changes seasonally, but everything is delicious. Lyla Lila has a more intimate setting and is good for a cozy evening with friends. Everything on the menu is drool-worthy, so there is nothing that will disappoint. Anis is always a great spot for lunch or dinner any day of the week. It has a terrific French bistro vibe, and I always love to be seated under the canopy. KR Steakhouse is one of my favorite places to meet friends after work. It’s basically the “Cheers” for the designer community, as it’s right next to ADAC. It’s hard to take a seat without first stopping by a few tables to say hello to designer friends that had the same idea. For a quick pick-me-up between site visits, I will stop by Le Bon Nosh or Brash for oat milk cappuccino and a small nibble to keep me going.

Box of pastry at Le Bon Nosh
Le Bon Nosh