Atlanta has been long known as vibrant foodie destination where down home Southern fare and international eats create a vortex of culinary delight. But there’s one corner of Atlanta, in particular, that seems to be having a moment: Buckhead.
Clustered around the intersections of Lenox, Peachtree, and Piedmont Roads, this affluent district in uptown Atlanta is where you’ll find towering skyscrapers and condominiums plus a slew of high-end retailers at a handful of ritzy shopping hubs. But you’ll also discover a mini epicurean Mecca where renowned chefs like Art Smith, Richard Blais, and Ford Fry have come to roost.
Here’s where you’ll want to devote the bulk of your time because even with several dining opportunities across a long weekend getaway, there are still bound to be several restaurants you simply won’t fit in.
At a minimum, plan to visit Southern Art & Bourbon Bar, the brainchild of acclaimed chef restaurateur and cookbook author Art Smith (former personal chef to Oprah Winfrey). Located on the lobby level of the InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta, Southern Art is a sight to behold with its whimsical design and vibrant paintings suspended horizontally from the ceiling. From his house-made marshmallows to Southernyaki Chicken Wings to his wild caught Georgia Shrimp & Grits, Smith’s menu exudes his love for old southern family traditions meets farm-to-table trend.
The Buckhead-Atlanta shopping district has a slew of fabulous restaurants with a few more notable openings later this summer, including American Cut (a concept by Michelin star-rated Chef Marc Forgione) and Dolce Italian, which originated in New York.
In the meantime, be sure to check out American Food and Beverage where Chef Jeremy Miller takes the skills he learned working at French Laundry and Jean-Georges to craft a menu of modern American fare with lot of exciting twists. Boiled peanut hummus, duck pot pie and a corned short rib Reuben are just a few dishes to expect.
Just a short stroll away, you’ll also find Gypsy Kitchen—known for a artful setting and Spanish/Moroccan cuisine—and The Southern Gentleman, a gastropub with a sleek veneer, hearty, comfort fare and more than 60 varieties of bourbon and rye whiskey.
Beyond your main meals, you’ll also want to consider enjoying the haughty afternoon tea offered at The St. Regis Atlanta. This classic tea service, complete with tiered sandwich and dessert trays, features more than a dozen exclusive tea blends. From savory egg sandwiches and cured ham tarts to lavender financier and freshly baked scones, this sweet and relaxing afternoon diversion is the perfect place to recharge your batteries after a day of retail therapy. Cost is $40 per guest including valet parking.
If you can, stick around until 6pm when the daily sabering takes place just outside The Wine Room. Each night, a skilled Sommelier slices open a bottle of champagne in this time-honored ritual to toast the life of St. Regis hotelier John Jacob Astor, who died in the sinking of the Titanic.
You’ll have your pick from scores of hotel options, including Mandarin Oriental, The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead, The St. Regis Atlanta, JW Marriott, The Intercontinental Buckhead Atlanta and the Grand Hyatt Buckhead. All are located in the heart of the district, which means shopping hubs and restaurants are just a short walk or quick drive away.
At a recent Mandarin Oriental stay, we found the ‘house car’ to be quite a lovely perk. A driver onsite will transport you anywhere within a 2-mile radius and pick you back up when requested. Many of Buckhead’s luxury hotels offer this feature.
Located just a stone’s throw from Phipps Plaza, the 117-room Mandarin Oriental is a wonderful hotel in which to anchor for a weekend of shopping and dining. Balconies with skyline views, private gardens and an onsite spa with 13 treatment rooms are just a few delights at this five-star find. Be sure to join in the Saturday morning yoga class when Atlanta yoga celeb Elizabeth Rowan will set you on the path to a Zen-ful day.
For a more wallet-friendly option, consider the Grand Hyatt Atlanta-Buckhead, a sprawling 439-room hotel that entices weekend travelers with rates from $179/night including free parking, welcome cocktails and a 2pm late checkout. Executive Chef Thomas McKeown, an ardent advocate of local sourcing and supporter of HSA (hotel support agriculture), has the helm of the hotel’s culinary offerings, including Onyx at the Grand and Cassis where guests can enjoy breakfast or lunch in a tranquil outdoor Japanese garden with a waterfall wall.
When Buckhead visitors aren’t spa-ing or eating, they’re shopping. Lenox Square Mall, home to 250 stores, is the area’s largest shopping nucleus and recently emerged from a massive face-life that included an updated glass façade and the addition of several new restaurants. Here you can easily lose several hours dipping into store like Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, FENDI, Burberry, Cartier, David Yurman and Louis Vuitton.
While at Lenox, grab a bite at True Food Kitchen, a pure ingredients concept that opened last summer. Besides a bevy of nutrient-loaded options on the uber healthy menu you’ll also find loads of vegetarian dishes, many designed in collaboration with Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D, author of the cookbook: True Food: Seasonal, Sustainable, Simple, Pure.
Phipps Plaza, located a quarter a mile away, is another high-end shopping haunt where visitors can shop at more than 100 stores, including: Tiffany & Co., Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Versace and Jimmy Choo. There is also a 14-screen AMC movie theatre and LEGOLAND Discovery Center attraction.
Consider checking out the new Restoration Hardware Gallery, which opened late 2014. This towering, nearly 70,000-square-foot, six-story building houses thousands of decor items, dinnerware and furnishings at what’s the largest Restoration Hardware properly in the world.
Finally, Buckhead-Atlanta, an outdoor designer shopping district that finally picked up momentum with the economic recovery, is a must-visit even for those who only intend to window shop. Million-dollar landscaping, bricked roads and several spectacular restaurants make this home to a dozen + stores (including Hermes, Theory and Scoop NYC) absolutely worth an afternoon.