When the clock strikes noon, it’s often a mad dash into the rat race of where to grab lunch. With the choices trending toward smaller, walk-up digs with eclectic, unique and super fresh menus, you’d better leave early if you want to be back before your lunch hour ends—especially if you don’t want to come back with a greasy bag of fast-food.
Lucky for Atlantans, the options continue to grow, and now that several hotel restaurants are serving up a culinary comeback with menus worth considering, you’ve got a good chance at getting a table. It tastes even better when that meal comes with a validated valet ticket.
You’ll find worthy spots inside hotels from Buckhead to Midtown, Downtown and on the outskirts of the Perimeter, but here are three under-the-radar options that caught our eye—and whet our appetites.
Saltwood Charcuterie & Bar at Loews Atlanta Hotel
There is plenty of allure to Loews Atlanta: Exhale Spa, a buzzy lobby bar, plush guestrooms, a cool, modern design. But now that Loews’ new culinary push, Flavor by Loews Hotels, is in full swing—a program allowing each city’s hotel restaurant to embrace the local culture—Loews Atlanta hotel and Chef Olivier Gaupin give you no choice but to plan a trip immediately. Combining Southern personality and hospitality with an elevated appreciation for food that is hearty, tasty and naturally sophisticated, Saltwood might just be the new weekday water cooler.
Lucky for him, he’s got the neighborhood on speed dial, like Woodsman & Wife Cheese in Douglasville and Hunter Cattle Farms in Brooklet. Try the Saltwood Board featuring a selection of charcuterie and cheeses paired with condiments, grilled bread and pickled vegetables, available on the bar menu, or pair your meal with a delicious seasonal cocktail or craft brew from more local flavor partners such as Orpheus Brewing and ASW Distillery.
There’s one other thing that is not like the others, and that is the famous salad bar you’ll stand in line totally pushing the lunch hour limit for on a workday. Winding its way through the dining room, the line awaits big stainless steel mixing bowls that guests fill themselves, starting with a choice of three lettuce varieties, and then just about anything you could dream about on a salad, including pickled vegetables to crisp crudité, soft cheeses or something sharp and shredded, a myriad of crunchy toppers and an entire wall of pour-yourself vinegars, oils and salts you may have never even heard of. Make your own dressing concoction from a bevy of bottles before turning over the bowl to the pros, for a top layer of protein (shrimp, chicken or steak) and a mix before it gets piled high on your plate. It’s as much fun as fro-yo, without any of the guilt.
Livingston Restaurant + Bar at The Georgian Terrace
A landmark for native Atlantans, transplants and visitors alike, The Georgian Terrace has long been a notable spot for honeymooners, Fox Theatre attendees and more. Since the inception of Livingston Restaurant + Bar, it also houses a sought-after table inside a gorgeous interior drenched in white marble and sparkling décor. The better news is that booking lunch at Livingston ensures you won’t have to fight show time traffic to supremely satisfy your appetite.
In more good news, Executive Chef Mark Breault joined Livingston in 2017, and used it as the chance to work his own personality into the existing menu. It was already tasty, but his roots add a creative ambiance onto every plate, making it hard to resist a bigger order than the typical lunch hour enlists. The ambiance is roomy, quiet and sophisticated, making it ideal for meetings, lunch dates or any occasion made better with a backdrop of glistening marquee lights.
The only thing better than the atmosphere is the food. Try the Burrata and roasted peppers that comes with juicy cherry tomatoes, capers and charred scallion vinaigrette atop crispy sourdough toast. Breault’s own favorite dish is the Taproot salad combining roasted parsnips, carrots, celery root and radishes in a rich tarragon vinaigrette with watercress and creamy chevre. Perhaps most indulgent is the Blackened Chicken sandwich, arriving to the table stuffed inside a buttermilk biscuit with fresh red onion and crispy lettuce, for starters, and smothered in pimento cheese and a drizzle of honey butter. With a side of perfectly crispy fries, it’s a lunch worthy of a little extra time. And even though it’s only noon, it’s almost a sin to leave without at least one bite of the Nutella and Oreo Mississippi Mud Pie. The praline pecan pie bar is a close second.
The Greatroom at Atlanta Marriot Perimeter Center
On the corner of Perimeter Center and Hammond Drive, the newly renovated Atlanta Marriot Perimeter Center is close enough to say you stayed nearby for lunch, but far enough from the city limit to give you time to burn off some of what you’ll find on the menu. It’s also a welcome addition to the options enticing Dunwoody-based lunchers, as it’s both off the beaten path (read: not at the mall) and new.
Inside the new hotel is a sprawling, bright restaurant with cushy seating, power-stripped tables and a breezy terrace inviting diners for breakfast, lunch and dinner—laptops and smartphones optional. Executive Chef Jeffrey James opened The Greatroom with a vibrant menu that combines global flavors with true southern comfort, something hard to resist for the greater population of Atlanta—whether you’re an overnight guest or not.
It’ll be hard to narrow it down but start with the braised pork belly arepas before you do so. Made with jalapeno cream cheese, pickled cauliflower relish, bacon and peppadew peppers on tender, flaky buns, it’s a perfectly succulent, subtly spicy bite that sets expectations high for the remainder of your meal. Split the BBQ chicken flatbread, piled high with sweet BBQ chicken, caramelized onions, gouda and alfredo cheeses, crunchy scallions and more fiery peppadew peppers. Other notables include the hearty Guinness braised brisket sandwich or the unique quinoa bowl packed with protein and power foods.
On the lighter side, the chicken avocado salad is a fresh bowl filled with artisanal lettuce, juicy blackened chicken, shaved red onion, black beans, heirloom tomatoes and a perfectly acidic cilantro lime vinaigrette. If you’ve got the room, order the boozy banana pudding—but heed this warning and clear your afternoon, because office naps may no longer be optional.