Atlanta’s Top Restaurants for Outdoor Dining

The patio at No. 246 | Credit: Kristen Mooney

Thanks to the city’s subtropical temps and short winters, Atlanta is made for outdoor dining. Restaurants across the city and its surrounding areas provide a full gamut of transportive spaces, from verdant terraces and backyard patios to waterside treasures and secret gardens. With so many unique menus and experiences, it’s not easy to name just a few, but here are the 12 best patios for outdoor dining in Atlanta. 

Anis Cafe and Bistro (Buckhead)

Anis Cafe and Bistro | Credit: pshone.com

Buckhead may be an unlikely backdrop for a Provençal-inspired sidewalk bistro, but this charming cafe fits right in. Dine among a cheery cluster of plants beneath a riot of bright umbrellas or weathered wood beams on French classics that owner Arnaud Michel remembers from his upbringing in Montpelier. Light bites such as charcuterie and cheese plates are always lovely eaten outdoors, but so is heartier fare, like the traditional thyme-roasted free-range chicken, filet au poivre, and duck confit with burgundy truffle jus. A wide variety of wines by the glass go down easy, but try a pastis cocktail at least once. It’s made from a French anise-flavored liqueur invented to rival absinthe.

Mojave (Sandy Springs)

The waterfront resort vibes are strong here and fitting for a place whose name means “by the water.” Its elevated, sprawling covered patio is among the best in Sandy Springs, fueled by a dramatic fountain. The menu takes diners on a journey through Latin America via in-house family recipes such as slow-roasted chicken mole, chipotle lamb chops, Puerto Rican-style carnitas, and paella, complete with fresh corn tortillas pressed daily. Wash it all down with Peruvian pisco sours, sangria made with fruit that’s had plenty of time to soak in brandy, and cocktails that exclusively use fresh juices and herbs. 

Canoe (Vinings)

Start with a seasonal cocktail like the citrus-and-herb Don’t Call Me Shirley at the outdoor bar on the Chattahoochee’s banks, then sit or stroll along the water as you wait for your table on the covered patio. It’ll feel like a new and transportive experience in Vinings every time, especially with the weekly evolving menu. Discover exquisite uses of gamey meats such as rabbit, kangaroo, duck breast, and venison alongside wood-grilled beef tenderloin, Gulf red snapper, and Springer Mountain chicken. Desserts like the signature Flat White, executive chef Matthew Basford’s Aussie-ish take on tiramisu, are wonderful shared en plein air.

Café Intermezzo (Dunwoody) 

The patio at the Dunwoody outpost of this traditional 19th century Viennese kaffeehaus, where folding walls open up onto a huge tiled terrace, is truly transportive. Grab a seat among the stone columns, statues, and fountains and order continental dishes such as seafood crepes or all-day Belgian waffles. Better yet, opt for round-the-clock dessert from the grand pastry case. The imported Frutti di Bosco, made up of Chantilly cream, sponge cake, lingonberries, and red currants is delectable, but so are classics like the traditional cheesecake. The sweet treats pair perfectly with an array of gourmet coffees, from Turkish to signature concoctions such as the Caffe Intermezzo, dusted with cocoa and almond slices. 

The Mill Kitchen and Bar (Roswell)

Credit: The Mill Kitchen and Bar

Break away from the standard steakhouse dining room by grabbing a seat on the outdoor patio under the red umbrellas or pergola.  After you’ve chosen your cut of beef, you can select a preparation style, with options ranging from the “The Mill,” which promises a departure from the traditional accouterments, served with lobster mac and cheese, lobster butter, and asparagus. Order a bonfire-inspired cocktail to complement your cut, such as the smoked Old Fashioned or a smoked cranberry Margarita, brightened with white cranberry and rosemary. 

Paces & Vine (Vinings)

Credit: Paces & Vine

This restaurant consistently draws crowds for its covered porch and spacious seating, which makes it an ideal perch for sampling a glass or bottle from an excellent wine list. It’s an irresistible vibe, enhanced by a patio overlooking the picturesque Vinings Jubilee shopping village, complete with brick pavers and an outdoor fireplace. The sophisticated American menu includes a variety of small plates to share, in addition to classic entrees such as local roast chicken with sunchoke confit and a stellar blue cheese-butter burger. For those who prefer a cocktail with dinner, the drink menu changes frequently to embrace the season. 

Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall (Old Fourth Ward) 

It’s impossible to mention outdoor dining in Atlanta without a nod to this Old Fourth Ward staple, one of the first patio-based bars and restaurants to have kicked off the trend along the BeltLine. The hard-to-miss yellow umbrellas beckon trail-walkers for a break on slingback chairs and picnic tables. A house daiquiri with raspberry, lime, and lavender is worth a try, as is a Patio Punch, served in a pouch. To coat the stomach first, order a family-style smoked meat tray for four to eight, which includes pulled pork ribs, house chili dog, mac and cheese, potato salad, and pickles. Free live music makes it even more tempting.

Forza Storico (West Midtown)

It might be a little while before a trip to Italy is in the cards, so the next best thing is the laid-back outdoor area at West Midtown’s Forza Storico. The charming patio shuttles diners to the beloved peninsula with playful Italian-inspired murals and festive bistro lights. A recent expansion added seating–including a new chef’s table–in the courtyard. To complete the experience, order a bottle of wine from the Italy-focused list to pair with classic pasta dishes made the traditional way, such as real-deal carbonara, cacio e pepe, and tagliatelle alla bolognese.

No. 246 (Decatur)

This restaurant in downtown Decatur is an ode to old-school, red-sauce Italian cooking. The menu revolves mainly around authentic Neapolitan pizzas, house-made macaroni, and proteins prepared Milanese, Marsala, and parmesan-style. A large, refreshed backyard features covered and open areas with picnic tables—including one for ping-pong—plus plenty of shade from trees to ensure comfortable year-round dining. 

Beetlecat (Inman Park)

A bowl of seafood stew next to a bowl of rice.

Credit: Beetlecat

No ordinary seafood shack, Inman Park’s BeetleCat turns the New England concept on its head, juxtaposing standbys such as lobster rolls and oyster platters with dishes like moqueca, a Brazilian seafood stew packed with shrimp, the fish of the day, coconut, jalapeño, cashews, and rice. Head to either of the two bright patios—one on the roof for full sun and a shadier setting downstairs—where the Fish House Punch, made with rum, brandy, peach whiskey, lemon, and black tea comes by the mug or the pitcher. 

Arnette’s Chop Shop (Brookhaven)

On the second floor of this contemporary Brookhaven steakhouse sits a covered patio, twinkling lights, and comfortable seating where diners enjoy all the steakhouse classics such as shrimp cocktail, wedge salads, and prime dry-aged meats. For those craving a little something different, Arnette’s offers distinctly modern twists, like the option to top your chop with roast shallot bordelaise, start your meal with hearth-roasted roasted marrow, or add a side of Ellijay mushrooms with Vidalia onions—both distinctly Georgian. 

Empire State South (Midtown)

If ping-pong isn’t your after-dinner game, perhaps bocce ball might tickle your fancy. Hugh Acheson’s West Midtown Empire State South allows for a few rounds as you enjoy seasonal, distinctly Southern prix fixe dégustation menus by executive chef Daniel Porubiansky. Choose from four or six courses on a covered patio that wraps around the bocce ball court, or order a la carte at the bar. The excellent wine program can be well enjoyed there; it’s also a soothing setting for savory cocktails such as the Family Heirloom, made with basil-infused vodka, tomato water, and olive oil, or the Hanafuda, which adds Japanese soy sauce to Suntory whisky, yuzu, and sake. 

Su-Jit Lin is an Atlanta-based writer specializing in travel, food—including groceries, cooking, and reference guides—and their impact on bringing people together in shared joy and experience. 

Marion Brewer and Lia Picard contributed to this article.

Tried them all? Check out other options here.

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