“Atkins Park in Virginia Highlands” Restaurant Review – Fine Dining in Historic Atlanta Tavern

When visiting a city as large and diverse as Atlanta, finding the “real” Atlanta may seem like a futile goal.  That said, a visit to “Atkins Park” is getting pretty close to a bulls-eye in that regards. 

This is a historic watering hole known and loved by real Atlantans that most travelers don’t know to visit—but should. 

To boot, it’s just around the corner from where the drugstore stood that served the first Coca-cola ever—as Atlantan a landmark as you can imagine

“Atkins Park” has been in Virginia Highlands since 1922.  Originally built as a house in 1906, the owners literally picked up the building and added a commercial space underneath it in 1922. 

That original house is still there and now is where the restaurant’s offices are found as well as a comfortable private party room.   The bar portion was originally a deli and you can find historic pictures of it in the tavern.

Atlantans most likely know “Atkins Park” because the food, music, arts Summerfest, which draws as many as 200,000 yearly, began in its parking lot.  It’s also located in an upper middle class neighborhood with nicer homes and, according to Executive Chef Andrew Smith, where people like to walk. 

Family and neighborhood ties bring many to “Atkins Park”.  Reputation as a great place to hang out brings others. 

The bar is more of a beer and shot place than a mixologist’s corner.  It is an especially good place to sample the many beers and ales from Greater Atlanta’s growing number of microbreweries. 

 

Eleven years ago the owners decided to give Atlantans yet another reason to visit their halls.  That was when they hired Andrew Smith, a native with broad experience in different fine dining venues in town, to create a chef-driven menu that would put the restaurant that adjoins the tavern more on the map.

This is southern style food --- and very tasty.  And you’ll also find menu items that are more international fare—and very tasty too.

Our tasting menu began with two appetizers-- bacon wrapped dates with blue cheese and crispy Brussels sprouts with bacon aioli. 

The flash fry of the Brussels sprouts preparation kept them very crisp, crunchy and delicious.  The chef shares that he cooks them just so the edges begin to carmelize.  

We were glad that the chef also served us a staple from the bar menu—crispy calamari & fried jalapenos tossed with a sweet chili sauce. 

If you decide to go to “Atkins Park” just for a microbrewery sample this would definitely be the top recommended pick to go with your beer.

 

Chef Andrew’s signature dish is the shrimp and grits.  These are wild Georgia shrimp and grits from Northern Georgia too.  Both the shrimp and grits are sweet.  You can well imagine that new staff at the restaurant put on many pounds feeding an addiction to these shrimp and grits.  If you are staying for dinner this is the top recommended pick.

Not that there was anything lacking in the other entrée we sampled—bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin with roasted sweet potatoes and wilted greens.  It was the honey cider reduction that pulls it altogether and deliciously so. 

When dessert came we were very glad that we had exercised restraint and kept our portions of entrees and appetizers to tasting size.  The dessert the chef showcased was a bread pudding that had two standout features.  One was that the bread in the pudding had the taste and texture of the best French toast.  The roasted granny smith apples give it a welcome tartness.   Yum…

Atkins Park Restaurant & Bar

794 N. Highland Avenue

Atlanta, Georgia 30306

404 – 876 – 7249

Or for more information visit Atkins Park website.

 

Photos:  Peter Kachergis unless otherwise indicated 

 

 

 

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