It's graduation season in Atlanta when family and friends come to celebrate scholastic accomplishments. This is a great opportunity to share the city's culinary scene with visitors or for locals to try somewhere that's been on their list for years, just waiting for that special occasion. Thankfully there is no shortage of excellent establishments ready to help you celebrate, and we've included a few of Atlanta's best. Make a reservation on OpenTable or by calling the restaurants.
This old-school Buckhead steak house has been named one of the top in the country by both Zagat and OpenTable, not to mention Atlanta Magazine, which has named it the city's top steak restaurant for nearly 20 years running. Bones first opened in 1979 and serves dishes like prime beef, Maine lobster and Southern fare. Bones also has private dining rooms for groups. The dress code is "dressy casual," so don't worry about wearing a suit or fancy dress.
What to Try: What else? Steak! But don't forget about the sides like truffle butter mashed potatoes and crab cakes.
For a dinner with a view, the restaurant atop the Hyatt Regency is the place to be. The iconic restaurant opened in 1967 in the rotating blue dome, nicknamed the "flying saucer," and once hosted the likes of Jim Morrison. After a few decades of closure, the Downtown restaurant reopened in 2014. Today, the menu contains items from its original menu including the Peach daiquiri. Polaris incorporates honey from its rooftop beehives into its dishes and cocktails. Enjoy rotating views with your guests.
What to Try: The menu changes seasonally, but always features the best products from local farms. The smoked Coca-Cola pork belly is a good dish to start with.
This stylish Buckhead restaurant from chef Ford Fry is known for its Mediterranean-inspired fare. The light-filled eatery is ideal for sharing plates between friends and family, starting with the charcuterie and fresh crudo. The fresh-made pasta, like squid ink mafaldini, can't be missed. St. Cecilia is also known for its extensive wine and cocktail menus as well as weekend brunch.
What to Try: Save room for dessert like the tiramisu-inspired tart or a glass of St. Cecilia's own limoncello, an Italian lemon liqueur.
Reservations may be hard to come by for the restaurant named one of Bon Appetit’s best new restaurants in 2016. But if you get a table for your group, it's well worth it. The restaurant opens reservations a few weeks in advance and offers the fixed price chef's tasting menu, making it better for small groups. What makes the restaurant so unique is that it benefits The Giving Kitchen, an organization that supports members of the food service industry who have fallen on tough times.
What to Try: You never know what you're going to get, but enjoy a cocktail at the Paper Crane Lounge while you wait. Staplehouse offers a smaller dinner menu in the lounge, where reservations aren't required.
Opened in the whimsical Hotel Clermont, Tiny Lou's is a nod to one of the dancers from the infamous Clermont Lounge back when it was called the Gypsy Room. It has plush pink booths and a French brasserie menu that earned it the title of one of Eater's Best Restaurants in Atlanta for 2018. Tiny Lou's has topnotch cocktails and weekend brunch. Order a little bit of everything at this casual and affordable local restaurant.
What to Try: Steak frites and Blue Ridge trout almondine are two of the menu standouts.
Atlanta may not be near the ocean, but you wouldn't know it based on the menu of this Westside restaurant. Grab some of the 10 varieties of bivalve at the oyster bar while you wait or play a round of bocce on the patio. Once seated, ask the skilled wait staff for advice on what to order. Start with she-crab soup that rivals the ones found in Charleston or share the whole Georgia shrimp prepared "a la plancha" with toast to sop up the delicious juices.
What to Try: The lobster roll and halibut with salsa verde are both topnotch.
Caroline Eubanks is a writer, author, and metro Atlanta native. You can see her work on ThisIsMySouth.com and CarolineEubanks.com.