A few months ago, we started thinking about little mini-celebrations for the little milestones that our blog would be hitting over the summer, and for our 600th Atlanta-area restaurant, we finally decided to pull Atkins Park Tavern out of its “for a rainy day” storage for a visit. It is Atlanta’s oldest continually operating restaurant, dating to 1922, although it has moved several times and considerably changed its focus over the decades. It first opened as a delicatessen, but it’s been, principally, a tavern with a very good wine list since the 1930s. These days, it serves up some better-than-average new Southern entrees along with traditional bar-n-grill comfort food. It reminds me, in an “evolution-works-this-way” fashion, of Litton’s in Knoxville, which started as a grocery store and is today a popular family restaurant.
Even though this was meant as a mini-celebration, I took the risk of aggravating Marie by ordering a plate of bacon-wrapped dates. Marie can’t even stand the scent of bacon, but these sounded so good that I had to bring some to the table. They were really wonderful.
Executive chef Andrew Smith was tasked with making Atkins Park Tavern destination dining, and if there are some similarities with what you find on the menus of the most popular Atlanta restaurants of the present (farm to table, trout, pimento cheese, fried green tomatoes), it’s probably because that’s what works. His kitchen is doing a terrific job, and sourcing some really good food for specials. Marie had one of these, grouper served over corn and a tomato puree. I went traditional with a chicken sandwich that had been given a bath of Buffalo wing sauce and served with some fantastic hand-cut fries.
Atkins Park quietly grew to add a second location in Smyrna about eight years ago, and they also own Ormsby’s, a tavern in the Westside Provisions complex that is very popular with Georgia Tech students. There was also, for a couple of years, an Atkins Park Tavern up in Cumming, which I missed hearing about completely. Anyway, we have not visited those other places, but had a good time on our date night at the original. The tavern side and the restaurant side are separated, so older guests can smoke in the bar while families or non-smokers enjoy a good meal in the restaurant half. We enjoyed our good meal very much.
Other blog posts about Atkins Park Tavern:
You can see all the restaurants that we have visited for our blog on this map, with links back to the original blog posts. It’s a terrific resource for anybody planning a road trip through the southeast!