As every college student knows, this school year has been anything but typical. Besides the academic struggles, it has been difficult to reminisce about the way college life used to be, but my friends and I have been determined to make the most out of the circumstances while being as safe as possible. With that being said, one of our ultimate favorite things to do in Atlanta is to go out to eat together, and we weren’t going to let the pandemic stop our foodie adventures. After hours of research, including scouring menus, searching for pictures of restaurants’ outdoor seating, and scrutinizing Yelp reviews, we have discovered some of the best (and safest) restaurants in ATL for eating outside with friends.
Upon visiting Superica for the first time, it instantly became a new favorite for us. With locations in Avalon, Buckhead, The Battery, and Krog Street Market, Superica offers terrific Tex-Mex cuisine with all of the classics including tacos, fajitas, and enchiladas.
Superica’s guac is served with warm, flaky tostadas, but they also give each table complimentary chips and salsa that is equally delicious (especially the avocado cilantro one). My favorite dish is their signature Tacos de Barbacoa, which are brisket tacos served with avocado, onions, and cilantro. They definitely have a little kick to them, but if you can tolerate the spice, I would highly recommend them as the meat literally melts in your mouth.
The service itself is amazing, and no matter who our waiter is, we always end up chatting with them throughout our meal. In terms of the outdoor seating, we prefer the Buckhead location because the patio is nicely spaced out and relaxing. Just make sure you get on the online waitlist ahead of time in order to get a spot.
#2. Nina and Rafi
My roommate and I have been waiting to try Nina and Rafi’s famous Detroit style pies for over a year now, and we finally made it there just recently. Let me tell you, it was well worth the wait. The atmosphere of the place alone is incredible as it sits on a strip along Atlanta’s beloved BeltLine. While we waited for our table, we took a nice walk down a small section of the BeltLine and back, but it is also the perfect place for a relaxing post-meal stroll.
Once we were seated, we started off with an order of meatballs, which on the surface looked traditional, but upon cutting them open, we realized that they were stuffed with an ingredient we would never think to even bring near a meatball: raisins. However, the raisins worked surprisingly well in this spin on a classic appetizer, adding just a little bit of sweetness. We then split a Margherita in Detroit pie, pictured above. The thick crust was covered in a layer of baked parmesan cheese that gave each bite an insane crunch, and the sauce was one of the best we’ve had in Atlanta. You could really taste the freshness in each ingredient from the basil to the generous chunks of homemade mozzarella on top.
I can now say with certainty that this place is worth the hype, and their scenic outdoor seating with options for larger groups makes it even better.
#3. Seven Lamps
If you’re ever looking for a lunch or dinner break while shopping away at Lenox, Seven Lamps is the place to go. Their menu is constantly changing, and they describe their niche as “elegant comfort food” that is both fresh and locally sourced. I love their Smoked Turkey Panini, but the fries that it comes with completely steal the show. They’re sprinkled with herbs and cotija cheese and served with a side of homemade red pepper ketchup that rivals Heinz.
Seven Lamps has even expanded their outdoor seating to allow for social distancing and greater outdoor availability during COVID-19. Their long tables are perfect for larger parties, and the surrounding trees make you forget for a second that you’re in the middle of bustling Buckhead, even with all of the city buildings right in sight.
I can’t think of a better way to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon in ATL than walking around Lenox with friends and treating ourselves to a leisurely meal at Seven Lamps.
#4. Forza Storico
Everyone raves about Storico Fresco in Buckhead, but I think their sister restaurant, Forza Storico, deserves the same amount of love, if not more. While the two Italian restaurants share essentially the same menu featuring traditional Roman dishes made with fresh pasta, the atmosphere is what sets them apart. I prefer Forza Storico’s gigantic patio to Storico Fresco’s cramped street-side seating. Forza Storico’s outdoor area even has greenery in the middle, and the umbrellas and twinkling lights truly make you feel like you’re in Europe.
I absolutely adore their Squash Blossoms appetizer. The gooey blend of cheeses inside pairs perfectly with the crispy, fried exterior. For seafood lovers, the Linguini ai Gamberi is so fresh and delicious, but if you’re looking for something a little simpler, I would recommend the Chitarra Arrabiata, which is essentially spaghetti with slightly spicy marinara sauce and lots of cheese mixed in throughout.
Pro tip: When you’re done with your meal, there’s a Jeni’s right upstairs for dessert!
#5. Rumi’s Kitchen
If you’re willing to venture out of Atlanta to Avalon or Sandy Springs, Rumi’s Kitchen is well worth the trip. This authentic Persian restaurant is known for its aesthetic atmosphere, flavor-packed food, and huge portions. Seriously, you’re gonna need to share with friends.
We tried the hummus, which came with tons of herbs, feta, and olive oil. Out of all of the Mediterranean food I’ve tried in Atlanta so far, it was definitely one of the best hummuses I’ve had yet. After asking the waitress for her recommendations, we decided to split the Chicken Barg and Lamb Kabob, both of which came with a mountain of rice. Since we told her that we wanted to share the entrees, the waitress even served them family style so that we could easily try everything. Both dishes were so well-seasoned and flavorful, and even after the three of us dug in, we still had plenty of leftovers to take home.
We really appreciated the hand sanitizer and contactless QR Code menus provided on the table, and it was so peaceful sitting outside at the Avalon location with its couches and cozy vibe. Luckily, Rumi’s is opening a new location in Midtown soon – and I can’t wait until to have this Mediterranean delight even closer to Emory.
As COVID-19 concerns subside, and life starts becoming more and more normal, there is still nothing like eating a delicious meal with friends while enjoying Atlanta’s beautiful spring weather. I had a blast this semester discovering the best restaurants in ATL for eating outside with friends, and have now found some of my absolute favorite Atlanta restaurants that feature incredible food and even better outdoor seating.