By Nick Love
Sunday brunch in the Bible Belt used to be such a simple concept. It was Belgian waffles and sausage links, served around midday specifically to accommodate both the saint leaving church service and the sinner who just woke up from Saturday night’s festivities.
But since roughly 2015, Atlanta’s brunch scene is giving more “So So Def remix” (shouts to Atlanta super-producer Jermaine Dupri, former restaurateur and noted vegan), than gospel revival. It’s now a full plate and a fun party, stirred together like a perfect omelette. So, if eggs your way with a side of 808 drum machine sound patterns sounds like your type of afternoon, here are a few places where you should reserve a weekend table, ASAP.
Buford Highway is Atlanta’s avenue of dreams when it comes to international cuisine, and Continent fits right in with its Caribbean and African flavor fusions. Chef Scotley Innis (formerly of 5Church, Hell’s Kitchen Season 18) made a calculated bet that his jerk lobster over grits would make residents of Chamblee do a dutty wine (dance, not a drink) late into the evening, as Sunday brunch runs from 3 to 11:30 pm. He was right, as the restaurant has become quite a crowd favorite. If that weren’t enough, Continent’s ginger whisky smash or house punch will surely help you feel the post-brunch riddims.
2. Breakfast at Barney’s
Old Fourth Ward
It sits within walking distance of Georgia State University but Breakfast at Barney’s is far from a campus hangout. The rich green wall coloring, suede seating and marble counters make it clear that Barney’s represents a changing of the guard in terms of soundtrack and menu at a brunch establishment. For clarity, that means you might find yourself enjoying their “Soul Rolls,” stuffed with yams, collard greens, and mac and cheese, to a playlist of Babyface’s greatest R&B hits. You could just as easily opt for their indulgent pancakes topped with fruit, edible flowers, and 24-karat gold flakes while listening to auto-tuned awesomeness from ATL’s global superstar rapper Lil’ Baby over the house speakers. Either way, anytime you’re having breakfast at Barney’s, you’ll feel like part of a happy family.
The name is completely misleading – this place has one of the hottest weekend brunches in the city. Nestled in the far-left corner of an unassuming shopping plaza, Ms. Icey’s is known for pairing island fare with Southern hospitality, while some of Atlanta’s best DJs spin classic party tunes. The spacious dining gem recently reopened with a revamped menu, on which you’ll find familiar Caribbean items like escovitch fish and oxtails. But the air horns are at their loudest (figuratively speaking) when an order of jerk steak and frites make their way through the dining room to the space on the table in front of you. No matter where your Ms. Icey’s reservation ultimately lands you in the dining room, you’ll always end up in the hot seat.
This newcomer opened its doors in January 2022 and has kept its brunch boots on competition’s neckbones ever since. Each Saturday and Sunday, Parkside brings back sexy with plush leather booths, a patio full of fire pits, hookah (so no kids allowed), and a lovely staff ready to recommend standouts from the palate-pleasing menu. Try the breakfast board: It comes with pecanwood bacon, turkey sausage, biscuits, French toast, cheese grits and scrambled eggs. Chase that down with their signature “Smokey Robinson,” a reposado tequila version of an old fashioned, accented with “gun smoke.” If that doesn’t make you sing “I’ll Try Something New,” nothing will.
5. The Real Milk & Honey
On a street full of quality options, this downtown College Park café stands out by offering all-day, everyday brunch with the flair and presentation of Hamilton at The Fabulous Fox Theater. You’ve never seen shrimp this large over grits this creamy, and especially not smothered in a “Creole Cajun” sauce this flavorful. It’s enough to make you stand up at your table and applaud. That’s acceptable, as long as you sit down again soon after, if only to marvel at the lobster, egg, and cheese biscuit you ordered, which arrives stacked as tall as the Westin Peachtree Plaza. This isn’t “comfort food” – this is “close the blinds, wrap yourself in your favorite blanket, and take the best nap of your life,” food, and you deserve it.
Chef Virgil Harper’s all-day breakfast concept is still the talk of the town more than a year after opening. Perhaps it’s the delectable French toast (of both the strawberry shortcake and the bananas Foster variety) that keeps the cars taxiing in from Lenox Road. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s the strikingly Instagrammable décor that encourages patrons to fill up on watermelon frosé before posing for pics at their table, hoping some decent stranger will volunteer to snap the shot. Or, with even greater luck, it could be that one your favorite celebs pops in for a taste of Mississippi catfish. Either way, ToL is undoubtedly the place to see and be seen on a Sunday afternoon in the ATL. Just be cool — famous people like toast too.
7. Tribeca Buckhead
The vibes here are more Beyoncé than Buckhead Betty, and who said anything’s wrong with that? Outside, a line of luxury cars idle in the valet, while inside you’ll find an unrivaled singles scene, starring some of the most beautiful Atlantans indulging and engaging. When you’re here, ordering bottle service feels just as natural as building your own breakfast, and someone is just as likely to swag surf over your scrumptious seafood mac and cheese as they are to karaoke near your cornmeal-crusted catfish. That said, don’t let said vibes fool you into thinking the kitchen isn’t serious about its standards; Tribeca’s food is careful to never get lost in the shuffle of a soundtrack. And for that, we raise our bottomless mimosas in the air and wave them like we just don’t care.
Call 404-343-1708 for reservations.
Any menu that offers “A T-Bone steak, cheese eggs, and Welch’s grape” has to warm your hip-hop heart (that’s a Notorious B.I.G. reference in case it didn’t). Roc South is a call back of sorts to a golden era, where substance and style could successfully coexist in order to produce one-of-a-kind hits. It’s shrimp, lobster, or catfish over smoked gouda grits. It’s avocado toast and lamb chops, next to honey lemon-pepper wings. It’s family-friendly but still welcoming to you and your Tinder hookup from the night before. That’s Roc South in a nutshell. They manage to be the bass to the surrounding neighborhood’s treble, in a way that doesn’t sacrifice taste or soul. And that’s why the R-O-C is running this brunch shift in Brookhaven (and yes, that’s a Jay-Z reference).