My Town: Greg Best’s Atlanta, GA

The renowned bartender plays tour guide in his home city

One of this year’s Made in the South Awards judges, Greg Best moved from Las Vegas to Atlanta in 2002 to help open a Georgia outpost of the Emeril Lagasse Delmonico Steakhouse empire. The restaurant ultimately failed, but Best, who went on to open Holeman & Finch Public House, found a home in Atlanta. “I couldn’t help but feel like this entire city was fixing to pop,” Best says. “Everything seemed like an opportunity.” And after six years at Holeman & Finch, where he helped define the city’s current cocktail culture, Best and his business partner Regan Smith are set to open Ticonderoga Club at Atlanta’s Krog Street Market. Considering his career, it’s no surprise that Best’s perfect day includes plenty of eating and drinking. (Sounds like a good day to us.)

Bartender Greg Best.

9:00 a.m.
Work up an Appetite: “For me, a perfect day in Atlanta starts with a run on the BeltLine. I live just outside Inman Park, where there’s so much development right now—it’s just blowing up. I’ll take the BeltLine from there down to Piedmont Park.”

Photo: ©2015 James Duckworth/

Piedmont Park.

10:30 a.m.
Dig In: “I’ll refuel at Ria’s Bluebird. It’s this little diner down on Memorial Drive with really fantastic buttermilk pancakes.”

Photo: Courtesy of Ria's Bluebird

Exterior of Ria’s Bluebird.

12:00 p.m.
Shop Around: “Then I’ll head over to the Westside for some shopping. I like to do my normal loop at Billy Reid and Sid Mashburn over at Westside Provisions District.”

1:30 p.m.
Refuel: “For lunch, I like to go to the Optimist. It’s also on the Westside down on Howell Mill Road—part of Ford Fry’s empire. The Optimist is his take on the beach town seafood shack. The chef here, Adam Evans, is a good friend, and the food is just incredible. Typically, I start with cup seafood gumbo followed by the shrimp burger.”

The dining room at the Optimist. (Photo courtesy of the Optimist)

3:30 p.m.
Treat Yourself: “By the time I get done with lunch, there’s only a small window before traffic gets crazy, so I hightail it to the Eastside, making a quick stop at the Grant Park Octane Coffee for a late afternoon macchiato. I like the Grant Park location because I can also get dessert from the Little Tart Bakeshop. Sarah O’Brien’s pastries are mind blowingly ridiculous. Any of her stuff is good, but the chocolate croissant is my favorite for late afternoon.”

Photo: Courtesy of Little Tart Bakeshop

Pastries at Little Tart Bakeshop.

We also have this amazing new civil rights museum in Atlanta. So if the traffic downtown gets bad early I’ll sideline myself here for a while.

Photo: Courtesy of the National Center for Human and Civil Rights

National Center for Civil and Human Rights

5:00 p.m.
Hop a Ride: “Afterwards I’ll slide into Decatur. The thing about Decatur is it’s a straight shot on MARTA from the Inman Park station near my house, which means I can drop my car at home for the night.”

“Once there, if I have time to shop, I might pop into a few boutiques. But usually by the time I get to Decatur its already happy hour. I’ll sit and have a glass of wine or sherry at Cakes & Ale’s café side. It has a cool window for people watching and a great wine shop.”

6:30 p.m.
Sip and Snack: “Then I’ll walk about two blocks away to Kimball House. If I time it right I can get in when they are doing their official happy hour. They have an amazing oyster program and the oysters are drastically reduced in price during happy hour. They have a great absinthe program too, but at this time of day it’s a dangerous thing to indulge in.”

Photo: Photo courtesy of the Kimball House

Oysters at Kimball House.

8:00 p.m.
Snag a Table: “More often than not, I will evolve into dinner here. A ton of people I know live in that area, so I’ll usually run into friends.”

10:00 p.m.
Have a Night Cap: “After dinner, walk a block over to Victory Sandwich Bar. Try the Jack and Coke slushies. They also do these miniature sandwiches for $4 bucks a pop.”

12:00 a.m.
Relocate for Late Night: “There’s a dangerous addendum if someone from out of town is visiting. I’ll have to bring them to the Clermont Lounge. Don’t really know how to describe this place. It’s this grungy dive bar, where you’ll find every single walk of life. And if they’re not doing live music the jukebox is great. Oh, it’s also a strip club, though somehow you kind of forget that.”