About The Optimist

914 Howell Mill Rd.
Atlanta, GA 30318
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The Optimist and Oyster Bar at The Optimist is simply "The Hamptons meets The South." We are passionate about sourcing sustainable seafood and preparing it in classic ways. We're not reinventing the wheel -- just perfectly roasting "farm," fish and shellfish over Georgia hickory. Menu items range from the most authentic seafood gumbo with "pot luck" garlic bread to Maine lobster rolls, Gulf grouper with smoky spring Vidalias, and an ever changing selection of super fresh East and West coast oysters. The cool irony is that we have adapted a historic country ham aging "house" into an amazing space of comfort and escape through inspirations of coastal surf culture.

Oh... and if you are not a seafood person, we LOVE meat too! No worries, be optimistic! :) ...Ford Fry

Dining Style:
Casual Elegant

Cuisines:
Seafood

Hours of Operation:

Lunch: Monday - Friday: 11:30am - 2:30pm; Dinner: Sunday - Thursday: 5:00pm - 10:00pm, Friday - Saturday: 5:00pm - 11:00pm
The Oyster Bar opens at 3pm Saturday & Sundays

Cross Street:
8th Street

Dress Code:
Casual Dress

Price Range:
$31 to $50

Payment Options
AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa

Phone Number:
(404) 477-6260

Website:
http://www.theoptimistrestaurant.com/

Parking Details:
$3 Valet service is offered through the Brady parking garage, located on property . Additional surface street parking is available through the neighborhood, as well as additional lots in the area.

Private Party Facilities:
The Optimist has a variety of event spaces that include bar events, restaurant buy outs, private dining up to 20 guests, semi-private dining for up to 50 guests.

Private Party Contact:
Abigail Pietrobon: 404-355-5311x212

Additional:
Banquet, Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, BYO Wine, Corkage Fee, Farm to Table, Full Bar, Gluten-free Menu, Non-Smoking, Outdoor dining, Private Room, Wine

Special Events & Promotions:
Please contact Abigail Pietrobon at apietrobon@fordfry.com for special event information.

Restaurant Photos

The Optimist
The Optimist
The Optimist
The Optimist
lobster roll
Mussels
She Crab Soup
Georgia Bank Scallops
Chocolate Bread Pudding
Mahi Mahi
Oysters on the Half Shell
Peel and Eat Shrimp
Sweet Potato
Apple Cider Donuts
Rockey Road Bread Pudding
Cold Snap
Grilled Octopus With Crispy Potatoes, Chorizo, And Herbs
basmati “fried rice,” smoked fish, curry, crushed peanuts, egg
Red Snapper
Apple Cheesecake W/ Caramel And Bourbon Whipped Cream
Shrimp A La Plancha In Arbol Chili Lime Broth
Fried Oyster Salad
NC Snapper with Bok Choy and Okra
Marinated Beets with Smoked Beet Yogurt and Coriander
Gulf Grouper
Mussels in Green Curry.
Fried Clam Roll
Carrots
Black Grouper
Lobster Roll With Seafood Gumbo
Deep Fried Oysters
Fried Long Beans
Donuts, Corn Ice Cream, Red Pepper Jam
Old Salty Dog
Gulf Grouper, Roasted Beets
White Train
Fish and Chips
Salt Crusted Caramel Icecream
Basmati Fried Rice
Peach Tart With Vanilla Ice Cream
Hushpuppies
Corn Milk Hushpuppies, Beignet Style
Oyster Sampler
Halibut Fried In Duck Fat
Scallops
Angels on Horseback
The Cutty Shark
Grilled Pound Cake Sundae
Dark Chocolate Mousse
Swordfish Braised In Duckfat
Apple Buckle
Fried Soft Shell Crab
Charred Octopus
Flounder
East Coast Oysters
GA Shrimp a la plancha
Whole Flounder
Whole Ga White Shrimp A La Plancha
Warm Chocolate Cassoulet
Savannah Style Beignets
Seared Tuna With Grilled Octopus
Fried Blueberry Pie With Buttermilk Sherbet
Fish House Punch
Onset
Seared Octopus
Oyster Sampler Accompaniments.
Basmati “Fried Rice”
Butter Burger
fried oysters
Flounder with butternut squash puree
salmon, wood-roasted beets, smoked egg, horseradish, apple
Oysters
Little Gem salad
Lobster Cobb Salad
Shrimp A La Plancha
Shrimp a Plancha
Key Lime Pie
Raats Chenin Blanc Wine
corn milk hushpuppies, “beignet style,” with cane syrup butter
whole white shrimp a la plancha, “sopping” toast, arbol chile, lime
raw oysters
Frothy She-Crab Soup
Shoestring Fries
Brussel sprouts
Wood Roasted Beets
Argula Salad
Grilled Cobia
Grilled Octopus
Yeast Rolls
Blackened  Mahi Mahi Sandwich
Garlicky Tiny Clams & Pork Belly
Festive Fall Punch
Peach Cobbler
Brussle Sprouts
Charred Spanish Octopus
Birthday Drink
Blackened Grouper Sandwich
Sundae With Coconut Ice Cream
Champagne Punch
Salad Nicoise

The Optimist Ratings and Reviews

5
4
3
2
1

4.6

Overall Rating

based on recent ratings
food

4.6

service

4.5

ambience

4.5

value

4.0

noise

Moderate

92% would recommend it to a friend

Loved For

Seafood
Atlanta / Georgia
Most Booked
Atlanta / Georgia
Seafood
Atlanta
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Most Booked
Atlanta
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Fit for Foodies (185)
Special Occasion (144)
Hot Spot (102)
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Neighborhood Gem (96)
Good for Groups (87)
Vibrant Bar Scene (81)
Romantic (62)
Great for Lunch (49)
Notable Wine List (45)
Creative Cuisine (27)
Good for a Date (25)
Great for Outdoor Dining (22)
Late-night Find (21)
Modern Decor (21)
Worth the Drive (20)
Good for Birthdays (16)
People Watching (15)
Authentic (15)
Good for Anniversaries (15)
Fun (13)
Bar Seating (12)
Open Kitchen (12)
Healthy (10)
Casual (10)
Local Ingredients (10)
Handcrafted Cocktails (10)
Business Meals (8)
Great for Brunch (8)
Kid-friendly (7)
Live Music (6)
Wood Oven (6)
Scenic View (6)
Happy Hour (5)
Great Beer (4)
Gluten Free Options (4)
Pre/post Theatre (3)
Cozy (3)
Private Room (3)
Seasonal (3)
Family Style (3)
Good Vegetarian Options (2)
Molecular Gastronomy (2)
Comfort Food (2)
Outstanding Value (2)
Quiet Conversation (2)
Vegan (1)
Spicy (1)
Quick Bite (1)
Disabled Access (1)
Sunday Lunch (1)
Tasting Menu (1)
Organic (1)
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2675 reviews
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The Optimist used to he great when it fi ...

 
 (New York Area)
·Dined 4 days ago

The Optimist used to he great when it first opened, but alas the executive chef left and the place has gone down hill ever since. The second time we came there were signs of the demise, but this last week-end it was all too apparent.

Arriving at 8.20pm on a Saturday there was NO ONE sitting around the oyster bar and we were seated immediately, even though we had arrived early for our reservation.(We had hoped to nudge up to the oyster bar and enjoy the fun and a dozen before we sat down)

The larger of the two rooms in which we were seated was not full, but the volume of the music certainly was. We spent the first half hour trying to shout above the noise;something I seemed to enjoy more than my wife. We eventually moved to another table where we could get our seats a little closer together so we could talk(We had tried texting but that was foolish!!!)

Oysters were good, as was the Shrimp a la plancha, but the main course fish were both terrible. Tilefish substitute for Wahoo REAKED of fish smell, and the swordfish was mealy in consistency as if previously frozen. Both were left almost un-touched. Their vegetable side dishes were, however, delicious.

No one thought to question our lack of interest in the fish, even though they call themselves a fish camp!

So, farewell Optimist. It was great at the beginning but.................

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food2
ambience1
service3
value2

I had previously only been here for lunc ...

vip
 (Atlanta)
·Dined 4 days ago

I had previously only been here for lunch.

Had some out of town family who had read about it - so we made a reservation and the meal and experience was FABULOUS. We loved our server and all the food and drinks.

Cannot wait to go back!

Tags: Handcrafted Cocktails, Creative Cuisine, Healthy, Worth the Drive, Local Ingredients
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

Another amazing meal at the Optimist how ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined 5 days ago

Another amazing meal at the Optimist however our service could have been friendlier.

Tags: Hot Spot, Fit for Foodies, Good for a Date
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food5
ambience5
service3
value5

Great service and atmosphere. Our waiter ...

 
 (Phoenix)
·Dined 5 days ago

Great service and atmosphere. Our waiter was very knowledgeable and also provided great service. The swordfish is absolutely amazing. The rest of the food was great as well, but if there is one thing I would say to definitely try at the Optimist, it's the swordfish.

Tags: Good for Groups, Great for Outdoor Dining, Hot Spot, Business Meals
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

I always love when I get to enjoy either ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined 6 days ago

I always love when I get to enjoy either lunch or dinner at the Optimist! Service is fantastic and every dish that I have ordered has been wonderful!

Tags: Molecular Gastronomy, Fit for Foodies
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

Good bread and salad. Fantastic dessert. ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined 7 days ago

Good bread and salad. Fantastic dessert. Fish main courses just OK.

Tags: Modern Decor, Healthy
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food3
ambience3
service5
value3

Great seafood and interesting flavor com ...

 
 (Philadelphia)
·Dined 7 days ago

Great seafood and interesting flavor combinations. Fun, upbeat atmosphere. Great, very attentive service. The on tap beer list needs some good porters, stouts, and maybe a good sour or Hefeweizen - it was too focused on ipa's.

Tags: Organic, Gluten Free Options, Fit for Foodies, Good for a Date, Open Kitchen, Fun, Modern Decor, Good for Groups, Family Style, Healthy, Creative Cuisine, Worth the Drive
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food5
ambience4
service5
value5

Just a great lunch with my wife all the ...

vip
 (Atlanta)
·Dined 7 days ago

Just a great lunch with my wife all the way around. She had the fish sandwich (amberjack) and I had the lobster roll. Everything down to the bread was extraordinary.

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food5
ambience5
service5
value4

The Optimist is a great place for busine ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined 7 days ago

The Optimist is a great place for business lunch it's in a great location as well as the valet parking makes it easy to get in and out. Service has always been great, always quickly seated and the servers are very attentive and the food is great. My favorite menu item is the lobster roll and I change out the shoe string fries for wedge fries instead.

Tags: Business Meals, Good for Groups
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food5
ambience4
service5
value4

Love the food ... entrées, veges and oys ...

vip
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on September 20, 2016

Love the food ... entrées, veges and oyster menu ... and the ambiance. A bit noisy ... would like to see some 'quiet' spaces ... but great atmosphere overall.

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food5
ambience4
service4

The Optimist is probably one of, if not ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on September 17, 2016

The Optimist is probably one of, if not the, best restaurants that I have ever been to. The food was absolutely superb, but the meal was made all the more better by our outstanding waitress, who was very knowledgeable and relatable. She was able to help us navigate the amazing menu, and we were not disappointed with any of her suggestions.

Tags: Bar Seating, Good for Anniversaries, Worth the Drive, Creative Cuisine, Open Kitchen, Casual, Authentic, Outstanding Value, Neighborhood Gem, Good for Birthdays, Handcrafted Cocktails, Seasonal, Great Beer, Notable Wine List, Romantic, Fun, Great for Lunch, Healthy, Good for a Date, Local Ingredients, Cozy, Special Occasion, Fit for Foodies
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food5
ambience5
service5
value4

My wife and I had a terrific meal at The ...

vip
 (Philadelphia)
·Dined on September 17, 2016

My wife and I had a terrific meal at The Optimist when in town traveling from Philadelphia. Amazing. Our waitress (Alexis?) was great from start to finish. Helpful. No rush. All smiles. The food was imaginative and delicious. One of the better dining experiences we have had and we get out often. The manager (Darren?) came over to our table and we got into a conversation regarding the swordfish dish. Gave us some pointers on trying to make the dish ourselves. It wouldn't be nearly as good I am sure. What a job he did by giving us that kind of time on a Saturday night. My advice to the owners - lock him up. Stellar. Restaurant is first class. Don't think twice. Get here.

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food5
ambience5
service5

Great service, our waitress was very ple ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on September 17, 2016

Great service, our waitress was very pleasant and helpful. The food was absolutely delicious!

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food5
ambience5
service5

Delicious meal. Best fish and chips we h ...

vip
 (Charlotte)
·Dined on September 16, 2016

Delicious meal. Best fish and chips we have ever had and the tuna poke was also incredible. Only complaint is it is noisy. Great place! Will return again soon!

Tags: Sunday Lunch, Private Room, Great for Lunch, Family Style, Live Music, Authentic, Good for Groups, Great for Outdoor Dining, Vibrant Bar Scene
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

I have been there a few times. I go for ...

vip
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on September 16, 2016

I have been there a few times. I go for the food and the ambiance of the building, I just happened to get stuck next to some LOUD tables.

Tags: Bar Seating, Worth the Drive, People Watching, Fun
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food4
ambience3
service5
value3

The BEST lunch place in the ATL !

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on September 15, 2016

The BEST lunch place in the ATL !

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food5
ambience5
service5

The food was amazing. I was there celebr ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on September 14, 2016

The food was amazing. I was there celebrating my boyfriend birthday...

Tags: Worth the Drive, Good for Groups, Romantic, Neighborhood Gem
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food5
ambience5
service5
value4

The food was unbelievable. We started ou ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on September 14, 2016

The food was unbelievable. We started out with the grilled octopus. Then had the grouper and jambalaya for dinner. All three were amazing but please do not overlook the jambalaya. It's delicious.

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food5
ambience5
service2

The food is excellent and when asking th ...

 
 (Los Angeles)
·Dined on September 14, 2016

The food is excellent and when asking the waitress for recommendations she was right on with her suggestions

Tags: Authentic
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food5
ambience3
service5
value4

The Optimist was soooooo good!! The food ...

vip
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on September 13, 2016

The Optimist was soooooo good!! The food was excellent, as well as the service and ambiance. I would highly recommend it to anyone.

Tags: Modern Decor, Special Occasion, Fit for Foodies, Good for Groups, Creative Cuisine
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

Given the raves this restaurant has rece ...

 
 (Tallahassee)
·Dined on September 13, 2016

Given the raves this restaurant has received over the past few years, our expectations were high. We made reservations for three persons in advance, and I arrived with a gift bag in hand. Our seating hostess asked if it was a special occasion and I replied yes. She then led us to a table that was oblong, with awkward seating on three sides only and that directly faced a party of 20. As it would have been very difficult for us to talk and hear each other, I asked for a different table and we were seated at a nearby 'normal' table (there were many other tables available).

Our server was great, although there was never any mention of the birthday event we were clearly celebrating. We found the food to be average, certainly not exceptional. In addition, the meal was quite expensive; we had two appetizers, three entrees, and one dessert (along with a bottle of wine), and our bill was close to $200 without tip. Given these factors, there are other restaurants in Atlanta that we will choose from for our next 'special' meal.

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food3
ambience4
service5
value3

Fabulous Lobster Roll. Don't miss it! ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on September 13, 2016

Fabulous Lobster Roll. Don't miss it! Very Prompt Service, Highly Recommended.

Tags: Great for Lunch
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food5
ambience4
service5
value4

Loved eating here. The food was wonderfu ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on September 11, 2016

Loved eating here. The food was wonderful and the atmosphere fun and vibrant. It's a great spot for a special dinner.

Tags: Good for Anniversaries
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

Always a treat. This West Side restaura ...

vip
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on September 10, 2016

Always a treat. This West Side restaurant continues to provide first rate food and service. I highly recommend a visit, if you can get a reservation.

Tags: Notable Wine List, Gluten Free Options, Business Meals, Bar Seating, Good for Birthdays, Hot Spot
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food5
ambience5
service5
value4

Food and service was great. Ordered Gril ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on September 10, 2016

Food and service was great. Ordered Grilled octopus, oysters, and swordfish all of which were phenomenal.

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food5
ambience5
service5
value4

It was our first time and it was everyth ...

vip
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on September 9, 2016

It was our first time and it was everything I heard it was. Outstanding food, outstanding service, Beautiful restaurant. All-around perfect experience.

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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

In my opinion the best restaurant in the ...

vip
 (Miami)
·Dined on September 9, 2016

In my opinion the best restaurant in the entire city. Hits on all 3 notes ambience , great service and over the top consistent cuisine.

Tags: Worth the Drive, Vegan, Neighborhood Gem, Creative Cuisine, Molecular Gastronomy, Seasonal, Wood Oven, Modern Decor, Pre/post Theatre, Fit for Foodies, Late-night Find
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

I took my husband there for his birthday ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on September 8, 2016

I took my husband there for his birthday and wasn"t disappointed : the location was charming with a nice, romantic outdoor lighting. Classy without being pretentious. Everything on the menu seemed really fresh, original and appealing. And I'm very picky when it comes to seafood :) We shared a $50 seafood plate (oysters, clams, crab, shrimps....) that we loved - very good value, and the seafood tasted really authentic, like it came right back from the ocean to my plate. The service was discrete but very efficient, just how I like it. I will definitely go back shortly :)

Tags: Healthy, Authentic, Worth the Drive, Good for Anniversaries, Good for a Date, Fit for Foodies, Good for Birthdays
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food4
ambience4
service5
value5

Food was amazing, fish perfect and good ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on September 8, 2016

Food was amazing, fish perfect and good sized portions. Our bartender/server William made excellent suggestions and was a charming host making feel so welcome. We will definitely be back!

Tags: Special Occasion, Fun, Modern Decor, Neighborhood Gem
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

Was super salty and disappointing. I ha ...

vip
 (Los Angeles)
·Dined on September 7, 2016

Was super salty and disappointing. I have had several great experiences in the past but didn't enjoy my meal. Had the halibut and it was so cooked that it was almost chewy. And the octopus was also chewy and had a funk. Even the oysters were just okay. Bummer!

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food3
ambience3
service3
value3

This was my third time and by far the wo ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on September 6, 2016

This was my third time and by far the worst service. Please train your waiters better. the food was decent and the atmosphere was nice.

Tags: Modern Decor
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food4
ambience4
service1
value1

As always this is a treat to come and ha ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on September 5, 2016

As always this is a treat to come and have a dinner. Adam was wonderful and service was above par. We enjoyed all the various dishes. especially the lemon shrimp with the come back sauce.

Tags: Great for Outdoor Dining, Vibrant Bar Scene, Good for a Date, Casual, Romantic, Business Meals, Hot Spot, Modern Decor, Good Vegetarian Options, Fun, Neighborhood Gem, People Watching, Worth the Drive, Creative Cuisine
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

This is my 3rd time to the Optimist and ...

 
 (London)
·Dined on September 4, 2016

This is my 3rd time to the Optimist and in my opinion, an outstanding place to eat in Atlanta. The service is great and attentive, the seafood, just amazing! Will always recommend to friends and family.

Tags: Authentic, Fit for Foodies, Good for Groups, Special Occasion, Family Style, Good for Birthdays
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

Outstanding food! Great band on the pati ...

 
 (Washington DC)
·Dined on September 4, 2016

Outstanding food! Great band on the patio. Excellent beer. Love this place!!

Tags: Hot Spot, Live Music, Neighborhood Gem, Good for a Date, Vibrant Bar Scene, Great Beer, Authentic, People Watching, Romantic, Modern Decor, Special Occasion, Casual, Fit for Foodies, Creative Cuisine, Worth the Drive, Fun
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value4

All of my expectations were exceeded. Ha ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on September 3, 2016

All of my expectations were exceeded. Have heard great things and they did not disappoint. I'm hard to please when it comes to food in Atlanta but The Optimist was great. The octopus app was outstanding and the swordfish entree was great too. They also had raw clams, which are impossible to find in GA. Can't wait to go again.

Tags: Hot Spot, Special Occasion, Live Music, Good for Anniversaries, Creative Cuisine, Wood Oven, Local Ingredients, Worth the Drive, Good for a Date, Modern Decor, Good for Birthdays, Fit for Foodies
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

I have been to TheOptimist many times an ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on September 3, 2016

I have been to TheOptimist many times and it is a great place for almost any occasion. It is my Fiancé and my favorite restaurant in Atlanta! They have the best raw oysters in town!!

Tags: People Watching, Hot Spot, Vibrant Bar Scene, Special Occasion, Worth the Drive, Good for Anniversaries, Good for a Date, Fun, Private Room, Good for Groups, Romantic, Live Music, Creative Cuisine
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

I've heard nothing but good things abou ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on September 3, 2016

I've heard nothing but good things about the Optimist however I was not impressed. The service was great, the hostess were very friendly but the food was a whole different story. I was planning on having my birthday dinner here so I decided to try it out with a couple of friends, we ordered the Fish & Chips, it was too greasy and fried too long and the Gumbo was awful, it tasted like someone poured coffee grinds into the seasoning. However I would like to say the Snapper and Kale salad was excellent. The Decor is WONDERFUL and that would probably be the only reason for me to visit again and maybe try the lunch menu.

Tags: People Watching, Special Occasion, Modern Decor, Romantic, Good for a Date
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food2
ambience5
service5
value2

The only reason I didn't give an overall ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on September 3, 2016

The only reason I didn't give an overall rating of 5 was the fact that when I arrived at 4:55pm I was told the restaurant was not open and the hostess said she would let me and my husband know when our tables would be ready. About 5:15pm, the hostess told us our table was ready. As I walked in, I noticed 5 or 6 tables that already had patrons at tables. When she noticed the look on my face she replied I forgot that you were seated outside.

Not sure If I want to re-visit a restaurant who's hostess forgets that she told guests to wait until their table is ready and forgets about you.

Tags: Good for a Date
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food5
ambience5
service4
value5

My guest and I enjoyed our meals and the ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on September 3, 2016

My guest and I enjoyed our meals and the service was phenomenal. As a lesbian couple we felt our server was inviting and engaging. We dined on 9/2 @9pm and we sat on the corner close to the glass windows the looked out at Howell Mill Rd.

The only recommendation is that the She crab soup could be made with more lump crab meat. But overall it was a great culinary experience!

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food3
ambience5
service5

This is one of the best restaurants I ha ...

 
 (Atlanta)
·Dined on September 2, 2016

This is one of the best restaurants I have been to in Atlanta. Excellent seafood, great atmosphere, friendly and prompt service and a perfect place to celebrate an intimate, special occasion.

Tags: Bar Seating, Good for Birthdays
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food5
ambience4
service5
value3

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