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.

Executive Chef:
Wesley True

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/Private Rooms, Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, Farm to Table, Full Bar, Gluten-free Menu, Non-Smoking Restaurant, Patio/Outdoor Dining, Personal wines welcome, Personal wines welcome (corkage fee applies), 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
Peel and Eat Shrimp
Mahi Mahi
Oysters on the Half Shell
Chocolate Bread Pudding
Apple Cider Donuts
Sweet Potato
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
Duck Fat Poached Swordfish
Gulf Grouper
Mussels in Green Curry.
Fried Clam Roll
Black Grouper
Carrots
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
The Cutty Shark
Angels on Horseback
Grilled Pound Cake Sundae
Swordfish Braised In Duckfat
Dark Chocolate Mousse
Apple Buckle
Fried Soft Shell Crab
Charred Octopus
Flounder
East Coast Oysters
GA Shrimp a la plancha
Whole Flounder
Savannah Style Beignets
Whole Ga White Shrimp A La Plancha
Warm Chocolate Cassoulet
Seared Tuna With Grilled Octopus
Fried Blueberry Pie With Buttermilk Sherbet
Fish House Punch
Seared Octopus
Onset
Oyster Sampler Accompaniments.
Basmati “Fried Rice”
Butter Burger
fried oysters
salmon, wood-roasted beets, smoked egg, horseradish, apple
Flounder with butternut squash puree
Oysters
Little Gem salad
Lobster Cobb Salad
Shrimp A La Plancha
Raats Chenin Blanc Wine
Key Lime Pie
Shrimp a Plancha
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
Argula Salad
Wood Roasted Beets
Brussel sprouts
Shoestring Fries
Yeast Rolls
Grilled Octopus
Grilled Cobia
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

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

noise

Moderate

95% 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 (240)
special occasion (186)
hot spot (151)
See All
good for groups (132)
neighborhood gem (118)
romantic (97)
vibrant bar scene (86)
notable wine list (62)
great for lunch (56)
great for outdoor dining (35)
late-night find (22)
great for brunch (13)
scenic view (12)
kid-friendly (9)
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Newest
2535 reviews
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food5
ambience5
service5
value4

The food was everything and more than we ...

Dined a day ago

The food was everything and more than we could've ever hoped. My husband and I started with the Shrimp a la plancha and boy did the description fit it to a tee..."messy, but worth it." The shrimp were delicious but the bread underneath soaked in the spicy sauce might've been the best part. My husband ordered the duck fat poached swordfish and needless to say he left nothing on the plate. He was nice enough to share some of the pork belly and oh my goodness, it melted in your mouth and finished with the most familiar and scrumptious bacony, pork flavor. I ordered the New York Strip, which was as melt in your mouth good as the pork belly. All of our food was divine and the service was top-notch as well.

food5
ambience5
service1
value5

This was my first time dining at The Opt ...

Dined 4 days ago

This was my first time dining at The Optimist, the ambiance was great, the food was great, but our service was very lackluster. When we first sat down a young lady came by and provided the drinks and took our orders while giving great input about the menu. She said our waiter Kyle would be right with us. So Kyle finally makes an appearance refills our water but does not speak. Then he provides us with bread, still no dialogue. We observed him as he waited on other tables and he was very chatty and attentive. Finally after our food arrives he asks how it was....ok. Food was great, service not so much.

Tags: kid-friendly, fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

We attended a Women's Leadership confere ...

Dined 5 days ago

We attended a Women's Leadership conference in Atlanta this week. We had dinner at The Optimist on the first night in town. Our waiter Craig recommended several selections from the extraordinary Oyster Bar, the Cornmeal Crusted Snapper, and a wonderful Sauvignon Blanc for dinner. Looking back on this trip, dinner at The Optimist will be one of our favorite memories.

Tags: fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, hot spot
food5
ambience5
service4
value5

I have been to the Optimist many times a ...

Dined 6 days ago

I have been to the Optimist many times and would recommend it to anyone looking for great service , delicious food and a great atmosphere. My last visit was very special since my boyfriend asked me to marry him at the restaurant!!

Tags: good for groups, romantic, special occasion, hot spot
food4
ambience5
service5
value4

We loved our experience at The Optimist. ...

Dined 7 days ago

We loved our experience at The Optimist. Great food and even better service. Craig was our server and made great recommendations! Top notch night.

Tags: kid-friendly, fit for foodies, special occasion, hot spot, vibrant bar scene, notable wine list
food5
ambience3
service5
value3

Delicious, as always! The menu was well ...

Dined on June 24, 2016

Delicious, as always! The menu was well thought out and servings were generous. My husband and I were able to find several menu items that appealed to us and we tried them all. We also tried three cocktails - one of which has become a favorite! Just perfect.

Tags: fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion, hot spot
food5
ambience5
service5
value4

Went there to celebrate a friend's birth ...

Dined on June 22, 2016

Went there to celebrate a friend's birthday and had a great time. It was the first time for both of us. Service, food and atmosphere were all wonderful!

Tags: fit for foodies, good for groups, special occasion, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene, notable wine list
food4
ambience3
service4
value2

Food is good. It is a foodie kind of re ...

Dined on June 21, 2016

Food is good. It is a foodie kind of restaurant. It's a little pricy.

Tags: fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining
food5
ambience5
service5

The mussels and half chicken were absolu ...

Dined on June 21, 2016

The mussels and half chicken were absolutely phenomenal!

food4
ambience5
service5

My boyfriend and I visited the optimist ...

Dined on June 20, 2016

My boyfriend and I visited the optimist for our first anniversary. It was an incredible experience with a casual atmosphere, knowledgeable wait staff, and outstanding seafood! We can't wait to go back!

food1
ambience4
service4
value2

Two persons had dinner and the tab was a ...

Dined on June 20, 2016

Two persons had dinner and the tab was almost $200.00! One appetizer and one entree with a glass of wine! The food was not good. Fish was too seasoned and mussels had a taste of bacon...do not want mussels to taste like bacon! One small dessert and it was hard as a rock... could not really eat it! This was a birthday celebration and the restaurant knew this!

food3
ambience4
service5
value3

I ordered the salmon, it wasn't cooked t ...

Dined on June 18, 2016

I ordered the salmon, it wasn't cooked to my liking and once I notified our waiter he had no problem taking it back and having them cook me another piece. He also notified the manager and the manager came to me and acknowledged it. They brought another order cooked to perfection! Also as we were leaving, a two man band was outside performing. We chose to order another cocktail outside and listen to the band. We thoroughly enjoyed!

Tags: great for outdoor dining, romantic, special occasion
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

Our party of four had not previously din ...

vip
Dined on June 18, 2016

Our party of four had not previously dined at The Optimist. Among the group we had three different entrees and two different sides, and everything was outstanding.

Tags: fit for foodies, special occasion, neighborhood gem
food4
ambience3
service4

It was difficult to enjoy the meal becau ...

Dined on June 18, 2016

It was difficult to enjoy the meal because it was so cold in the restaurant. I can't imagine staying and enjoying drinks or dessert. Disappointing.

food3
ambience4
service2
value3

The service was indifferent and people s ...

Dined on June 16, 2016

The service was indifferent and people seemed bored with their jobs. I was expecting a special occasion vibe but it did not deliver. The food was good but at that price, it just met expectations. I will not be in a rush to go back. A big letdown from my previous visits.

food5
ambience5
service5
value4

I've been here before when in AtL; just ...

Dined on June 15, 2016

I've been here before when in AtL; just a great location. The food selection and quality is outstanding and the service is equally fine. The staff appears genuinely committed to providing a great experience.

Tags: fit for foodies, good for groups, special occasion, neighborhood gem
food5
ambience5
service5

Nice place to meet folks for dinner. O ...

Dined on June 15, 2016

Nice place to meet folks for dinner. One of my favorites.

food5
ambience5
service5
value4

Excellent meal and this was our first vi ...

Dined on June 13, 2016

Excellent meal and this was our first visit (but won't be the last). We had the mahi-mahi and the salmon and both were prepared perfectly.

Tags: fit for foodies, good for groups, special occasion, neighborhood gem
food5
ambience3
service5
value4

Oysters and Jambalaya were superb. Great ...

Dined on June 13, 2016

Oysters and Jambalaya were superb. Great dinner and highly recommend to anyone

Tags: fit for foodies, great for lunch
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

My boyfriend and I really enjoyed our di ...

Dined on June 12, 2016

My boyfriend and I really enjoyed our dinner at The Optimist! He took me out for my birthday and it was a great experience. He had the Shrimp a la Plancha and I had jambalaya. Both were delicious and filling. Our server, Craig, was great and attentive to our needs. Also, try the Cloudy Daun!

Tags: fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, special occasion, late-night find, neighborhood gem, hot spot
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

The optimist served me the best meal I'v ...

Dined on June 11, 2016

The optimist served me the best meal I've eaten since my 3 years living in Atlanta. From oysters, to apps, to cocktails, to the entrees, to dessert, everything was a 10!

Tags: fit for foodies, special occasion, hot spot
food5
ambience5
service5

My son and i had dinner before a concert ...

Dined on June 11, 2016

My son and i had dinner before a concert. It was our first time dining here. The food was excellent, the service was great. We will definitely return. It would be nice if valet parking was free.

food5
ambience5
service5

Excellent place to eat. Atmosphere is sp ...

Dined on June 11, 2016

Excellent place to eat. Atmosphere is spot on and the food is top notch. The Swordfish is excellent and the fried rice was like seeing the hand of God...

food4
ambience4
service5
value3

Went there for anniversary with the bride.

Dined on June 9, 2016

Sat at the bar and soooo glad we decided to do so. James was very attentive, helped us navigate the menu and showed us his great skill with a signature cocktail. Highly recommended.

Tags: fit for foodies, special occasion, vibrant bar scene
food5
ambience5
service5

Great seafood and energetic ambiance. T ...

vip
Dined on June 8, 2016

Great seafood and energetic ambiance. The by-the-glass wine list (especially whites) is remarkable.

food4
ambience4
service3

If you have a lot of money - go to Optim ...

vip
Dined on June 8, 2016

If you have a lot of money - go to Optimist. Great restaurant - delicious food with average service. But, very expensive. If you have the dough - GO!

food5
ambience5
service5

The Optimist is the go to date spot for ...

Dined on June 7, 2016

The Optimist is the go to date spot for my wife and I. The food is great and so is the service. They just added a ridiculously good jambalaya to the menu and a strawberry ice box pie that has to have been sprinkled with unicorn dust! You can't go wrong with any of Ford Fry's joints!

food4
ambience3
service4
value3

Hip Spot

vip
Dined on June 6, 2016

The Optimist, with its seafood bar offers a great selection. I especially like the card they bring to the table that has a selection of raw oysters to choose from. The food is nicely presented, although the fish has been too overcooked and dry every time I have gotten it...three times, now.

Tags: good for groups, hot spot, vibrant bar scene
food4
ambience3
service2
value2

Overrated

Dined on June 6, 2016

To start it off with a positive note, the oysters are some of the freshest in Atlanta, I would go back for just raw oysters. The craft cocktails are great and the appetizers are delicious. If I ever go back, I'll stick to the apps, our main courses were very disappointing. My mom had the fish and chips, she said there was a lot of thick, doughy breading, she barely touched it. I ordered the mahi mahi with lemon and olive oil for $26, and it was just a piece of fish, absolutely nothing came with it, you have to pay for your side! Waaaaayyyy over priced. So we ordered some appetizers and a main course for just 2 people and it took 3 hrs on a Monday night! If I ever do go back, I'll stick with the oysters, they were fantastic.

Tags: fit for foodies, special occasion
food5
ambience5
service5
value4

Seafood Gem

Dined on June 4, 2016

Amazing quality and presentation. Chargrilled octopus as a starter was a big hit. The Mahi Mahi main was one of the freshest I have ever had. We will be back as this place is alive with sight, sound and quality. The aroma of the wood-fired oven just adds to the experience. Do yourself a favor and plan an evening with your significant other.

Tags: fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, late-night find, hot spot
food4
ambience4
service3
value2

Enjoyed the experience

vip
Dined on June 3, 2016

Tried the Optimist for the first time this past weekend. The dining area is large but despite the full-house the noise level was manageable for a conversation. Server was professional and friendly. The oyster selection was very good albeit a bit high on the prices. Whole haddock entree was excellent. Swordfish was slightly overcooked. Refills on cocktails and wine took too long to be delivered. This is a common problem for restaurants that do not have a separate service bar for the waiters to use for the guests seated at tables.

Tags: special occasion, neighborhood gem, hot spot, vibrant bar scene
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

5th anniversary

Dined on June 3, 2016

Food was delicious, service was spot on, atmosphere was fun, and they even remembered it was our anniversary and did a little something extra. Great experience.

Tags: fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, special occasion, vibrant bar scene
food5
ambience4
service5
value4

Great food, outdoor atmosphere & live music.

Dined on June 3, 2016

I had the scallops. Seared to perfection & presentation was beautiful.

Tags: fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, special occasion, late-night find, scenic view, notable wine list
food4
ambience5
service4

Nice atmosphere

Dined on June 3, 2016

Nice atmosphere

food5
ambience5
service5
value5

Enjoyable experience

Dined on June 2, 2016

I researched and found The Optimist on Yelp after searching for nice restaurants near the Four Seasons where my dining companion was staying. We were both very impressed with the ambiance, the friendly and knowledgeable staff, and the excellent meal. I don't eat oysters, but my dinner companion was likewise very happy with the selections recommended by the staff.

Tags: great for brunch, fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, special occasion, great for lunch, neighborhood gem, hot spot
food5
ambience5
service2
value4

Mediocre Service

vip
Dined on June 1, 2016

Everything was great except for the service, making the experience less enjoyable. The server was neither attentive nor friendly. She must be new or needs to receive more training. She was not familiar with the oyster menu. We asked for our beer at the time of the oyster tray, but the beer was delivered way before. Before we could finish our beer, she took away our beer glasses. We had to ask some dinner rolls, when we saw the next table had bread. When we were done with our dinner, another server had to take our dishes away. We had to ask for water refill, and then dessert menu. She did not utter a word to offer a dessert recommendation. Disappointed with the interaction.

Tags: fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem, hot spot
food2
ambience5
service4

Not the best mussels, but otherwise, ver ...

Dined on May 30, 2016

Not the best mussels, but otherwise, very nice.

food4
ambience4
service3
value4

Very good food, slow service

Dined on May 30, 2016

The salmon, scallops and steak that our table ordered were well-executed and delicious. One member in our party ordered halibut only to be told several minutes later that the kitchen had run out. The kitchen was accommodating by removing meat items from a couple of seafood dishes. While our server was friendly and helpful, the wait between courses was too long.

Tags: fit for foodies, good for groups, special occasion, hot spot
food2
ambience5
service3
value3

Still a fan.

Dined on May 29, 2016

The Optimist is my self-proclaimed favorite restaurant in the neighborhood. Kenya (hostess) was courteous and accommodating when my guest pushed back his time of arrival. She went so far as to adjust our reservation while still allowing us a choice of seating options. No, it wasn't busy, but it was a thoughtful gesture. Our server, while courteous, was borderline robotic - not something I'm used to at this restaurant. No suggested favorites (for my guest on his first visit), no highlight of any menu changes or additions, and no question on what our preferences may have been for the evening (be it seafood, veggies, or other proteins). Consistently good cocktails (our server did agree to replace my first bad choice). Both fish entrees were overcooked. I knifed through my almond fish; but the mahi-mahi had to be sent back (which was done without a question or hesitation by one of the managers.)

Tags: neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene
food4
ambience5
service2
value4

Anniversary Dinner

Dined on May 29, 2016

We went here for our anniversary celebration. My husband had 3 different kinds of oysters on the half shell which he enjoyed very much. I had the Kale Salad that had a punch of crushed red pepper. Although I would not order that again, I did enjoy trying it. For a starter though, the portion was a bit too much for me. My husband and I both had the Whole New England Haddock. It was presented beautifully and was excellent! Our server was adequate but a bit aloof and not friendly. Although we may not rush back, The Optimist is definitely worth trying.

Tags: fit for foodies, hot spot

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