The Optimist
The Optimist

The Optimist

  • Dining Style: Casual Elegant
  • Website: http://www.theoptimistrestaurant.com/
  • Phone: 4044776260x
  • Hours of Operation:

    Lunch: Monday - Friday: 11:30am - 2:30pm; Dinner: Sunday - Thursday: 5:00pm - 10:00pm, Friday - Saturday: 5:00pm - 11:00pm
  • Payment Options: AMEX,Discover,MasterCard,Visa
  • Cuisine: Seafood
  • Executive Chef: Adam Evans
  • Dress Code: Casual Dress
  • Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes
  • Additional Details: 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
  • Private Party Facilities: The Optimist has a variety of event spaces that include bar events, restaurant buy outs and semi-private dining for up to 50 guests.
  • Private Party Contact: Miranda Hudson 4043555311x12
  • Special Events: Please contact Miranda Hudson at mhudson@rocketfarmrestaurants.com for special event information.

Getting there

  • Cross Street: 8th Street
  • Parking: Private Lot
  • Parking Details: We offer valet service Thursday through Saturday evenings and self-parking in our dedicated lot the remainder of our business hours.
A word from The Optimist
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 and Adam
Continued
Foodspotting photos
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Awards voted by OpenTable diners
  • Diners' Choice WinnerSeafood
  • Diners' Choice WinnerHot Spot
  • Diners' Choice WinnerMost Booked
The Optimist reviews from OpenTable diners
518 reviews since May 5, 2014
Overall Rating4.4
  • Food4.5
    Service4.4
  • Ambiance4.3
    Noise LevelEnergetic
91% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
fit for foodies (367)special occasion (276)hot spot (254)neighborhood gem (187)vibrant bar scene (175)good for groups (149)romantic (121)great for lunch (101)notable wine list (99)great for outdoor dining (43)late-night find (42)great for brunch (32)kid-friendly (13)scenic view (8)Show More
  • Disappointing Second Visit
    OpenTable Diner Since 2005
    Dined on 8/31/2014
    I dined with family on my second visit to the Optimist, very excited to introduce the restaurant to someone new. We began at the bar with oysters and cocktails while we waited for our table, as we arrived for our reservation early. We quickly received our drinks but it took over 20 minutes to place our oyster order, with only three other parties sitting at the bar. It became even worse with our server once we were seated. He was very short, rushed us and would disappear for long periods of time. We all have off days but this was pretty terrible. The food was great but the service was such a turn-off. I am hesitant to go back with less forgiving company.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, late-night find, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Disappointed This time
    GemNoMoreVIP
    Dined on 8/31/2014
    The last three or four times, the food and service were excellent. Not sure If my expectations continue to be too high, but I felt the food was okay and our waiter was terrible. Terrible demeanor, not friendly, made customer feel like we were not welcome at all.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Excellent Service, not good value
    TwostepstevieVIP
    Dined on 8/31/2014
    The service was excellent. The Optimist had other good reviews but we were greatly disappointed. They handle gluten allergies well but the food was not to our taste, it was expensive without good value. We ordered extra items but found the food was not satisfying. Interesting decor, with putters and brightly colored golf balls and an artificial grass putting course in front.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • New menu daily
    Splurge
    Dined on 8/30/2014
    It's that fresh. The Optimist change the menu based on what seafood is flown in each day. You can tell. We shared as many dishes as possible. They were all perfect. Don't skip the oysters or the amazing crafted cocktails. Service from valet, host, barkeep to waitstaff was impeccable.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, hot spot, notable wine list, special occasion, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • True to the Reviews
    OpenTable Diner Since 2009
    Dined on 8/29/2014
    It was our first time at this restaurant and the experience was outstanding. We were celebrating my husband's bday and they made sure it was special. We had the curvy scoundrel and the shellback for drinks and they were amazing - a bit on the small size but great tasting. The octopus for starters was a very nice surprise. I had the scalllops, which were good, and my husband had the haddock which was more of a complex dish and truly delicious. The hush puppies were delectable and so were the mushrooms. Service was great - they have a wonderful staff that understands their clients needs and are very knowledgeable about the menu.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
  • Great Spot
    Trixter76
    Dined on 8/29/2014
    Food was delicious, decor and design was great as well. Would definitely recommend this to anyone interested in a night of upscale dining.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • samuelVIP
    Dined on 8/28/2014
    Excellent restaurant, great service, fresh ingredients, great value
    Special Features:
    hot spot, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Fantastic oysters
    AnowlanVIP
    Dined on 8/28/2014
    I've been eating a lot of oysters recently. The oysters at the optimist are the best in recent memory. Served in simple fashion over a bed of ice, fresh daily, and shucked to retain the salt water. Really really nice. The monkfish was amazing also.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great Restaurant!!!
    No1Foodie
    Dined on 8/28/2014
    Optimist is a great restaurant for people who love fine dining, but not dressing up to eat well. It is a casual setting, and the food is phenom!!! Unfortunately we've gotten stuck with the same waitress (who, by the way, is slow as cooking a turkey a couple of times), but because we love the food so much, we endure. Still, the atmosphere is great, the staff is pleasant, and more importantly, the food is worth every penny. We will definitely be back!!!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for lunch, hot spot, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Pickled & Peppered to Death!
    OpenTable Diner Since 2004VIP
    Dined on 8/28/2014
    I keep wanting to like this restaurant but after three visits, I doubt that I'll go back. The menu is full of side dishes that are pickled or over-spiced or vinegared (beets, bok choy), and even their lobster roll was laced with a vinegary essence so the fresh unmistakable taste of the lobster itself couldn't shine through. I also adore a good she crab soup, but the Optimist's frothy mixture is far too thin and watery to satisfy a palate longing for the warm succulence of a good crab bisque. The oyster bar is great but twice I've gotten an oyster that gave up its life long before it arrived on my platter. Not a pleasant experience. Three strikes and you're OUT, Optimist!
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Too Popular
    JLGOVIP
    Dined on 8/27/2014
    Can a restaurant be too popular? In this case, YES. The food is excellent - what little there was of it. 4 scallops for $29 and a FEW vegetables. The service was TOO attentive. They removed my bread before I ate it. What's with that? I guess everything must be removed before the next course is served - without asking? And it is so popular -- the noise level is through the roof. Couldn't hear anything without shouting.
    Special Features:
    hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Fair
    ZanneVIP
    Dined on 8/27/2014
    I like Optimist but would not order the mussels. They are expensive, tiny (size of a dime) but broth is good. I specifically asked server if they were a good size and was told that they were. Otherwise, good restaurant but expensive.
    Special Features:
    hot spot, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Great!
    ATLFo0die
    Dined on 8/27/2014
    Sea Food was excellent and creative. Good service. Will be back many times!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for lunch, great for outdoor dining, hot spot, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 8/26/2014
    The ac was on Higuaín... Of i was was siitting in the wrong area but I was cold. The bread was salty.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • jelle
    Dined on 8/26/2014
    We have found the food at the Optimist is always amazing and DELISH!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Great lunch!
    jm124
    Dined on 8/26/2014
    The lobster roll was perfect and their take on fried rice is not to be missed!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for lunch, hot spot, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great southern seafood
    Bbbbbb
    Dined on 8/25/2014
    Found the restaurant on Atlanta's top 50 list and was not disappointed. Delicious oysters, swordfish and hush puppies.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • perfect dining experience
    OpenTable Diner Since 2012
    Dined on 8/25/2014
    Went to the Optimist for our son's 25th birthday dinner! Oh my gosh - it was absolutely perfect! Amazing atmosphere! Just enough music, liveliness. We were there for 3 hours! The food was incredible - the blends of seasonings and combination of ingredients made everything we ate (all seafood) taste unbelievable. Our waitress took her time in explaining the menu and helping each of us make our meal selections to ensure that our dining experience was fulfilled. I can't say enough good things about it - made for a perfect evening!
    Special Features:
    special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • excellent...
    daiseeluvsfood
    Dined on 8/25/2014
    This was a group of coworkers. It was a team building of sorts. The atmosphere was conducive to relaxation and bonding over food and drinks. The food is excellent. The atmosphere puts the spot over the top.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem, hot spot, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great restaurant!
    Barbie
    Dined on 8/24/2014
    Our waiter, Stefano was knowledgeable regarding the menu choices and recommended a great wine to go with our entrée choices. The food is a little pricey but worth it in the end. The wait staff was helpful, friendly and professional. I wouldn't have taken children to this type of restaurant, but there were a few quiet children there with their families. Reservations were made three weeks in advance for a Sunday evening.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great food, but. . . . . . .
    OTPer
    Dined on 8/24/2014
    The entrees (whole Porgy and the scallops), kale salad, and fried rice were all excellent - memorable and outstanding. What's up with the bread, though? Piccadilly Cafeteria-style dinner rolls? Really? Why not some Frisco-style sourdough or other hard crust? Would have been more fitting and much better. Also, although we told them it was an anniversary celebration, they tried to seat us in what may have been the most unromantic spot in the restaurant. They happily allowed us to move, however. And it was one of the few restaurants that did not comp a small dessert to commemorate our anniversary. Oh well. The excellent food (other than the bread) made up for it.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Birthday event
    Intown2dine
    Dined on 8/23/2014
    Great birthday dinner for my wife...window table, great service, great food...desert with candle to top off the evening.
    Special Features:
    special occasion, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Food
    Toots05
    Dined on 8/23/2014
    The food was great, atmosphere was Great, not too fancy as far as attire
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, special occasion, late-night find, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Good times
    jackie
    Dined on 8/23/2014
    We had a pleasant dinner at the optimist. The Food was delicious and the ambience just outstanding. The portions of every course are perfectly balanced so that everybody can enjoy appetizer, entrée and dessert.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Syb
    OpenTable Diner Since 2007
    Dined on 8/22/2014
    The Optimist has everything! Great atmosphere, phenomenal food, killer cocktails. If you're in Atlanta, this is the place to go.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • The emperor has no clothes.
    Linda
    Dined on 8/22/2014
    First the good - the design of the restaurant was carefully planned and beautifully executed. The music was dynamic and the playlist should be downloadable. The cocktails and the wine list were notable. Now, the not so good - the food and service. After our hamachi amuse the food began to falter. The octopus and the fried oysters were aggressively seasoned with jalapeno - to the point that we needed a glass of milk to continue the meal. Fish came cool to the table. A friend joined us halfway through our meal and even after she managed to order an appetizer and a glass of wine it took forever to get them to the table. Once this place gets busy, it seems that service starts to crawl. Despite all the hype, this is a one and done for us.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, late-night find, hot spot, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • reservations
    OpenTable Diner Since 2010
    Dined on 8/22/2014
    Our dinner was awesome! I made our reservation via open table the day of our dinner. I requested 7:30 (crazy I know!) but was offered 5:45 or 9:45. I took 5:45. When we got there and were seated, the restaurant was very quiet and certainly not full. Not sure I would use Open Table again if I could call the restaurant directly and get the time I preferred...the website offered Open Table.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Optimist
    OpenTable Diner Since 2007
    Dined on 8/21/2014
    Be sure to bring cash for parking. Unlike other area restaurants - the valet parking has a modest $2 fee prior to tip. The raw bar has an excellent mahi dish that we would recommend for an appetizer. Once inside the main dining room, fish entree tasted fresh and was thoughtfully prepared. The tomato salad was delicious and was partially sourced from a local farm. The pre-dinner bread was out of this world. Our server attempted to rush us through our meal and showed "bad form" by picking up the check the moment that we had signed the slip; the server soured this dining experience for us. Aside from the sloppy service, we love this neighborhood gem.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Cinzia
    Dined on 8/21/2014
    I thought the seafood chowder excellent; the unrequested appetizer brought to my table less than okay (a fish dish with hot peppers); the hushpuppies outstanding; the swordfish a bit overcooked but the remaining condiments on it great. I could not find a draft beer that I wanted, such as Bass Ale or Stella Artois.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Terrific fish and cocktails
    weezy335VIP
    Dined on 8/20/2014
    Superb food, clever cocktails. Truly enjoyable dining experience without pretense or affect. Can't wait to go back.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
  • All it was billed to be
    SNOOKY
    Dined on 8/19/2014
    I was told this is "the spot" and they were right. Great place great food. Not overpriced. Will be back.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, romantic, neighborhood gem, hot spot, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Amazing Always!
    Mlt1VIP
    Dined on 8/19/2014
    This is one of our favorite restaurants in Atlanta. It was amazing and continues to surpass all expectations!
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, fit for foodies, good for groups, special occasion, late-night find, neighborhood gem, hot spot, vibrant bar scene, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Great place for biz dinner
    ATLBuckeye
    Dined on 8/19/2014
    Once again---great service (by Teddie) and great menu offering!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, special occasion, late-night find, neighborhood gem, hot spot, vibrant bar scene, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
  • Great seafood
    rtpivVIP
    Dined on 8/17/2014
    The Optimist gets a lot of buzz in Atlanta, and rightfully so. It's convenient to downtown or Midtown in an old repurposed building and Chef Ford Fry's food is exceptional. The roasted octopus appetizer was incredible, as was the selection of raw oysters. The fire-roasted fish were perfect. We didn't get up the courage to try the whole snapper, but it looked great. The only dish that we all thought could have been better was the she-crab soup. The Optimist is considered one of the top restaurants in the south, for good reason.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem, hot spot, vibrant bar scene, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • globaldine
    Dined on 8/17/2014
    From the start, the restaurant created a bad impression. The valet service was a pay upfront - which I almost never encounter - especially at any upscale establishments. The acoustics were terrible inside and it was difficult to have a conversation. The worst part was the food. The chef killed good food with spices and sauces that obliterated the taste. For instance, both the gumbo and fried oysters were rendered completely tasteless due to over spicing in the case of the gumbo and placing the oysters in an exceptionally spicy sauce. We both left the oysters in the plate. Having a house in Louisiana, I am accustomed to gumbo and other Southern dishes with spices. This was just torturing the food.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2008VIP
    Dined on 8/17/2014
    Excellent food. The oysters were incredible. Excellent service and the bluberry ice cream sandwiches for desert were outstanding.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Very good., but way over priced
    FrequentdinerVIP
    Dined on 8/17/2014
    No sides come with entre's not a steakhouse. Food is good but not exceptional to charge those prices.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion, neighborhood gem, hot spot, vibrant bar scene, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • A Gem!
    SouthernFoodies
    Dined on 8/16/2014
    The Optimist is a great find in a re-developing area of the city. With a menu that spans nearly every taste and nothing that disappointed, I would feel confident bringing business guests here as well as sharing an evening with that special someone. My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the ambiance, the service, the delicious food, and the wonderful libations that capped the night. We both agree that this is one of our best dining experiences at an Atlantan restaurant!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great food but snack beforehand
    gobose
    Dined on 8/16/2014
    Prices are higher than St Cecilia and the wait staff is many notches below Lure. Quantity is absurdly small for the price. Scallops will get you 4 of them for $29.00 without any sides. The 3" square fish filet will cost you $25+. The wait staff is laid back in a bad way. Their dress is jeans, and if they forget to bring bread out; oh well. Limited/superficial knowledge of the items on the menu. Distribute the food in wrong order, go to Lure and compare. Come dressed as nautical preppy. You know, guys without socks in loafers or hairy legged shorts, and some un-tucked shirt. The high ceiling is awesome in this old warehouse building and is impressive to enter. Great layout. Parking guys bottomed out my car on their speed bump!
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem, hot spot, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Love the Optimist
    Hungrylikeawolf
    Dined on 8/16/2014
    We have been to the Optimist several times and have not been disappointed. The entrees are always fabulous, and Mike's cocktails are delicious. The salted caramel ice cream and chocolate creme brulee dessert are phenomenal.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate