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The Optimist
The Optimist

The Optimist Details

  • Dining Style: Casual Elegant
  • Website: http://www.theoptimistrestaurant.com
  • Phone: (404) 477-6260
  • 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 (404) 355-5311 x12
  • Special Events & Promotions: 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
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Awards voted by OpenTable diners
  • Diners' Choice WinnerSeafood
  • Diners' Choice WinnerHot Spot
  • Diners' Choice WinnerMost Booked
Diner Reviews
  • "The lobster rolls are to die for. The oysters are incredible. Desserts--good luck trying to pick one. There were 4 people with us and we sampled several. The caramel salt icecream was my number one followed by the chocolate creme brule"
    Dined on 7/29/2014
  • "We had a lovely meal here on a weeknight. Our server was extremely well-informed, with spot-on recommendations on both food and wine selections. The atmosphere was described as "casually elegant" and that was perfect. I especially noticed the table spacing was sufficient to allow some privacy even though the restaurant was full of diners. I will return soon!"
    Dined on 7/29/2014
  • "The food is excellent! My only complaint is their menu changes from time to time which is a good thing but I really wanted the spit cream ice cream dessert and it wasn't on the menu this time. Otherwise this is my absolute favorite Restarant!"
    Dined on 7/26/2014
  • "I love Ford Frye and have been here a several times before. Maybe he is growing the empire too quickly and losing focus at Optimist. It is sacrilegious for a seafood restaurant to have fishy smelling and tasting salmon sashimi. It was in the "Opportunity section." I think I took the opportunity right before it went bad! And the signature dish, Octopus (which is usually perfect at St. Cecelia) tasted mushy - either horribly overcooked or frozen too long. And my entrée Grouper was ridiculously small and also a bit overcooked. There are so many other great options in Atlanta, Optimist is off my list."
    Dined on 7/25/2014
  • "Our group of four had a delicious meal at JCT last night. It was crowded, but not too noisy, and the service was excellent. There was definitely a buzz going on; people were happy and enjoying themselves. We will return again and again."
    Dined on 7/25/2014
  • "We have just moved back to Atlanta after being in Ohio for 14 years, so we are on the prowl for good spots! This was recommended to us by family who have been numerous times. We thoroughly enjoyed our experience -- food was fresh, well prepared, and delicious. Our server (Nikki) was a gem - friendly and efficient. It is somewhat pricey as most things are "a la carte." But, we will be back for a special occasion. You must have the oyster appetizer and the peach dessert. I told Nikki next time I come, I just want two desserts for my dinner"
    Dined on 7/25/2014
  • "We had a great time at the restaurant, food is just outstanding and our waiter.... just spectacular. The way he described food.. my God!!"
    Dined on 7/25/2014
  • "If you don't mind dropping a buck fifity or more on a great dining experience once in a while you'll enjoy The Optimist. It's a bit pricey but so are all the Atlanta hot spots. Great atmosphere, great bar, great scene overall. A nice change."
    Dined on 7/24/2014
  • "$12 dollars for a cocktail that you can't taste the alcohol, oysters are good though."
    Dined on 7/22/2014
  • "Don't drive your nice car to this restaurant. This restaurant is in a sketchy neighborhood. Ok, we can deal with that, except....When I arrived at The Optimist, I noticed the valet was parking cars on one of the side streets around the corner in an unsupervised area. Concerned my car would be broken into or stolen, I asked if they could park my car in the lot adjacent to the restaurant. they refused...there were older model cars and a beat-up pick-up parked in the lot. I asked whose cars they were, and he said they belonged to "people who work there." I left."
    Dined on 7/22/2014
  • "I took my wife there for our 7th Wedding Anniversary and it was a first for both of us. We loved everything about it!! Had some of the best seafood and a must try....hushpuppies!! My wife also tried the Gumbo...awesome!! Scallops...awesome!! Grouper..awesome!! They even had a putt-putt golf course outside. I saw more adults playing than kids. Everything was great!! I will be returning!!"
    Dined on 7/21/2014
  • "Food is outstanding (albeit pricey). Service was slow - over 2 hours for a party of 2 people. Near the end, we were really ready to wrap things up. Overall, not bad."
    Dined on 7/20/2014
  • "Great, beautifully presented food but the noise level was brutal. All but impossible to converse. And this was early on Sunday."
    Dined on 7/20/2014
  • "I'm a vegetarian. The vegetarian selections were very limited, basically a few vegetables and a salad. The vegetable choices were poor. The arugula salad was so vinegary that I couldn't eat it. In short, my personal experience was awful. My prior experiences at the Optimist have been good. The other two members of our party (seafood eaters) had a good experience with their meals."
    Dined on 7/19/2014
  • "The Optimist was an okay dinning experince. I would not go back by choice unless someone invited me. The food was ok, but not work the price. I dine at four to five star resturants on a normal basis and this one just did not cut the mustard for me. The Blacken Hailbut was dry, the fried egg and peanut rice was slim to none for me, but my guess had plenty. The best thing to me were the dinner rolls. I would spend my $200.00 at the Palms, Captial Grille, Ocean Prime etc...but not at the Optimist. Not to mention, Valet got my car dirty, they tracked mud on my carpet and park my 750 Li BMW in the mud. I know that where is bad, but you don't have pave parking. I was not happy at all! Had just detail the car on Tuesday. Waited to get car"
    Dined on 7/19/2014
  • "LOVED IT! Food was way better than I expected. Oysters were fresh and wonderful, drinks creative, octopus was cooked tender and seasoned perfectly, halibut was cooked tender and juicy, lobster roll was as good as the best I've had in Maine, corn doughnuts were to DIE for......seriously have not had a meal this good in years. Service was great at the bar and once we got to the table. Only negative was the chairs were not comfortable but it won't keep us from going back soon."
    Dined on 7/19/2014
  • "Everything was awesome! We loved the atmosphere. The shrimp appetizer, peach cobbler dessert, and hush puppies were our favorites! And our server AJ was wonderful!"
    Dined on 7/18/2014
  • "Awesome food and dining experience, as good if not better than the last time."
    Dined on 7/18/2014
  • "Ford Fry was smart to hire Adam Evans as Chef. He commands the freshest of fish & ingredients -- he clearly knows what he is doing. Alas, this is NOT the case when it came to reception. We were sat & then told to vacate our table just as we were ordering drinks! Thankfully the Manager Christopher Blackburn saved the day. What a lovely fellow. This place is loud but the food is on par with NYC and SF. If you can deal with the none-too-knowledgable hostesses -- I encourage you to give it a try."
    Dined on 7/18/2014
  • "Not only was the food scrumptious, I was extremely impressed by the level of knowledge our server had about the menu. His service was outstanding!"
    Dined on 7/17/2014
  • "Took my boyfriend there to celebrate his birthday. The staff did a great keeping the birthday piece a surprise until the end with the candle."
    Dined on 7/17/2014
  • "Very lively spot. Great bar, and bartenders... creative rotating cocktail menu. Grilled octopus was amazing, and the hush puppies are a must try."
    Dined on 7/17/2014
  • "we brought some guests from out of town here and they loved it! The food is great - not too fussy - the ambience is awesome! our server was super nice and not overbearing. We had salads and the lobster poorboy. And of course, for dessert we had the hushpuppies which in my book are awesome for a dessert!"
    Dined on 7/17/2014
  • "Beautiful restaurant space located in the redeveloped west side of downtown. My girlfriend and I went for lunch and absolutely loved it. The mussels are to die for and the portion was huge. We tried the east coast and west coast oysters of the day and we're really impressed with the freshness and quality, not to mention the house-made saltine crackers, hot sauce, and cocktail. We split a lobster roll and salad for an entree, and with 1.25 pound lobster on a very authentic New England style hotdog bun, it was a must have! I would highly recommend this place for any occasion! Definitely my new favorite spot when traveling to Atlanta."
    Dined on 7/16/2014
  • "I had heard a lot about The Optimist and thought we'd give it a try for my birthday dinner. We had to ask for iced tea for my wife several times before they brought it to her. My shrimp appetizer was overcooked and the shells would not separate from the meat and had to be sent back. Our daughter ordered from the "Opportunities" menu and when her raw flounder arrived it also had to be sent back - nothing on the menu stated that it was served raw. My wife ordered the She-Crab soup and later became ill. In my opinion, this is a restaurant that tries too hard. It's obviously very trendy, but that doesn't always equate to a great dining experience."
    Dined on 7/15/2014
  • "The staff was friendly! Management even came by to check on us! The food was also incredible!"
    Dined on 7/15/2014
  • "We have been dining at the Optimist since the beginning…It still thrills! The lobster roll is a must have during lunch. Service always hits the mark. Dessert was a wonderful deconstructed fried peach pie with white pepper ice cream. Such a great meal, worth every calorie!"
    Dined on 7/14/2014
  • "In Atlanta on business and kept hearing this restaurant pop up when locals were talking about a great restaurant so I made last minute reservations. Really didn't know what to expect other than a great meal but I knew when I walked in the door it was going to be a treat. The octopus appetizer was recommended along with the fish and chips, and neither disappointed! Great service and fun upscale casual atmosphere. Will definitely will return on my next trip to Atlanta."
    Dined on 7/13/2014
  • "The food was good. I was expecting the food to be a little better because the restaurant has received great publicity. I would recommend you try it."
    Dined on 7/12/2014
  • "The oysters were fresh; I've grown up on Appalachicola oysters, so getting to try different varieties from Canada was a new experience and one I look forward to repeating. Staff was very knowledgeable and friendly, grouper and redfish entrees cooked perfectly. Wonderful time for anniversary dinner."
    Dined on 7/12/2014
  • "I went with 4 friends during the Atlanta Gift Show. We had drinks which were very good. We had the spicy octopus which was outstanding. We ordered 4 entrees and 5 side dishes for dinner and everyone was happy except for one person who had the monk fish. I was happy with the taste of my halibut and sides but I thought the value for money fell short. The Optimist is expensive and I felt like the portions were small. Desert was good. I don't plan to go back there soon. I might go there if part of a party but doubt that I would organize another expedition to the Optimist. I must say that the service was excellent!"
    Dined on 7/12/2014
  • "This restaurant has been one of my absolute favorites since I discovered it a couple of years ago. It got really crazy for awhile and hard to get into (or just not worth the hassle), but it seems to have leveled out into just being busy (but not impossible to get a table). I was really glad to see that the food is just as good as it was when they first opened. Too often in Atlanta, a restaurant gets hot, and the chefs/owners start opening other restaurants and the quality slips. But despite having King + Duke and all the rest of the Ford Frye restaurants, the Optimist is still amazing. Every dish we had was prepared perfectly, and they haven't lost their ability to create some incredibly nuanced flavor in their cooking. Yum!"
    Dined on 7/11/2014
  • "This was a disappointment. The service was poor, unhelpful, and we were rushed. Not impressive at all. The food is OK. The wine list is bad. It is too loud and has no atmosphere"
    Dined on 7/11/2014
  • "With a menu that changes daily depending on what is in season, the Optimist provides fresh tasting, creative food in a fun, casual setting. The swordfish paired with pork belly, the "opportunities" (small appetizers for one), and the hush puppy "beignets" stood out. Save time for the three holes of mini golf and to hear the excellent live music. Service was comfortable, with the server well acquainted with the menu, and the wine list had a nice variety, both by the bottle and the glass."
    Dined on 7/11/2014
  • "This is another great Ford Fry restaurant. The food was amazing. We started with the tomatoes. They were rich, acidic, and sweet. The plate was well balanced. The wine list is well conceived and carries an array of different varietals. I had the gumbo as my second course. I'm from New Orleans and love a good gumbo. The gumbo was chock full of prime ingredients with a kick of heat. The main courses were fantastic. My wife had the scallops and said they were the best she had ever had. Our waitress was very helpful and had a great personality. All the staff was quite pleasant. I will definitely come back."
    Dined on 7/11/2014
  • "The Optimist is by far the best dining spot I have experienced in a long time! The restaurant is the epitome of "coolness" with outstanding food. Great spot for a special date. Loved the decor and the unexpected details, especially the take-away nostalgic orange hotel keys and the putting course outside. Will recommend to all my friends traveling to Atlanta."
    Dined on 7/10/2014
  • "Food was amazing. Took a long time---too long to come out. Same as our last visit."
    Dined on 7/9/2014
  • "We selected a bottle of wine which the waiter recommended, and they were out of it. Appetizers arrived in a timely manner and were quite good. We(party of only 3, with no unusual requests) then waited 1 hour + for our entrees At first our waiter stopped by a few times to advise that our food would be there shortly. Later he began walking around the perimeter of the restaurant to avoid our table. In truth it was not his fault as we could view from afar his obvious frustration with the kitchen. The next table was seated and served wrong entrees which were replaced with the correct entrees, all while we were waiting. When the food finally arrived, two of the entrees were inedible. Monkfish dish was predominantly a huge, disgusting bone. Awful!"
    Dined on 7/9/2014
  • "This was our first visit to The Optimist and will not be our last. We chose this restaurant to try the chilled oysters which were excellent, but also especially enjoyed the snapper and scallop entrées. The fried peach pie was unexpectedly delicate and tasty."
    Dined on 7/8/2014
  • "My boyfriend and I had lunch here and were excited to try the oysters. Although their full oyster bar is only available for dinner, we were able to try two different types of oysters ("East Coast" and "West Coast") and really enjoyed them. The food was also great- I had the lobster roll and enjoyed it as always."
    Dined on 7/8/2014