The Optimist

Row 1

Details
101 Best Restaurants in America
914 Howell Mill Rd NW (9th St NW)
Atlanta 30318
(404) 477-6260
Seafood
3
9.40
Hours: 
Mon–Thu: 11:30 AM–2:30 PM Fri: 11:30 AM–2:30 PM Sat: 5:00 PM–11:00 PM Sun: 5:00 PM–10:00 PM

Chef Ford Fry is a Houston native who graduated from the New England Culinary Institute. He has served as a fine-dining chef in Texas, Florida, California, and Colorado, but he chose Atlanta and its environs as the place to build his empire. And he’s done quite a job at that. It all started with JCT Kitchen & Bar, but the chef now has seven restaurants, and it’s The Optimist (named for a children’s dinghy), an exemplary seafood-centric spot in this landlocked city, headed by Fry along with executive chef Adam Evans, that most enchanted this year’s panelists. It’s a modern, roomy space that seats at least 180, with an impressive bar that serves a dozen different kinds of oysters, from New Brunswick Fancy Sweets to Washington Shigokus.

Standout dishes include the duck fat-poached swordfish with crispy pork belly, Florida strawberries, pickled red onion, and basil, and the beer-battered cod with crispy potatoes and malt vinegar aïoli. Of course, at this point, the basmati “fried rice” (smoked fish, curry, peanuts, cilantro, and egg) and the frothy she-crab soup with shrimp toast have become buzzed-about bellwethers. And then there’s the six-ounce, two-patty, skirt-steak-trimming burgers, ground with frozen butter and served with caramelized onions and tangy remoulade (available during lunch only).

— Arthur Bovino, 101 Best Restaurants, April 1, 2015

Map: Surroundings & Nearby
Around the Web
Foursquare Tips
Gently poached in glorious duck fat, this swordfish steak is all meaty and supple. It's surf and turf 2.0, and one of CL's 100 Dishes to eat in Atlanta before you die.
Creative Loafing Atlanta
Thursday, April 25, 2013 - 11:02
The she-crab soup is a piping hot bowl of buttery froth is packed with crabby ocean flavor. One of CL's 100 dishes, this menu item is filled with sweet and salty notes of emulsified crab roe.
Creative Loafing Atlanta
Thursday, April 25, 2013 - 05:42
Try a little bit of everything! The gumbo and white fish chowder was fresh. Loved the scallops with Oxtails and brown chicken jus. Don't skip on dessert.
Fadia
Tuesday, February 5, 2013 - 03:35
Just named best restaurant in the country by Esquire magazine. Great seafood. Cozy oyster bar. Get the garlicky tiny clams and pork belly. They even have putt-putt while you're waiting!
National Car Rental
Thursday, January 3, 2013 - 10:27
The Lobster Roll is a great light lunch. The BEST Lobster Roll I've had in the city.
Tirrell
Friday, January 11, 2013 - 07:08
Best seafood in Atlanta bar none. Soft Shell Crab is out of this world. And ::what:: the gnocchi side ::might:: be the best gnocchi I've ever had ::again, what?::
favthingsatl
Wednesday, May 30, 2012 - 17:26
Must Eat: Soft shell crab cioppino in garlicky tomato broth, potato, clams and corn.
AJC
Monday, November 4, 2013 - 03:45
The hush puppies are MORE THAN AMAZING!
Andrea
Friday, May 3, 2013 - 15:46
Make sure to check out the Whole Crispy Flounder, charred peppers, fried shallots, garlicky ginger sauce.
AJC
Wednesday, April 24, 2013 - 09:16
The hush puppies were so good I couldn't stand it. I barely see the point in living without them.
Chana
Monday, April 8, 2013 - 17:35
Ford Fry's much-hyped fish camp and oyster bar in West Midtown opened in May and has since been the recipient of praise galore. Don't forget to leave some time for miniature golf. [Eater 38 Member]
Eater
Monday, January 21, 2013 - 07:59
The corn milk hushpuppies are made beignet style and served with cane sugar butter! It's a delicious twist on a Southern classic.
Taste of Atlanta
Monday, September 2, 2013 - 12:33
A carefully curated oyster selection so fresh you'd think you lived on the water. It's no surprise the raw bar here made Creative Loafing's 100 Dishes list.
Creative Loafing Atlanta
Thursday, April 25, 2013 - 05:15
Great place and guaranteed every time you get your check you'll say.. Whoops!!
Rachel
Tuesday, July 31, 2012 - 17:38
EVERYTHING is sublime. this place, while pricey, is so worth it. take friends and enjoy.
russ
Friday, May 25, 2012 - 11:39
Try the Corn Milk Hushpuppies, Beignet Style - Omg
G
Saturday, May 19, 2012 - 08:28
Sour cream ice cream is great, get it with the brown sugar cake
Chris
Thursday, April 24, 2014 - 16:45
One of CL's 100 dishes to eat before you die, the Hot Buttered Rum includes actual butter (and rum, of course). Who puts butter in cocktails?! These guys.
Creative Loafing Atlanta
Thursday, April 25, 2013 - 05:00
Striped bass with ham and bok choy is amazing. You have to order a side of the shoestring potatoes!
Nicole
Friday, March 29, 2013 - 08:45
The east coast oysters and the shrimp a la plancha were phenomenal! Also the hush puppies beignet style are a must try! Amazing restaurant and service!
Carly
Thursday, March 28, 2013 - 19:13
If you're lucky enough, you must do in at this incredible oyster bar! Pickle point & east beach blonde oysters! And you gotta have the halibut!
Demi
Tuesday, October 14, 2014 - 17:53
Incredible seafood restaurant! Even if you're an oyster noob, the staff is very noob-friendly and gives great suggestions, so try it!! Great for lunch, gotta try the lobster roll!! Excellent flavors
Tim
Friday, March 22, 2013 - 08:32
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