Football season is officially upon us, and if you’re looking for a new place to watch your favorite Dawgs / Falcons, I’ve found it for you: Irby’s Tavern in Buckhead.
Legend has it, the spot where this new sports bar is located is where Buckhead got its start, and Irby’s Tavern does a great job paying homage to the neighborhood’s beginnings, which are actually rooted in food.
The menu of Irby’s Tavern tells this story well, but I’ll sum it up for you: Henry Irby builds a tavern and grocery store on the corner of today’s Peachtree and Paces Ferry Roads. It quickly turns into a food mecca and a hunter hangs a buck’s head in front of the tavern as a landmark. The area became known as Buckhead, and to this day, it is considered a food and beverage destination of Atlanta. And the newly opened Irby’s Tavern is no exception.
WHY GO: Because you want to watch your favorite Atlanta/Georgia team play in the company of like-minded fans, in a bar that’s dedicated to your hometown/state. Oh, and you also want healthy and delicious food.
THE VIBE: An elevated sports bar -- think large TVs everywhere, wrap-around bar in the middle, and large tables throughout, but there are also comfy couches, bookshelves and sports memorabilia to help warm up a sporty atmosphere.
|Atlanta sports memorabilia inside Irby's Tavern (c) Henri Hollis|
DRINK THIS: Do try one of the house cocktails! Irby’s Old Fashioned and The Southgate are both excellent choices. The former is made with Georgia-made bourbon and pinot noir-macerated cherries, and the latter is a floral take on gin and tonic that’s more tart than sweet.
|Left to right: The Southgate, Irby's Old Fashioned (c) Anna Lanfreschi|
EAT THIS: The food is what easily sets Irby’s Tavern apart from other sports bars. Do not expect typical bar food, where everything is fried and your tummy hurts for days afterwards.
Sure, you can still find sports bar staples on the menu, like wings and burgers, but everything is made with fresh ingredients and a delicious twist.
|Irby's Tavern wings (get them with veggies instead of fries for a healthier dinner) (c) Henri Hollis|
The sections of the menu that really shine are the appetizers, garbage bread, and entrees. They all have actually-healthy-for-you menu items that taste great. Try starting your meal with the tuna tartare or the charred octopus from the appetizers section. Unusual choices for kicking off a Dawgs game, sure, but both dishes are full of healthy fats and fiber and are incredibly satisfying.
|Tuna Tartare from the appetizers section of the menu at Irby's Tavern (c) Anna Lanfreschi|
At first glance, the garbage bread options look like the opposite of a healthy meal, but consider this: You can ask the chef to make any of the choices in this section on grilled portabella mushroom caps instead of bread, and just like that, you’re avoiding processed carbs without having to miss out on the outstanding flavor of these dishes. The last item in this section, Mike Tyson’s spinach dip, is also great if you’re lactose-intolerant/staying away from dairy, since it’s made with cashew cheese.
|Mike Tyson's Spinach Dip Garbage Bread (in the middle) (c) Anna Lanfreschi|
And now for your main course: The entrees section of the menu has so many great options to choose from! The pan seared salmon would be my go-to choice -- it is flavorful, perfectly cooked, and I could honestly eat it every day! Other great options include the shrimp and grit cake with sauteed wild mushrooms, and the fire roasted cauliflower.
|Pan roasted salmon with roasted potatoes, asparagus and Brussels sprouts and a romesco remoulade (c) Anna Lanfreschi|
|Shrimp & grit cake with sauteed wild mushrooms (c) Anna Lanfreschi|
|Fire roasted cauliflower, served with green curry, chopped cashews and pickled red onions (c) Henri Hollis|
The entire menu is highly customizable: Feel free to make an appetizer or garbage bread your main entree, or balance out your meal by ordering a salad and one of the scrumptious sides. Once again, so many choices and so many different combinations! No matter what you order, rest assured it will be delicious and you can make it as healthy as you want to.
LOGISTICS: Irby’s Tavern is located at 322 East Paces Ferry Road NE, near the intersection of East Paces Ferry and Grandview and next door to Cafe Agora. The restaurant has limited free parking available up front, but there is also plenty of paid street parking at The Shops Buckhead.
Starting Thursday, September 6, at 3 p.m., Irby’s Tavern is partnering with 680 The Fan to bring you Thursday Night Throwdown. In addition to broadcasting live from the restaurant, the Atlanta radio sports team will be giving away a variety of Atlanta sports team prizes, including tickets to a Falcons game!