James.qxp May June 2019 web - Page 20



Shillings is a great place to get a pulse
of what’s going on in the community.
— Attorney Rose Wing —
Roy Barnes to new GBI Director Vic Reynolds—
Reardon retains his love of the restaurant industry
and its connection to all kinds of different people.
“It is a friendly place. The food is very good
with excellent service,” sums up former Attorney
General and longtime Cobb Countian Sam Olens.
For anyone paying attention to politics these days, nding common ground between the two parties
seems nearly impossible. If Democrats say the sky is blue, Republicans will nd shades of green.
Republicans say water is wet, Democrats beg to differ. At the bottom of it all though, people are people.
That means food. And beer. Or wine. Everyone can agree on that. Just maybe not on where to get it.
For several years James has partnered with the Georgia Restaurant Association and the Taste of
Atlanta to identify the top political restaurant hangouts in metro Atlanta. Once again, after thousands
of votes to decide the winners, James is bringing readers the top 5 political hangouts in metro Atlanta.
Several of the winners this year will be familiar names and at any of these places you might be able to
nd anyone from legislators to local officials to lobbyists.
The winners are spread across the Atlanta area, from Marietta to Buckhead to Cabbagetown.
There’s not really a unifying factor among the winners, except maybe they offer a quiet place to settle
in for talking over issues. And of course they offer a good meal, or a good beverage.
#1
Shillings
on the Square
Shillings on the Square owner David Reardon is
not one to brag. To him, he just lucked out on a
good location, has hired good chefs and let time
take care of the rest. Asked what sets it apart,
Reardon remains humble. “Longevity I suspect is a
big part. Lots of people know where Shillings is,”
said Reardon. But there is certainly some truth to
that. If you work at the courthouse or in Marietta
and are meeting someone for lunch, Shillings is a
natural option because people do know where it is.
“Shillings is a great place to go to grab a burger
or get some great food and if you really want to get
a pulse of what’s going on in the community, that’s
the place to be,” says attorney Rose Wing.
Conveniently located on the Marietta Square
and near the courthouse, Shillings offers casual dining and the pub downstairs, with fine dining and
20
JAMES
M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 9
#2
Manuel’s Tavern
When you think of a political bar or restaurant in
Atlanta, Manuel's might be one of the first to come
to mind. Founded by Manuel Maloof in 1956, the
bar itself became a part of Democratic politics in
Georgia— and the country really, with several presidents putting in appearances at Manuel’s over the
decades. Maloof himself was a prominent Democrat
during his heyday, including becoming the first CEO
of DeKalb County and serving on the county commission before that.
Manuel’s serves as a gathering place for everyone but particularly Democrats to commiserate and
talk shop. It often serves as a watch-party location
for debates or election results; in fact re-opening
after an extensive renovation in time to watch
results from the 2016 election. (That turned into
quite the anti-climactic evening for Manuel’s
patrons that evening.)
“I think it comes down to several things: the
food is always excellent, the beer is cold, the price
is fair, and the service is thoughtful and thorough,” said Rep. Teri Anulewicz, D-Smyrna. “I first
THE INTIMATE DINING ROOM AT SHILLINGS
some of the best steaks in Marietta overlooking the
square upstairs.
Over the years, Reardon has gotten to know
some of his customers quite well. The restaurant
had its 40th anniversary last year and it is still going
strong. The Taste of Marietta is always the last
Sunday in April and Shillings is always a big part.
Despite having some of the biggest names in
Cobb County as regulars— ranging from former Gov.
became aware of Manuel’s Tavern when working
in the law office of Manuel’s son, Mike, in downtown Decatur while I was a student at Agnes
Scott. Mike had a phenomenal legal assistant who
gave me a crash course in why it was an honor to
work for an attorney like Mike (it was), and why
his dad, Manuel, was a Very Big Deal in Georgia,
as was his eponymous tavern.”
“Manuel’s is special because of its rich history.
Almost every major national Democratic figure has
been to Manuel’s. Sea Island might have some Oak
trees, but Manuel’s has everyone from Jimmy
Carter to Barack Obama to Stacey Abrams, not
just having a beer, but also talking to the cooks
and servers in the kitchen,” says Rep. David
Dreyer, D-Atlanta.
#3
Hal’s
Hal’s has been a steakhouse staple in
Buckhead for over 20 years. With an open kitchen
and bistro-style venue, Hal’s is simultaneously an
upscale, fine-dining experience matched with a
relaxed, community atmosphere. “It’s a place of
white tablecloths and flowers, warm brick and
candlelight, and the dense oak of a long and welcoming bar that’s kept company with some of
Atlanta’s most interesting and influential people,”
its website declares.
Hal’s, and Hal Nowak himself, are of a different
era. You may be more likely to see this kind of place
in a movie than in another place besides Hal’s. It’s a
favorite of all sorts of politicos, including Fulton
County Commission Chairman Rob Pitts. Pitts calls
it “numero uno for movers and shakers” in Atlanta
and can often be seen there enjoying a meal or a
cigar. Hal’s also frequently offers live music, another
favorite of Pitts. Nowak says that they “probably
have the most regular, repeat clientele of any
restaurant in Atlanta.” Go there a few times, and
you are likely to be greeted with your drink of
choice before you even sit down.
Hal’s is an event,
both for the sheer length of the meal
and the environment.
— Former state Sen. Josh McKoon —
TAKING IN POLITICAL NEWS AT MANUEL’S
M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 9
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