Atlanta Restaurant Scene

OTP Dining: Four restaurants worth the holiday splurge

With the holidays right around the corner, you might be in need of escaping your kitchen and letting someone else do the heavy lifting. Treat yourself to an indulgent meal out at one of these upscale OTP restaurants.

Oak Steakhouse

Dark wood tones lend a traditional steakhouse vibe to Oak Steakhouse at Avalon in Alpharetta. The menu boasts a host of classic steaks—from a filet mignon to a Prime New York Strip—and even certified Angus Beef signature options, plus add-ons like crab cakes and lobster tail for traditional steakhouse fans. When it comes to sides for sharing, When it comes to sides for sharing, check out the Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, which gets a bright, flavorful lift from red onion and cilantro, or the grilled patty pan squash with chimichurri sauce for a crunchy, spicy dose of veggies (or go for a total cheat day and order the truffle French fries with melted Parmesan cheese). For dessert, order the cinnamon-packed Bourbon Pecan Monkey Bread, a treat of gooey goodness. And if you’d rather splurge on brunch instead of dinner, don't miss the lobster grilled cheese.

950 Third St., Alpharetta, 678-722-8333,

Ray’s on the River

A longtime OTP favorite for anniversary dinners and Sunday brunch, Ray’s on the River offers striking views of the Chattahoochee River and serves up an extensive selection of seafood . Keep it simple but delicious with the Canadian cold water lobster tail, seasoned with garlic and white wine, or kick things up a notch with a little heat and try the horseradish-encrusted black grouper with creamy whipped potatoes. Shareable sides like the lobster-Parmesan risotto and three-cheese mac (a rich mix of smoked Gruyere, aged Gouda and manchego cheeses) are crowd pleasers.

6700 Powers Ferry Road NW, Sandy Springs, 770-955-1187,

The Magnolia Thomas Restaurant

Southern fare fit for a special occasion is what you’ll find at The Magnolia Thomas Restaurant in the heart of downtown Woodstock. Located in a charming house (that was rebuilt after the original home burned down in a fire in 2008), the restaurant offers an array of tasty starters, including pickled fried okra, avocados tacos and jalapeno and mango brie, which takes brie layered with spicy Cajun praline pecans and bakes it wrapped in flaky puff pastry, topped off with a dollop of sweet jalapeno-mango salsa. Entrees like pan-fried north Georgia rainbow trout, Cajun-stuffed catfish with cheese grits and fried chicken with black-eyed pea salsa are standouts for Southern food fans.

108 Arnold Mill Road, Woodstock, 678-445-5789,

Pampas Steakhouse

Argentinian-style grilled steaks—cooked a la parrilla over oak and hot coals—are the name of the game at Pampas Steakhouse in Johns Creek. Carnivores will savor their bone-in rib-eye and porterhouse. The house specialty “Brick” center cut is a 14-ounce filet (similar to a tenderloin cut), so come hungry. Short ribs, rack of lamb and other meaty options abound. Non-red meat items like Chilean sea bass and jumbo scallops with truffle oil are lighter alternatives. Sample Argentinian dishes like the mini empanadas (warm little pockets of pastry with a variety of filling options, from beef tenderloin to corn and cheese) or homemade Argentinean sausage for an appetizer. Wash it down with a Napa Valley cabernet or Spanish tempranillo from the extensive wine list.

10970 State Bridge Road, Johns Creek, 678-339-0029,

More coverage of OTP restaurants and bars:

>>Six restaurants to get your apple fix OTP this fall

>>Five reasons to check out Atlantic Seafood Company in Alpharetta

>>Four sushi restaurants to check out

>>Five restaurants to check out in Lawrenceville

>>Five reasons to try Branch & Barrel at Avalon in Alpharetta

>>Wine bars outside the Perimeter





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About the Author

Ligaya Figueras joined the AJC as its food and dining editor in 2015.