LAST SUMMER, WE SENT OUR KIDS TO YMCA Camp Eagle Point on Lake Lanier. They had a blast—fishing, swimming, kayaking, sports and crafts … they indeed got their fill of fun in the sun. Meanwhile, my husband and I took some vacation time and created a little summer camp of our own. The agenda? Taking a tour of all the restaurants on the banks of Lake Lanier. It was pretty much the perfect summer staycation between the days on the boat and the waterfront dining.
With access by boat and by land, waterfront restaurants across North Georgia offer a variety of cuisines and settings. Whether your lake of choice is Lanier, Allatoona, Burton or Oconee, here’s our curated list of the best lakeside dining.
FISH TALES LAKESIDE GRILLE
Perched high on a bank with great lake views, Fish Tales is a long-time favorite for families. Here you’ll find seafood and tropical cocktails with an island vibe that makes you feel like you’ve stumbled into a tiki hut somewhere on a beach. There’s a small, brightly colored indoor dining room and ample outdoor seating with a deck overlooking the water, a side patio with a stage for live music, and a sandpit that’s a hit with the kids.
Must-Try: The namesake Fish Tales (fried grouper fingers), served as a starter, an entrée or atop a signature salad
By Water: Free boat slips are available at Hideaway Bay Marina
By Land: 6330 Mitchell St., Flowery Branch
Hours: Sunday – Thursday, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Friday Saturday, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. fishtaleslakelanier.com
LANDSHARK BAR & GRILL
A visit to LandShark is like showing up to a beach party that never ends. And what else would you expect from the waterfront restaurant at Margaritaville at Lanier Islands? The entirely open-air restaurant serves up a selection of burgers and other pub fare. It is the perfect place to refuel during a day at the resort’s water park or LandShark Landing, an adult playground
boasting a beach bar, entertainment stage, bonfires, volleyball and more. Be forewarned:
It can get a little wild on the weekends. If you can sneak away mid-week, it’s much more chill. LandShark is located within the water park, so park admission or a beach pass is required to access it.
Must-Try: Hawaiian Luau Burger with smoked bacon, grilled pineapple and mango teriyaki sauce with a Fins Up Margarita. After all, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere!
By Water: Margaritaville at Lake Lanier Islands offers day slips for a fee; advanced reservations for dock space are recommended
By Land: 7541 Lanier Islands Pkwy, Buford; visitors by car pay a $20 gate fee to enter Lanier Islands’ property
Hours: Sunday – Thursday, 11:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Friday Saturday, 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m. margaritavilleresorts.com
A barbecue concept from the owners of Fish Tales, Pig Tales offers a laid-back space for all your smoked summer favorites. The restaurant is a bit further from the water than others on our list but still affords killer views from its outdoor, pet-friendly patio.
Must-Try: Signature pulled pork sandwich topped with creamy house-made slaw on Texas toast
By Water: Free boat slips are available at Aqualand Marina
By Land: 6800 Lights Ferry Road, Flowery Branch
Hours: Sunday – Thursday, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Friday Saturday, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. pigtaleslakelanier.com
PELICAN PETE’S TIKI BAR & GRILLE
If location is key (and we would argue it is), you can’t beat Pelican Pete’s for lakeside dining on Lanier. In fact, “lakeside” is not even a fitting description; the tiki bar is literally floating—the only Lake Lanier restaurant with such a distinction. The dock-top dining spot dishes out typical grill favorites along with island-style fare, but the atmosphere is a bigger draw than the food here. Plus, it’s both pet- and kid-friendly.
Must-Try: Peel & Eat Shrimp and a frozen cocktail
By Water: Free boat slips are available at Port Royale Marina
By Land: 8800 Port Royale Drive, Gas Island, Gainesville
Hours: Seasonal hours vary; visit website for updated schedule pelicanpetes.com
THE TWISTED OAR
This is a hot spot for summertime fun with a lively atmosphere and lots of entertainment, but it also serves up some of the best food on Lanier, in our humble opinion! A varied menu offers everything from seafood and steak to sandwiches and signature pizzas. Head here on Taco Tuesdays for discounted taco plates, tequila shots and house margaritas.
Must-Try: Seared tuna appetizer with citrus soy glaze and cilantro aioli on crispy wonton chips
By Water: Free boat slips are available at Holiday Marina
By Land: 6900 Lanier Islands Parkway, Buford
Hours: Sunday – Thursday, 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Friday Saturday, 11:30 a.m. – 11 p.m.
CHOPHOUSE AT LA PRADE’S
In keeping with the carefree yet classy summertime vibe of Lake Burton, the Chophouse is laid-back enough to enjoy after a day on the water while still offering a first-rate fine dining experience. The main restaurant is casual yet sophisticated, with both indoor and outdoor seating and a menu of elevated American fare created by Chef James Reaux. Down by the docks, the more casual counterpart Hawg Wild BBQ grill and tiki bar keeps the lakeside party pumping—especially at Happy Hour—with a lively patio and fire pit.
Must-Try: The Chophouse Signature slow-roasted prime rib, or the local mountain stream rainbow trout
By Water: Free boat slips are available at La Prade’s Marina
By Land: 25 Shoreline Trail, Lake Burton
Hours: Thursday, 4 – 8 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. murphyschophouse.com/laprades
Bridging decades of experience in the restaurant business with their own love of Lake Burton, restauranteurs Donald Munroe and MG Farris opened their Neapolitan-style pizzeria just 50 feet from the bank in 2019. The counter-service concept makes it possible to grab a quick bite before getting back on the water—without compromising quality. Milton Park can crank out 11 pizzas every 90 seconds with two woodfired pizza ovens, all intentionally crafted with house-made ingredients. Enjoy your pie on the open-air porch or outdoor picnic area, and pair it with a glass of wine from the restaurant’s unparalleled wine library. (Check out their Burton Wine Society for members-only dinners and events.)
Not in the mood for pizza? No worries. The duo recently expanded to add slow-smoked barbecue with a Korean kick at MP. Qué as well as craft ice cream at The Shak, both onsite.
Must-Try: The spicy El Diablo pizza with calabrese salami, spicy Italian sausage, Fresno chilies, mozzarella and crushed Italian tomato
By Water: Free boat slips are available at La Prade’s Marina
By Land: 93 Shoreline Trail, Clarkesville
Hours: Thursday – Saturday, 12 – 8 p.m.; Sunday, 12 – 6 p.m. miltonparkrestaurant.com
Located at The Ridges Resort at Lake Chatuge, this waterfront gem offers a laid-back locale to soak up sensational views, reimagined bar bites and ice-cold beverages. The space, renovated this spring, boasts more than 40 feet of bar service and four garage doors that open up between the indoor dining room and the largest deck on Lake Chatuge, so there’s not a bad seat in the house. Plenty of TVs will please the sports fans among you, and live music adds extra energy on the weekends. Also onsite at The Ridges is The Oaks Lakeside Kitchen, which is expanding this season to add dinner service to its already popular breakfast and brunch offerings.
Must Try: Sweet teriyaki salmon plate
By Water: Free boat slips are available onsite
By Land: 3399 US 76, Hiawassee
Hours: Friday & Saturday, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Sunday, Wednesday & Thursday, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. theridgesresort.com
GABY’S BY THE LAKE
At once rustic and refined, Gaby’s by the Lake invites guests at The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee, to step straight out of the water for a delightful meal with a signature cocktail and a stunning view. The poolside restaurant is the only place to dine waterfront on Lake Oconee without a membership to one of the area’s golf clubs. Gaby’s serves everything from sandwiches to salads to stonebaked pizzas and embodies the spirit of summer and the superior hospitality you’d expect from this AAA Four Diamond resort.
Must-Try: Lobster grilled cheese
By Water: Boat slips are available at The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee
By Land: 1 Lake Oconee Trail, Greensboro
Hours: Open for lunch and dinner; contact The Ritz-Carlton concierge for seasonal hours ritzcarlton.com
J.D.’S ON THE LAKE
Fans of the Netflix series Ozark will recognize this waterfront watering hole as the setting of the Blue Cat Lodge from the crime drama. The interior has a beloved hole-in-the-wall appeal, while outside, an expansive two-story deck offers ample al fresco seating. There’s also an uncovered deck with picnic tables, which is only open for full service during busy hours, but you can always grab a drink to enjoy by the water. From the owners of J.D.’s Bar-B-Que in Woodstock, the lakeside location’s menu skews more to seafood. With Friday night sunset parties, live music every Saturday and a prime location across the street from Little River Marina and adjacent to Murphs Surf for kayak and paddleboard rentals, this is the place to be on Lake Allatoona this season.
Must-Try: Low country boil
By Water: Free boat slips available onsite
By Land: 6979 Bells Ferry Road, Canton
Hours: Friday – Saturday, 12 9:30 p.m.; Sunday, 12 – 9 p.m. jdsbbq.com