by Ian Smith, Copyright 1997, all lefts reserved.
This site has been left in this place because it still apparently gets lots of hits from people doing web searches for stuff to do in Atlanta. CHI '98 is in Los Angelas, so maybe somebody will do this same undertaking for that megacity?
This is a page that hopefully will help you have more fun in
Atlanta during CHI '97. I've lived here since 1988 and I do know a few
things to do in "the center of the new south." First, let me
say that the conference venue is downtown, along with all the recommended
hotels. This is superlame unless you really think that Planet Hollywood
is a good time. Downtown Atlanta is like many other major cities: mostly
boring and when its not boring it's empty. Very few people actually live
downtown anymore; frankly, not many people live inside the city limits.
Those of us that do live in the city limits (about 450K of a metro population
of 3M) try to keep ourselves entertained in town while the suburbanites
are having the brakes checked on their minivans.
A word about me: I tend to like things that are a little on the strange side, usually with a dose of seaminess thrown in: If you don't like that sort of stuff, tough it out, it's my page. If you are going to CHI to socialize with people you don't want seeing you face-down drunk and getting into fights with biker-dudes and their girlfriends (the more dangerous of the two) go somewhere more respectable. (N.B. You may want to get your socializing out early in the week so you can fight with biker dude's girlfriends later on in the conference). I am sure the concierge at your hotel can tell you lots of "nice" places to go if you want that sort of crap.
My favorite kinds of places/activities for visitors are things that combine the local (southern) culture with some kind of zaniness. In short, I am big fan of ... Southern Culture On The Skids. If you are hip enough to know the band, "yes, I know the band" and I like them, but I like the phrase a lot more. So the places that I have selected have a tendency to be "southern fried," although this is not exclusively true.
Buckhead is a part of Atlanta that is north of downtown, generally clustered
around Peachtree Street (see below for more on street names). It is full
of three things: bars, restaurants, and people. Frankly, I don't like it;
no, I don't like it at all. My primary beef with Buckhead is that
its full of people that I don't want to deal with, and the taxi fare is
more than I am usually willing to pay. However, as a point of fairness
I don't really go there all that often and haven't been to more than 6-8
bars there. Further, I am spoiled by living in an area where there are
lots of things to do and places to go for $5 in taxi fare, and so perhaps
others wouldn't be daunted by the idea of $10-$12 in taxi fare (esp. if
you are splitting it with a couple of people). Let me also say for the
record that recently I got taken to Buckhead and actually had a pretty
decent time at an Irish pub/restaurant called Fado
(missing diacrictical here on the 'o'). On a non-weekend night, I might
even almost recommend it (but not really).
On the subject of people I don't want to deal with, there is a substantial "pick-up" scene in Buckhead and this is what turns me off the most. This can be translated for those of you from out of this country as "lots of guys who are drunk and hitting on women they don't know, and lots of women who are sporting huge attitudes." A sizable fraction of those sporting the big attitudes combine the big attitude with big hair- a fearsome combination, indeed. Of the places I've been in Buckhead the Three Dollar Cafe and The Beer Mug seem to be the worst (or best, depending on your point of view) for the pick-up action, although since I am not really in the know about this business there may be even more egregious examples. (Post Scriptum: I have been told by "those in the know"- who shall remain anonymous- that the biggest pick-up joints in Buckhead are not the ones I listed but are "Pat Hurley's," "Odyssey," and "Lulu's Bait Shack." If you want to do something that Surgeon General of the U.S. wouldn't recommend, these are your best choices. In particular, Lulu's sells fishbowls full of grain alcohol; perhaps you can violate the Surgeon General's advice twice in one night?)
Why I am spending so much time talking about a part of town I don't like? Because this is the place you are going to get sent for "a good time" if you just ask the first person at the hotel where to go. (Remember: This is not the North. People in Atlanta are way too nice to tell you where to go when you ask a naive question like this.) I would really hate for the CHI community to think that Atlanta's best place to go is full of overpriced, boring restaurants and bars that are so packed with "singles" you couldn't get in them with a shoehorn.
I am going to put the street address and phone number on all the places
I recommend so you can tell your taxi driver where to go. If you rent a
car for your trip to Atlanta, well, good luck. The city streets are more
than a little confusingly named. E.g. there are 40+ streets in Atlanta
with the word Peachtree in them. Two of the biggest streets through downtown,
midtown, and Buckhead are Peachtree St. and West Peachtree St. When a local
says "Peachtree" they mean Peachtree St. West Peachtree St. is
one block (duh) west of Peachtree and if you go far enough north it merges
with Peachtree St. (for added confusion for visitors). As a bonus
on the merger confusion, Peachtree St. becomes Peacthree Rd above (north
of) the merge point. Great, eh?
The major parts of town that I consider interesting are:
I give special attention to whether or not bars have Guinness. Deal.
The Stein Club
"No directions needed. All roads lead to The Stein."
Sit back, slurp up the Stein House Beer or the Guinness, and listen
to Patsy Cline on the jukebox....ah.... This bar has the best atmosfear
in Atlanta, bar none. This is clearly the place to be during CHI. I suspect
that- in point of fact- most of everybody who is anybody will be congregating
here when its time to meet with their friends. The reasons? Simple. There
is no food, there are no froofy drinks, and there is a great jukebox. The
motto of The Stein Club is "Where Drinking Is King." They mean
The Prince Of Wales
|The Prince is a pretty good place and is substantially more upscale
than the Stein Club. It's not a basic faux british pub, its an advanced
faux british pub. They have velvet covers on the benches, lots of oak,
and more expensive (although still quite good) beers. If you're a beer
drinker, this place rotates its brew selection fairly regularly and thus
usually has interesting things on tap. The Guinness doesn't rotate, it's
always there. For those that are brave of heart, they also
have yards and half-yards of beer. My advice: Don't order a yard
late in the evening...
This place is probably unlikely to have biker dudes, which could be good or bad depending on your point of view. They understand volume on the jukebox and you can usually have a conversation easily at your table- if it's a nice night, sit outside! They have recently changed the kitchen manager and it's a good thing-- the food used to stink. I haven't had stuff from the new kitchen. If you like to play darts (as I do) the Prince has a very nice dart area that is fairly well segregated from the main rabble of the bar.
The POW is one of three, fairly similar Atlanta bars owned by the same people. The other two are The Fox And The Hound and The Rose And Crown. The POW is 1144 Piedmont Ave near the corner of 14. 876-0227. Midtown. The POW is located right across from Atlanta's biggest park (Piedmont) so if you want to do some walking/jogging/rollerblading before a hard night of drinking, this might be a good choice.
|It can be safely said that Manuel's is an Atlanta political institution.
There are two Manuel's- although I have only been to the one below- and
they are a favorite with Atlanta's (and Georgia's) politicos. It's whispered
that all the real political dealing in Georgia gets done here.
No, I don't know why. Speaker of the Georgia House Tom Murphy is a regular
at Manuel's and the Governor (Zell Miller) and the former Gov. and Pres.
Jimmy C have been sighted there at various times (according to Creative
Loafing, the weekly, free Atlanta entertainment rag).
Just the other night (2/26), I arrived a few minutes late to Manuel's and
all my friends were saying, "Jimmy Carter just left!" I
missed him by about 5 minutes!
I like Manuel's because its a big, open fun place to go with a big group. Don't worry about how many people you have; we've showed up with 15 people before with no reservations. The food is pretty good bar fare (get the hummus!) and the beer selection is pretty good to slightly average ... but they have recently started having Guinness! The people are friendly... hey, bring the kids - everybody else does!
Manuel's is 602 N. Highland at the corner of North Avenue. 525-3447. Highlands. You'll know it when you get to it: There is a huge pig painted on the North Avenue side of the building.
"It's never too late to start wasting your life."
There are two Vortices now, one in Midtown and one in Little 5 Points.
Both offer terrific burgers, visually dense decor, good beer selection
(incl. Guinness), and really snooty service. It's like it's a privelege
to get to eat and drink there.... and maybe it is. The original Vortex
on West Peachtree is really small; I wouldn't recommend it as a destination
for any group of more than 1 person. Ok, perhaps 4-5 people would work,
but they'll laugh you out the door if you try to get a bunch of people
to sit together. Really, I have been laughed at by the wait-staff there.
The Euclid Avenue Yacht Club
"It's Not Just A Bar, It's An Adventure"
The Yacht Club (and it is sometimes shortened to "The Yatched"
which is pronounced to ryhme with "thatched") is the regular
meeting place of the Atlanta Harley Davidson Motor Club. Don't let that
throw you though about bringing the family, the Harley riders are as likely
as not to be your family if you live in L5P!
|The Highlander is a strange bar in a strange place. The "bar part"
is pretty low-key and has a lot of black-wearing, tattoo-sporting, hipster
types. However, connected to it is another area (which also has drinks,
thank the maker) which is basically a "game room." The game room
has darts, pool, pinball and air hockey. I'll wager a pint of Guinness
that I can take anybody at air hockey! To make it weirder, it's in
a complex with a movie theater and a grocery store. Strange.
Anyway, its got the usual array of beer (incl. Guinness), drinks, and bar food. They also have "dinners" which I've never had but are reported to be good. My recommendation on the Highlander is the "pitchers of tater tots." Yes, its a pitcher and yes its tater tots: delightful! Also, be sure to check out the chili version!
The Highlander is part of Midtown Promenade. 931 Monroe Drive. 872-0060. Midtown. Its right below Dupree's ...
|Right above the Highlander... Dupree's the modern version of a pool
hall. It's not one of these uppity yuppy "billiards clubs", thank
god, it's still a pool hall. However, the tables are by the hour, the cues
are mostly straight (the clientele?), and the felt is in good condition.
I think they have about 10 tables and they are about $6/hr. Don't worry
about looking like you don't know what you are doing playing pool, all
the snotty types are at the Buckhead Billiards Club. Getting there
early will help minimize the wait on a table- this place is usually busy.
It has a "waiting area" where you can wait for a free table; that part has darts and drinks. I don't think it has food, but don't quote me on that. If you want food, go downstairs for a pitcher of the tots! I actually find the beer selection a little on the weak side; even the bottles are not that interesting. However, they pack the people in with the draw of the tables so the beer issue doesn't tend to come up...
Dupree's is above the movie theater & The Highlander at 931 Monroe Drive in Midtown Promenade. 873-6898.
|This about the only bar that I go to with any regularity that is not
in the Highlands, Midtown, or Little 5 Points. It's in a part of town called
Ansley Park which is near the intersection of Piedmont and Monroe. (At
that corner is the famed Aurora Coffee, see below.) I play team trivia
there on most Wednesday nights. (For the old timers, its not as good the
team trivia at P.J.'s - sigh- but it'll do. We win more at Smith's....)
It's a really big bar with three big rooms: one bar, one more like a restaurant
- don't let that fool you-, and a pool playing area. The atmosphere is
very low-key and relaxed, except during the heat of team trivia battle!
The service and beer selection are good; yes, they have Guinness. As for the food, I've eaten there a few times and its pretty decent. The food is better than you would expect at a bar and the menu is more interesting than you would expect. I had a good report recently on the trout special, for example.
Upstairs at Smith's they have live music, but I have only been upstairs one time so I put Smith's in the Bar section of this guide. Getting upstairs requires a cover, but the bar doesn't. They usually have fairly unknown local talent or small-time national talent on their agenda. I don't understand why this is.
Smith's is at 1580 Piedmont Avenue, less than a block from the aforementioned corner. 875-1522. No full bar.
The Righteous Room
|The Righteous Room is a new spot on the edge of the Highlands. For
G.T. alums, it's next door to the Plaza theater. For non-G.T. alums, the
Plaza theater is Atlanta's best cheap (good) movie theater; the kind of
place that ran Trainspotting for weeks for $1.50. Also, if you are too
drunk to walk you can crawl across the parking lot to the Majestic for
a bite to eat and some of that fine, southern-fried service.
The waitresses will require you to order grits! (see below)
The Righteous Room is aptly named, it's Righteous and a Room. Its popularity is growing and sometimes can be tough to get into, although not usually on weeknights. Why? Because it's a room, stupid. When I first walked into the place I got the immediate "get me outta here this place is full of weak hippie crap" feeling but I was dead wrong. The beer is good (incl. Guinness) and the service is friendly. I haven't had the food, but I hear good things about it. I had the Guinness, I didn't need the food. The jukebox is very heavy on eighties retro, maybe that's why I liked it. "I am human and I need to be loved..."
1051 Ponce De Leon Ave, next to the Plaza Theater. 874-0939. Just for people's information, Ponce De Leon Ave is the Atlanta equivalent of San Francisco's Market Street. Yes, the good and the bad parts.
Atkins Park/The Dark Horse Tavern/ Limerick Junction
|I lumped these three together because they are all part of the "main
drag" in the Highlands. I could throw the Highland Tap in the mix
as well, but its more of a restaurant. I should probably add Taco Mac to
the list as well, but I don't like that place very much despite its staggering
beer selection. The main part of "the Highlands" is the corner
of Highland and Virginia avenues. (Warning: Aurora coffee on Highland,
near the corner!) For San Franciscans, this is the equivalent of 24th street
around Noe and Sanchez.Unlike 24th Street though, this neighborhood is
hopping with people at night.
Atkins Park is a bar and resturant which has quite good food and a pretty homey atmosphere. Atkins is really a converted old home. I highly recommend the brunch there if you are having a breakfast meeting; I don't know if they do brunch every day, I've only had it weekends. A big draw of Atkins Park ("the Park") is that has "the alley" which is a covered outdoor area in which to enjoy malted beverages. In the alley you still get table service!
The Dark Horse Tavern is probably a little on the upscale side for me, being that I prefer dives, but a lot of people like it. I haven't been there in at least a year but it constantly stays busy. Some nights they have live music there downstairs which requires a cover. If I remember from before I thought the food was a little on the high side for bar fare. Also, my last time there the wait-staff was not happy that we dragged tables together for a big group.
Limerick Junction is a faux Irish bar, and a good one. The service here is impeccable and they can ammodate medium-sized groups with the big booths in the back. Load up on the free popcorn with your Guinness! Sometimes they even have faux Irish music, but I usually can't quite take that and leave.
Atkins Park, The Dark Horse and Limerick Junction are all together and about a 5 minute walk from the corner of Highland and Virginia.
|Although George's is in the Highlands and near to the bars above, I
have given it is own entry because it is a far cry from the above. It's
a blue-collar bar with a family twist. Bring your kids but dress
them in overalls.... It's neighborhoody in a trendy neighborhood,
but remains untrendy. Nifty.
George's has a few kinds of beer (all of them American I think- God Bless America!) and basic bar food. Terrific burgers and dogs; I have also heard good reports about the salads if memory serves me correctly. I never had the guts to order the dog with the extra kraut, if you order it, please report back to me on your status and the status of the kraut. Before ordering it, look around in the back by the bathrooms for the big tubs of kraut.
George's is 1041 N. Highland Avenue. 892-3648.If you can score a table outside on the sidewalk, you are really styling. George's is very close to the intersection of Highland and Virginia and a couple of doors down from a bar called Moe's And Joe's. Post Scriptum: I took some flak for overlooking Moe's and Joe's. According to the person who commented, the house special is (to quote me) "(America's Favorite) Pabst Blue Ribbon." On Tuesday's the claim is that they have $3.25 pitchers of the PBR. and they always have the Guinness. Originally I accused M&J of being an "Emory Hangout." I stand corrected; apparently the clientele is quite varied. Further, I have been told that hanging out on the sidewalk (ala George's) is very nice.
|Yet another Highland's bar. I'll just say that is a place similar
to many of the other bars in this neighborhood, but with a quieter atmosphere.
I'd recommend the cider at Neighbor's if you aren't having
a Guinness. The reason I have it listed independently from the other
Highland's bars is that it is an excellent place for a bunch of people
to sit outside and have a few drinks and/or dinner. There is pretty big
outdoor canopy area.
752 N. Highland Avenue, near the corner of St. Charles. 872-5440.
The Austin Avenue Buffet
|I'm not sure what to say about the Buffet that can be expressed verbally.
Mostly, it scares me. They have both kinds of beer- Bud and Bud Lite. A
regular customer there plays the harmonica via his tracheotomy tube.
The jukebox has both kinds of music- country and western.
I had heard they had breakfast at the Buffet (got a meeting planned for breakfast at CHI?) so I called and asked. Here's what happened:
Me : " I heard ya'll have breakfast at the Buffet there..."
Older Woman's Voice: "Yeah."
Me: "What time does that start?"
Her: "Oh, about 6 or 6:30 since I do it myself. But if I don't know ya', ya don't get in."
Me: "So, what kinda stuff do you usually have there for breakfast?"
Her: "It's always the same. Sausage or bacon, with grits, 2 eggs, toast with butter and jelly, and coffee for three dollars."
Note: The main course is the sausage or bacon, the rest is just the side dishes. It was not clear if sausage or bacon was her choice or yours (or simply a pig-product needing more explanation). It was clear that the butter and jelly were on that toast whether you wanted them or not. I was too slow-witted to ask if you could substitute Budweiser for coffee but my gut reaction is you could.
918 Austin Avenue, close to Little 5 Points. 524-9274.
I am sure that every Atlanta resident and former Atlanta resident is saying, "What about this bar or that bar? That's the best bar in town!" I can't cover them all, I'm sorry. If you have strong feelings about this page, send your feelings to /dev/null.
I am omitting the obvious music venues like Chastain Park, the Omni (please don't do that), the Fox Theater (which is awesome but tickets are hard to come by), etc., because any decent hotel will have lots of information about these places. I stuck to places that the hotel staff won't tell you about.
"We'll see ya later if the good Lord's willing and the river don't rise."
If you only go out once during CHI, make it to the
Star Bar. It is a must-do during the Atlanta experience.
This bar recently won "Best Rock And Roll Venue" and "Best
Country And Western Venue" in an Atlanta poll. Chomp on
that! How many bars do you know that can boast of a shrine
to Elvis? All hail the King! (Hint: In case you
don't go with a local, the Star Bar used to be a bank and the shrine is
in the vault. Come in the door take a left around the corner towards
the tables, then turn left again and drop to one knee...)
|Think of Dottie's as a slightly upscale version of the Austin Ave.
Buffet (!) with a hipster problem. This place is Sothern Culture
On The Skids personified. (The A. A. Buffet is more like Deliverance
Culture On The Skids.) I like this place a lot, but so do a lot of hipsters.
This place has three things that pack 'em in:
Dottie's in a part of town called Cabbagetown. I don't know much about that part of town, but I should. 307 Memorial Drive SE. 523-3444.
The Northside Tavern
|Dottie's without the hipsters. Well, mostly without the hipsters but
with some pretty uncool Georgia Tech geeks. If you have to go to
Tech for some reason during the conference, this might be a good way to
detox. This places serves its tap brews in jars; there is no Guinness,
but they do have Marthasville (or is it Red Brick?) an Atlanta micro-brew.
This place is in Midtown, but you'll never find it if you aren't looking for it. The Northside Tavern one of my favorite places to go that is near Georgia Tech. It's a dive, and I like it that way. They have live music here and the music is always the blues. Sometimes its good, sometimes its not, but bad blues is better than bad rock music any day of the week. Tip: Watch for "Slimfatz" at the Tavern, he's a mean slide guitar player. One night of the week (I think Wednesdays) they also have free gumbo!
The Northside Tavern didn';t used to have a cover, but that has changed recently. It is usually only a couple of bucks. 1058 Howell Mill Rd, near Georgia Tech. 874-8745. Deceptively, this place is not on Northside Dr., which is nearby.
|Despite howls of protest, this is the only place that I am going to
give its own heading that I have not personally visited. I
have been meaning to go to MJQ for some time, but haven't gotten
around to it. I know that it is a dance club and bar. It has been
described to me as:
Sounds good, eh? MJQ is in the basemant of the Ponce de Leon Hotel, at 551 Ponce De Leon Avenue, across from Eats (roughly). 724-9096.
|The Point is your basic place to see Rock and Roll or alternative.
This is the kind of place that record labels book small time acts when
they get to Atlanta on their tours behind their "indie-label successes."
There is a big bar /restaurant area that is connected to the main stage
area by a corridor if you start realizing that whoever you have shown up
to see isn't really all that good. If you like smaller
artists, it might be worth picking up a Creative
Loafing to see who is playing, or just click on the link to the left...
The Point is 420 Moreland Avenue NE, just diagonally across the street from the Star Bar. 659-3522. The Star Bar is better.
|The place is part restaurant and part jazz club. If you are looking
for a place to appear cultured when have a dinner meeting, this is pretty
good choice. We know you really wanted to blow off the meeting
and go to the Star Bar ! Generally soft, live jazz most nights of
the week. Usually you can talk over the music, but not always. This
place falls in and out of favor with the trendy, art-opening set so you
can never tell how busy it is going to be. The menu is not all that extensive,
but what it does have is usually both interesting and good.
This place is not going to be obvious to you. It's hidden at the end of a dead-end street next to the interstate. Maybe the location makes it "in." For reference, if the freeway weren't there, it would be adjacent to the Georgia Tech Campus. 64 3rd St NW. 607-0682. Midtown.
There are also a couple of "medium sized" venues for music, the Cotton Club (the smaller of the two) and the Roxy. These are both managed by Concert Southern Promotions.You know the drill, James, Lucious Jackson, Blur, Pere Ubu, etc.
I frankly don't see as many of the local bands as I would like to, but here is some bands I can recommend.
You can check out the Music Menu of the 'Loaf for more ideas.
To help you understand my restaurant categories: I'm a graduate student. We're poor.
|The best burrito place in Atlanta, without question. The burritos
are served with a heapin' helpin' of slacker 'tude as well.
There is a relgious debate about burritos in Atlanta and the poor are divided
between Tortilla's and Frijolero's. I am only including Frijolero's
on this page so that the good people of CHI can make a fair and well
thought-out choice. Then, the righteous Tortilla's eaters will crush the
Frijolero's fools like grapes! I recommend the bean and cheese normal
burrito as the most cost-effective way to prepare yourself for a night
out on the town. $2.75 if you have a water with it! 774 Ponce De
Leon Ave. 892-0193.
|Tortilla's without burritos; it's even owned by the same person. This place has 3 things on the menu: Jerk Chicken, Pasta, and Veggies. That's it. Like Tortillas the quality is pretty good and the prices are rock-bottom. I prefer Tortilla's myself, but can eat Eats occasionally. Eats can't be more than 200 yards from Tortilla's up Ponce de Leon Ave. 600 Ponce De Leon Ave. 888-9149.
|See Tortilla's. 1031 Peachtree Street. 892-8226. I would recommend the place next-door to this, Pasta Da Pulcinella (see below) but, hey, I eat at Tortilla's. If you are wanting to kill time while waiting for P D P, this place has recently added a bar section.
"What'll Ya Have?"
If you go back home and say, "I went to Atlanta" anybody whose been here will say, "What'll ya' have?" (If they don't, they might be as clueless as you!) This is the slogan of the world's biggest fast food restaurant, The Varsity on North Avenue (just north of Downtown). It is a must-see, if not a must-eat. Warning: Your cholesterol count will rise if you go within 50 feet of the Varsity or roll the windows down in your car as you drive past! This place is big. It is the world's largest single seller of fries, burgers, cokes, and probably other stuff like new BWMs for cardiac specialists.
The Varsity even has its own lingo like "Two Naked Steaks," "Walk the dog sideways," or "The Big F.O." On the subject of F.O. (Frozen Orange) get one, its a favorite. Be aware that at lunch time there is a special protocol about which line you stand in for which kind of food. If you are a visitor (this means you) I'd recommend getting in the (very slow) lines that have the sign "Order All Items Here." This is simply a must-do if you are in town. If you are from California, this place does not have sprouts. 61 North Avenue at the corner of Spring. 881-1706. (Hint: FAX 874-3989, need that lunch meeting catered?)
|Super-cheap, lunch-only, terrific bakery /sandwich place. The place Tech students go to get two meals for $4.50. Order the european loaf and you get your sandwich on a whole loaf of bread! This place is probably not an option unless you happen to be at Tech, but if you are... 1093 Hemphill Ave (near Tech Campus) 873-1272.
|There are 6 Fellini's in town now, but probably only 3 of them are
relevant here. All are pizza joints with pretty good food (great for the
money) and lots of wait-staff attitude. This is probably best explained
as the Tortilla's of pizza. The three of relevance are located in Poncey-Highlands,
Buckhead, and Little 5 Points. I'd recomment a slice of the Sicilian with
Pepperoni and a cold beer; this will keep you under $5 for sure. If you
forgo the beer you can probably get two slices and you'll need two if you
are a big eater or are very hungry.
|Another lunch-only place near Tech. You can't eat there, its a grocery
store; take the food outside! Although most of you won't get to this place,
those that do get the best Cuban sandwiches in the universe and a terrific
story to tell everyone when you get home. It'll go something like what
I've written below. CSM is the "Cuban Sandwich Man" who runs
the Kool Korner and makes the sandwiches. He has a pretty think spanish
accent and is obviously a former resident of Cuba.
CSM: "So, how many cuban sandwiches for you?" [he points
at you and talks over everyone]
This place is not in the Atlanta phone book! It's at the corner of 14th and State streets, highly convenient to the new Georgia Center For Advanced Telecommunications Technology.
Fast Food That Pleases Since 1929.
This is the standard by which all other diners are measured. This places is unbelievably cheap and the food is... well, it's food. It's on the edge of the Highlands on Ponce De Leon. It has the counter, it has the booths, it has the waitresses that appear to have been there since the middle fifties- and boy, are they not happy about that! I saw a guy say to a waitress in there, "But ordered this without the mayo..." She said, "Tough, eat it that way!" The service is really tough. This is fine place to try out various southern delicacies like grits, collard greens, etc. This place is owned by a little greek man and he sometimes comes out front with a baseball bat to insure "nobody else go in" on a busy night. Be sure to check out the dinner specials on the back. Take home a pie!
1031 Ponce de Leon Ave. 875-0276. Look for the neon! Some guy has a page of Atlanta Diners that I liked with not only the Majestic but also the very good Zestos. He's right, the shakes rock at Zestos. He references Mick's in his list; I'd recommend avoiding Mick's like the plague unless you are just going for the desserts.
Fat Matt's Rib Shack
When you come to the south, you've entered pork territory, USA. And
what better form to consume your pork in than some lovely bar-be-que. If
you're looking for the best in BBQ, there's only one place to go: Fat Matt's
Rib Shack. When you enter, the first thing you're likely to see is Fat
Matt's bad self back behind the chicken wire, waiting to take your order.
Don't expect Fat Matt to ask you what you want--Fat Matt doesn't talk.
Just order yourself up a whole slab or a half-slab, depending on the amount
of pork you're ready to ingest.
Burton's Grill is all about no-kidding, hard-core, real-Southern soul
food. The proprietor, Deacon Burton ("Deacon" was his title as
a church deacon, not his name) unfortunately passed on a few years back.
But Burton's Grill is still serving up the best fried chicken in the city.
Even better, it comes on the industrial-strength plastic plates with dividers
and institutional green coloring that you first experienced in grade school.
Don't skimp on the fried okra!
Pasta Da Pulcinella
|This where grad students go when they want to think they have money.
This place has excellent food and pretty good service. The menu is not
all that extensive, but what they have is terrific. All of the menu
items are pasta and fairly interesting; everytime I've been there it has
had a vegetarian dish or two. You could pay double the price at a "big
time" restaurant for the same food. My personal favorite is the ravioli
with sausage and this delicious apple-syrupy sauce. Yum. They also have
reasonably priced and tasty glasses of wine.
1027 Peachtree Street, near the corner of 10th.892-6195. Midtown. This place can have a significant wait (20-30 mins.) on weekend nights.
French Quarter Food Shoppe
|This is probably the place I'd recommend most highly to visitors, even
if it weren't next door to the Stein Club (see above). But, of course,
it is next door the Stein! This place has terrific New Orleans style
food, very courteous service and the entrees sit around the $7-8 range.
They also have New Orleans brands of beers like Dixie (try Blackened
Voodoo!) and Abita who makes one of
my favorite beers, Turbodog.
(PS. Some weirdo takes pictures of beer through a microscope. Here's Dixie
You basically can't go wrong at the French Quarter, but I'd definately recommend the Muffaletta, the red beans and rice with sausage, and any of the Po' Boys (esp. shrimp). I heard from a former resident of New Orleans that the Jumbalaya was "almost as good as mama used to make." The FQFS also won a "Best Of Atlanta" award for Cajun food, if you don't believe me! 923 Peachtree Street, near the corner of 8th. 875-2489.
|Let me be honest here, I don't like Vietnamese food. Not one bit. However,
people constantly rave about this place in terms of how good it is (ugh,
its Vietnamese!) and its excellent prices. They've even dragged me there
a couple of times for a few bites of spring rolls.
This places was displaced by Olympic foolishness and has recently reopened at a new location, on 10th Street near the corner of Juniper. 132 10th Street. 885-9387.
|On the subject of food I don't like, I'll add Thai. I just can't
take all those peanuts and coconuts, ok?!? Get off me on this one. Anyway,
whenever grad students take somebody out for their birthday, this is always
the choice that I have to vehemently oppose. Sometimes I fail. All the
people though that go for Thai food seem to really like it if that helps
This place is in the heart of the Highlands and might be a good spot to start your evening- if you like Thai food. 1021 Virginia Avenue. 892-2070. (Walk to Aurora for an after dinner french press full of coffee!)
|This place is your basic "nice american place" in Midtown.
It used to have a reputation for being pretty sad on the service, but recent
visits seem to indicate that the service problems have been cleared up.
If you go, I can recommend the squid; I really liked it when I had it there
not too long ago. The menu is pretty safe, nothing is terrifically interesting
but nothing's terribly bad either.
It is right next to a new place called Filibusters; I'd love to hear reports on this place as I haven't been there yet. Einstein's is the kind of place that your coworkers would take you for a "nice lunch" if you work in Midtown. 1077 Juniper Street in Midtown. 876-7925.
|I wrote about the Park in the Bars section, so I won't reiterate too much here other than to say, again, the brunch is really great. The lunch/dinner is not bad either and if you are in the neighborhood already go ahead an stop in. 794 N. Highland Avenue. 876-7249.
|This is my canonical place to take people who are visiting Atlanta.
It is a reasonably priced restaurant with excellent Jamaican food. The
"jerk chicken" is the ever-present standby but the baby
back ribs and glazed pork chops are worthy of a try as well. Be sure to
get at least 2 orders of the egg brioche with the guava/pineapple butter.
The service here is impeccable, although I have never tried to get into
(or out of) the place with a large group.
There are two locations of the Grill that I go to regularly, although there are reports of others in Suburbia. The one in Little Five Points is a little better on the atmosphere and it is 1156 Euclid Avenue (653-0110). The one in Midtown is right across the stree from the Fox Theater and can get very busy on nights when there is a show at the Fox. My advice is to eat a late dinner and then you'll be sure to miss the Fox crowd which is usually out by 8pm. 689 Peachtree Street, 873-5361.
Camelli's Gourmet Pizza Joint
|This is a new "gourmet" pizza joint that happens to be in
the bottom of the building that I live in, so I know it pretty well! The
pizza there is really good, although the service is a little questionable.
Make sure to try the special "garlic sauce" version of whatever
slices you get. This is becoming a frequent destination for large groups
of people who want something more interesting than the usual Fellini's
stop. It is comparable to Pauline's Pizza in San Francisco, but not
as good as Vicollo's.
699 Ponce De Leon Avenue. Act like you are going into Kroger and then look for it on your right. 249-9020.
|This is my token Buckhead establishment, although its only a few blocks
from Midtown, so maybe that's why it's still pretty cool. This is the best
place to make a late-night stop if you are crusing around needing some
food before heading back to the CHI hotels. (You don't want to come stumbling
in at 2am, right?) R. Thomas' is open until 4 on M-Th and 24 hours on weekends.
They also serve breakfast all the time (pretty good too!) as well as Aurora
Coffee. The owner (R. Thomas, duh) is some kind of insomniac as I have
seen him there until all hours. Also, there is a psychic reader who hangs
out there at night and wants to do readings at your table. I'd send him
the psychic message, "Buzz off, you twerp!"
R. Thomas is just short of of Buckhead proper, 1812 Peachtree Rd, not too far past the Amtrak station(?), 872-2942.
The Flying Biscuit
The Flying Biscuit is an excellent neighborhood joint in homey Candler
Park. April Moon, the proprietor, serves up biscuits and nbreakfast-oriented
fare throughout the day. Everything tends toward the healthy side. If you're
from Kalifornia, think of this place as a better version of Hobee's that's
run by a real person instead of some mega-corporation.
|This is the kind of place I go when my relatives are in town for a
visit and volunteer to take me out for a meal. (Hey, gimme some slack,
I'm a grad student for crying out loud!) In all honesty, its not all that
expensive as dinner hovers around the $9-15/plate range. (If you want stupid-expensive,
go toThe Abbey.)
If you want something slightly less, you can eat at the lunch counter
in the retail area. The service is terrific and the atmosphere is very
The menu here is- dare I say it- Californian? Yeah, its that kind of "interesting American food with twisted ingredients that makes it better" strategy. It's comparable to The Slow Club. Everything always fresh and you can always ask the waitress/waiter to pick out some wine for you. The food reviewer for the 'Loaf did a story about Murphy's a while back when they moved; this guy is just as snotty as you would expect from a food critic. As a bonus, he reviews Mystic Pizza a pretty good Pizza joint on Crescent (see below in Vickery's). Murphy's is 997 Virginia Avenue, 872-0904 and they do not take reservations.
|This is a new restaurant and brewery that has opened up on the edge
of Piedmont Park. (The opposite edge from The Prince Of Wales Pub, and
I wouldn't try to hoof it unless you are in shape. Piedmont Park is pretty
big.) I have only been there once and I didn't think it was all that
great, although nothing was terrible. The food seem fresh and competently
prepared. People who were eating salads said they were great, but my food
was (apparently) not all that memorable. This has ample outdoor seating
so you can actually sit on the park.
I went there with about 30 people and even with reservations it was very tough. I'd call ahead since this place is getting really busy. 500 10th Street between Midtown and The Highlands at the corner of Monroe Dr. 249-0001.
|I've got two words for you about the Highland Tap: Prime Rib. I've never bothered with the rest of the menu; it is not cheap but it's good. 1026 N. Highland Avenue, 875-3673, in the middle of the Highlands but below ground level.
Surin Of Thailand
|Again I don't like Thai food, but when real people (not grad-students) want to take someone out for their birthday, this restaurant always comes up. It frequently gets voted down because of the crowds, but I suppose that is a good inicator that this place is worth going to. It's in the Highlands which is good because you'll probably have to wait a while and this way you'll have something to do. 810 N. Highland Avenue, 892-7789.
|This place is sort of like Murphy's with a more edge. Slightly more edge on the menu, substiantally more on the clientele. The bar here is open very late (I think 'til 2 if memory serves me correctly) and the restaurant serves until pretty late, maybe until midnight. Vickery's is part of a collection of interesting places on a small street which is pretty well hidden in Midtown. The street is Crescent Avenue and it has a good pizza joint (Mystic Pizza), another supposedly good restaurant (Daily News) which I haven't been to yet, and a pretty questionable Martini and Cigar bar called the Martini Club. 1106 Crescent Avenue, Midtown. 881-1106.
The South City Kitchen
The South City Kitchen is Burton's-Meets-New-South. SCK is nouvelle
southern and low country food, served with enough spunk to make any California
cuisine afficionado happy. SCK also runs a set of coffee houses in Atlanta
called the Urban Coffee Bungalows. While the coffee is decidedly inferior
to Aurora, they do have excellent sandwiches from their South City Kitchen
heritage. The SCK is just the ticket if you want to say you've eaten southern
food during your stay in Atlanta, but are scared of the "real thing"
There is only once source for donuts in Atlanta (or the rest of the south for that matter)...
This place is probably the biggest artery clog in the "heart of the new south" but you gotta do it. You gotta! The KK on Ponce has the donut factory in the back; you can see them making the donuts through a window! (Warning: Looking at the factory when you are about to eat the donuts is not for the faint of heart.) Also, the one on Ponce has a huge neon sign that says "Hot Donuts Now!" When that sign is lit- which means that donuts are coming out of the factory and are still hot- I'm sure the accident rate around there goes up 50% as people swerve their cars to pick up a few dozen. If you go, be sure to just get the "regular" Krispy Kreme, the other stuff is just for the tourists!
Testmonials: From a Californian I know on his upcoming trip to CHI: "I'm going to pick up a few dozen Krispy Kremes right before my flight and bring them home with me! They'll smell great under my seat!" From a Bostonian I know, after her first taste of Krispy Kreme: "This stuff is better than sex!" No comment.
Here's a story from the AJC about Krispy Kreme. Here's another story about the invasion of Krispy Kreme into Manhattan. New Yorkers I know are still talking about it. This place is a great stop on the way back to the CHI hotels from the Highlands, Midtown, or Ponce area. 295 Ponce De Leon. 876-7307
Atlanta's own breed Aurora Coffee is the best. No question
about it, not even close, shut up, don't give me any of this Starbuck's
crap, if you say Caribou you'll get a quick slap, it's not up for discussion.
Here is a story
about coffee in Atlanta. I'm not saying I necessarily agree with his
analysis, but he's not that far off.
Get some Aurora. Enjoy.
I'm not sure what to tell CHI attendees about MARTA, Atlanta's rapid transit system. Basically, Atlanta is really set-up fo cars. No two ways about it. The city is really sprawling out in all directions. I've concentrated my efforts in this guide to 3 areas of town, Midtown, Little 5 Points, and the Highlands. (Although if you do decide to go to Buckhead, a new station on MARTA has just been opened up there.) Only in the case of Midtown does MARTA really make sense, and even then not always, depending on where in Midtown you're going. Be sure to ask your concierge how far of a walk a place that are you going might be from the MARTA station. Also keep in mind that wandering around after dark in any major American city is a recipie for a mugging. A final point about MARTA: The last train is at 12 midnight, so being at the station before that is the only way to insure you'll get home OK.
Nobody could write this much drivel alone. I needed help from my fool friends. The main contributors and drunks involved are (in no particular order other than the cosine of the sum of the values of the letters in their names under unicode): Keith, Robin K and Rob K , CK1 and Kevin, Jeremy, Marky D, and of course, the Valmeister.