Best of Atlanta

“Oh Atlanta, I hear you calling, I’m coming back to you one fine day, no need to worry, there ain’t no hurry, I’m coming back to Georgia.” -Allison Krauss & Union Station

The Varsity

The State Capitol with Dahlonega gold dome

Old World of Coke sign next to Underground Atlanta

The Fabulous Fox Theatre

High Museum of Art

Atlanta Braves at Turner Field

Georgia Aquarium

I’ve lived in the suburbs of Atlanta for my entire life and I was always so excited to go into the city, even if we were just driving through on the way to somewhere else. There is so much diversity to it. Here are my favorite places:

Restaurants

  • The Varsity: An Atlanta classic. On North Avenue next to Georgia Tech, you will see all sorts of people at the World’s Largest Drive In, whether it be Braves fans, Tech students, tourists, or regulars. Don’t be afraid to step up to the counter because they will be shouting “what’ll ya have.” I like the naked dog and fries with a Coke and a Frozen Orange. (Downtown, Burgers)
  • The Vortex: These are by far the best burgers in the city. Period. Keep in mind that it is not family friendly. You must be 18 to dine here (thanks to the Georgia Smokefree Act of 2005) but the food is amazing. Get your burger with a side of tater tots. The most famous burger is their Coronary Bypass, which has cheese, bacon, mayo, and a fried egg. Not what you would call a light lunch. (Little Five Points, Burgers)
  • Gladys Knight and Ron Winans Chicken & Waffles: Everything you need to know about this restaurant is in the name. It is owned by music legends Gladys Knight and Ron Winans and serves chicken and waffles on Peachtree Street right across from the fabulous Fox Theatre. The chicken, which can be wings, breasts, or drumsticks, are served with a large waffle and your option of sides. I suggest the Midnight Train to Georgia with a side of their creamy mac and cheese. I have also heard that the catfish and fried corn are especially tasty. The best part? They are open til 4 am on weekends. (Downtown, Southern)
  • The Flying Biscuit: This colorful cafe may just have the best brunch in the metro area. With locations all over the city, you can have the famous “flying biscuit” any time of day. Be prepared to eat a lot and get there early because you may have to wait for a table. I get the breakfast with scrambled eggs, grits, and potatoes. (Downtown, Southern)
  • Fellini’s: I love Fellini’s. I dream about it when I am in South Carolina. I could eat there every day of my life. Fellini’s Pizza is like Starbucks in this town, with one on every corner. Grab a slice of their Italian sausage pizza and wash it down with a Coke. They also have a sister restaurant that is next to most locations, La Fonda Latina. (Downtown, Pizza)
  • El Ranchero: My family and I have been going to this Mexican restaurant every week for my entire life and before that, my aunt’s entire life. The owners know us and can guess what we are going to order. I love Mexican food and it’s places like this that remind me why. With ten locations throughout the metro area, (my location is No. 1 of course) it’s easy to get your fix. I always order tacos, rice, and queso, but they also have authentic quesadillas, burritos, and enchiladas. (Marietta, Mexican)
  • Ted’s Montana Grill: Ted’s is a place that my family and I go for special occasions, such as birthdays, for the juicy burgers. Ted, as you may already know, is small town Atlanta boy Ted Turner. Inspired by his ranch in Montana, he brings bison and other wild game to his Atlanta restaurants. He even has an apartment over the Luckie Street location. Although it is now becoming a nationwide chain, it all started here. Order a bison burger plain. It needs no toppings. Ted also takes measures to be environmentally friendly, with biodegradable napkins and straws. (Downtown, American)
  • Rocco’s Pub: If you read my Charleston post, you know that I love hole in the wall places. Rocco’s is one such place and a favorite of my dad’s. This strip mall pub is famous for its award winning chili. The fare is mostly bar food, but I usually choose a wrap or sandwich. My dad stays true to the pub and always orders a bowl of chili and hot wings. (Marietta, Barbecue)
  • Bagelicious: Where does a New Yorker visiting Georgia go for a perfect bagel? Marietta’s Bagelicious. My Jewish friends growing up were (and still are) regulars here and always know what to order. I may be boring with my plain bagel, but it sure is good. Breakfast is delicious and there are always people talking about the Marietta gossip. (Marietta, Bagels/Kosher)
  • Marietta Diner: The biggest downside to living in the suburbs is that everything closes at nine. When the college kids are home for break, they have to find somewhere to hang out. For my friends and I, that place is Marietta Diner. Not only is it open 24 hours, but it has the HUGEST menu of any restaurant I have ever been to. Breakfast, sandwiches, seafood, dessert, anything you could ever want. What I order changes with every visit, so I can’t recommend one particular thing. One thing I can say is leave room for cake and on the way home, go across the street to Krispy Kreme to get the next morning’s breakfast. It was featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-In’s and Dives and now has a family of restaurants that include Cherokee Cattle Co., Pasta Bella Family Grill, and Marietta Fish Market. (Marietta, Diner/American)

Shopping

  • Atlantic Station: This huge outdoor mall/restaurant/apartment complex is one of the first things you see driving into the city. It houses these restaurants: Atlantic Grill, Bonehead’s, California Pizza Kitchen, Coldstone Creamery, Copeland’s Cheesecake Bistro, Doc Greens, Dolce, Fox Sports Grill, Geisha House, The Grape, Kilwin’s, Lobby at Twelve, Moe’s, PJ’s Coffee, Rosa Mexicano, Strip, Subway, Ten Pin Alley, and Tin Drum. Stores include IKEA and a huge Target, among nearly thirty others. Take a walk around to see everything. On Friday nights there is an arts and crafts market.
  • Junkman’s Daughter: This crazy place in Little Five Points is like a punk rock garage sale. Everything from clothing to books to home goods to smoking paraphernalia.
  • Rag-O-Rama: This L5P (or Little Five Points) store is the best thrift store goods organized in a way that you can find them.
  • Clothing Warehouse: The Warehouse also has a huge selection of vintage finds in L5P, but if you are really in the know, you hit up the East Point location, where you can buy clothing by the pound.
  • Criminal Records: Also in Little Five, this store has a large selection of CDs, records, and comics. It houses musicians in town every week. Also try Wax and Facts, right down the street.

Attractions

  • Piedmont Park: Piedmont Park is the largest green space in the city and there is always something going on, whether it be movies, concerts, or weddings. The park borders a lot of restaurants, so grab a bite and walk around the park or grab a picnic to go.
  • Centennial Olympic Park: Another park in the city, this park was created for the 1996 Olympics (as many other places around the city were). Screen on the Green, summer movies played in the park, were once housed at Piedmont Park but have since moved to Centennial due to renovations. Go play in the Olympic fountains.
  • World of Coke: This museum dedicated to all things Coca-Cola was just reopened next to the Aquarium, CNN Center, and Centennial Olympic Park at Pemberton Place. Sample sodas from all over the world, and of course Coca-Cola Classic. There is also a gift shop and cafe.
  • Georgia Aquarium: This new aquarium is the largest in the South and houses all sorts of marine life, most notably the beluga whales and whale sharks. It also has traveling exhibits and a Wolfgang Puck cafeteria.
  • CNN Center: Browse the CNN archives, tour the studio, take a look at the action in the newsroom, and watch out for Wolf Blitzer while eating lunch in the huge food court.
  • High Museum of Art: This art museum is one of the best in the south, hosting exhibits from all over the world. Most recently were the Terra Cotta Soldiers and pieces from the Louvre. There is also a great local artist section, which has work from my personal favorite Georgian, Howard Finster.
  • Atlanta Braves: Go to a home game at Turner Field and catch all the action! There is never a dull moment at a game, so grab some boiled peanuts and sport your best tomahawk chop.

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About Caroline

Caroline Eubanks is the founder of Caroline in the City. She's a freelance writer based in Atlanta, Georgia but also considers Charleston and Sydney home. Her past writing credits include work for Uptake, Matador, the Charleston City Paper and she is a contributor to Her Packing List.

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One Response to Best of Atlanta

  1. Christine August 13, 2010 at 12:13 am #

    To add:Resturants: Taqueria del sol–cheap and delicious. also everything is around $2 so you can mix and match all sorts of tacos for a perfect meal. frozen margaritas also make the meal complete. Shopping: Decatur. Full of cute boutiques plus lots of cute resturants.Activities: Sweetwater tour, shoot the hooch

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