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Tell me about Atlanta restaurants and destinations, based on where I'll be?

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Hello all,

I am SUPER-PUMPED right now because I just bought a ticket to see my favorite recording artist of all time, TOM WAITS, in Atlanta on August 1st. Apparently he hasn't played tour dates in the South since the '70s, and he's reclusive and isn't getting any younger, so I never thought I'd actually have a chance to see him live. Even though I live seven hours away in Orlando, Florida, I would never forgive myself for missing this.

So I have a will call ticket that will be ready for me, and now I want to find out more about Atlanta. The show will be at the Tabernacle, which is apparently a huge, beautiful venue that used to be a church. It is located at 152 Luckie Street in Atlanta. What kind of area is this? Slick, regentrified downtown, or more of a scary fringe area, or something else entirely? Is it close to anything? What are some good nearby places to eat?

As far as food, the one famous place I always hear about in Atlanta (from Food Network hype) is the Varsity. Will I be close to that? Naturally, I'd prefer to avoid big casual dining chains, fancy joints, and common fast food places, and stick to smaller hidden treasures, famous local institutions, and anything on the cheaper side. Ethnic food is A-OK with me. I'll be going alone, so I don't need to impress anyone.

Slightly off-topic, are there any affordable nearby hotels? (I'll be missing work on a Tuesday and Wednesday, and figure I'll need to crash in a room after the concert before driving home.) Any must-see destinations in Atlanta? Is this close at all to the World of Coca-Cola, which I've heard is pretty fun? What else do I need to know as I venture into the A-T-L?

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  1. The Tabernacle is downtown right near Centennial Olympic Park.
    This area is very up and coming, although it's not yet one of the better restaurant areas, in my opinion, not yet at least.
    Check some recent posts. Therese recently listed a bunch a great spots in the area.
    The Varsity is not too far away, but despite the history, I don't think it's the way you want to spend your Atlanta eating time.
    Check the following link for downtown eating hints.
    http://www.atlantadowntown.com/Having...

    1. Hey there Big Bad,

      Congrats on your ticket! I like Tom Waits too. The Tabernacle is right in downtown Atlanta.

      Are you going to have a car? That will make a difference in some of your choices. You should stop by the Varisty - it is within walking distance (but that walk would be a "not-much-fun" walk)...it happens to have a ridiculously enormous parking lot, so you could drive like everyone else in Atlanta.

      There's a great french bistro downtown - Les Fleurs de Lys. While not cheap, it really does have a delightful authentic french feel and excellent food. It's also in a beautiful old building.

      My other favorite restaurant in the area is a thai restaurant called Spoon. They have some awesome curry dishes there.

      1. Thank you both for the recommendations! I will have a car -- I'm driving in from Orlando early on that Tuesday, going to the show, crashing somewhere, and staying at least half the day on Wednesday before I return to Florida. I'll be alone and won't mind driving a bit, but I can guarantee I won't feel like spending too much money on any meals (or accomodations). As nice as that French bistro sounds, "While not cheap" sends up a warning flare for me.

        1. Maybe you should just keep with your music theme and head over to Virginia Highlands or Little 5 Points for food, then make a visit to Criminal Records and/or Wax 'n Facts for a music fix. They're about a block apart in Little 5 Points.

          You could check out Alon's in Morningside (N end of Va Hi) for great baked goods, sandwiches, etc. Then, if they're open, hit their gelato offerings at What's The Scoop a couple doors down. Or try Alon's somewhat-precious competition at Belly (Highland and St. Charles). For good but not tremendously chowish food, Murphy's is solid. And there's Savage Pizza right by Criminal in L5P. You could have a burger and a beer at The Vortex, or a burrito/quesadilla at El Myr for bar-ish options. None are particularly pricey.

          1. I agree 100% with Ted's comments above. To your question about an affordable place to stay, I'd suggest the Highland Inn. I've not known anyone who has stayed there but I live just up the street and it's a great location.

            http://www.thehighlandinn.com/

            It's convenient to your concert (though not walking distance, a taxi from the hotel won't set you back much more than parking near the Tabernacle is likely to cost). The hotel is also a short walk (something you can't do many places in ATL) to both Little 5 Points and Virginia Highlands I think that rooms run around $65-$70 a night. The restaurant in the hotel is a pretty happening neighborhood spot, as is Pura Vida, a tapas resto a few steps up the street. Even fewer steps in the opposite direction is Manuels' Tavern - an Atlanta institution for political and media types. Good but not great bar food, and it's not uncommon to find Jimmy Carter stopping in for a cool refreshing adult beverage. In fact, the Carter Center is just around the corner, and they have a nice museum if you're looking for something a bit cultural.

            Also, as nobody has mentioned it above, Atlanta has a big new aquarium quite close to the Tabernacle. Not cheap however ($22.75), personally I think I'd rather spend the money on a plate of sushi. If you're interested, book your ticket in advance (on-line). ENJOY!

            1. I would also recomend staying in the highlands vs. close to the tabernacle. It will be only a short cab ride away, by the way the tabernacle is a great venue to see live music. I would recomend Pura Vida...plates are six bucks and kind of on the small side, but really good food. Lots of other good choices in the area, just depends on your mood.

              1. Only having visited there, I'm not that familiar with the layout and distances in Atlanta. But I've been to Marietta Diner several times and it is excellent for all 3 meals. Breakfast was the best. And wait till you see their bakery items. Wow! If you love cheesecake, this is the place!!

                1. I say skip the Varsity. It is an Atlanta institution but the food is just bad. For a bit more on the high end, Restaurant Eugene is great. Think Southern but sustainable. Love it.