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3.5-hr ATL Layover - Best Value MARTA-Accessible Dinner?

Hello. I'm from Seattle, but I have a 3 1/2 hour connection in Atlanta coming up on Wed. December 20th. I'd love to quickly MARTA to a great dinner spot and back. I should be able to board the train at Airport station at 8pm and I should be back at the Airport by 10pm. If I were to go someplace around 5 Points that would give me 40 miutes of total MARTA travel time, 20 minutes of total walking time and 1 hour to eat. Sounds perfect. I'm really excited to eat in Atlanta for the 1st time.

I'm looking for a place that is really great at about $15/entree (or less if it's great). And a place that's within a 10 min. walk from an Airport line MARTA stop.

Zagat's recommended this place quite highly:
Les Fleurs De Lis Cafe
Healey Building
57 Forsyth St (Walton St.)
Atlanta, GA 30303
(404) 230-9151

I'm not sure I can cross reference the MARTA map with the map of the recent "top 50" Fall Dining Guide (http://www.accessatlanta.com/news/con...) but it seems like these restaurants might be near train tracks, if not MARTA stops:

Lobby At Twelve
361 17th Street Inside Twelve Hotel at Atlantic Station
(404) 961-7370

Eclipse di Luna
764 Miami Circle N.E.
(404) 846-0449

Floataway Cafe
1123 Zonolite Road N.E., Suite 15
(404) 892-1414

The Globe
75 5th St. N.W.
(404) 541-1487

Do any of these seem to be perfect for my purposes? Do you have any other such places you could highly suggest?

I would really appreciate your help. I hope to return to Atlanta for more time in the future, but for now, I want to get as much of taste of Atlanta as I can on this ambitious layover.

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  1. This is my kind of traveling. I did this once in San Francisco and found myself (bags and all) at Zuni Cafe. Fun.
    I adored my recent visit to Seattle which included visits to Salumi, Matt's, Restaurant Zoe, and a wine tasting dinner at Dahlia Lounge. Thanks for all your suggestions on that board.
    With your time constraints, I would definately not go any further than North Ave. Station.
    From your list you can forget about (unfortunately) Floataway, Eclipse, and Lobby at Twelve.
    The Globe is an option although you'll have a bit of a walk from one or more stations (it's in the middle of a couple). IT might be too far.
    Right near the North Ave. Station is Enoteca Carbonari, a fairly new spot, with excellent wine and Italian small plates to Fiorentina steaks. I ate there last weekend and really enjoyed it. http://www.baraondaatlanta.com/
    Baraonda is also right there near the North Ave. spot for simple Italian fare including delicious pizzas.
    I have never been to Fleur de Lis but hear very good things about it, and that's probably your closest choice to the airport. Others can help on that.
    Good luck and let us know what happens.

    1. go for fleur, that way you stay on one line and lower your risk.

      1. I would second the recommendation of Fleur. I think getting to the North Avenue Station is pushing it, given your time constraints. But you can definitely get to and from Five Points, and to and from Fleur in your allotted time. I would mention to your server at Fleur that you're under a bit of a time crunch, because ocassionally they run a little slow.

        1 Reply
        1. re: brrrdt

          I totally second the recommendation to let them know at Fleur that you have a time issue. That occurred to me when I read you original post. They are very good, but often VERY slow. I think as long as they know you have a time crunch, you shold be ok.

          Enjoy and please post your experiences.

        2. Take Marta to Arts station. Reserve a seat at the counter of Table 1280. See recent review in AJC. There is a more Chowhound idea however. Walk out to the Taxi waiting area. There are a bunch of trucks serving food from all over East and West Africa. See what looks good.

          1. Really? Wow. Do tell. Tell us more.

            1. A note of caution regarding the taxi waiting area at the airport. A couple years ago after reading (probably on this bulletin board) about the food on offer there, I gathered a couple of colleagues and made a trip there for lunch.

              Maybe there were just too many of us geeky looking white guys showing up all at once, but every one of the trucks that I approached (despite taxi drivers walking away with heaping plates of food) told me that they didn't serve food. We did attract a bit of attention from the collected taxi drivers who wanted to know why the heck we were there, who we were, had I ever been to Africa, did I work for the CIA, and an assortment of other questions. Eventually my answers must have been enough to convince them that I was harmless because one of the taxi drivers was kind enough to take me back to one of the trucks, introcuce me to the propriatess and secured a bowl of fufu for me to try.

              1. Most of the places you mentioned in the original post are actually NOT close to MARTA (not within reasonable & quick walking distance at least).
                Table 1280 is a good suggestion altho I've heard it's rather pricey.

                1. I say forget MARTA and take a quick cab ride to The Feed Store in very nearby College Park. A great restaurant with innovative dishes, great service and a funky atmosphere. I was very pleasantly surprised.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: hcrary

                    I couldn't disagree more.
                    The Feed Store was underwhelming and forgettable. The dishes I had were not innovative and the service was poor.
                    Maybe it's improved since I tried it.
                    A foodie from Seattle should not try this.

                  2. the security situation at the atlanta airport sometimes takes awhile, so make sure you give yourself adequate time. the one place i've wanted to try (but live on the north side of town and didn't want to drive to the southside of town to try) is oscar's in college park (right near the airport). you can check out the restaurant rating at www.accessatlanta.com. i wouldn't risk taking marta all the way into town and getting back as you'll probably miss your flight (unless you have elite status on delta, you'll wait in some line). good luck!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: atlantachowhound

                      Oscar's has been closed for some time now. Tax problem or something. That was the obvious choice from the airport until they closed.
                      It is now The Pecan on Main St. with southern cooking. Haven't been.

                    2. Atlanta is NOT a late night diner friendly city and the airport is not easy to get in and out of these days, ESPECIALLY at the holidays. If you leave the secured area you will have to go back through the security screening and on December 20th that line could easily be 3 hours long. My recommendation would be for you to stay in the airport and preferrably behind the security check points.

                      1. Wow. Lot's of great information. Thank you. It seems some of you would attempt this and some wouldn't. I think I will give an escape from the airport a try, but I won't kid myself to think that I will have a luxurious amount of time to play with. Fleur, it seems, is slow, so I will order an entree right away and maybe even ask for the check before we are ready to go. But I haven't heard anyone trying to steer me away from that place for food reasons. That's a good sign.

                        Other places that I will investigate, thanks to your suggestions:
                        Enoteca Carbonari (near North Ave. Station)
                        Table 1280 (Arts Center Station)
                        The African trucks near the taxi rank at the Airport (These trucks sound so "chowhoundish". I'm definitely going to keep this in my back pocket in case delays or security lines force me to cancel my trip into town. Any particular truck to seek out?)

                        Thanks for all your input. I'm really looking forward to my very brief visit to Atlanta.

                        1. Get a cab and go to The Varsity near Ga. Tech. The Varsity is the world's largest drive-in and its an Atlanta Landmark. The food is excellent. For pictures of the Varsity use GOOGLE and enter choppedonion.com

                          1. ONly go to the VArsity if you are looking for a unique experience in Atlanta. Not if you are seeking great food. Not that it is bad, but it is fast food.

                            As to the food carts at the airport... I just flew in this morning and thought I'd check them out and get an early lunch. I did not see the carts at the taxi stand, so I asked my driver. He said they are downstairs from where you would exit the airport/baggage claim. Not sure how to get down there, but will do more investigating next time I'm there.

                            1. Wow…as others have commented you’re taking quite a risk leaving the airport with a 3.5 hour layover. But you seem to have your time constraints mapped out well so here are my choices;
                              Take MARTA to the North Avenue Station (40mins RT $3.50) exit to North Avenue) walk one block west (5 min, on the other side of the church) to the Varsity. At 8:30 it should be fairly quite although GaTech will still be in session. The food is…tasty…but greasy…hot dogs chili steaks, fries and signature onion rings. If you're in need of a good grease job this is your place.
                              Second, The Feed Store in College Park. Good reviews and it’s near the MARTA College Park station (<5 min from Airport, $3.50 RT) so you won’t need to rush.
                              The other restaurants you list may be good choices but from my experience are too far from the Airport either using MARTA or a cab frankly and you risk missing your flight. As other commenters have indicated the security process at the Atlanta Airport can be a reasonable 20 minutes or a frustrating hour plus.
                              My 2-cents.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: ramblinwreck

                                I wouldnt risk it with MARTA. Take a cab and go to any of these places or go to somewhere in College park.