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Atlanta: downtown and East Atlanta

I am going to a conference in downtown Atlanta (Hilton, Marriott, Westin etc) just after new years, and am looking for suggestions from y'all hounds with the local knowledge. Will be commuting between a friend's house in East Atlanta and downtown, and am particularly interested in quick breakfasts in either, lunches downtown, and anything interesting or crucial for dinner in the general vicinity (will have cars, but prefer to walk/public transpo). I am in Boston now, but have lived in several places in Florida and central Texas and love barbecue, southern/soul food and all manner of global eats. The one essential element is I want to keep it on the cheap side.

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  1. You can get a great slice of cheese pizza at Rosa's Pizza on Broad St. Downtown.

    1. Radial and Bluebird Cafe are highly regarded breakfast spots, though a bit on the hippie/granola side. Wahoo Grill has a fine Sunday brunch ($15 buffet). Forget BBQ. You might try Son's Place for southern cooking.

      1. Thumbs up Diner on Edgewood is amazing. Thinking about their scambled eggs with cream cheese and fresh herbs is making my mouth water. Prepare to wait unless you go early (after the 7am crowd and before the partiers wake up is the best time to go - 10am). Eats on Ponce is cheap and fabulous southern/soul food. i believe it is cash only. none of these are walkable; however there is not much downtown because the sidewalks roll up at 5pm when the business people leave and head to the burbs... Baronda near The Fox is a really great pizza and pasta place. also not expensive.

        4 Replies
        1. re: strephking

          Eats now takes Mastercard and Visa - one of the signs of the apocalypse I believe. I've never thought of jerk chicken (what they're known for) as southern/soul food however.

          1. re: j.midtown

            i took some liberty, and I apologize. however, i do consider Meatloaf and a big old vegatable plate southern. Maybe I need to strike "soul" from the description. please define soul food? Chicken and waffles? i think it could be jerk chicken because of it's caribbean hertitage and how caribbean flavors influence soul food.

            1. re: strephking

              No need to apologize; thinking more about those newer menu items like the expanded veggies list and the meatloaf (I'd still quibble on this since traditional southern meatloaf wouldn't be turkey), they could be grouped into southern/soul. My problem is I first started going to Eats when the options were build-a-pasta or what is now the jerk chicken special - half a chicken, black beans and rice and cornbread(probably the worst thing they serve) - before that meatloaf and the veggie options were added.

              1. re: j.midtown

                on a different topic, i totally agree with you that there is time for an "atlanta" board section to be added to the list of boards.

        2. oh yes, I forgot to agree with Cubancoffee, BBQ just doesn't happen in ATL. if you want BBQ, you will need to go to Eastern North Carolina...

          1. Not sure about all the Atlanta BBQ bashing here is about; Fat Matt's in Midtown is good for really tender ribs. I haven't personally been to Rolling Bones, but lots of people like it.

            For Cheap and good between downtown and East Atlanta, definitely think about Six Feet Under for a southern seafood shack experience and Agave just around the corner for southwestern - both are next to Oakland Cemetery.

            1. We had a very good meal at Ecco the other night. Put together a bunch of small plates- the fried goat cheese, sweetbreads on lentils, a salad, and the pepper stuffed with braised short ribs. Had ricotta fritters for dessert. All in all, I'd definitely go again. Might not meet your cheap criteria, though.

              Here's a long writeup I did on a bunch of ATL BBQ places:


              Here's the 300K version of Fat Matt's ribs in all their greasy glory:


              Honestly, it's not just that they are pretty underwhelming as BBQ, those ribs are underwhelming as food in general. It'd be like going to the Varsity and asking them to turn the temp down on the fryer before making your onion rings. Just so they'd be extra soggy. And hold the salt. Note that I still really liked Rolling Bones even though it didn't meet my expectations for low-and-slow smoked meat.

              If you're going to the Eats area, I like Olive Bistro for falafel and the like. I used to get a veggie plate at Eats 2X a week when I lived nearby. And I've been to Cantina la Casita in E ATL a couple of times and thought it was very good.

              1. I love the Earl in East Atlanta - their burgers are, I think, the best in town. And if you're not in the mood, you can opt for the delicious black bean burger. And get the onion rings. Mmmmmmm. If you hate smokers, go in the off hours. The ONLY other decent place in East Atlanta is Casita La Cantina. DO NOT go to Crave or Graveyard Tavern.

                Downtown: Fleur Des Lis is a great french bistro - very tiny, new york-y feeling.