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Please Help Boston Hound In ATL

I will be attending a convention in Atlanta in a couple of weeks, staying at the Hilton. First, forgive me if this is a tired topic, but one of the things I most enjoy about visiting a city is seeking out some of its 'chowish' locations. The group I am travelling with are all from urban areas, and we aren't (necessarily) interested in high end places, but rather places that reflect unique Atlanta flavor that we couldn't get anywhere else. Please weigh in on some 'don't miss' venues. We have a car, but are allegedly attending convention panels, etc, so places close by are a bonus. Last year, the same convention was in Austin, and we skipped a half day make the Kreuz Market pilgrimage for 'Q. Thanks in advance to noble Atlanta hounds for their guidance.

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  1. For a historical lunch spot not too far from downtown try Harold's BBQ. It's been there for decades and has long been a lunch favorite of construction workers, politicians, cops, business folks, etc. There's always The Varsity in midtown. It's a grease joint, but the onion rings are better then most. When was the last time you had a truly fresh onion ring?!

    2 Replies
    1. re: HaagenDazs

      omg you did NOT just recommend the varsity. yes, it is very 'atlanta,' but soooo gross.

      1. re: batdown

        OK, let's review the original post. I'll use an original quote for those (see above: batdown) who aren't very good at reading:

        "we aren't (necessarily) interested in high end places, but rather places that reflect unique Atlanta flavor that we couldn't get anywhere else."

        Something else that has good, but not terribly expensive local cuisine is Woodfire Grill.

    2. Mary Mac's on Ponce and the Busy Bee on MLK are both great stops for a southern meat-n-three, not too far from downtown, either. I take all my visitors from the frigid northeast to at least one of those. ;)

      1. Unfortunately Atlanta isn't known for regional cuisine beyond southern and chicken and waffles... for a nice dinner i recommend Eno in midtown. i also recommend touring the Virginia Highlands area. Murphy's and Dish are my two favorite dinner spots in the area.

        3 Replies
        1. re: strephking

          I wholeheartedly disagree. There is plenty to offer locally and regionally here in Atlanta. Are we *famous* for it? Maybe not famous like San Francisco or the south of France, but the food is most certainly extremely good. Although Seeger's recently (and unfortunately) closed, Guenther Seeger was a HUGE supporter of local foods and local farmers. He practically invented the slow food/organic/local & fresh movement in the southeast. If you visit a restaurant like Woodfire Grill or Bacchanalia or Repast, they also like to highlight fresh, local ingredients. I say shame on you for saying Atlanta only has fried chicken, waffles, and to put words in your mouth, cornbread and collard greens. Get out more. Experience our good restaurants!!!

          1. re: HaagenDazs

            Name a local specialty in Atlanta please? One thing you can find in Atlanta that you we consider local. Please, enlighten me.
            People go to Philadelphia for Cheesesteaks, New Orleans for Beinets, North Carolina for BBQ. What do you go to Atlanta for?
            I've lived in Atlanta for 10 years and in the South all my life and to this day I have never been able to tell anyone what food Atlanta is known for. That is not to say there aren't amazing restaurants and wonderful chefs; I love enjoying the local ingredients of the south; however, we are just not known for a certain food. that is all i am saying.

            1. re: strephking

              You're right, Atlanta doesn't have a famous food item. I kind of hit that, I just was disagreeing with the thought that Atlanta doesn't have good quality cuisine. The "chicken and waffles" comment made me think that you were saying just that. Popular and good quality aren't the same; look at a Philly cheesesteak. I think I just missed your point in the first comment, my fault.

        2. ok, The Varsity gets a very bad wrap in Atlanta as being GROSS, no it is not fine dining, however, it's fun and better than McDonald's. the hot dogs and hamburgers are good, and are old fashioned (mustard, coleslaw, chili). i recommend stopping in for lunch, if just to hear the guys yell out your food to the cooks. it's assuming, but do remember your tums.

          4 Replies
          1. re: strephking

            The Varsity is a place to eat it every once in awhile and def. worth a visit for an out-of-towner. I like the chili and pimento cheese hamburger and the frosted orange, two things you don't often (if ever) find outside Atlanta.

            For me, I would want to hit a meat and three while in ATL. Others than those previously mentioned, I really like Carver's and it is very close to downtown. Bobby and June's on 14th is pretty good too. Been wanting to try Busy Bee.

            Best BBQ in ATL and comparable to Kreuz (personally I preferred Smitty's on my trips to Lockhart) are Sam N Dave's (bit of a hike) and the Fox Bros. The Fox Bros. will be opening their own restaurant in April, but for now, they serve it at Smith's Olde Bar. Because it's catered in, it can sometimes be hit or miss, but I recommend the ribs, brisket, green beans and the mac n cheese. Can't wait for these guys to get their own place and it will be forever on my list of places to take out of towners.

            Atlanta has great ethnic eats if you are willing to travel. As mentioned below, Tasty China is outstanding. Personally, I would not miss an opportunity to go there, it's that good and is permanently on my list of places to take out of towners. There's good Vietnamese (Com on Buford Hwy), Korean (Hae Woon Dae) and Mexican, most of which is found on Buford Highway. A couple of good mexican places in town are Laredo Nuevo and Taqueria Del Sol, but if you want the really authentic stuff you need to head to Buford Hwy.

            Other than that, I would try one South City Kitchen, Watershed or another higher end southern style restaurant to get some local flavor.

            1. re: offtheeatenpath

              Oh good! Thanks for the info on The Fox Bros. Where are they opening the restaurant?

              1. re: HaagenDazs

                1238 Dekalb Ave
                Atlanta ga 30307
                (little 5 pts)

                It use to be Asada. They got a website too, www.foxbrosbbq. I've had the pleasure of having their bbq when it is "fresh" and not reheated and it's infinitely better and consistent.

                1. re: offtheeatenpath

                  Oh no, when did Asada close? We had several meals there, and were usually satisfied. They tried very hard.

          2. I lived in atlanta for 4 years and now I've been in Boston for 4 years. So, I'm going to give you a few that I know are still there and I think represent the south and are signature to Atlanta.

            The Flying Bisuit Cafe- Atlant fixture. innovative breakfast with decadent recipes. Very good. If you want somethign to last you though your meetings, this restaurant will deliver. It's worth the trip. 2 locations. One in midtown and the original in Candler Park.
            http://www.flyingbiscuit.com/

            Agnes & Muriels- retro decor circa 1950s. Great meal. Dishes like meat loaf, mac & cheese, fried chicken, grits, etc. All modernized with fresh recipe variations. It's always packed. Make a reservation - can't remember it they take them. It's in an old brick house that I believe is painted pink? Good stuff!!

            Monroe Ave. in Midtown.
            http://mominthekitchen.com/

            One Midtown- this opened just as we were moving to Boston, but we made it before we left and visited again when we went for a visit last year. Great ambiance. Feels a little New York. Loud, but great decor and atmosphere. Food is great and the energy is wonderful. Open kitchen, dark and moody with great lighting. It doesn't feel really pretentious somehow.Friendly service and the food really was great. I think I had steak frites. Flavor and presentation was great. Definitely pricier than Agnes& Muriels, but a nice city restaurant where as Agnes & M is more kitsch.

            Fat Matt's Rib Shack- love these ribs and casual atmosphere. i think it's cash only. It's on Piedmont in Midtown. It's small and you may end up sitting on top of your neighbor. ITs first come first serve for tables. you order and then grab a table. They have draft beer on tap. The whole experience is fun. They push you around a little at the counter when you order, but it's part of the experience. They often have bands playing which can become ridiculously loud. I still enjoyed zoning out with my beer, my ribs and/or chicken or combo. Beans and coleslaw come with most dishes. It's small and loud.

            http://fatmattsribshack.com/

            5 Replies
            1. re: MMCC

              Forget The Flying Biscuit, it's lost it's appeal here in Atlanta. Go enjoy Thumbs Up Diner, better food and not on the verge of commercialism. Not very good anymore. For what its worth, this reviewer's favorite was eggs and bacon. That's *really* hard to make...
              http://atlanta.about.com/cs/restauran...

              Fat Matt's is ok, but it's only for the vibe. Food isn't worthy of a culinary visit. Harold's on the other hand still has ok BBQ and has a great history.

              One Midtown is a see and be seen place. Not bad, but there are better places in my opinion. If you enjoy guys with their hair buzzed and gelled, and girls with waaay too much make up, this is your restaurant.

              Sorry for the slams, but much has happened in 4 years.

              Another "add" for me is Sotto Sotto.
              http://www.sottosottorestaurant.com/

              1. re: HaagenDazs

                Agree on the biscuit. Thumbs Up is great. Another good breakfast spot, if you want Atlanta, the Silver Skillet on 14th. It has been around for who knows how many years and you will still be served by someone who was there when it all began.

                If you want BBQ, another option would be Daddy D'z on memorial. I prefer it to Fat Matts, I have not had Harolds so can't compare although I have heard good things about them.

                1. re: qrkid

                  Daddy D'z is better than Harold's IMO and isn't even in the same category as Fat Matt's. Harold's is a legacy, but Daddy D'z has surpassed them in BBQ. Again this is my opinion, and I hate to bash Harold's, but they have fallen a bit in the past few years. Point is, while Harold's is good, DD'z is a great spot - good rec.

                2. re: HaagenDazs

                  Stepping aside while local experts weigh in. I'm way out of date and suffering from Q deficiency. ;-) I'll be heading back for a visit in the Spring and will look into your updated recommendations.

                  Enjoy your trip to Atlanta, Boston Hound. Let us know how the city treats you. I always did enjoy the charm and hospitality.

                3. re: MMCC

                  Agree with HaagenDazs on the Flying Biscuit's decline. The death knell was sounded by their joining the Raving Brands conglomerate for immediate national franchising.

                  I haven't had one in a long time, but I crave a gingerbread waffle with lemon curd from Java Jive on Ponce. One of these days, I'll fulfill that craving.

                  Haven't been to Agnes & Muriel's in 4-5 years, but even then it had slid from where it was on opening.

                  It might not top heading to Kreuz for a pilgrimmage, but Greenwood's on Green St in Roswell is worth the trip N for an awesome southern meal. FWIW, my Texas BBQ pilgrimmage was from the lake area outside Austin to Cooper's in Llano. That was worth every minute of the 1.5 hr round trip.

                  Fatt Matt's is just foul. The ribs are devoid of flavor and loaded with grease from hasty cooking. If "vibe" is all that matters, and you have no other frame of reference for Q, then maybe Fatt Matt's might suffice. The Fox Bros. barbecue served just down the street at Smith's Olde Bar is a quantum leap ahead in terms of quality meat. Rolling Bones downtown does pretty good TX-style barbecue, too.

                  For something at the higher end, we had an excellent meal at Ecco relatively recently. Don't know that there's anything quintessentially "Atlanta" about it, though. And if you're into beer at all, it'd be worth a trip to Decatur for either the Belgian bar at The Brick Store or to the recently-retooled-as-a-brewpub Twain's pool hall. We made the Corned Beef Society 'meeting' at Twain's a week ago and enjoyed the beef and the beer.

                  And there's always Chick-fil-a chicken biscuits or hot Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts.