Atlanta must-eats for visitors from New York!
We are visiting Atlanta from May 12-16 and we would appreciate your recommendations for must-eats in the area. We are going to be around the Midtown area but we will have a car so transportation is not an issue. We are looking for relatively reasonably priced places (so nothing like Bacchanalia) that are quintessentially Atlanta (Southern-ish), delicious, or just something relatively unique that we would not find easily in other cities. I've done some research and here's what I have so far:
-South City Kitchen
-Fat Matt's (or maybe Fox Bros?)
-Flip Burgers (looks much more delicious than The Varsity)
-Ria's Bluebird (seems a bit different from ordinary gourmet brunch spots)
-Carver's or Busy Bee? (I've been to Mary Mac's before)
We are also driving to Savannah on Saturday and it would be great if you can recommend anything along the way or places in Savannah. Unfortunately, Mrs Wilkes' Dining Room seems to be closed on weekends.
Ria's is good, but surly - and not genius. Shaun's is fine and if you eat at the bar you'll like the southern take on East Village Salad, Fava Salad, Best Crab Cakes in ATL...
Def. need a car. ATL is a pain by cab or transit.
South City is VERY smart. As is Holeman & Fitch (maybe a little $y)
JCT is great for brunch and Ford's Shrimp & Grits is a fantastic example of the region.
Miller Union is about simple, perfect execution of high quality good from the region. Excellent food, wine, drinks and location is gorgeous. Lunch & Dinners.
Fox Bros BBQ rocks. And if you want a Sodium Overload with Beige Meat-N-3 the ubiquitous Busy Bee is a cheap lunch joint (this is for experience, not culinary haughtiness by any stretch. Just ol' Southern Soul on a plate.)
Abbatoir, while owned by Annie @ Bachannalia is a poor imitation of an offal-centric execution - avoid it unless you want underseasone rillettes, unremarkable terrine, and poorly seasoned everything. There's more bland food then real offal - go to H&F above.
Repaste is Excellent but not in your budget. 4th & Swift has some great items.
I'm from SF and been here for 2yrs, its a tough town for folks with NY, SF, etc. under their belts because much of what is available is a tad naive or smacks of mid-west "fusion". Its slowly turning around.
Brickstore is great for beer, food is just alright - go to their brother-resto down the street, Leon's Full Service for awesome cocktails and good food. Avoid Iberian Pig (not authentic). Watershed in Decatur is also a "clean" southern concept but Scott and Steven are no longer in the house so...
Busy Bee Cafe
810 Martin Luther King Jr Dr SW, Atlanta, GA 30314
4th & Swift
621 North Avenue NE, Atlanta, GA 30308
999 Brady Ave Suite 106, Atlanta, GA 30318
World class home cooking to put anything on the 7 Train to shame.
Gordita's La Rancherita
2055 Beaver Ruin Rd
Norcross, GA 30071-3650
They make all their own masa. Everything is extraordinary--especially the hand made tortillas, gorditas, sopes. Salsa verde made with roasted jalapenos. Get a chorizo and papas quesadilla,, or carne asada. Get the barbecoa con consomme. Get a caldo de pollo. Get 3 or four gorditas and a quesadilla--this way you get to try a lot of things for not a lot of money. We are now up to $23 and you have more food than four can eat. Credit cards, even, and beer, and fresh squeezed juices and freshly prepared shakes (liguados). Read the above link. If you are still hungry, the panaderia (bakery) next door has exc flan, daily special cakes etc.
If you are going to do BBQ -- Fox Brothers is a good choice. It is Texas BBQ, rather than specifically southeastern, but who cares? But really do condsider Harold's, if you are looking for something specifically "Atlanta". They do a spectacular brunswick stew -- which is the Georgia contribution to the BBQ scene.
If you want a place illustrating Atlanta, the Colonnade is a good choice. The Southern food is good (certainly better than Merry Mac's), and the happy combination of Atlanta's gay community and Atlanta's AARP community makes for a unique eating environment.
$30 valet parking at Palomar is obscene, even by 5 boro standards. Depending on where you're from in NY, you shouldn't find MARTA a problem, esp since Palomar is within walking distance of the 10th St. MARTA station (just stay out of the poorly-lit east west streets). The west side restaurants recommended in the posts are accessible by the #12 MARTA bus or < $10 taxi ride. As Ted mentioned, check the MARTA schedules via web, the trains and busses don't run as frequently as MTA.
Ria's Bluebird is good, but not great (in my opinion.. but I live in Cabbagetown, so maybe I overdid it). A really lovely spot for brunch or dinner is Shaun's. Not terribly over the top, and Shaun Doty is a talented chef. Plus, if you end up there for brunch on a weekend morning and the weather is nice, they have a very pretty patio.
Thanks for all your suggestions. It seems we would be going to Brick Store Pub one evening. Any other recommendations for places with entrees from $10-15?
Also, this might be a bit off-topic, but do you think it's necessary to have a car in Atlanta (staying at Hotel Palomar in Midtown)? Valet parking is $30 and there is no self parking option. Is the MARTA safe and is it convenient to get around to these restaurants?
MARTA is safe, but it is not really an option to get around. You need a car or use a taxi to get the these restaurants. In Atlanta, you will not be able to "hail" a cab off the street like in NY, so plans must be arranged. Staying at the Palomar, you should give Pacci a try. Also near you and in your price range are the Vortex on Peachtree for burgers/ bar food. Also walking distance is Baroanda for Italian or possible Ecco. Most of the other places mentioned will not have entrees in the $10-15 range.
As an aside, I go to NY quite often and would love to hear your favorite restaurants there, so I have some idea for comparison. Might be helpful to guide you a little more specifically.
40 7th Street Northeast, Atlanta, GA 30306
99 Jeff Davis Rd, Thomaston, GA 30286
866 W Peachtree Drive, Atlanta, GA 30308
You can hail a cab on the street with reasonable success. But I'd imagine it'd also easy to use either the hotel or call Checker directly. I very infrequently use cabs in town, so I'd probably have a fit at the cost for getting among some of the places that've been mentioned.
Zipcar might be another option. I took a quick look (http://www.zipcar.com/atlanta/find-cars), and it seems there are several cars in Midtown.
The Brick Store is a great spot. And very accessible via MARTA. The only slight annoyance will be changing trains at 5 Points. The Decatur station is right on the square. Just check the schedules for when they reduce operations so you don't end up with an extra long wait.
I will repeat many of the same things here, but this way you can take it as a "vote."
JCT Kitchen - I think it's better for upscale southern than SCK
Restaurant Eugene - even better really one of my faves.
Holeman & Finch for burgers (after 10 pm)
Antica Pizza Napoletano (bring your own wine/beer)
Brunch - Babbettes
2277 Peachtree Road, NE, Atlanta, GA 30309
999 Brady Ave Suite 106, Atlanta, GA 30318
I lived in NY for the last couple years and have been in Atlanta for a few months. I've been trying real hard to seek out the food that is delicious and unique to Atlanta. I'm still early in my search but I don't have too many recommendations for things that you can't get (or get as well) in New York. However, for starters, I'd say get some Korean food. Atlanta has a ton of great Korean food that far surpasses K-Town in Manhattan and Flushing as well.
I've now been staring at my screen for 15 minutes and can't come up with anything else. I just haven't been here long enough to find what's special. There's a lot of good food down here but most of what I have had is better in NY (not a slight against Atlanta, food is just that good in NY). I'm sure there are good Southern places to hit up but don't go to Mary Mac's, it was disappointing the one time I went.
one more point. I haven't been to any Ethiopian places in Atlanta but I understand (from my Ethiopian friend) that they are good here. I know from experience that they suck in NYC so that might be another thing to consider. Actually, I went to one Ethiopian place in College Park here which was bad but it's on the opposite side of town from the Ethiopian population which I believe is somewhere in the Tucker, Chamblee area
I've actually never been to Carver's but my wife and friends who work closer to it say great things. It's been years since I've been to the Busy Bee.
Bocado also gets a nod alongside Miller Union on the westside. John Kessler recently had great things to say about it on his blog.
For a semi-Bacchanalia experience, either Abattoir or Floataway Cafe would be good choices. I'm also a big fan of Holeman & Finch. We've also been to Social a couple times lately and have had great meals. This past weekend the service and bar misfired slightly (regular bartender gone and no one could make their specialty drinks), but it's kind of Euro that way (in a good way mostly). The food still rocks.
For intown BBQ, I'd go to Fox Brothers, Community Q, or DBA in a heartbeat over nasty Fat Matt's. For a semi-countrified Q experience, I'd go to Swallow at the Hollow (Q) or Greenwoods (Southern) in Roswell.
I think of the drive to Savannah as kind of a food wasteland. Really, once you get on I-16, there just isn't a lot. You might post on the other board to get Savannah feedback- I despise the board split by the way.
1123 Zonolite Road Northeast, Atlanta, GA 30306-2015
Well, I was going ti say Bacchanalia, until I got half way through your post. Seriously, you're coming from NY and don't think Bacchanalia is "reasonable"? It's got to be the best deal in the city for food and service quality compared to price.
South City is a good choice for you, if you're looking for a "southern" experience. For BBQ, I'd go to Harold's. Stay away from awful places like Mary Mac's or Pitty Pat's porch.
You might consider Miller Union as well for dinner, and maybe brunch at Table 1280.
1280 Peachtree Rd., Atlanta, GA 30309
999 Brady Ave Suite 106, Atlanta, GA 30318