Welcome to Atlanta, UCF Knights! As a UCF grad living in Atlanta, I’m particularly excited that UCF will be here. Of course, it’s momentous for our team but it also means I’ll get to see friends that I only see once a year (some for the first time in years!). Atlanta’s huge, and there’s lots of bad advice out there, so let your gal help you out, okay? I wish I could include ALL of the wonderful Atlanta things, but your time (like Scott’s Frost tenure) is limited, so this is just a quick smattering. Keep reading to see where to eat, drink, and explore in Atlanta.
The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl takes places on Monday, January 1, 2018, at 12:30 p.m. ICYMI the #12 UCF Knights will be playing #7 Auburn. They’ll play in the sparkling Mercedes Benz stadium in Downtown Atlanta. You can buy tickets here.
Where to Eat:
Don’t skip the most important meal of the day! Rise and shine at Home Grown, a greasy spoon in Reynoldstown with its own veggie garden. Of course, the most popular dish there has nothing to do with veggies: the comfy chicken biscuit. A huge fluffy biscuit gets topped off with fried chicken and smothered in sausage gravy. Don’t leave without checking out their thrift shop in the back!
If lighter fare is more your style, head to Muchacho (also in Reynoldstown), a new spot in an old train depot. This cozy joint has retro California vibes and an avocado toast that will make you swoon. They also sling a strong cortado!
I’m also pretty into Upbeet for a healthy breakfast. It’s not cheap, but they make delicious smoothie bowls, toats, and superfood lattes.
If you can deal with crowds and a wait, Buttermilk Kitchen is the place to go for the perfect comfort food breakfast. Who can beat the combination of cute atmosphere, locally sourced ingredients, and crave-worthy dishes? Their biscuits are famous, but I actually love their take on oatmeal with a caramelized banana.
Some people say Atlanta’s not a barbecue city, but those people would be wrong. It’s off the beaten path, but B’s Cracklin’ BBQ is worth the detour (just 20 minutes or so from Downtown). You can’t go wrong with any meat your heart desires, but the brisket is especially smokey and tender and I always insist on a side of cracklin’ cornbread (served like a hoecake). Sometimes I order the “Carolina’s Finest” pulled pork sandwich and swap out the bun for cracklin’ cornbread — another good choice! You also can’t go wrong with Fox Brothers which is closer to Dontown.
For Mexican food head to West Midtown and get your grub on at Bone Garden Cantina. Tucked away in an office park, the location’s exterior may surprise you but once you’re inside you’ll be delighted by the splashy decor. Lots of skulls (hello, bone garden), and raunchy art makes for a fun atmosphere. They serve brunch items on Saturday (closed on Sunday), but I love their tacos on homemade corn tortillas any time (go for the lengua and lemon curry chicken).
If you’re feeling indecisive, go to one of the food halls: Krog Street Market or Ponce City Market. To be honest, if the weather’s nice you can easily do both on the BeltLine! Krog Street Market is smaller and less corporate. Standout food options here include Fred’s Meat and Bread (get the burger stack, shroom shire cheesesteak, or the cauliflower bahn mi), Yalla (Israeli food), Richards’ Southern Fried (all about fried chicken here), and Varuni Napoli.
Ponce City Market (PCM) is beautiful and historic (it was once a train depot for Sears) and much larger than KSM. There are shops (J. Crew, Goorin Bros., Anthropologie, etc.), apartments, BeltLine access, and plenty of restaurants and food stalls. My absolute favorite place here is Botiwalla for flavorful Indian street food (you MUST order the masala potatoes and chicken tikka roll), but other popular stalls include Hop’s Chicken (delicious fried chicken), H&F Burger, and W.H. Stiles (seafood). As far as restaurants at PCM go, Minero is my favorite (Mexican with outstanding chicken wings and burrito) but Bellina Alimentari is also good. You can also play games on the roof at Skyline Park.
Vietnam meets New Orleans at Bon Ton, a neon-infused restaurant serving up Cajun seafood. Get some spicy crawfish and wash it down with one of their cocktails.
If you love good pasta, go to BoccaLupo where Bruce Logue creates some of the tastiest pasta dishes around. If you’re feeling splurgy you can do a pasta tasting!
Rose + Rye is one of ATL’s newest spots and definitely worth a visit. I mean, it’s in a historic home called the CASTLE, who can resist that? It’s beautiful and the chefs plate each dish artfully. Don’t skip dessert!
Venture to Decatur (just a few minutes east of Downtown) and grab dinner at one of the gems out there. I especially enjoy No. 246 for pasta and pizza, but Leon’s Full Service is fun and you can’t go wrong with drinks at Kimball House or SOS Tiki Bar.
5Church is one of my favorite spots for dinner in a party atmosphere. It’s spacious (a bonus for groups) and has wild decor adding to the festive vibes. Chef Scotley Innis whips up creative dishes with his own flair — see what I mean here and here.
Gluten-free or traveling with someone who is? Mediterranea in Grant Park is a darling neighbourhood restaurant that makes only gluten-free food. Even if you’re not gluten-free you’ll still find plenty of delicious options.
Burgers abound in Atlanta, favorite spots include H&F Burger in PCM, the General Muir’s, Bocado, Fred’s Meat & Bread.
Of course, there are many more options than what I’m including here, feel free to explore some of my fav bites around town and other write-ups.
What about dessert?
My absolute favorite ice cream shop is Butter & Cream with locations in Decatur and Roswell. In town, though, you can’t go wrong with Jeni’s (a chain, but they’re so good at what they do), Vintage Frozen Custard, and Jake’s.
Chocolate lovers should visit the Xocolatl stall in Krog Street Market. It’s owned by an Atlanta couple that sources organic, ethically-grown chocolate and turn it into rich, dark chocolate bars.
Pastry lovers can find baked good heaven at Little Tart (in Krog Street Market and in Grant Park), Star Provisions, and Proof Bakery.
So many bars, so little time. Cocktail snobs, go to Kimball House in Decatur and Ticonderoga Club in KSM. They both have great food, too. Beer lovers: we have SO MANY breweries and favs include Second Self, Monday Night Brewing, and Red Brick on the Westside but Sweetwater is a classic. I also love ASW Distillery for whiskey and distillery eye candy.
If you want to feel French for a day, go to Bread & Butterfly where you can sip wine in a Parisian cafe and munch on French eats.
Amer is in the Iman Park area and specializes in cocktails made with amaro. It’s an intimate bar and their drinks are stellar.
Little Trouble on the Westside gets a little clubby at night, but not to the point it’s obnoxious. There’s a “Blade Runner” vibe with lots of Neon and drinks with Asian-inspired flair.
Odds and Ends
Don’t leave Atlanta without a doughnut!
If you need a caffeine fix, swing by Dancing Goats at Ponce City Market or Chrome Yellow for good vibes and good coffee. Brash on the Westside is another favorite. It’s in a shipping container, blink and you might miss it.
If you’re feeling adventurous and have the time, head to Buford Highway where there’s a plethora of international eats (Vietnamese, Korean, Indian, etc.): Food Terminal (Malaysian) is my current fav but you’ll have to let your tummy decide.
Where to Explore
Feeling touristy? Go to the College Football Hall of Fame, the Georgia Aquarium and the CNN Center. Skip the World of Coke.
The Center for Civil and Human Rights is Downtown near the tourist attractions but sets itself apart with meaningful exhibits.If you go now through January 7 you can catch the exhibit “Poppies: Women, War, Peace“.
I love the High Museum of Art and would recommend it to anyone (even non-art lovers). It’s architecturally beautiful and the exhibits are always presented in exciting ways.
Walk the BeltLine’s Eastside trail! We like to park near Krog Street Market and walk about 1.5 miles to Ponce City Market via the BeltLine. If you go just a little bit more you’ll hit Paris on Ponce (eclectic stalls with antiques and crafts) and if you keep going you’ll get to Piedmont Park.
Got questions? Leave me a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!