When visiting the largest city in the Southeastern United States, skip Atlanta's tourist traps and check out the restaurant fare
Stepping from Atlanta's frigid airport, the unsuspecting traveller might lose their breath in a blast of moist, hot air just outside the climate-controlled sanctuary of Hartsfield-Jackson International. Even in April, the temperatures reach a sweltering 29 C with humidity around 80%. Basically, I’m suffocating the moment I get back to my hometown.
Despite the heat and hubbub, Atlanta is home. And nothing says home like some down-home cooking. While Atlanta has several perfectly respectable tourist attractions, including the World of Coca-Cola, Zoo Atlanta and the adjacent Cyclorama and Civil War museum, drawlin’ locals know the city’s real draw is the food.
From down-home barbecue to Spanish tapas to vegan all-day breakfast, Atlanta wins the gastronomic prize for top foodie paradise. And if you hit "Hotlanta," here are a few must-try joints that’ll serve you a true taste of the sprawling metro area of 5.7 million.
Fox Brother’s BBQ
A weary traveller can’t visit the South and not experience the unique barbecue culture. My favourite of the innumerable barbecue shacks is Fox Brother’s – a traditional BBQ joint with a twist. Enjoy the staple pulled pork sandwich with a side of fried dill pickle chips.
Or, if you prefer vegetarian fare, Fox Brother’s offers a smoked portobello sandwich topped with melted cheese and jalapeno mayo. Your tastebuds will thank you.
Flying Biscuit Cafe
For a satisfying brunch after a night of sightseeing, grab some grits and biscuits or a scrambler from Flying Biscuit Café. (Image: hyku)
After a night exploring Midtown’s bustling bar scene, perk up with a filling breakfast from Flying Biscuit. While the busy breakfast haunt is mainstay for local vegetarians, carnivores won’t be disappointed.
For a taste of the South, try the traditional Southern breakfast: a bowl of creamy grits, cheesy scrambled eggs and an order of made-from-scratch biscuits. For something more adventurous, any omelet or scramble on the menu will tickle your tastebuds.
Eclipse di Luna
Have a serving of fresh Spanish tapas and a cold caipirinha on the breezy patio. The artistic backdrop and live music on weekends livens up the oft-crowded space. Try the Vegetarian Paella and Patatas Bravas con Romesco – two of my enduring favourites.
Fogo de Chao
For a fine dining option (and a great place for a small party or date), try the legendary local Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chao. While the menu is prix fixe, for around $50 per person you can enjoy endless cuts of delicious meat served directly to your plate by waiters donning traditional gaucho ensembles.
To temper all the tasty proteins, enjoy an expansive salad bar that offers dozens of cheese varieties, smoked salmon and carpaccio in addition to the leafy green stuff.
If you’re like me, and the thought of basmati rice and curry makes your mouth water, then this is the place for you. Mughals, in my humble opinion, is the best Indo-Pak place in the area. While it’s out of the way in Norcross, the food is worth the drive.
The Chicken 65 and biryani (basmati rice with meat, curry and veggies) are must-trys. Enjoy your curry with a mago lassi (milkshake) and a gulab jamin (fried dough balls soaked in a syrup sweet enough to turn you diabetic on the spot) for dessert. The best way to try everything is to take a group of friends who share your love of Indian love and each order something different to share.
Saying Goodbye to Atlanta
While this sprawling metropolis offers hundreds of other delicious options for drooling patrons, the most important lesson, wherever you choose to chow down, is to slow your pace.
Take the time to enjoy your time, your meals and your company in the South, and you might find you love it way down in Dixie.
Lindsey Peacock moved to Vancouver from Atlanta, Ga, where she was a born-and-bred Southern belle. Upon graduation from journalism school at the University of Georgia, she began her career as a copy editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Sweet tea, black-and-white movies and blogging are a few of her favourite things.