Places to Eat in Atlanta

Beyond the commercial confines of Atlanta's downtown stretches an exciting and inexpensive food and drink scene. Not just old favorites (from burgers at The Vortex to Mary Mac's Tea Room, The Colonnade, Gladys Knight's Chicken and Waffles, and the Varsity), but myriad restaurants neglected by The Lonely Planet. Atlanta may not have the most intuitive public transport, but navigating MARTA and the streetcar, or jumping in a car/cab/Uber, will be effort amply rewarded.  

A few Downtown options to start: Ebrik Coffee Room (16 Park Pl. SE) is a Georgia State student favorite. The food court at Peachtree Center offers reliable standbys, while more adventurous eaters will find gastro-nirvana at the Mediterranean Aviva by Kameel or Hsu's Gourmet Chinese Restaurant (famed for its lunchtime bento boxes). Beneath Peachtree Plaza, the CNN Center has daytime fast food, the world's longest freestanding escalator, and excellent people watching. The Sun Dial Restaurant, revolving atop the Westin Hotel, has a fun bar and 360-degree city views. Just be prepared to spend a little money if you decide to do more than get a drink.  

Fried Green Tomatoes. Credit: D. Wang, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.Within walking distance (or a streetcar ride east) of Downtown rests the historic neighborhood Sweet Auburn, whose Curb Market houses an eclectic array of food stalls: British-style pies, BBQ, burgers, burritos, and great baked goods.  

Further along the streetcar route on Edgewood Avenue, Noni's serves panini and pasta by day, drinking and dancing by night. A little further on is Sister Louisa's Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium (where sins are committed, not atoned). Explore nearby MLK National Historic Park before walking down Edgewood Avenue to find a few of Atlanta's hidden treasures: Ammazza's pizza, relaxed vibe, and vegetarian/vegan options; Miso Izakaya's Asian small plates; and Thumbs Up Diner's tried and tested breakfasts (be prepared to wait on weekends).

Next to the Beltline is the newly opened Krog Street Market-Atlanta's answer to Seattle's Pike Place or Philadelphia's Reading Terminal-with a range of price points under one roof, from fancy cocktails, to falafel at Yalla, cheesesteak at Fred's Meat & Bread, or Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream. Need to wind down after the day's sessions? KSM's Hop City has 60 beers on tap to help.  

North on the Beltline, between KSM and the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, is Inman Park. For comfortable pub fare and weekly trivia, venture off North Highland Ave to The Albert. Across from the library, Victory Sandwich Bar serves trendy small sandwiches and Jack and Coke slushies. Parish Neighborhood Café and Folk Art Restaurant both serve breakfast/brunch/lunch just a short walk down North Highland. Further down the Beltline is Ponce City Market, whose food court will be housed in the historic Sears Roebuck Building and-with luck-will open in time for the annual meeting.   

Jump on MARTA from Downtown and head east to historic Oakland Cemetery (King Memorial stop). Consider its Daddy D'z BBQ Joynt for satisfying no-fuss barbecue; Augustine's and Octane for drinks; Tin Lizzy's for Tex-Mex or Six Feet Under for seafood. The neighborhood's pièce-de-résistance remains Ria's Bluebird, an eclectic space with banana pancakes and life-changing breakfast brisket.

Or take MARTA east to Decatur, a pricier neighborhood and technically outside Atlanta, with a lot of appeal nonetheless. Enter the Brick Store Pub and you'll think you've stepped into Middle Earth. Exposed brick, wooden tables, and old-fashioned oak barrels-along with pub fare and an expansive drinks menu-mean huge wait times on nights and weekends. If you're into "farm-to-table," build your own burger (veggie options included) down the street at Farm Burger. Next door, Chai Pani cooks up flavorful Indian small plates. Find fancier fare at Colbeh Persian Kitchen & Bar and Leon's Full Service, or get down with inexpensive Tex-Mex at Raging Burrito.  

Peachtree Street, Atlanta, Ga. Credit: Boston Public Library, CC BY 2.0.Head north up Peachtree Street from Downtown (but pay close attention to your map: Atlanta has over 50 roads named Peachtree) and you'll soon arrive in Midtown, the playground of trendy upstarts, stuffy office buildings and elevated prices. TAP: A Gastropub-on a corner near the High Museum and Piedmont Park-has a lively happy hour. A short walk east down 10th Street will introduce you to the Flying Biscuit, a staple of the Atlanta breakfast scene for its trademark biscuits and chicken sausage (locations are scattered across the city). 

Anywhere further may require a car, but don't let that deter you. Make your way into the Westside neighborhood for Antico Pizza (brick oven pies) or next door to Gio's Chicken Amalfitano (roast chicken from Italy's Amalfi Coast). Yeah! Burger offers organically produced fare for meat eaters and vegetarians. Don't be surprised by the lines for Taqueria del Sol, another local chain known for tacos and queso. For lighter midday eats, a bounty of colors adorn the salads, sandwiches, soups, and juices at Souper Jenny. At Delia's Chicken Sausage Stand, near Georgia Tech, locally sourced chicken sausage is served up with an array of toppings.

A trip north on Buford Highway will uncover a food-lover's paradise, from Korean to Mexican to Bangladeshi and more. Nam Phuong serves fresh, traditional Vietnamese food and Taqueria el Rey Del Taco elevates its offerings with handmade corn tortillas. Just across the parking lot is So Kong Dong Tofu House, with bowls of spicy soup and banchan (Korean side dishes). Chef Liu (5283 Buford Hwy. NE) is known for pork soup dumplings. Further up Buford Highway, Woo Nam Jeong Stone Bowl House (5953 Buford Hwy. NE) is tucked away in a strip mall. Don't be put off: the bibimbap is delicious.  

Close by Emory University, General Muir reinvents Jewish deli for the New South while the fried chicken benedict at Home Grown GA, in Reynoldstown, earned presidential attention (Bill Clinton's diet notwithstanding). Inexpensive treasures can be found in the Virginia Highlands and Morningside.  

Local food guides can help you eat your way around the ATL. Thrillist has produced a Burger Transit Map and one for watering holes (BAR-TA), and the Southern American Studies Association recently produced this comprehensive eating guide.   Bon appetit, y'all!  

Richard Harker works at the Museum of History and Holocaust Education at Kennesaw State University and in his spare time is a doctoral student in history at Georgia State University. He is a member of the Local Arrangements Committee.