Since I hadn’t been to Atlanta in years, it made sense to do a Food Tour or at least an extensive foodie experience that took in several restaurants in a short period of time so I didn’t leave wondering what I missed. While I could have eaten my way through Atlanta’s streets for days (and I didn’t even touch Buckhead btw), I did leave a small trace and was able to hit about a dozen spots during my short stay. The bulk of these were taken in by Atlanta Food Walks (AtlantaFoodWalks.com) aka @TheRoadForks on social media. It is designed to give you a historical look at some of Atlanta’s neighborhoods while you take in street art and architecture along the way. Be sure to read my short write-up on A Walk Through Atlanta which is bursting with tons of urban street and architecture shots.
We largely hit the following neighborhoods on our food walk: Castleberry Hill, Five Points, Fairlie Poplar and Sweet Auburn, including Sweet Auburn Curb Market. The focus is largely on Tasting the South, from Appalachia, Barbecue, Creole and Cajun to Gullah and Low Country Cuisine.
Located on 180 Northside Drive SW, Paschal’s is noted for their soul food, although they serve it up with a fine dining touch. The ambiance is most definitely urban with a slightly upscale factory upgrade sort of feel to it – you get the feeling that trendy artists and journalists hang out here, although I still don’t understand the nuances between all of Atlanta’s neighborhoods to be sure.
Some exquisite options include beef and turkey burgers, fried chicken sandwiches (they are most known for their fried chicken), grilled chicken raps and Bayou Shrimp Po Boy. There are also a variety of southern favorites from Rosemary Roasted Chicken to Catfish (oh so southern), and lighter options include Steak Salads, Caesar Salads, and Fire Cracker Shrimp.
They have gumbo of course, as well as crab cake bites, Jumbo Wings, Southern Seafood Pasta, Low Country Shrimp and Grits, Cajun Seafood platter and Catfish Etoufee. Sides are your typical southern dishes such as Collard Greens, Macaroni and Cheese, Cheddar Cheese grits, Black-Eyed Peas, Candied Yams, Mashed Potatoes and cole slaw. (the southern cole slaw is the best as we learned from our #WBTWxCountry trip earlier this year).
The Smoke Ring
Think smoked meats, BBQ and bourbon baby, I love this traditional and eclectic gem run by a fun-loving husband and wife team on 309 Nelson Street. I LOVED the ambiance and energy of this place and wished I had more time to sample. BBQ plates include pulled pork, brisket, chicken, wings or giant beef short ribs. You can also get a half or full rack of baby back ribs or go for something a little simpler like shared plates. Some of their shared plates include BBQ devilled eggs, fried pickles (YUM), fried local Okra (oh so southern), fried green tomatoes (ditto), smoked ga trout trip, fried chicken tenders or a smoked duck quesadilla.
They also have healthy salads if you want to keep it lighter, including lettuce wraps, which come with bibb lettuce (your choice of brisket, pulled chicken, smoked salmon) with watermelon radish slaw and rice noodles. Sliders are also popular here, from smoked pork and chicken to fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese and something they amusingly refer to as the Modern “Pig-N-Chick” which is essentially a duck burger with pork belly, fontina cheese, fire roasted poblano and onion marmelade. WOW!
While we didn’t have any desserts, I wasn’t surprised to see traditional Pecan Pie on the menu with brown butter praline ice cream and caramel and a dark chocolate bread pudding. Two thumbs up!
When you need an energy boost or an organic veggie not, this fabulous juice bar on 145 Auburn Avenue is your stop. While they have plenty of fresh fruit and veggie juice options, many of the all veggie ones also come with a splash of pineapple juice to balance it out. A unique juice worth asking for which will not only give you a burst of energy but help your immune system is the GRAND SLAM. It consists of ginger root, lemon, cranberry and one ounce of wheatgrass. It also helps to fight flu symptoms, assist in weight loss, treat hangovers, and to overall, detoxify.
Fresh live juices provide enzymes, vitamins, proteins, trace minerals, carbohydrates, distilled water, essential fatty acids, chlorophyll, flavonoids, sulphur, indoles, glucosinolates, sulforaphane, dilthiiolthiones, carotenoids, caffeis, terpenes, phenols, isothiocyonates, ferulic and ascetic acid and many other more. From beets, ginger, kale, spinach and garlic, they have it all.
Just Add Honey
In the same Sweet Auburn neighborhood as Arden’s Garden and just down the street is Just Add Honey on 171 Auburn Avenue, which is renowned for all things TEA and a variety of it, all delivered with top quality tea leaves. They tout themselves as an artisan full-leaf tea shop, with natural and pure ingredients.
Just add honey Tea Company was created by a tea lover who was tired of the instant, artificially flavored, penny-pinched tea bags, 5 o’clock teas, feel better teas, etc etc. While scouring places for tea, she decided to make what she wanted. Combining flavors from around the world that was pleasing to the palate while still keeping it light and interesting, the shop emerged. Nothing is changed or altered. They have a variety of black tea, herbal tea, fruit tea, green and white tea, and specialty teas in the shop. We tried peach tree of course. After all, we were in Atlanta. YUM!
Sweet Auburn Seafood
Also in Sweet Auburn is this fabulous seafood joint on 171 Auburn Avenue NE. Sweet Auburn Seafood features innovative menu items like Seafood Burger, Lobster Macaroni and Cheese, and an Award Winning Shrimp and Grits. Owner Paul Williams is behind the restaurant and his values are rooted in the south — the soil and lakes of Pine Bluff, Arkansas.
Classic appetizers include fried calamari, lamb racks, and kale salad with toasted quinoa, strawberries, gorgonzola cheese, raisins and candied walnuts (YUM!). They do have a classic gumbo on the menu although I didn’t have a chance to try it, crab soup with corn and spicy cream, clam chowder with clams and bacon, grilled steak and asparagus rolles and smoked turkey ribs with a mango BBQ glaze.
Entrees range from seafood burgers and grilled BBQ chicken to shrimp and grits, Atlantic Salmon with mango BBQ glaze, fried shrimp, crabakes, ribeye steak, mountain trout, red snapper, fried catfish, Cajun Alfredo Pastas with scallops, chicken or shrimp, lamb chops, and Lobster Mac and Cheese, which seems to be popular in Atlanta. They also had a Lobster Pot Pie and something I wished I had a chance to try: the Sweet Auburn Seafood Signature Fried Shrimp and Waffle. Sampling the fried chicken waffle with cheese and honey earlier this year in Tennessee was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. Bravo Nashville.
Le Metro Creperie
Located in the market on 209 Edgewood Avenue SE, this fabulous and fresh creperie is the brainchild of mother daughter team, Christine Taylor and Gwen Denninghoff. Christine has long been gluten free, and with the hunt for celiac friendly dining options always an ongoing challenge, what better way to encourage growth than by opening a celiac friendly business of their own?
Talks began about food options and what could be produced in a small space to suit both the gluten free community as well as the everyday foodie, and those talks turned into a physical trial and error period in the kitchen where all kinds of yummy things were cooked up. Drawing upon their Swiss heritage, European dishes galore were tried and vetoed. Gnocchi and Pesto, delicious, but too time consuming to make for a team of two. Schinke Gipfeli, a Swiss dish of flaky pastry dough filled with an herby meat mixture was awesome, but way too involved. Plaign in Pigna, a diced potato dish with salami bits and olive oil, fantastic but not versatile enough and so they converted all of it into insertions to crepes. YUM! I love this place.
Miss D’s Pralines
For the sweet tooth among you, this fabulous candied popcorn place inside one of Atlanta’s internal markets on 209 Edgewood Avenue SE is one of the most charming woman business owners I met – Ms D. Her energy is electric and her popcorn is sweet and oh so delicious.
Five years after surviving the natural disaster that swept the entire country, proud survivor Ms. Dionne Gant, otherwise known as Ms. D, has established herself in Atlanta as an old-fashioned candy maker and business owner. She does praline, pratzels, popcorn, brittle and candy apples.
South City Kitchen
Located on 1144 Crescent Avenue NE, these folks dish up a number of classic traditional Southern Style dishes. At our private dinner, they served buttermilk biscuits with cheddar pimento spread and cornbread with tupelo honey butter, South City Kitchen’s famous fried chicken with black pepper gravy, Southern style green beans and Creamy, southern-style three cheese macaroni and cheese.
Located on 40 7th Street NE, ECCO is all about seasonal European Mediterranean food in the heart of Midtown Atlanta. They’ve been around since 2006, but this was my first taste of their latest fare, which on our special evening, included a variety of Mediterranean dishes. My favorite by a long shot was their Bacon-wrapped dates with manchengo cheese, followed by their Mahi Mahi ceviche with fresh lime juice, tomatoes and cilantro. (the blend was perfect).
They also had stuffed grape leaves, fingerling potato salad with arugula, whole grain mustard and chanterelle mushroom oil, vine ripe tomato and mozzarella salad, grilled and marinated roasted veggies (YUM) and the oh so scrumptious selection of cured meats with Mahon, Gorgonzola and Aged Gouda with homemade jams.
Lure touts themselves as a modern fish house in central Atlanta. Based on 1106 Crescent Ave NE, they specialize in fresh seafood – raw, cooked, seared, cooked…you name it. We tried the Pan-fried sole fillet with bread crumbs, capers and brown butter, garlic sauteed curly spinach and their lighter spring lettuces with lemon vinaigrette, radishes and fennel.
TRACE is a farm-to-table experience inside the W Hotel Midtown’s property. Their focus is on honoring Southern cooking’s agrarian roots by serving healthy and hearty dishes made with fresh ingredients that are organic and locally sourced. The ambiance well matches W’s modern style; on one side you can sit at higher tables on top of stools near the trendy bar and on the other, longer tables for a more social and larger group ambiance.
We had lunch there so can’t speak for the night life, but the soups (above), salads and sandwiches were absolutely delicious, especially the fresh goat cheese, avocado and salmon. You can opt for a variety of salad toppings from fish-of-the-day to steak and chicken.
Anatolia Cafe and Hookah Lounge
Located in the hip Fairlie Poplar neighborhood is this fun cafe and Hookah Lounge on 52 Peachtree Street NE. While it may look and feel a bit young at first, who doesn’t want to have a hookah lounge experience from time-to-time? It’s relaxing, vibrant in atmosphere and loose.
Photo credit: AtlanticRestaurants.org.
Like many Mediterranean style restaurants, there’s a salad toppings bar which you can compliment any of your meat dishes with…
Photo credit: Yelp.com.
The mainstay here are their tasty and succulent kabobs, where you can choose lamb, chicken, and “adama” a combination of well-seasoned ground beef and lamb. And, of course, if you love eggplant. be sure to try their moussaka or eggplant stuffed with a medley of roasted veggies, adorned with fresh peppers and a toasty mint bite.
Photo credit: Menupix.com.
Of course, don’t forget to get your “hookah” on by choosing one of their “regular” flavors or a “premium” quality one. For those not familiar with it, Hookah is flavored smoke, and you can choose from a variety like grape mint and plum. I last had a Hookah experience in Qatar in the Middle East, so it was very authentic, but as far as an American city goes, this spot will give you a glimpse into another world. It’s very low key, skews towards students and younger guests and quite casual, so a nice spot to also go afterwards for a drink and a “hookah” experience if you want different fare but are keen on something new.
As an aside, we also enjoyed a delicious Red Velvet Whoopie Pie, Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake and Banana Pudding in a mini Mason Jar. Does a dinner ending get much better than that?
Below is taken in the market in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood — from the Atlanta Food Walks tour.
- Mi Cocina for Authentic Tex Mex on 1080 Peachtree Street.
- Ra Sushi for Japanese fusion cuisine also on Peachtree.
- The Lawrence on 905 Juniper Street for local, seasonal and whole animal cooking.
- Tabla for authentic Indian food on 12th Street.
- Empire State South to taste the latest from Hugh Acheson on 999 Peachtree Street with an award-winning chef.
- Steamhouse Lounge for casual seafood and oysters on West Peachtree Street.
- Highland Bakery for the carb addicts among you, located on 1180 Peachtree Street @14th.