48 Hours In Atlanta
People keep asking me why I went to Atlanta for the weekend. I guess it's a reasonable question. Interstate travel in the U.S. usually requires some kind of reason: business, visiting family, a furry convention, etc. So failing something like that, why would a person go to Atlanta, Georgia? I have no idea, but I went because my friend invited me to, offered a free place to stay, and flights were not too expensive, which is just about all I need to pack a bag and jump on an airplane.
I headed to the airport after work and arrived in the ATL around midnight, and while a normal person would probably go straight to bed, we went to Waffle House. Waffle House is a "casual dining" chain popular in the Southern U.S., and somehow I had never been to one despite the central theme of "waffles". The weather was rainy and none-too-pleasant, so Waffle House was a welcome and comforting shelter for two starving people right off an airplane.
Our waitress' name tag said "Magnificent," and whether this was her actual name or a matter of opinion, I was too afraid to ask. People talk a big game about Waffle House, and I have to say, I was not disappointed. The menu is small but the food is cheap and pretty good! Been a while since I had a finer waffle - super soft, sweet, and not at all dry. The hash browns were equally tasty. I can see why drunk people love this place, and we encountered quite a few inside. Countless calories later, we hit the sack.
We kicked off the gray morning with breakfast, because we're fat asses whose lives revolve around food. Ria's Bluebird was lauded on multiple sources online, including the New York Times, so it seemed like an easy choice for brunch. We headed over and used the 45 minute wait to grab a coffee at the nearby Octane/Little Tart Bakery nearby and roam Oakland Cemetery across the street.
To say that Octane Coffee was hip would be like saying New York rent is a little high: a gross understatement. And I live in Brooklyn, so that's really saying something. Excessive hipness aside, I loved Octane Coffee - the coffee was some of the best I've had, and I was just way into the open/chill vibe, natural light, and flexibility of it all. Coffee and beer and pastries and free wi-fi? Bury me here please.
Brunch at Ria's lived up to expectations. Good bottomless coffee (yes, I consumed too much caffeine), and a menu with so many delicious-looking things it was hard to choose. I think my favorite thing though was the cozy cool atmosphere that felt more like Portland than Atlanta.
Next we hitched a ride to Little Five Points, a hip area akin to Brooklyn's Williamsburg or more recently, Bushwick.
If you're really looking for a good time, duck into one of the several thrift/vintage stores in Little Five Points, figure out a new look then hit the streets.
After selecting some spectacular new shades and fabulous hats, we stepped into an alley way for a photo shoot.
In Little Five Points is an amazing craft beer bar called The Porter. Don't be fooled by the small storefront, the back of this place is as big as their menu of imported and domestic beers. I regretted being so full from brunch earlier in the day because their food menu looked incredible and had my favorite bar food of all time - a soft pretzel with beer cheese.
From the bar we headed where any buzzed adults would go: the aquarium! The Georgia Aquarium gets a lot of favorable talk, probably owing to the huge tank visitors pass through via a tunnel that allows you to gaze up at massive whale sharks, stingrays, and an impressive assortment of fish as they swim overhead.
After a few hours at the aquarium and having finally digested our massive brunch, it was time for more food. Brian required a visit to Antico Pizza, calling it some of the best pizza he's ever had, and he's from New York City! Like I'm gonna let you finish NYC but Atlanta has some of the best pizza of all time. Of all time!!
Antico is a BYOB and the vibe is super chill; you order upon walking in then find a seat in the large communal back area where they're also making the pizzas to order in wood-fired ovens. We ordered two pizzas - one margherita and one "Sophia" which was a white pie with cipollini onions, mushrooms, and truffle oil - and I am happy to say it did not disappoint. Plus, look at all the fancy condiments!
Next up: nightlife. I made a friend while traveling in Europe who lived in Atlanta, so I contacted him to meet up for drinks and ideas on where to go for a good time in Atlanta. We attempted to go to an outdoor street art event in Old Fourth Ward, but the crappy weather put a damper on that whole thing, so instead we ended up nearby on Edgewood Ave NE, which, despite the rain, was very busy. There were tons of bars along the few short blocks we walked between Fort St NE and Boulevard, so we ducked into Sound Table where the DJ was playing awesome 80s and 90s tracks and then into Mother where the upstairs bar was crowded with people dancing to hip-hop.
Bars were closing up around 2:00am, so we called it a night and headed back to the apartment where we were staying in an Uber.
Goddammit, I am so tired. The weather on Sunday was even worse than it was on Saturday, so we resigned ourselves early on to make it a chill day. And I mean did you see everything we did on Saturday?! Give me a break. We started off with an Uber to Sublime Donuts which was highly recommended online, but honestly, not that great in my opinion. Then we hoofed it in the rain about 15 minutes to the nearest Octane Coffee for a much-needed caffeine boost.
We were reasonably close to the Westside Provisions District at this point, so headed over to check it out and do some shopping, or in reality, wander around furniture stores and sit on the comfortable couches to stay out of the rain.
At this point it was technically the afternoon, and since I am just trying to live (know what I mean??) that's the only excuse I needed to get some ice cream at the wonderful Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams right nearby. Because if you can't have donuts for breakfast and ice cream for lunch then are you really living? Are you??? Just think about it.
I couldn't resist the pretty colors of the fruit flavors, so had to go with the wildberry lavender, red raspberry sorbet, and then a scoop of the sweet potato pie just to be seasonal. I think Jeni's knows you want to Instagram their ice cream, they definitely make it pretty on purpose. Bless their souls.
At this point I was pretty much ready to die, so we went back to the apartment for a nap. Don't work yourselves too hard folks, vacation can be straining.
We had reservations for dinner at Poor Calvin's, a hip thai fusion restaurant in Downtown. For starters we ordered the lobster wontons and fried green tomatoes, and for mains had the fried chicken with lobster mac and cheese and pad thai with shrimp. The food was totally delicious, and portions gigantic (it is the South.) The fact that I was able to get pad thai and mac & cheese on one table at the same time was basically heaven for me.
After dinner we headed back to the apartment and I packed up for my flight at 5:50am on Monday, from which I'd heading straight to work.
While the unusually cold and gray wet weather put a little bit of a damper on things, I really enjoyed my short visit to Atlanta; the city was much cooler than I expected it to be and was a great reminder that maybe you don't need to live in Brooklyn and pay NYC prices to have access to all things categorically "hip," like great coffee, fun bars, and whale sharks.
If you're ambitious, and don't mind driving (or Uber'ing), you can definitely pack a lot of stuff into just a weekend trip!
Things to Do in Atlanta
- The Porter
- Sound Table
- Sister Louisa's Church of the Living Room & Ping Pong Emporium
- Department Store
- Edgewood Speakeasy
We Uber'd most of the time in Atlanta, as it was pretty cheap (roughly $8 per 10-15 minute ride) and it saved us the hassle and cost of parking. There is public transportation in Atlanta, but driving seems to be the preferred option.
- Oakland Cemetery
- Georgia Aquarium
- Little Five Points Thrift Shopping
- Atlantic Station Shopping
- Westside Provisions District
- World of Coca-Cola
- The Center for Civil and Human Rights
- Waffle House
- Ria's Bluebird
- Octane Coffee
- Poor Calvin's
- Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream