Offbeat Atlanta

Home Sweet Home, the Capital of the New South. It’s more than just an airport. The places listed on this wanderlist are unlike those you’ll find in any other cities.

209 Edgewood Ave SE, Atlanta, GA 30303, USA
The neighborhood where Martin Luther King Jr. grew up hosts local farmers and vendors at the Sweet Auburn Curb Market. It’s where you can find that unusual ingredient, be it chitlins, rabbit, or live crabs. The market also has a few permanent restaurants, like Grindhouse Killer Burgers, and Bell Street Burritos.
1850 Howell Mill Rd NW, Atlanta, GA 30318, USA
After visiting food trucks in Hawaii and San Francisco, I was surprised to learn about the Atlanta Food Truck Park, a permanent home for the city’s food trucks off Howell Mill Road. On any given day you will find a couple of food trucks, a live band, cornhole boards and tents of artisan crafted jams, cupcakes and more. Getting there is fairly easy as buses go in both directions on Howell Mill and there is a surplus of parking spaces. Each food truck has something different to offer, but my personal favorites are the kwanza bowl from W.O.W., the shrimp etouffee from Rouxd and the Arnold Palmer popsicle from King of Pops.
61 N Ave NW, Atlanta, GA 30308, USA
The Varsity is one of the first landmarks you pass as you enter the city. You can’t miss the big neon “V” on North Avenue. It calls itself the world’s largest drive-in and has served generations of Georgia Tech students, politicians, tour groups, and locals since 1928. Don’t be intimidated by yells of “what’ll ya have.” The food isn’t for the weak stomach, but it is delicious before an Atlanta Braves game. Order yourself a hot dog, fries, and Frosted Orange and worry about your diet tomorrow.
2277 Peachtree Rd NW, Atlanta, GA 30309, USA
In a city full of burger joints, Holeman and Finch Public House stands out for its extensive drink selection and Southern twist on farm-to-table fare. Tucked into the back of an apartment complex on Peachtree Street, the popular spot serves specialty cocktails and what seems like every obscure beer, wine, and liquor that exists. In fact, H&F also owns a bottle shop, where it sells many of its rarest selections. To pair with your drink, the restaurant offers a signature burger with two patties, cheese, onions, pickles, and a side of fries. What makes it so fantastic, however, is the bun, which H&F bakes in-house and even sells to other restaurants. It was originally available only after 10 p.m. nightly or during Sunday brunch, and the restaurant once made just 24 each day. To make matters more complicated, H&F doesn’t take reservations, so it’s not uncommon to find a line out the door and a wait time of up to 2.5 hours. Plan accordingly.
437 Memorial Dr SE A5, Atlanta, GA 30312, USA
As a freelance writer, I’m always looking for a place other than my couch to do work. My requirements are free wireless Internet, plenty of outlets and quality beverages. Octane Coffee succeeds on all fronts. Although they have locations throughout town and one in Alabama, the Grant Park one is my favorite. On any given morning, you will see every table covered in laptop computers of aspiring entrepreneurs, students or poor writers like myself. You’ll find all the usual suspects: coffee, tea and hot chocolate. But what makes Octane different is that after 5 pm, it turns into a bar and serves dinner. Atlantans must know when to switch to the hard stuff. The Grant Park location also shares space with Little Tart Bakeshop, which serves up quiche, tarts, sandwiches and other sweets.
670 Trabert Ave NW, Atlanta, GA 30318, USA
Monday Night Brewing Company is the newest kid on the Atlanta craft beer scene, but it already had a strong following before moving into its Trabert Avenue space. The brewery started out as a Monday night men’s Bible study, which is how they developed their motto that “weekends are overrated.” They make three signature brews available on draft or in bottles throughout the state. The Fu Manbrew is a Belgian-style Wit ideal for a hot Atlanta afternoon. The Eye Patch IPA has the hoppiness you want from the style, but without being overwhelming. And the Drafty Kilt Scotch Ale is for dark beer lovers at 7.2% alcohol by volume. Visiting the brewery only costs you $10 for a pint glass with 4 samples, poured by bartenders in neckties. Bring your own necktie to add to the neon “Tie One On” wall for $1 off entry. Monday Night has everything to keep your entertained, from movies played on the wall, an outdoor patio, foosball, shuffleboard and of course, the brewery tours. They’re open on Mondays and Thursdays from 5:30-7:30 pm and on Saturdays from 2-4 pm.
195 Ottley Dr NE, Atlanta, GA 30324, USA
In Atlanta, Sweetwater Brewing Company is king. Its success story is not unlike that of Samuel Adams, although less commercial. They started as a hometown craft brewery with humble operations and now are distributed throughout the country. Their motto is “don’t float the mainstream,” and their beer names certainly show that. While you have a standard IPA, there’s also the 420 Pale Ale, Blue, a blueberry beer, Exodus Porter, Georgia Brown and the LowRYEder IPA. Throughout the year they also offer special brews, many of which you can only find at the brewery. They include a Festive Ale, Happy Ending and Road Trip, among others. The Dank Tank is one experimental keg to try at the brewery. On a sunny afternoon, you and the many locals will enjoy live music and food trucks at the brewery. Many of the beers and events at Sweetwater benefit local causes, namely Camp Twin Lakes and the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, so you’ll be drinking for a cause. For $10, you get a pint glass and 6 samples to try. Alternatively, you can skip the pint glass for a plastic cup and get 6 tickets for free. They are open Wednesday through Friday from 5:30-7:30 and on Saturdays from 2:30-4:30 pm.
1345 Piedmont Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30309, USA
The Atlanta Botanical Garden has been voted the city’s best place to commune with nature and upon visiting you’ll agree. Located next to the sprawling Piedmont Park, the gardens boast 30 acres of plant life. But you’ll find more than just flowers at the garden. Sculptures by glass artist Dave Chihuly are scattered throughout and there are events held constantly. It’s one of the city’s top places to get married and holds concerts in the gardens. They decorate accordingly by season, showcasing scarecrows in the fall and holiday lights in winter. Be sure to check what’s in bloom before you go.
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