Have I mentioned lately how much I love food? No really, I LOVE it. Anyone who spends time or travels with me can attest to my true love of it. The flavors and textures create a symphony in my mouth and make quick friends in my belly. Food is a simple, sweet pleasure of life.
I recently attended a Food Blogging conference in Atlanta, GA and that wonderful city, and the surrounding towns, proved to be a mecca of culinary delights. Here is a list of the spots we visited (alphabetical by city), all of which I highly recommend.
The Grit This vegetarian friendly spot is popular with the UGA locals of Athens. There are new cakes and veggie options everyday, and many of the ingredients are fresh and sourced from local farms. I had some collard greens and okra, corn and tomato casserole – salty, cheesy, melty goodness. We finished off lunch with some eclair pie. Amazing, flaky crust filled with gooey sweet custard and a layer of dark chocolate. Divine.
Agave Located just a couple of miles from our overnight stay at the Social Goat Bed and Breakfast, this Southwestern style cuisine on the East side sent me on a longing for more spicy foods for days to come. The heavily cilantro laced, fresh salsa was tasty, despite my general dislike of cilantro. The Cayenne Fried Chicken was perfection, just the right amount of spice and cooked to a crispy delight. My peach margarita was luscious, fruit magic. The tequila selection was vastly appealing, a requirement for any true Southwestern spot. Cool atmosphere, great service and stellar food.
Alon’s Bakery This place was so good we had lunch, walked through the neighborhood, and came back again for some “to go” goodies. Amazingly tasty selection of meats, cheese, baked goods, pastries, warm lunch items, deli salads and beverages. I had the best bruschetta of my life here – roasted eggplant, almonds, Parmesan, sundried tomatoes – crispy perfection. The only problem with this place is having to make a decision.
Babs This long established breakfast and lunch spot in Midtown is the go to spot for great food and sassy gay men. The owner is more than happy to share his opinions and bring your brunch to life. We loved this place – great outdoor seating for a cocktail and some tasty eats.
Bella Cucina Artful Food I’ve seen Bella Cucina products in numerous stores across the country, but I never knew the home base is in the Virginia Highlands neighborhood of Atlanta. One of their sayings is, “Good food is sacred.” I definitely believe in that. All of their products are hand made in small batches and are divinely fabulous. I’m looking forward to making some chilled plum roasted chicken and creating a recipe for the preserved lemons.
The Flying Biscuit Cafe Wow, these biscuits really could fly- light, fluffy and deviously delicious. This is a popular spot with numerous locations around the Atlanta area. Overall, our dinner was divine. Outside of the biscuits, our favorite was the Turkey Pot Roast – tender loving happiness. Ask about Polly, the local artist and creator of their unique sugar dishes and other pottery.
R Thomas Deluxe Grill Want a unique experience in Atlanta? This is the place. Numerous outdoor urban gardening spaces, including shelves of fresh herbs for cooking and many, many beautiful birds, some being pretty chatty. This started out as a burger joint many years ago and is now a fresh juice and foods style joint a la California. Seating is all on a fully enclosed outdoor patio. Need to go to the bathroom? Go inside through the kitchen. Kitschy and cool.
South City Kitchen This place was recommended by a friend of a friend and turned out to be a great spot. Adequate outdoor seating in the trendy Midtown area of downtown, luscious cocktails and good, solid Southern style food. I had the vegetable plate complete with fried okra, roasted potatoes, garlic laced bok choy and butter beans. Dinner was finished off with some shared desserts – a miniature pecan pie and fresh banana pudding. Mmmmmmm-mmmmmmmm.
Sweet Auburn Curb Market We visited Sweet Auburn, the oldest market in Atlanta, as a lunch outing during our foodie writing conference. I partook in many a culinary delight in the outdoor food carts – white pepper and blood orange caramels, sweet rolls (an egg roll filled with carrots, purple cabbage and collard greens), a hot dog with pickled apples and bacon, and a cilantro cucumber lime ice pop. Inside I perused the piles of massive, overflowing collard greens, vats of fat back and bags of field peas. Finally, I visited Cafe Campesino and purchased some organic coffee to enjoy once I made it back home.
The Brick Store Pub I thoroughly enjoyed the sweet little town of Decatur, just East of Atlanta. While we didn’t time our trip around any mealtime, we did make time for a drink and some people watching at this great little pub. Vast and tasty beer selection, cool ambiance inside and perfect outdoor seating. It was a great resting spot to get a feel for the locals before heading onward down the street through the unique shops and galleries.
Sugar Cakes Patisserie Looking for strawberry bear claws, perfect carrot cake, fresh brewed iced tea and a beautiful assortment of small, French desserts? Look no further than Sugar Cakes in Marietta. Sitting right on the main town square, this is a perfect spot to stop for a cool beverage and a sweet bite to eat. We initially went to the local coffee house in search of iced tea to be told they only served hot tea…Really? In the South? in the Summer? Hot Tea? No Iced Tea? We quickly left, perplexed, and couldn’t have been happier when we stumbled upon Sugar Cakes – what a divinely sweet little spot.
Big Easy Cafe We stayed overnight at the beautiful Ashford Manor Bed and Breakfast in Watkinsville and had a chance to try some local cuisine. The Big Easy Cafe was a block away and a quick and easy stop for a tasty, simple breakfast. We had a bagel sandwich and a grit bowl filled with our choice of goodies – we went with cheese, tomatoes, broccoli and sausage. Tasty.
Girasoles Mexican and Italian Cuisine Girasoles was recommended by the B&B owner and was a perfect dinner spot. My travel companion said it was one of the best meals she’d eaten in a long time. Mexican and Italian fusion seems like an odd combo, but it is pure brilliance. I’ve been told, on nights when the head chef is in the kitchen you can tell him what you like best and he will create a unique dish for you. Given the quiet, slow pace of this little town, it really gives him time to create perfection.
The Granary Bakery and Country Store Best homemade bread I’ve had in a very long time. The smell in this little shop alone will make you wish you lived down the street. Amidst our bread tasting, we bought all sorts of goodies – candies, spices, grains, cheddar bacon scones. Just browsing this tiny little storefront was a culinary inspiration. So many yummy things to make from all those tasty goodies.
That is a list of the assortment of spots I discovered during my travels in the Atlanta area. There are so many more places to try, the only limitation is time. If you make it down that way and try some of these spots let me know your thoughts. Enjoy the tastiness.