By Zack Johnson
Originally published Spring 2012.
There’s a reason Atlanta gets consistently voted as a top city for young people to live in: there’s a ton to do here. Staying sane as a graduate student almost requires getting out and exploring the city. Although I’ve lived here only a couple of years, I’ve done my best to cover as many cool spots I can think of that Atlanta has to offer:
Little 5 Points is a funky neighborhood with a number of quirky spots. Junkman’s Daughter is one of the most interesting stores imaginable- — a hybrid vintage clothing/costume/party/thrift shop where you’ll find everything from three-feet tall boots to themed furniture. The Vortex is next door, with a giant skull entrance and a menu with some horrifying food items. The “Double Bypass Burger” contains “two fried eggs, six slices of American cheese, and eight slices of bacon, all served between the two grilled cheese sandwiches” used in place of buns. The Porter (try the goat cheese fritters), Brewhouse, and Corner Tavern are just some of the great places for beers in L5P, and if you’re in search of music check out Variety Playhouse.
Decatur has some excellent spots. First, you need to visit Your DeKalb Farmer’s Market- it’s a 140,000 sq. ft. indoor market with super cheap, fresh food from all over the world. Every time friends/family visit I show them this place. Also eat and drink at Brick Store- it’s an English-style pub that was voted the #2 best beer bar on the PLANET by beeradvocate.com. Twain’s is another great place. In addition to some of its own home brews, it has pool, darts, foosball, shuffleboard, and more. Downtown Decatur is also sprinkled with a bunch of interesting shops and it hosts a number of festivals throughout the year, including a book festival (this year Sept. 2-5), arts festival (late May) and a beer festival (Oct. 15). Also, check out open mic nights at Eddie’s Attic (Mondays). If you’re in search of breakfast, I’d recommend Thumbs Up Diner. For coffee, Java Monkey. For sushi, Sushi Ave (they have an awesome lunch special). For more beer, try Thinking Man’s Tavern, Marlay House, and Leon’s. For even more beer, try the Corner Pub or Taco Mac. If you’ve made it this far, maybe call Decatur’s Best Taxi and get home.
Virginia Highlands is a historic area is divided into seven “districts” of shops, restaurants, etc. each within walking distance of each other. The oldest tavern in Atlanta, Atkins Park, has been in the Highlands since 1922 and is still a popular place. . Noche has awesome tapas. At night, the Highlands is always buzzing. Hand in Hand (my personal favorite) and Neighbor’s are next door to each other and both have nice patios for when the weather is nice. 10 High has Metalsome Mondays with a live band playing behind those with the guts to do karaoke.
The Virginia Highlands flows into the Poncey Highlands, where you’ll find the 24/7 Majestic Diner and the Atlanta’s oldest theater, the Plaza, which shows indie films and recently hosted the up-and-coming film producer Tommy Wiseau (Youtube “The Room”). Not far away is the notorious Clermont Lounge- proceed with caution.
Downtown: Atlanta has four professional sports teams and you can usually find pretty good deals on game tickets through Emory. You can also get tickets through Emory for some pretty cliché (but also cool) downtown attractions like the Georgia Aquarium (world’s largest), Coca-Cola Museum, and CNN tours. For music, the Tabernacle is one of many venues for great concerts.
Midtown is next to downtown and is probably the most trendy area in Atlanta. It’s home of the Fox Theatre, Woodruff Arts Center, High Museum, Atlanta Botanical Garden, and much more. The Shakespeare Tavern is an especially great spot – eat food and drink beer while you watch talented performances of Shakespeare’s works. If it’s raining, go to Park Tavern for $1 beers – it’s right next to Piedmont, Atlanta’s second biggest park (behind Emory’s Lullwater). Try Screen on the Green during the summer- they play great movies in the park. Midtown’s nightlife is also especially lively, as it boasts more than half of Atlanta’s nightclubs; Opera, Cosmo Lava, and MJQ are some of my favorite places. Check out the Laughing Skull for stand-up comedy, Front Page News for brunch (and for a build your own bloody mary bar), Ri Ra for an authentic Irish pub, Rita’s for Italian (Water) Ice, and Midtown Art Cinema for indie films.
If you’ve exhausted this list, fear not. I’ve missed countless great places, and there’s still Inman Park, Old Fourth Ward, Cabbage Town, East Atlanta, Edgewood, Toco Hills, Buckhead, Grant Park, and dozens of other neighborhoods each with their own personality, food spots, entertainment, and of course, beer.