Wednesday, February 25, 2009

So, You're Heading To Atlanta This Weekend...

Many of my friends are going to the big Mastodon/Neurosis-headlined Scion Rock Fest this weekend in Atlanta. And while I sadly won't be making it down there to hang out with Petrika, Eric, Jyl, Strutter, Kamal and the Mastodudes & their fabulous spouses, I created a list of my favorite places for my NY-based friends to enjoy. Then I decided to share the love. For fuck's sake, people, someone bring me back a slice of proper red velvet cake from Publix.

I recommend going to Piedmont Park (Atl's version of Central Park) and seeing the lake, the GA Aquarium (I am almost positive you can still buy beer in their cafeteria), The World of Coca-Cola, The High Museum (like MoMa, they have that Chinese Terracotta Army on exhibit there now); the Cyclorama (a giant 100 yr old painting depicting the Civil War, presented in the round and completed with a choice of mildly racist souvenirs); and the MLK stuff. And if you're a nerd, there's always a CNN tour to be had downtown next to Centennial/Olympic Park.

Then there's the Clermont Lounge. If you go to Atlanta and don't go to Clermont, you are a pussy. Imagine an elephant's graveyard for strippers in a place that makes CBGB seem sterile, and you are just touching upon the glory of Clermont. It is truly the 8th wonder of the world. Ask for Porsche or Blondie.

Other approved strip clubs (girls are all young, nude, booze is served) are Cheetah, Pink Pony and Tattletales (as name-checked in the Crue song). You might need a black sponsor if you try to go to Magic City, so call your favorite Atl rapper. I recommend Killer Mike (miss you!).

There's a neighborhood in Atlanta called Little Five Points. Folks will try to convince you that it's like the East Village and all "crazy/cool" people are down there. Don't believe them. The people there are elitists towards anyone without tattoo sleeves and Bettie Page bangs, and seem to have forgotten they they live in a second-rate Southern city. Fuck Little Five Points... but I almost guarantee anyone hanging with Mastodon will wind up at El Myr. If you do get stuck in L5P, make someone take you to Star Bar to see the Elvis shrine. Plus, Nashville Pussy is playing there on Thursday (as if you needed another reason!).

Also, avoid Buckhead and Virginia Highlands unless you are a yuppie, dying to go mall shopping, or are a frat boy.

Instead, go to East Atlanta Village. Besides the fact that The Earl is located there (half rock venue, half bar/restaurant) that has a renowned "dunch"—their version of weekend brunch—within walking distance are tons of bars like the Graveyard, Gravity Pub (giant gourmet beer selection), Flatiron and several others. Also, anyone looking to get a commemorative tattoo can go upstairs from Flatiron to 13 Roses Tattoos and ask for Danielle. She's from NY, so you know she's cool. Mention me, and she probably won't overcharge you.

I like food, food tastes good. The time I spent down there gorging on fried chicken are some my happiest memories of Atlanta. None of the places below are high-end, except for Flip. Instead, they mainly fall under three primary food groups: BBQ, fried chicken, burgers. And breakfast. That's a food group, right?

The Vortex (Midtown, not L5P location) - Both locations are good, but I think I made my feelings known for the latter neighborhood. The best burger I've ever had in my life was at Vortex, and there are plenty of varieties to choose from. They also make a nacho plate with TATER TOTS!!! Actually, tater tots are plentiful in the A. The Earl also makes an amazing burger; Highlander also serves food, but it's your standard bar stuff. And I hear amazing things about Richard Blaise's Flip Burger Boutique, which opened after I moved home.

Fat Matt's Rib Shack & Chicken Shack (Midtown-ish) - Apparently they couldn't keep all the awesomeness in the same place. These two are next door to each other, and both are amazing. This is probably my favorite fried chicken joint. Another BBQ place that's a local favorite is Daddy D's (Grant Park).

Other fried chicken options are: The Colonnade (same 'hood as Fat Matt's), Mary Mac's Tea Room (Midtown), South City (Midtown), but it's a little more high-end.

For fast food, the greatest place is Willy's Mexican... like Moe's, but 100x better. There's a location right off Piedmont Park, so it might be a nice place to sit, drink a beer and have a burrito.

The Flying Biscuit (Midtown, the other location is out of the way in Grant Park) - Breakfast all day, and amazing biscuits, as their name implies. Ria's Bluebird is also yummy for biscuits and gravy/breakfast food, and Six Feet Under's (Grant Park) seafood is good, too. SFU also overlooks Oakland Cemetery, which is another interesting tourist spot filled with Civil War (or as they call it in the South, "The War of Northern Aggression") relics.

Did you know the very first Krispy Kreme ever is located on Ponce in Midtown? It's also open 24 hrs. and smells like heaven. Homer would be proud. And since it's about the simple things in life, stop by any Publix supermarket and buy a piece of their red velvet cake, covered in proper cream cheese frosting.

The Varsity - The one time I ate here, i felt like i was being punched from the inside of my stomach out.
Taqueria Del Sol - Why go to the Southeast for boughie Mexican food? This place is the most overrated spot in all of Atlanta.

I covered a lot of these above (The Earl, Flatiron, etc.), but the Highlander (Midtown) is probably still my go-to spot for the cheap booze, decent food and metal music. There's also Estoria (Cabbagetown), Trackside Lounge (Decatur, closes at 3 am). There's also Righteous Room (Midtown) and the Highland Ballroom.

Across the street from Clermont are two other spots, The Local and MJQ Concourse/Drunken Unicorn. The former is a fun straightforward bar that serves boiled peanuts (if you're into that sort of thing), while the latter is a three-room dance club/rock venue that gets better the later you go. My recommendation is always to start drinking at The Local before going to Clermont. You will need to drink some courage first.

That's all I could think of offhand, and I'm sure new fun places have popped up in the months I've been absent. I'll just have to check them out when I come down for a visit.

Oh yeah, someone bring me home a slice of that damn red velvet cake!

UPDATE: Some of my ATL friends hit me up to let me know that Fat Matt's Chicken Shack is gone (but the Rib Shack remains) and that Trackside burned down last month. Guess nothing good can last forever. I'll pour out a little grease for the fallen.


Kristen said...

Sadly, Fat Matt's Chicken Shack is gone. It closed before we moved to New York. It hurts to think about.

As for Mexican food, there's something to be said for the style of food that made its way up to ATL. I recommend Jalisco, a hole-in-the-wall in a strip mall on Peachtree Battle. Really solid, family-run restaurant with cheap and yummy Mexican food. Seriously. The rice has potatoes in it. There are few things better than a starch hidden inside another starch.

Annalise said...

Trackside burned down about 2 years ago...they're just now starting to rebuild. Also, Tijuana Garage and El Myr (as mentioned) are both great, despite your distain for L5P. Honestly, the Vortex there is much more of an experience than the one in Midtown.

I wouldn't recommend Piedmont if you're driving, though. Parking's a bitch, and it's not really MARTA accessible.