So I was reading the Amateur Gourmet this afternoon and I stumbled upon his Atlanta Lover's Guide to Atlanta (http://www.amateurgourmet.com/2008/03/in_praise_of_at.html). And while I enjoyed it thoroughly (he highlighted some wonderful places, most notably Watershed), I feel like he left a few of the important places out. So, I decided that I was going to add to it, and make my own version. However, anything he did highlight, I will leave to him, and write down my own personal favorites.
1) South City Ktichen
There are actually two locations in Atlanta, one in Vinings, the other in Midtown, so go to which ever is closer. This restaurant serves contemporary Southern cuisine in a wonderful open envrionment. Their shrimp and grits is to die for! And there is absolutely no way you should leave without trying their desserts. Also, they are apart of a group with other restaurant, not unlike the Buckhead Life Group, so you could easily check out the others restaurants. The Buckhead Life Group is wonderful to check out too. All of the restaurants are somewhere in Buckhead and serve a wide variety of cuisine.
Now, I love Garrison's. It's in Vinings, which has wonderful shopping so you can walk around before or after you eat; you can sit outside on the patio and enjoy brunch, lunch or dinner. One of my favorite dishes from Garrison's is their Salmon BLT. I mean, it's so good, it's indescribable; you just have to go find out for yourself.
Ok, really. How can you talk about Atlanta and not mention the Varsity? It's semi-sacreligious. It's an Atlanta icon, just like peaches are to the state of Georgia. Now, I must admit the food isn't the best, but the atmosphere makes up for it. You walk in the door and you're immediately greeted by the shouts of "Whadayahave? Whadayahave?" There are murals on the wall and you can buy cute little tourist junk if you want. I do have one piece of advice though: don't eat too fast, you will regret it, trust me. The food's kind of greasy so eating too much, too fast will take a toll on your stomach. But other than that, it's a great place to visit.
Also, while you are at the Varsity, walk the two blocks up to the Fox Theatre. It used to be an mosque, but the owner has too much gold installed and he couldn't afford it anymore and he ended up selling it. Now, most major broadway shows go there. I've seen Phantom of the Opera and Wicked there myself, and I tell you it's an awesome experience. The decorating will wow you alone, and if you choose, you can take a backstage tour of the theatre, which makes it just that much better.
4) OK Cafe
Located on the corner of West Paces Ferry and GA41, I promise you this restaurant has been there for years. And I don't mean just 20 years, longer. They have a warm, inviting environment that just makes you want to smile. They serve classic Southern comfort food that you cannot help but enjoy. And added bonus: they have take out. Now, this isn't your normal everyday take out. You walk in, go through almost like a buffet line of freshly prepared food, and get what you want. You also have full option of desserts, drinks and breads. You're not ordering your food ahead and picking it up, you actually pick out just what you want.
Another added bonus, The Flying Biscuit is right up the street. Literally, in the next shopping center, you could stip in at their newest location and get some of their delectable biscuits.
5) Aunt PittyPat's Porch
Yea, try saying that five times fast. Located in the heart of Atlanta, this restaurant is named for the famous character from Mrs. Mitchell's outstanding novel, Gone with the Wind. It's more of an upstale restaurant, but it's so home like. As soon as you walk in, you feel like you're coming onto someone's front porch. The restaurant is actually downstairs and very good, I might add. The last time I went, I had the venison which was cooked perfectly. Again, it's contemporary Southern cuisine, but with a little more style. I think you'll enjoy it as much as I did.
Canoe is a wonderful restaurant right on the Chattahoochee River off of Paces Ferry. It's not very large, but it's nice. It's great for going out to eat with someone special or just having an occasion with a good friend. You can also rent out part of the restaurant for special occasions. I've seen wedding receptions held there, outside closer to the river. I also hear that their wine selection is wonderful.
While there are many Willy's locations, they are only here in Georgia. It's really more of a fast food joint that serves California style burritos. It's so yummy and tasty and such a fun filled atmosphere. It also seems to be a bit of an high school hang out (well, at least the West Paces Ferry location is). So if you're looking for a quick, easy, delicious bite, try a Willy's or a Moe's, which is almost as good (but not quite). :)
8) Swan Coach House
Last, but certainly not least is the Swan Coach House. As it's name indicates, it used to be a coach house, providing a roof for the carriages for the Swan House. The Swan House is a one of our pride and joys as it is an absolutely gorgeous historical house. If you ever get the chance, you must visit. You can buy tickets through the Atlanta History Center, which is quite literally right in front of the Coach House. There is wonderful interior decorating at the House and a lucious green front lawn. There's also a tiny art gallery as a part of the Coach House, displaying work by Atlanta artists. And if there's one thing I have to suggest for the Coach house, it would be their Fried Green Tomato sandwich. Now, don't scrunch up your nose and say, "Ewww" because you would passing up one of the best sandwiches you've ever had. And if you don't believe me, just read the book or watch the movie "Fried Green Tomatoes" and maybe that will change your mind.
Now, I hope that this little guide will help you to choose some places to eat while you're in Atlanta. But remember, go out and discover, I mean this list could go on forever and ever; there are ten or twelve bakeries alone that I could list off that you should go to, but you can't go to all of them. So, while you're shopping or going to the Aquarium or the World of Coke, find a nice little hole in the wall or try one of these places to stop for lunch or dinner. Now, I hope y'all enjoy your stay! Come visit us again soon!