By Theresa Christine
I grew up a few hours away from Atlanta, but never really realized what a gem this city is until now! It’s a nice mix of laid-back southern charm and a bustling metropolis. It was hard to pin down the crème de la crème, but these were my top picks after a weekend in Hotlanta, Georgia.
Get your day started off right by grabbing a delicious pastry at Highland Bakery, and make your way to the entrance of The Atlanta Botanical Garden. This is not your grandma’s garden–it’s more like a zoo and museum in one. There’s plenty to look at outdoors, like the rose garden or the edible garden (I only wish cheese grew on trees…). But hands-down do not miss out on what’s in the Dorothy Chapman Fuqua Conservatory. I was literally walking around in a rainforest in the middle of winter! Pretty damn cool.
Next, hop on over to the Eastside Trail of the Atlanta Beltline, which is nestled right by the gardens and Piedmont Park. Even on a cloudy day, it’s a lovely and well-paved walk- slash bike-way that has art scattered along it. Take a short stroll and check out some of the coolest murals I’ve ever seen, as well as the rotating art installations on the trail.
Okay, by now you’ve definitely worked up a healthy appetite, so it’s time for a real treat: Indian food! Planet Bombay, located in Little Five Points, made a killer mataar paneer for me, and I devoured every last bit. The place isn’t much to look at from the outside, but they can cook up some seriously fresh dishes. Also, even though I pigged out big time, I didn’t feel weighed down by a food coma afterward. Win!
Go down the street to Porter Beer Bar. My brother insisted that I go to here, and it would seem he knows me well. I could have spent all day in there drinking IPAs and still not even gotten through a single page of their extensive menu. I’d never heard of the Brew Dog Punk IPA so decided to give it a whirl, but if that’s not your style, there are beers. from. everywhere. Seriously, you name a place, they’ve got a beer from there. Not into beer? They’ve got cider as well as other spirits.
Walk off your amazing beer (or cider, or whiskey, or whatever) and explore the hipster-y streets of Little Five Points. I liked this quaint neighborhood that’s full of restaurants, bars, and, my favorite: thrift stores! There are plenty to check out. I was impressed with the second jewelry at Rag-o-Rama, which is similar to Buffalo Exchange or other Buy/Sell/Trade stores. Look closely at the necklaces they have hanging–you’re sure to find something insanely cool. Also, while a little expensive, Clothing Warehouse had a rad selection of hats. I mean, everyone needs a pink beret, right?
Now it’s time to view Atlanta in style. Parking will be a bitch downtown, but go through the trouble to snag a spot and head to Sundial Restaurant, which is situated in the Westin Hotel. The restaurant spins. Like, 360 degrees. Trust. I know this is not a novel idea and there are other restaurants and bars to do so, but it’s just so darn pretty at the top. It’s impossible not to feel like a total baller sipping on a signature strawberry martini and watching the Atlanta skyline go by. In my personal opinion, don’t grab dinner here–it’ll cost you some serious dollar bills–but do indulge in an appetizer or a cocktail and admire the scenery.
For the evening noms, Figo Pasta is a perfect spot. The pasta is freshly made and I have to be careful writing about Figo because I’m drooling just thinking about it. I got the fettuccine with Chiecca Fiorentina sauce, which was, in a word, amazeballs. However, you can create your own pasta dish by picking the type of pasta and the sauce to go with it. It’s restaurants like this that give me the chance to make good choices that I can be proud of.
Right across the parking lot is a lovely ice cream shop called Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. Splendid, eh? With a name like that, they needed to really impress me–and hell yes, they did. I tried at least half of all the flavors they offered, and ended up settling on a tart cherry flavor. My runner-up: riesling poached pear sorbet.
Now for post-dinner drinks! I’ve never been more confused by a bar than I have been when I walked into Paper Plane. It’s some serious inception stuff going on here, because this is a bar within a bar. You first enter Victory, which is technically a sandwich bar but they serve drinks as well. It’s great for a rowdy crowd looking for some good beer and some good times. But don’t stop there–if you walk back past the bathrooms you’ll discover a door with a little paper plane painted on it. Open the door and voilà! you’re in a completely different bar that feels like a 1920s speakeasy. The drinks rotate seasonally, so venture outside your usual drink of choice and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
That’s Hotlanta for ya! Be on the lookout for next month’s Travel That. Have questions or suggestions? Tweet me! @t_christine.