The Loop: Atlanta

The Loop – all things travel, food, entertainment by Lisa Irwin, long-time San Franciscan and native Irishwoman.


Rias Bluebird – breakfast – southern specialities – brisket breakfast/ pancakes etc. 

(The coffee shop I mention below – Octane – is around the corner – good idea for a first-fuel stop if there’s a wait @ Rias)

BarTaco – Inman Park – perfect for lunch. Great tacos & drinks. Nice area to walk around. 

Antico Pizza 

Seriously good pizza – perfect place to take the kids – it’s a huge mess hall type place – super casual – but the pizza – incredible – 

I mean Naples good!

Gus’s Fried Chicken – lunch or dinner – this is an outpost of the Memphis restaurant – it’s not in a pretty part of town – but the fried chicken is the absolute best. And all the southern fixings – greens/cornbread etc. are just as good. Do not miss if you love fried chicken!

Staplehouse – dinner (Bon Appetit’s best rest. of 2016 – if interested try to get reservations before your trip). It’s a wonderful restaurant – not fancy white tablecloth – but relaxed  – the food is exceptional – and there’s a whole social “giving kitchen” attached to its foundation – a wonderful place to eat & support. 

Gunshow – dinner – Southern dim sum – sounds weird – but it’s totally delicious, inventive & fun. It’s loud, boisterous & fast paced – but the food is terrific. The have great cocktails – made tableside – from a rolling cart – fun!

Probably fine with the kids – if you go early – 

Holman & Finch – dinner (they have an infamous hamburger)

Revival Decatur – Dinner – Southern Soul Food Elevated – They do a great Sunday Supper – “grandmas specials” – fried chicken etc. 

Miller Union – dinner – farm to table – using southern ingredients. 

Must visit: 

-Ponce City Market – 

like our SF Ferry building – but bigger – tons of fantastic food options – also shopping – so a fun place to spend a day, an afternoon or evening. 

Backs up against the belt-line – which is my favorite place! A repurposed railway line that’s been turned into a lovely walking/running/biking trail – see below for the audio tour info. – even if you can’t get the audio tour to work it’s a fun place to take the kids to walk & explore. There’s bike rentals – easy & flat & 

there’s also a park on top of the market -it  has water slides & fun activities for the kiddos. Endless entertainment here!

A smaller version is Krogg Street Market. Great food vendors. Fantastic cheese-steak at one of the vendors – “Freds”. 


-Octane Coffee – 

Grant Park Location

this one has great coffee & is attached to a fantastic bakery – “little tart”

-Brash Coffee – this place is adorable – in a shipping container – similar to the Ritual in Hayes Valley – except in ATL the staff & service is 100million times better. (And they have a chocolate chip cookie that’s divine!)

-Revelator Coffee –

This speciality coffee is all over the south – kind of like a cooler southern BlueBottle – there’s one in  Nashville, Birmingham, NOLA – I think there’s one in Charleston – and there’s 2 in ATL. Highly recommend – all the cafes are super design-y & cool. Great coffee. 

King of Pops

– it’s going to be hot as balls – and these things are life savers – fun flavors, locally made & owned – the original is slightly off the beltline, there’s also a stand in Ponce City Market ( & they happen to make “grown up slushies – if the need arises!)

To do: 

-MLK Center – highly recommend that. 

-The CDC – very interesting – some really scary exhibits on germs & pests gone wild!

-The Carter Presidential Library 

-High Art Museum – lovely modern art museum. 

– Beltline Audio app – a terrific detour type app – highly recommend –

-Paris on Ponce – a massive wear house off the beltline has furniture & various other store – don’t miss the Moulin Rouge room – very cool. 


Callie’s Hot little biscuit –  

go for breakfast – or a tea time snack – biscuits galore – 

they are delicious, have them plain with butter & jam, with an egg, with  fried chicken or ham – with pimento cheese – have them any way you please – but have them often & have one for me!

Hominy Grill – breakfast or lunch – all the Southern specialties. 

Minero – lunch or dinner –

Tacos – with a southern flare – the tortillas are home made & delicious. (There’s also one in ATL – but this one is better)

Lewis BBQ – lunch or dinner –

This guy came from Austin (La BBQ) – he absolutely knows how to fire up the barbie! If you like brisket – this place has one of the best – tons of other meaty options ribs/sausage etc. & all the usual sides. 

Leon’s Fine Poultry & Oysters – dinner –

Oysters – go get ’em!

It’s a quirky place – probably better seafood places in town – but the atmosphere is fun. 

Fig – dinner –

Try get a reservation before you go. This one is definitely not a kid-friendly spot, but probably one of the best restaurants in the South. Everything is on point – food/drinks/service – you will have a fantastic dinner. Do not miss. 

Coffee: Kudo Coffee – little cafe – they have a nice outside patio where you can enjoy your cafe. 

To Do:

If you can – get a copy of Sue Monk Kidd’s ” The Invention of Wings” read it en route – or while you’re there – and then visit – 

The Aiken Rhett House

The book & a visit to the house will give you an incredible sense of place & time. It’s a wonderful insight into the history of the city & the in general the Southern relationship with slavery & its repercussions. 

Secondary mention – Pat Conroy “South of Broad” he writes & describes the South & its multitude of characters like no other. This one has a host of those colorful Charleston personalities. 

If you’re interested this is a highly recommended adventure – Alphonso is a delightful man – and you’ll leave him having made a new friend (& learned much)

Gullah Tour with Alphonso Brown

About Alphonso Brown

Atlanta is young & hip – the people are genuinely kind & helpful. Lots of Southern politeness. There’s so much to do – despite the sprawling freeways there’s lots of green spaces  – my favorite quote about Atlanta from the beloved Pat Conroy –

“Atlanta is a place where they built a city and left the forest intact.”

So try and explore them – Grant Park, Inman etc. the Beltline was a huge highlight for me & really gives a sense of the forest within the city. 

Charleston is architecturally pretty & atmospheric – walking around is very pleasing to the eye. The historic foundation takes restoration seriously here! 

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