SASA’s Atlanta Dining near Public Transit Guide
Don’t forget to pick up the printed booklet version at the conference!!!!
Staying near your downtown hotel the whole time you are here will give you a skewed view of Atlanta, almost as if you had never left the airport. It will also limit your dining options. You’ll get more for your money if you eat where locals do. This dining guide does give you some suggestions near the hotel, but we encourage you to venture out. The following guide is organized in relation to public transit stops, and ends with a MARTA FAQ.
Walking Distance from the Westin
Alma Cocina: Right near the conference hotel. This is a decent Mexican restaurant with a pleasant atmosphere that serves things like braised goat huaraches and lump crab tostadas. It is not the best Mexican restaurant in the city, especially considering the prices, but it is one of the better places to eat if you’re keeping close by. Entrees $18-27 (191 Peachtree St NW).
Asante: Celebrity chef, Marvin Woods (Home Plate, and chef to Michelle Obama) just opened this “Coastal Soul” restaurant right off Centennial Park. This is one of the few great restaurants in downtown ATL. Go here for a special, unusual meal. They serve Southern Low Country/Caribbean/West African fusion dishes such as Prawns Piri Piri, bacalao samosas, seafood sancocho, and even vegetarian collard greens. Entrees $22-$33 (250 Park Avenue West) On the other side of Centennial Park off Luckie St NW.
Downtown Food Court: A cheap, quick lunch gold mine hidden from view. Go down the MARTA escalator at Peachtree Plaza to find inexpensive fast food for breakfast or lunch. Stands sell: sandwiches, salads, Chinese, pizza, Indian, southern soul food and burritos. Open 7am – 6pm Monday-Saturday.
Gyro Madness: Next to a liquor store parking lot across from the Sheraton Hotel and open late at night. Good falafels, shawarma, gyros and fries. Eat standing-up or take out (188 Courtland St).
The Sundial Restaurant: Top Floor of the Westin Hotel. This is a popular tourist attraction, a good spot to go for a drink with a view (people from town pay to go up the elevator for the view!). It’s a perk of staying in the Westin.
Truva Atlanta Turkish Kitchen: This is a good Mediterranean restaurant with a number of vegetarian options and a lunch buffet. Mezes: $6–8; Entrees $14-$26 (60 Andrew Young International Blvd).
Restaurants within walking distance of Streetcar Stops: The streetcar is new, and currently FREE. It arrives every 15 minutes and the ride can take a little while as it does have to stop at traffic lights. It is pleasant, a good way to see downtown ATL and Sweet Auburn, and is full of relaxed locals and excited tourists.
Centennial Park – You can walk here from the hotel in 15 minutes or less, or take the streetcar from the hotel at Carnegie and Spring one stop to the Ferris wheel across from Centennial Park. However you get here, cut through the park and emerge to find a number of bars and restaurants on Park Ave. and Luckie St. These are mostly chains, but a few gems are there too. Honorable mentions go to
Asante (see above) and Kwan’s Deli and Korean Kitchen. no-frills atmosphere, large space serving deli sandwiches and Korean food (267 Marietta St/10 Park Ave W NW).
Studio 7: Walk up Simpson from Luckie St. toward Marietta St NW and hang a right. Between parking-lots and construction rubble, this brand new spot looks hip and fun. Latin American and Asian inspired serving highbrow versions of street snacks, ramen, and burritos (393 Marietta St. NW).
Sweet Auburn Curb Market – For lunch, take the streetcar 5 stops (15-20 minutes each way) from Carnegie and Spring to this historic neighborhood market with stalls including: Afrodish (Caribbean); Arepa Mia, Grindhouse Killer Burgers, Sweet Auburn BBQ, Yum Diggity Dogs, and more. An increasingly busy hub of deliciousness. (209 Edgewood) Open 8am – 6pm Monday-Saturday.
Edgewood Avenue at Hilliard – Get off the streetcar here for the bustling bar and restaurant scene on Edgewood Avenue:
Café Circa – Caribbean, Latino, Southern Creole; big bar scene, open till 1am weekends (464 Edgewood).
Noni’s Deli – Italian sandwiches and pasta. Homey neighborhood favorite. Entrees $14 (357 Edgewood).
The SoundTable – Club DJs, good food on small plates, $8-$14. Big wine list. Trendy, open late (483 Edgewood).
Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping-Pong Emporium – It’s a bar. (466 Edgewood).
Speakeasy – Behind a bookshelf in Pizza Vesuvius (327 Edgewood Ave).
And keep walking down Edgewood past the streetcar route to
Pizza Ammazza – Very good brick oven pizzas, big tables. Open till midnight Fri and Sat (591 Edgewood).
Miso Izakaya – Fried pork chops! sushi, and inventive small plates. Elegant ambience and not too pricey. depending on what and how much you order (619 Edgewood).
Thumbs Up Diner - Great breakfasts although long wait on Sundays (573 Edgewood).
Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site – One more stop past Edgewood and Hilliard. If you are thirsty or hungry after a visit to the King family home, or just take the street car here to eat, we recommend:
Condessa Coffee – Those in the know say this is the best coffee in Atlanta. (Freedom Pkway and Boulevard) Walk on Boulevard from Edgewood. On the bottom floor of a condo across from the entrance to I-75.
Lotta Frutta – Tiny and delicious lunch/breakfast spot run by a couple from the TX-Mexico borderlands. sandwiches, gourmet fruit cups, juice, and salads. $5- $8 (590 Auburn Ave).
Serpas True Food – Elegant, new American cuisine. salmon and homemade potato chips; andouille pigs in a blanket; Vegetarian? Try the eggplant hushpuppies. Entrees: $19 -$26 (659 Auburn Ave). Go east on Auburn Ave. past the MLK birth home. In the Studioplex.
Restaurants within Walking Distance of MARTA Trains:
If you take the MARTA rail system, there are many options, especially on the North and East routes. The “stops” information here is based on the starting location of the Peachtree Plaza Red/Gold MARTA station near the Westin.
3 Stops North on Red/Gold to Midtown
The station is on Peachtree Place between W. Peachtree and Cypress. Head 2 blocks east (past Cypress St NE) to Peachtree St NE; or go west past W. Peachtree for Tech Square. Around you, you may notice FOUR different streets named Peachtree in a three block radius. Welcome to ATL.
Empire State South – If you are looking for a fancy, special dining experience, ESS is celebrity chef Hugh Acheson’s main place in ATL and is one of the top restaurants in Atlanta. They serve consistently good “new Southern” farm-to-table dishes (i.e. watercress & quinoa salad with fried chicken skin) Open for dinner every night + Saturday/Sunday Brunch, weekday lunch. Dinner entrees $19-$42 (999 Peachtree Street NE Suite 140). Turn left on Peachtree St from Peachtree Place and go one block. Up a level from the street with a lawn and bocce court in front.
Flying Biscuit: If the sound of scrambled eggs with collard greens and turkey bacon makes you smile, try this classic and very popular Atlanta breakfast/lunch/dinner spot near Piedmont Park. Famous for “creamy, dreamy grits,” a wide variety of egg dishes (with some good options for ovo-lacto vegetarians), and great people watching during Sunday brunch. Be prepared for a long wait on Sunday afternoons. (1001 Piedmont Avenue NE) 2 blocks South of Peachtree. At 10th St.
The Spence – This is another popular special occasion restaurant, owned by Top Chef Star Richard Blais. It’s somewhat new, and you guide has not eaten there yet but hears it is good. Blais is a molecular gastronomy guru. Come here for concoctions like bone marrow with tuna tartar or candied goat-belly tartine. Open for lunch & dinner on weekdays and dinner on weekends. Dinner Entrees $14 – $34 (75 5th St, off Spring). Walk 2 blocks west on Peachtree Place and turn left onto Spring, between 5th and 6th.
Stir It Up – Caribbean, family owned. Listed in top ten “dining on a budget” spots in Atlanta for 2014. Big late night scene on weekends, possibly long waits. Brownstew chicken or tofu; jerk chicken, escovietch, curry. Equidistant from Midtown and Arts Center stations (84 12th St. NE). From Midtown station, walk north past the bus bay, go slightly left to Peachtree Walk and go 2 blocks north.
Takorea – Those of you who went to SASA in 2011 may remember the Yumbi Korean taco truck lunch during the conference. Now, the folks who ran that truck have a sit-down Korean-Mexican fusion palace. The large menu includes bi bim bap ($9) and yummy “takos” starting at $3.25 each. Good for vegetarians. Full bar including soju cocktails. (818 Juniper St NE) walk 3 blocks east on Peachtree Place to Juniper and turn right and walk 3 blocks south (between 5th and 6th)
4 Stops North to the Arts Center
The Arts Center MARTA station is at the back entrance of the High Museum. Walk 3 blocks east (past the museum) on 15th St to get to Peachtree St. NE
Article 14 – New American, lots of cocktails. Entrees $14-$29. (1180 Peachtree Suite B) From the High, turn right on Peachtree and a block. Just before 14th.
Tamarind Seed Thai Bistro – Popular with Midtown residents, good Thai food with great ambiance. Entrees $14-29 (1197 Peachtree) From the High, turn right onto Peachtree and walk a block to 14th. Across the street in the Colony Square Mall.
Tap –A go-to spot if you’re at the High Museum, serving a huge variety of beer and good “gastro-pub” food. Nice ambience and friendly service with mid-range prices. (1180 Peachtree). Walk one block down Peachtree from the High. On the corner of 14th st.
MARTA STOPS EAST OF FIVE POINTS
Take the RED/GOLD MARTA South to Five points then transfer to Blue or Green Line for:
2 stops East on Blue/Green: King Memorial
This station is closer to the Oakland Cemetery than it is to the MLK Center (use the Streetcar for MLK). From here, you can walk to several eateries along Memorial drive. To get to Memorial from the station, turn left from the station escalator, and left again onto Grant St. Go under the underpass (sorry!) and up the hill toward Memorial. The cemetery will be on your left.
Agave –Southwest/Mexican. Very good and very popular, serving red chili pork tostadas, hatch green chili enchiladas, and tequila shrimp, and a lot of tequila to drink too. From Grant St. Turn left on Memorial, and walk 6 long blocks to Boulevard. Entrees $12–22 (242 Boulevard SE).
Augustine’s – Straight ahead on Grant St. across Memorial. A long beer list and good pub food and big salads. Nice East side ATL crowd and a bocce court outside (327 Memorial Dr.).
Daddy D.’s BBQ Joint – If you want to try classic GA BBQ ribs in a casual atmosphere, this is a good spot. From Grant St, turn right on Memorial & walk two blocks. That metal shack set back from the road with the big sign is it (264 Memorial Dr. at Hill St.)
Octane Coffee – Eastside extension of ATL HQ for coffee connoisseurship. The Little Tart Bakery here has great salads, sandwiches and pastries (437 Memorial Dr. A5).
Ria’s Bluebird – Local chef, Ria Pell (maybe you saw her on “Chopped”) passed away last year, but the restaurant lives on. Popular breakfast/lunch spot with an interesting menu and tattooed waiters. On weekdays, it’s full of business people from downtown and working-from-home hipsters. Weekend brunch is delicious, but be prepared to wait. Some highlights: country-fried tempeh with gravy and greens; huevos rancheros, brisket or pulled chicken quesadillas (421 Memorial Dr.).
Six Feet Under large casual and popular seafood restaurant with a great view of downtown Atlanta, serving fried catfish, boiled shrimp,. Full bar. Entrees $12-$17. From Grant St, turn left on Memorial and go three long blocks (437 Memorial Dr.).
3 Stops East from Five Points: Inman Park/Reynoldstown
NOTE: Get out on the Inman Park side. Reynoldstown is residential & has no restaurants near the train. From the exit, you’ll walk on an elevated walkway over the freight tracks.
One Eared Stag –A very good, high-end restaurant, owned by Atlanta’s inventive & temperamental genius chef, Robert Phelan. Serving such delights as ember-roasted octopus, duck breast, and at brunch, “red neck mimosas” (beer and orange juice). Don’t miss the pan-fried dates or the celery salad. Phelan is less famous than Richard Blais because he is probably too cool to go on TV. Dinner entrees $20-30 (1029 Edgewood Ave.) Just across from the Inman Park MARTA station parking lot.
Fox Brothers BBQ –A Texas-style BBQ place opened by two brothers from Austin. They serve exceptional brisket and very good NC-style pulled pork. Try the pulled-pork/cheese filled jalapeno poppers and a sliced brisket plate. (1238 DeKalb Ave. at Josephine St.). From station, walk to DeKalb, turn left and walk five blocks, just past the busy intersection with Moreland Ave.
*For bookstore lovers, Inman Park MARTA is also 2 blocks or so from A Cappella Bookstore, one of the best independent bookstores in Atlanta (208 Haralson Ave. off DeKalb).
Little Five Points– Not to be confused with Five Points, this neighborhood is the closest thing in ATL to the East Village or the Haight-Ashbury, about a 10-15 minute walk from the Inman Park station up through the historic Inman Park neighborhood. Walk past the MARTA parking lot on Hurt St, then turn right on Euclid and walk four long blocks to get to L5P (you’re there when you see the Bass Lofts on the left). There are quite a few bars here and some good places to eat. Your SASA guide recommends the following:
El Myr – cheap burritos, bar, punk rock ambience. However, it can be very smoky at certain hours of the night. On the right on Euclid across from Bass Lofts (1091 Euclid Ave. NE).
The Porter – If you love beer, this is your place. Pub food here is exceptional. It gets very, very crowded on weekend nights (1150 Euclid Ave NW).
The Wrecking Bar – Off Moreland just past the main L5P area, in the historic Victor H. Kreigshaber House, entrance on side. Another gastro-pub serving such dishes as kale kimchi and seitan gyros (292 Moreland near Austin Ave.).
The Vortex: A big skull entrance, a popular burger joint and bar. Supposedly Margaret Cho hangs out here sometimes (438 Moreland Ave.).
* The Feminist/GLBT bookstore, CHARIS, is in this neighborhood (1189 Euclid). So is the Variety Playhouse – a great spot to hear live music, and 3 great record stores.
6 stops East from Five Points: Decatur
It takes about 30 minutes to ride MARTA from downtown to Decatur. The train lets you out right on Decatur Square, one of Atlanta’s most walkable areas, full of good places to eat. If you’re staying through Sunday, it’s worth a visit.
Brick Store Pub – With an internationally acclaimed beer list; possibly ATL’s original fine gastro-pub (125 East Court Square).
Cakes and Ale - New American whose James Beard semi-finalist chef, Billy Allin, did his apprenticeship at San Francisco’s Chez Panisse. Great for special dinner with less expensive café for lunch. Some vegetarian options. Dinner Entrees $25-$35; Café lunch $6-12; (155 Sycamore; 151 Sycamore for the Café).
Colbeh Persian Kitchen and Bar – Elegant Persian restaurant (123 East Court Square).
Iberian Pig – Excellent tapas and wine bar (121 Sycamore).
Victory Sandwich – Truly inventive tiny sandwiches – have two or three. Loud music. Jack n Coke slushies (340 Church St.).
Off the square and worth the walk:
Chai Pani – A large, fun Indian restaurant featuring kale-fritters, Thali plates, and good versions of Indian street food (406 W. Ponce De Leon Ave.).
Farm Burger – Next door to Chai Pani. Considered by many to be the best burgers in Atlanta (410 West Ponce De Leon Ave.).
Feeling confident? Take the Bus:
While rail will get you a lot of places in ATL, the range of destinations is a bit limited. Buses take longer, so we only advise these bus adventures if you arriving a day early or staying a day late. ATL Bus stops do not provide the route numbers and there may be a long wait between buses – check your schedule before venturing out and use the ap. Don’t be shy about asking drivers where they go. Most will even call out your stop for you. Once you’re on the bus, it will be surprisingly fast and easy.
Take the #1 bus to West Midtown Catch the Northbound #1 bus at Spring St. and John Portman right near the hotel. After looping around downtown, this bus heads north up Marietta St and then Howell Mill. The West Midtown neighborhood includes the Atlanta Museum of Contemporary Art, smaller galleries, and some of the finest restaurants in the city.
Bacchanalia – The Haute d’ Haute. Dinner is an extravagantly delicious five course meal including a special cheese and salad course near the end. You may be the only person in history who ever stepped off a bus to get here. Take a cab home. $85 prix-fixe. Reservations advised (914 Howell Mill Rd.). Get off the bus at Howell Mill and 14th St. and walk one block. The restaurant is on the left in a complex including its carry-out store, Star Provisions.
Bocado – Trendy and popular. Salads, small plates, sandwiches and burgers including everything from roasted cauliflower with Thai eggplant to the “burger stack”; lunch and dinner 7 days, closed mid-day. Dinner entrees $14-$24 (887 Howell Mill Rd.) Get off the bus at Howell Mill. Restaurant is by the bus stop on the right.
Delia’s Chicken Sausage Stand – Some day, Atlanta will be famous for being the birthplace of this testament to imaginative cooking. Featuring locally-sourced chicken sausage hoagies, sliders, hot-dishes. If you don’t want a classic “slinger” with sour-kraut, there’s always the red-sauce soaked meatball grinder, or chicken chorizo-speciality, the Gunslinger. Also, cake shakes. (881 Marietta St.) Get off the bus on Northside Dr. on the left.
Miller Union – Very special farm-to-table Southern, cooked by James Beard Finalist Scott Satterfield, Entrees $23-$30 (999 Brady Ave NW) Get off the bus at 10th street and cross over, walk about ½ block.
Octane – The original fancy coffee place in ATL. (1009 B Marietta St) Get off the bus at Howell Mill and cross the street.
The Optimist –Recommended by some of SASA’s favorite people for a special dinner. James Beard Foundation semi-finalist, Ford Fry and co. prepare refined and inventive seafood dishes in a beautiful light-filled space. Entrees $23-$33 ( 914 Howell Mill Rd.) Get off the bus at Howell Mill, Right across the street.
West Egg - Very popular pub and brunch spot. Special dinner nights include Thurs: Grilled Cheese and Games; Fri: Chicken and Waffles; Saturday: Meat and Three. Expect a wait for Sunday brunch. (1100 Howell Mill Rd) Get off the bus at Brady Ave. Restaurant is across the street.
Take the 74 Bus from Five Points. Get out at Glenwood and Flat Shoals for East Atlanta Village, a walk-able neighborhood with a growing number of live-music venues and clubs, including long time favorite, The Earl. There are several very good and not-too-pricey restaurants here including:
Argosy – A large, great looking and popular bar serving unusual pizzas, kale salads, duck eggrolls and handmade sausage. M-F 5pm-2am; weekends 11-2am (470 Flat Shoals).
Holy Taco – Founding-chef Robert Phelan, has left but they still serve locally-sourced, worship-worthy tacos (tongue, brisket, pork shoulder), organic margaritas, Brussels sprouts in honey crema, watermelon salad. We think even Californians will be impressed. ($4 tacos; $6-$7 small plates) Open 7 days, serves brunch, “late breakfast” and dinner,11am -10pm (1314 Glenwood).
Urban Cannibals Bodega and Bites – Owned by a much-beloved couple, Calavino Donati and Doria Roberts, serves sandwiches, pastries, and salads in a relaxed store-front with many vegetarian and vegan options. It can take them a while to make the sandwiches, so go next door to Bound-to-Be Read books and browse a while. Lunch/Brunch only (477 Flat Shoals).
Or, Get off the bus on Bill Kennedy Way for
Gunshow –Top Chef Star Kevin Gillespie runs this place “dim sum” style. Chefs bring their dishes straight to your table and you can choose what you want. Depending on what you order and how many are sharing $40-$60/pp. Reservations recommended (924 Garrett St).
YOUR MARTA FAQ
Q: Where do MARTA trains go?
A: MARTA trains run North/South (Red and Gold) and East/West (Blue and Green). The center, Five Points, is the transit hub. All trains are there, and you can also catch most buses there.
Notable stops on MARTA NORTH and SOUTH:
The MARTA red/gold lines run up and down Peachtree Street. The Peachtree Center stop is a block from the Westin.
N – North Avenue – (2 stops from Peachtree Plaza) From here you can walk on Peachtree near the Fox Theater and find restaurants, bars and other attractions.
N – Midtown – (3 stops from Peachtree Plaza) Close to Georgia Tech’s campus, Piedmont Park, and Midtown restaurants.
N – The Arts Center – (4 stops from Peachtree Plaza) Includes the High Museum, Alliance Theater and Atlanta Symphony, and a variety of bars and restaurants serving people attending these places or living in high-rise condos nearby. *You can take a shuttle bus from the Arts Center station to Atlantic Station, which has a large movie theater, a lot of fancy stores, and more bars and restaurants (notably the Pig and the Pearl).
S – Airport –(8 Stops from Peachtree Plaza) The Red line’s southernmost point is the ATL airport. MARTA is the best way to get there.
Notable Stops on MARTA EAST and WEST:
The MARTA blue/green lines run East and West from Five Points.
W – Vine City – (2 Stops from Five Points): The Alonzo Herndon Home Museum (hear about it at SASA) is 5 minutes from this station stop.
W- Ashby – (3 stops from Five Points): Clark Atlanta, Morehouse and Spelman Campuses and the Woodruff Library (walk South 20 minutes on Lowery Boulevard to get to Morehouse and Spelman)
E -Georgia State: (1 stop from Five Points) Yup, that’s what’s here.
E – King Memorial (2 stops from Five Points) Close to the Oakland Cemetery and the old Fulton Bag & Cotton Mill (now loft apartments) and Cabbage Town. Despite the name, if you want to go to the King Center, we advise taking the Streetcar instead of this train.
E- Inman Park/Reynoldstown (3 stops East From Five Points) Get out on the Inman Park side and walk through the historic neighborhood to get to boho-Mecca of L5P.
E – Decatur: (6 stops east from Five Points.) Near Emory University, downtown Decatur has a small-town feel and is one of the more walkable areas in Atlanta.
Buses: Most buses leave from Five Points. 74 To East Atlanta Village; 16 to Poncey-Highlands, Virginia Highlands, and the Carter Center; 1 to West Midtown (from Spring and John Portman near the Westin.)
Q: How do I know which train (or bus) to take?
A: MARTA has a smart-phone app to help you navigate. Also, check the website: www.itsmarta.com
Q: How much does MARTA cost?
A: Tickets are $2.50 and multi-trip “breeze card” passes are available.
Q: what are the hours?
A: Service Hours: 4:45 am – 1:45 am (Check schedules for specific trains).
Q: Really? I should take MARTA? But I’ve heard MARTA is terrible/barely exists/ or that “nobody takes MARTA”
A: This is a great myth of Atlanta foisted upon us by people who have never taken MARTA. People take MARTA and the train service is reliable and quick. It was still running when drivers were stuck in the infamous Snow Jam of 2014. On any line, you will get onto a train that is full of people. The same is true about buses, most of which can be found at the Five Points transit hub in downtown.
Q: So what’s the problem?
A: The truth is that Atlanta is one of the least pedestrian-friendly cities in the United States, and this is true of the areas around some of the MARTA stations. Some MARTA rail stations and bus-stops are not well-planned in conjunction with traffic lights or well-marked pedestrian crosswalks. One or two stations require that you walk under a dark underpass to reach your destination, violating all the rules your mother told you about how to walk safely on your own in the big city. Service cuts also mean that stations are not well staffed and buses are infrequent. If you plan to go to certain MARTA stations at night, we recommend going with friends, and you may want to take a cab home depending on how late you are out. MARTA buses are especially challenging because of the lack of adequate information at bus-stops and sometimes very long waits.
If you take MARTA, you will discover that the majority of people who use Atlanta’s trains and on buses (but not all) are non-white, and that problems with service (limits in locations served, lack of adequate information at stations and bus-stops, wait times at night, staffing at stations and cost of tickets) are all related to this fact. If you are curious about why white people do not use or pay taxes to support public transit in the Southeast’s largest city despite its convenience and the obvious need for it, SASA recommends that you read Kevin Kruse’s important book, White Flight, which describes the white-racist bus boycott that began with street car and bus desegregation and can be directly linked to contemporary Atlanta’s traffic woes.