Immersed in Atlanta night life coolness
By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor
"I picked this place because you're Gainesville's GLOB Master Dad. I want you to see the restaurants East Atlanta has to offer," my younger daughter Jana said.
And so began my Atlanta food adventure. East Atlanta to be exact. We wined, dined, took in the culinary and socially correct downtown scene of what I am told is the very hippest, coolest part of Atlanta.
If you will, follow me I would like to share with you one of the best road trips this side of New Orleans.
My traveling companion, Lynn, and I arrived late Friday evening in what some GLOBers affectionately call HOT-tlanta. HOT was evident throughout our stay with the large number of people dining on patios, walking dogs in parks, waiting in lines in short sleeves and sandals, and gathering in large groups in front of favorite bar or club venues.
As soon as we unpacked the car, we were immediately whisked away to a popular Mexican food spot specializing in sustainable, organic, and locally grown dinner items:
HOLY TACO, 1314 GLENWOOD AVENUE. EAST ATLANTA, (404) 230-6177
What an extraordinarily excellent Mexican dinner! Stacks of tortillas, loaded with poached chicken and house mole; a taco filled with 12-hr roasted pork and another with shrimp, and a quesadilla loaded with black beans, rice, and avocado, and pico de gallo; Vegan tacos that required no cheese, a salad of Oakview Farms mixed greens, avocado, radish, pickled shallots, and manchego cheese filled our table to almost overflowing. A really refreshing aspect of this healthy Mexican food was the total absence of cheese on every dish except the salad.
Before and after dinner, chips, salsa, and beer were topped off many times as we reveled in downtown East Atlanta in this restaurant that had a lively full house.
Holy Taco, if you like Mexican food, you need to check out this place next time you're in Atlanta.
Saturday the plan was to have lunch and head over to the Georgia Aquarium for the afternoon, and then have an early dinner at this fantastic pizza place that would be way to difficult to get into later in the evening. We got there 8 minutes after the place opened and there was a line out the door. We changed gears and went to:
THE VORTEX BAR & GRILL, 878 Peachtree St., (404) 878-1667
My daughter's man, Chris Heller, tells us that the Vortex makes one of the best hamburgers in Atlanta. That was ample reason to check out this bike and car souvenir filled bar and grill that has been received numerous awards including Best Burger, Best Veggie Burger, Best Beer Selection, Best Neighborhood Bar and "One of the Top 50 Restaurants in Atlanta."
The burger was really good, the appetizer of fried pickles and onion rings were deep-fried heaven. This burger palace was just what our lunch break needed.
(A commenter below says the Vortex was a venue for the Travel Channel's 'Man vs. Food' eat down shows.)
When we got to the Georgia Aquarium, there were so many people out enjoying the weather that the line to buy tickets was wrapped around the building. Once again, in a city with non-stop options, we quickly changed plans and headed for the Atlanta Botanical Garden for what turned out to be a great inside and outside stroll among orchids, an edible garden, a rainforest with rain mist, and a desert habitat that included plants from Madagascar and South Africa as well as the American southwest.
PARISH FOOD & GOODS, Bldg. 240 N. Highland Ave. (404) 681-4434
After our earlier need to revise plans, on the way to this very popular restaurant, Jana called the restaurant and managed to get us an outside patio table if we could get there in 10 minutes. We were sure we could make it. Our dinner at this ultra-cool, three-story East Atlanta night spot made for a perfect finish to a perfect Saturday.
Along with sour dough crusty bread and butter, a cheese plate and chicken pate with toasted bread points and mustard made a perfect beginning and set the bar for an excellent dinner. Lynn and I shared an entree of the Chef's Special braised short ribs with mushrooms and potatoes. Jana opted for the Georgia Farm-Raised Vegetables, and Chris selected a regular special the Parish calls "TV Dinner," which this Saturday consisted of a fried chicken breast, collard greens, and mashed potatoes and gravy. Jana also took advantage of their bottomless wine glass for $20 that made Sunday morning hard to endure.
We ended this fabulous meal with two desserts, a banana bread pudding that -- sorry Mom! -- might be the best bread pudding I have ever tasted and some French pastry style macaroon cookies that Wolfgang Puck would envy. I happen to know this because I saw him talking about macaroons on the Food Network's "Best Thing I Ever Ate" just last week.
The perfect finale to the day was hearing a live duet performance in the Parish lounge that was a very nice version of the Rolling Stones 'Factory Girl.'
Like all road trips, the ride back to Urban GLOB Land seemed much longer than the trip up. However, I did comfort myself by humming the Stones' Factory Girl to myself while rolling down the highway.
Latest from Mike S. GLOB Master
Celeste Friday, 19 December 2014 17:17 Comment Link
Wow, I would have been heartbroken if you'd missed The Vortex! The one out in Little Five Points is very good too!
My long time pal A. Caldwell mention of Blind Willies brings back tons great blues memories . . . If the 'blues is alright with you,' you would be foolish to miss this Atlanta blues bar!
hmmm, I was in a MAN vs. FOOD joint . . . !
Mike S, GLOB Editor
Andy Caldwell Tuesday, 22 February 2011 18:34 Comment Link
I'm just waiting on a factory girl... one of my favorites as you well know my friend. Hey that Vortex place sounds good. I remember seeing a Man vs Food episode that featured their burgers. Pretty awesome looking stuff. You know there is one place I would recommend to any blues fan while in Atlanta and that's one of Mike's favorite places as is mine, Blind Willies. I believe it is somewhere in either east Atlanta or uptown. Great live music and friendly people.