I’ve visited Atlanta more than a dozen times over the last decade, but on a recent visit with a couple of my favorite girlfriends, I experienced a different side of the Southern city. The decision to go was last minute; one of my friends was planning a trip to Atlanta, and asked two of us to join her. I’m glad we did! The setting for Gone with the Wind, Atlanta doesn’t offer typical Southern etiquette, but it certainly has its own charm and personality. Hidden in the environs of a concrete jungle is an amazing city filled with eccentric restaurants and dessert venues, great shopping, hot dance clubs, and even a few street performers.
My friends and I stayed in Buckhead, a couple of miles from downtown Atlanta. The neighborhood is famous for its culinary scene, shopping, nightlife, and huge yuppie population. We kicked off the weekend at Ru San’s, a retro-style Japanese restaurant located in the center of Buckhead. Employees and even a few of the customers greeted us, screaming Irasshai Masai as Japanese pop music played in the background. The restaurant’s décor, bright lighting, and buzzing atmosphere give you a feel that you’re actually sitting in a restaurant in Japan.
Ru San’s menu offers more than one hundred types of sushi, from basic maki to the out-of-the-ordinary rock and roll. And while Ru San’s may be a Japanese restaurant, it does offer a snippet of Atlanta flavor with its Southern-style Gone With the Wind sushi rolls. If you’re unsure of what to order, the waiters are happy to make suggestions.
After our fabulous dinner, we ventured over to another famous Atlanta hangout, Huey’s, for dessert. Beignets may have been invented in New Orleans, but Atlanta’s version rates a close second. Hot beignets covered in white powdered sugar are brought directly to your table, accompanied with chocolate sauce if you like. While eating, patrons enjoy live jazz music performed by local artists.
Later that night, we headed to another hot Atlanta favorite, Café Intermezzo. Even at one a.m., the place was hopping. Famous for its dessert selection, Café Intermezzo allows you to choose from more than one hundred cakes and pies. While the other girls enjoyed slices of fresh berry and Italian rum cakes, I sipped a café mocha.
We began our Saturday with biscuits and apple butter at the Flying Biscuit Café. Located in midtown Atlanta near Piedmont Park, the café’s menu and décor reflect the area’s colorful personality and alternative lifestyle. The café is a popular breakfast joint among locals and tourists. Work by Atlanta artists adorns the walls, and is available for purchase. Our extremely personable waiter took great care of us, even offering us free dessert for having to wait for our food!
After breakfast, we took in few hours of sightseeing in downtown Atlanta. We walked through Centennial Park, watching kids jump in and out of the water fountain. Other park-goers enjoyed a more low-key afternoon, reading books or lounging around in the beautiful weather. We took a studio tour of CNN, and made a final stop at the Underground for some shopping, catching a few minutes of an outdoor performance in front of the complex’s main entrance.
Food was definitely on our minds throughout our trip; NAVA, also located in Atlanta’s Buckhead, is one of the city’s trendiest restaurants, and adds a whole new dimension to Southwestern cuisine. If you’re looking for a restaurant that combines great food with a great ambience, NAVA is your best bet. The restaurant’s Southwestern décor, artwork, and soft lighting add to its ambience and energy. The menu offers a variety of choices, including grilled tuna and southwestern-style chicken. While sipping a Cosmopolitan, I found myself indulging in roasted lamb with a side of southwestern-style vegetables: a mixture of mushrooms, onions, and potatoes that left a cornbread-stuffing taste in my mouth. It was absolutely divine. To cap off our meal, we ordered a chocolate-fudge cake, dripping with chocolate sauce.
But our night did not end there! After all, who could leave a city without experiencing its nightlife? We headed to Visions, Atlanta’s famous dance club, which consists of four rooms, each decorated in its own seventies- and eighties-inspired style. Surprisingly, you don’t have to wait hours to grab a drink—although you may find yourself wandering the dance floor in search of a good spot to dance. Some individuals do like to put on a show! We found ourselves watching one breakdancer who had attracted a small crowd around him. The primarily international crowd is reflective of the club’s music: while we were dancing, some Indian-style folk music, bhangra, came on: the crowd went wild…and so did we!
The night finally ended, and so did our vacation. After an unforgettable weekend of food, dancing, and sightseeing, it was time to go home. The experience was unforgettable—we’re already planning our next trip.
When planning a trip to Atlanta, be sure to check out the following places
3365 Piedmont Road NE #152
Flying Biscuit Café (Midtown)
10001 Piedmont Avenue
NAVA (reservations recommended)
3060 Peachtree Road #100, NW
1816 Peachtree Road, NE
1845 Peachtree Road, NE