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• Mary Mac's Tea Room, 224 Ponce De Leon Ave NE, 404-876-1800. A landmark of southern cooking. Not fancy, just good. Open 11am - 9pm daily.
• The Varsity, 61 North Avenue, 404-881-1706. "Whitehaven, whatayahave, whatayahave?" Famous establishment, founded in 1928, located near Georgia Tech on North Avenue & Spring Street featuring fresh burgers, hot dogs, and other various fast fare. Visit the website so you'll be prepared: Hint: try "two dawgs walkin, ring one, and a large PC." Open Su-Th 10am - 11:30pm, Fr-Sa 10am - 12:30am.
• Hard Rock Cafe, 215 Peachtree St. NE, 404-688-7625. If the B-52's song "Love Shack" were to ever find a permanent home, Atlanta's Hard Rock Cafe would be the place. With its southern charm and renowned hospitality, this location truly gives meaning to our motto "Love All, Serve All." Situated in downtown Atlanta's Cornerstone Building, our restaurant could be considered a cornerstone of southern rock. Packed with memorabilia from rock legends with roots south of the Mason-Dixon Line, this cafe serves up delicious delicacies everyday, offering visitors to the Hard Rock Cafe Atlanta a peach of a time. Dining Room: Sun - Thurs 11:00AM - 12:00AM Fri & Sat 11:00AM - 1:00AM Bar: Mon-Sat 11:00AM - 2:00AM Sun 12:00PM - 12:00AM Merchandise: Mon-Sat 10:00AM - 1:00AM Sun 10:00AM - 12:00AM
Little Five Points
This bohemian district to the east of downtown Atlanta contains many interesting eateries. Here are some of them:
• Vortex Bar and Grill, 438 Moreland Avenue, (404) 688-1828. Founded in 1992 by three siblings, the Vortex serves some of the best burgers with the wildest and widest array of toppings. (Note: must be 18 or older to enter due to smoking laws.)
• Savage Pizza, 484 Moreland Ave NE, (404) 523-0500. Good pizza, cheap prices, good wall murals. Next to Criminal Records and Junkman's Daughter.
• MF Sushibar, 265 Ponce De Leon Ave, (404) 815-8844. "Magic Fingers". Excellent sushi. It's expensive but the best selection and quality I've found in all of Atlanta.
• Willy's, 1071 Piedmont Avenue, (404) 249-9054. Actually an Atlanta chain, but this one is in Piedmont Park on Piedmont and 12th Street. This place has great, cheap burritos served in the California style (they add the fresh ingredients and roll it up in front of you). The hard shell charolitas are a favorite. Similar to burrito chains such as Moe's (which originated in Atlanta) and Chipotle.
• Flying Biscuit Cafe, 1005 Piedmont Avenue, (404) 874-8887. Serves breakfast everyday and famous for brunch. Great place for kosher and vegetarian eaters as they have no beef or pork products- just great chicken sausage, turkey bacon, black bean cakes. Long wait on the week-end so get there early when they open at 7am. The original location is in Candler Park, 1655 McLendon Ave.
• Kool Korners Grocery, 349 14th Street NW (corner of State St), (404) 892-4424. Take-out lunches Monday through Saturday. Known for making the best Cuban sandwiches in Atlanta (with jalapenos upon request). With its friendly owner, Ildefonso Ramirez, and its hole-in-the-wall atmosphere, Kool Korners is a local landmark. One can expect 5-15 minute lines of students, construction workers, and corporate executives from 11:30 a.m. onwards. As-yet-untoasted cubanos are pre-made in the morning, and the store can run out of them later in the day. Call ahead for large orders. Locals often eat the sandwiches in their cars. Cubano, plantain chips, Latin soft drink, and a Moon Pie: $8.
• Fritti, 309 North Highland Ave, Atlanta, 404-880-9559, ]. Fritti offers European-style pizza. Italians have said that this is the closest to true Italian pizza as it gets in Atlanta. Appetizers are wonderful - the calamari is very lightly fried and the Funghi Fritti (fried crimini, portabella, and shittake in rice flour batter, rosemary and truffle oil) is to die for. Vegetarians have several options at this location. Large groups can be accommodated if you call ahead and reserve the private dining room upstairs. Reservations are not necessary but are recommended, especially for weekend dinners. Pizzas average $12-14 per person - if you get an appetizer you will probably not finish the whole thing. Excellent selection of Italian wines by the glass (though overpriced).
• Zyka, 1677 Scott Blvd, Decatur, 404-728-4444. Fast food the Indian way. The decor is simple, and the food is served on plastic plates, but the food is served quickly, hot and wonderful. They have the best naan in the US. Some of the food is spicy and sometimes oily, so keep an eye out.
• Mary's, 1287B Glenwood Avenue, (404) 624-4411. A gay-friendly neighborhood bar in East Atlanta Village.
Virginia-Highland is a popular area for twenty- and thirty-somethings. The better bars are:
• The Righteous Room, at Ponce de Leon and North Highland. Great jukebox.
• Atkins Park, which may be the oldest bar in Atlanta, on N. Highland. Ask for the Key Lime Pie shot if you're in a girly mood.
• Neighbors, bound to be thronged with Emory students.
• Dark Horse, also on N. Highland, draws an older crowd.
• Pura Vida, on N. Highland, serves great mojitos and draws a Latin crowd for music and tapas.
• Manuel's, at Highland and North Avenue, an Atlanta Democratic Party institution where you're likely to find campaign staffers and off-duty cops knocking back stiff drinks under a portrait of JFK.
College students favor:
• Anything in Buckhead, which should be a sign to those who like to avoid college students.
• Famous Pub and Sports Palace and Maggie's in the Toco Hills Shopping Center.
• Neighbors and Moe's and Joe's in Virginia-Highland.
• The Library, near GA Tech.
If you're looking for Irish bars, take a look at:
• Fado Fado in Buckhead, which employs some actual Irishmen and women
• Limerick Junction in Virginia-Highland, where the drinks are cheap and the fiddling rocks.