|PHOTO | DWIGHT BROWN|
|Chef Jamarius J. Banks and owner Clarence Boston of Hippin Hops Brewery and Oyster Bar.|
Explore Atlanta, arguably the capital of the New South, and you’ll be embraced by a multicultural city, led by a Black mayor and blessed with forward-thinking electorates who made Fulton County the most pivotal voting bloc in the country.
These erudite Atlanteans are forging a new world, creating a vibrant food scene, supporting the arts, respecting their historic districts and welcoming anyone who wants to share the experience.
Soul Food & Culture – Nuevo Soul Food
Chef Todd Richards (“SOUL: A Chef’s Culinary Evolution in 150 Recipes”) and Chef Josh Lee conceived the Soul Food & Culture restaurant, an innovative eatery that’s on the crest of a new wave of soul food cooking.
SF&C stands out at the Krog Street Market, an historic food hall located in what was once Tyler Perry’s first studio and before that an iron-pan factory (circa 1889). Secret spices, gluten-free options and innovation propel this contemporary restaurant to the top of ATL’s most contemporary cuisine. How inventive? How new? They’ve created “Waffles Infused with Collard Greens!” It’s ingenious!
The bitterness of the greens, the flaky light waffle, the fat from a dab of butter and the sweetness of maple syrup blend together in a way that will make your tastebuds scream: “Wow!” Richards and Lee are going places African American restaurateurs have never been. Lee: “We are the only minority black-owned restaurant on the Beltline.” Their ambitious menu is redefining what soul food can be.
Our picks: 1.) Deviled Eggs (with Benton’s bacon jam, crispy onions) 2.) Fried Green Tomatoes (spicy remoulade sauce, pimento cheese). 3.) Hot Fried Catfish Sandwich (as crispy as a potato chip) 4.) Catfish ‘n Waffles (regular or go for the collard waffle).
9 Mile Station – Up on the Roof
The in-crowd in ATL gathers at Ponce City Market in the Old Fourth Ward.
This former Sears catalogue facility (circa 1926) has evolved into a multi-purpose, cultural/food/retail space/amusement park that’s fun-time central. Popular cafés, restaurants and bakeries line the first floor. A five-floor elevator ride takes you to a rooftop with unobstructed panoramic views. Gaze at ATL’s multitude of skylines: downtown, BeltLine, Piedmont Park and surrounding neighborhoods and the beauty envelopes you.
What’s surprising and pleasing is the potpourri of families, couples, singles, Blacks, whites, Latinos and Asians, gay, straight young and old. The kids are riding on amusement park rides or hurtling down big slides. Adults engage in mini golf.
There are several eateries on the massive veranda and 9 Mile Station is the key one. Eat indoors at the popular bar, sip on craft beers and ogle the open kitchen. Or sit outdoors for the amazing vistas, the main attraction. Owners Kelvin and Mandy Slater welcome customers like family. The vibe alone is alluring.
Our choices: 1.) The Snake Inside the Watermelon Cocktail (Old Grandad BIB Bourbon, Lemon, Watermelon, Ginger) 2.) Pork Belly Sliders (Pineapple Chutney, Jalapeño, House Pickles) 3.) Steak Frites (New York Strip, House-Made Fries).
Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours – Meet Me on the West Side
Chef Deborah VanTrece has created a friendly environment that pulls locals in the quiet West Side neighborhood from their homes to her oasis restaurant for lunch, dinner, drinks and socializing.
Her restaurant is a mecca for African American, LGBQT and other cultures that meet, greet and eat. Everyone is welcomed. Everyone is there. VanTrece’s modern interpretations and global influences on traditional Southern soul food sets her establishment apart.
Diners sit inside or outside in the fresh air chowing down on food that taste like it came from their momma’s kitchen—if their moms were influenced by Black and international cuisines. The food is comforting, the atmosphere laissez faire. You come in with a smile that only grows bigger as your meal is served and crowned with dessert.
Our picks: 1.) Brown Butter Scallops (Broccoli Chimichurri, Peach Corn Salsa). 2.) Hoisin Glazed Oxtails (with Vegetable Basmati Rice, Sauteed Garlic Ginger Bok Choy) 3.) Pan Seared Jerk Snapper (with Escovitch Slaw, Cilantro Butter Basmati Rice, Sea Island Pea Puree) 4.) Bourbon Peach Cobbler.
Lake & Oak Neighborhood BBQ – ‘cue this
Opening July 4 weekend 2020 on the border of ATL’s East Lake and Oakhurst districts, this savory BBQ joint has become the bridge between the two neighborhoods.
The amiable personalities of co-chefs/owners Todd Richards and Chef Josh Lee have produced a warm, convivial atmosphere.
Their down-home brining, smoking and cooking techniques can be tasted in every savory item. Charcoal and white oak and pecan woods add taste and flavor. Novel seasoning and innovative techniques take their BBQ to another planet.
Richards: “the lamb ribs are seasoned with a coffee rub… diners can have chicken breasts coated with collard green pesto.” The open kitchen lets customers watch as the smoke masters create their magic. If you can’t make the tough decision on what to eat, sample them all: pork, chicken and beef.
Choose your sauces: Carolina Mustard, Chicago Red or Whiskey BBQ. At L&OBBQ. Any decision you make is the right decision.
Our picks: 1.) “Devilish” Eggs (Pork, brisket, pimento). 2.) Brisket (10 oz. Coffee, pepper rub, 14-hour smoked) with a side of Collard Green Fried Rice. 3.) Fried Apple Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream.
Hippin Hops Brewery & Oyster Bar
Georgia’s first Black-owned brewery has put stakes down in the East Atlanta Village district.
Co-owners Donnica and Clarence Boston are the visionary pioneers whose signature ales and lagers have made their brewery/restaurant a go-to hub in a burgeoning neighborhood where the nightlife buzzes. Their three-barrel brewhouse produces a variety of handcrafted beers made with fresh, all-natural ingredients.
HHB&OB suds are the main attraction for the hip-hop crowd that gathers and parties. But the place has another secret weapon: Fish.
Executive Chef Jamarius “J.” Banks, a former contestant on Food Network’s “Beat Bobby Flay,” turns food from the ocean and lakes into delectable dishes with a supreme focus on oysters served in ways that surprise and please patrons. Pull up a chair, stool or stand, sway to the neo-soul music and let the beer flow where it may.
Our picks: 1.) Bier Saigon (Saison) or Black Don’t Crack (Stout) Chocolate Cream Pie 2.) Oyster Collardfeller (With Collard Greens and smoked turkey, topped with Rockefeller Cheese sauce.) 3.) Alligator Po’boy (topped with our Hippin Hop’s Hippin remoulade sauce). 4.) Cajun Shrimp Deviled Egg.
Must-see places and things
1. Take an illuminating Atlanta history tour with the black-owned tour company ATL-Cruzers
2. Learn about our past at The National Center for Civil and Human Rights.
3. Get cultured at High Museum of Art with shows like Calder-Picasso.
4. View fashion design at SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film, like the Ruth E. Carter exhibit.
5. Rest your head at the trendy Wylie Hotel located in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood.
6. Dine on Avocado Tartine and Char-Grilled NY Steak at Mrs. P’s Bar & Kitchen.
7. Follow the late-night crowd for a dessert fix at the Sugar Factory and grub on Red Velvet Cake.
8. Baseball and Hank Aaron fans sojourn to Truist Park for Atlanta Braves baseball games.
9. Shop at the hip Atlantic Station commercial district for Nike, H&M and street vendors’ items.
10. Explore the ever-evolving 33-mile BeltLine, former railroad tracks now walking and biking paths.
11. Lodge at Loews Atlanta Hotel, its walking distance to museums and has the Exhale Spa.
12. Have drinks and dinner at the Lowes lobby restaurant Saltwood Charcuterie & Bar.
13. Venture into vintage shops in Little Five Points, a funky neighborhood like NYC’s East Village.
14. Visit the birth home of Martin Luther King to see where he grew up.
15. Ride on top SkyView Atlanta, a 20-story Ferris Wheel in Centennial Park in a gondola.
16. Drive down Buford Highway to the La Pastorcita Mexican restaurant for their Enchiladas Verdes.