We record This Epic Disaster podcast in Atlanta but Cheri and I are still new to the city of Atlanta so there are so many things yet to see and do. We’ve discovered many “favorite things” and we discover more all the time. Often we discuss our favorites on the podcast but we thought it would be a good idea to make a list of all of our favorite things about Atlanta that we experienced in 2018. If you don’t live in Atlanta, obviously not all of this will mean much to you but we also know people visit the city frequently on vacations or business trips and could use some suggestions about where to go and what to experience. So this is our list from Episode 56 – “The Best Stuff.” Use it if you find it interesting, dismiss it if you don’t.
For the record, this list is not sponsored. None of the businesses listed here have paid us, provided free services or even asked us to be listed. In fact, 100% of the businesses listed here have no idea they were included on our list as of the publishing this post. Hopefully, they won’t mind. Hopefully they will be okay with being included. So, if you happen to find yourself in the Atlanta area in the near future, visit one of the “20 Best Things” on our list and tell them you heard about them from This Epic Disaster. We’ll both appreciate it.
The Atlanta History Center is a wonderful look at Atlanta’s past but it’s so much more than just that. It’s also a general history of the south, its people and how we lived, worked, fought and created. The exhibits are detailed, stimulating and often interactive so it’s a perfect museum for history nerds like us. Having said that, there is nothing stuffy about the Atlanta History Center’s exhibitions and it’s a fun place to spend the day bonding with the kids while growing your brain.
Atlanta History Center, 130 West Paces Ferry Road NW, Atlanta GA 30305
You only thought hardware stores were cold buildings full of nails and screws and old guys in flannel shirts and suspenders looking for a washer for the lawn mower. Sure, you’ll find all of that stuff at Intown Ace Hardware in Decatur but you’ll also find oh, so much more. Yes, you can buy a grill, but not only that, you can buy one of the best damn grills ever made. Need some spices and rubs for your grilling entrees? Yeah, they’ve got that stuff too. Including every little grill accessory and gadget you never knew existed. Speaking of gadgets, MacGyver himself would gasm over the amount of kitchen stuff they have there. You’ll also find so many soaps, oils, incense, sport team merch, clothes and gifts, you can spend an entire weekend in there and never even once see a lag bolt. Their garden section is as big as the entire main store so, it doesn’t matter what you like to do on your weekends, Intown Ace Hardware can equip you. Our advice: book a hotel room nearby so you can hang out for a few days.
Intown Ace Hardware, 1404 Scott Blvd., Decatur, GA 30030
If you don’t like burgers we don’t want you listening to our podcast. You’re obviously some kind of anti-human and you need to be separated from the rest of the normal, decent, burger-eating population. Wait, you don’t eat burgers because you are vegetarian? Ah. Grab a bench, PETA-breath, and let me tell you a story. It’s 2019. Delicious, flame-grilled, bleeding flesh is no longer just for Ted Nugent. Here at Grindhouse Killer Burgers, they’ve figured out how to make veggies bleed and taste like a cow without actually harming a single cow. It’s called The Impossible Burger and Grindhouse makes them so good you’ll feel like you’re being bad. But you aren’t, so have two. Now, leave the room because we’re going to discuss burgers with people who don’t mind harming cows. These burgers are the real thing. Real flesh, seared in fire, like your weapon-wielding ancestors used to eat. Only better because these have cheese. And whatever else you choose to pile on top that may or may not lead to an early death (hey, the science isn’t really clear). These will be your all-time-favorite burgers and you’re going to be thankful they have six juicy, sizzling, motherfreaking locations where you can go slip into a comfortable burger coma. Also— and I’m only going to say this once— “Boozy Shakes”. Don’t ask questions, just get a big-hole straw and start sucking. Seriously. Now, stop reading, dumbass, and go get a Grindhouse Killer Burger!!
Grindhouse Killer Burgers, 433 North McDonough Street, Decatur, GA 30030 (and 5 other locations)
There is no better proof that Atlanta can throw a huge-ass, lively and thrilling party than the Atlanta Pride Parade. This parade covers several blocks of Atlanta midtown streets and it brings out thousands and thousands of rainbow-clad spectators. The music, dancing and candy-tossing drag queens make Atlanta’s Pride Parade one of the must-see events of the year. If you’ve never been to a Pride Parade, let me say that it probably won’t be what you think it is. Then again, there will be some of exactly what you think it is. Think of it as one big event telling you it’s okay to be who you are. And it’s that atmosphere of love and validation that makes you want to give everyone at the parade a close hug. All 300,000+ of them. If nothing else, you’ll become one of the smiling faces greeting everyone with “Happy Pride” just like wishing them “Merry Christmas.” If you want to see Atlanta at it best and human beings at their pinnacle, you only need to show up at Atlanta Pride Parade.
49th Annual Atlanta Pride Festival, October 11-13 2019
There is no excuse to do anything in Atlanta without finishing it off by making a stop at Butter & Cream for homemade ice cream. Classic to unique flavors await to reward you for a life success moment or to cheer you up from a crappy day. There are even a few ‘special diet” options for those who don’t do regular butter or cream. One of the best things you can do in your life is make your mouth happy and Butter & Cream is where your mouth would tell you to go to make it happy if it wasn’t already full and not able to speak because it was eating Butter & Cream ice cream. Did that make sense? Well, we still think it should be their tag line.
Butter & Cream, 416 Church Street, Decatur, GA 30030
There are those people who like to have the bejesus scared out of them on a continual basis and our Cheri is one of them. She’s been to many haunted attractions in her lifetime but she reports that Netherworld is one of the best Halloween events she’s been to. And we’re too scared not to believe her. I mean, how many haunted attractions are so good they actually do a Christmas haunt as well? In fact, they just announced they are doing a Valentine event in 2019! Let’s just hope they don’t discover the zombie possibilities in the Easter story. If you are in the Atlanta area and are looking for a good scare, make sure you visit Netherworld. Bring an extra pair of pants.
Netherworld, 2076 West Park Place Blvd., Stone Mountain, GA 30087
I’ll let you in on a secret. You can get Chicken Fried Tofu at other Whole Food locations but you aren’t going to get any better than the Chicken Fried Tofu at the Whole Foods on Ponce de Leon in Atlanta. Imagine Paul McCartney ends up in Mayberry and his car breaks down and Gomer has to repair it but he finds a little baggie of something green in the glove compartment and so Paul has to spend a couple nights in jail with Otis. Well, Paul doesn’t eat chicken so this is the Chicken Fried Tofu Aunt Bea would make for him. Are you tasting it now? This stuff is so good, it’s rare that I don’t have to wait on them to bring out a fresh batch and fight off a line of other tofu-lovers trying to steal my delicious, deep-fried, golden nuggets. You know, my grandmother used to make some incredible fried chicken but I have to say this tofu is as good as any chicken she ever made. If she could hear me saying that, she’d make me go outside and pick my own switch. But I’d gladly take the whippin’ for this tofu. Sorry Granny.
Whole Foods, 650 Ponce de Leon Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30308
Grant Park is Cheri’s neighborhood and she’s dang proud of it. And who can blame her? Almost anything you could need to do in Atlanta is right there. It’s one of Atlanta’s oldest neighborhoods, yet it’s still developing and “up and coming.” It’s a great place to hang out and even better place to live so we can’t help but be a bit jealous of Cheri walking her dog to the farmer’s market and visiting the zoo and lounging at the park. Some people have it made, even if they are a disaster.
Grant Park Neighborhood Association, Atlanta GA
If you like to eat and, when you eat, you like for it to be excellent food, whoa, we need to tell you about this restaurant! Murphy’s Restaurant in the Virginia Highlands is some of the tastiest food we’ve had in Atlanta. The restaurant is in a quaint location that makes you feel like you are kicking back in a historic southern home, only without all of the pesky mosquitoes and noisy cicadas.. Cheri enjoyed dinner here and I loved the brunch, so we can recommend the entire experience! And don’t forget, when you’re all full, you can pack up a doggie bag and do a little shopping in the Virginia Highlands. The best of all worlds!
Murphy’s Restaurant, 997 Virginia Avenue NE, Atlanta GA 30306
There are many live music events in Atlanta and Cheri’s favorite this year was seeing Erasure at The Tabernacle. The band, which rose to prominence in the 80s is still performing tight, energetic shows and Atlanta’s Tabernacle was the perfect showcase for the duo to perform. Rumor has it that the band may be spending extended time in Atlanta so maybe there will be more opportunities to see them perform here in the future?
My favorite Atlanta live music experience in 2018 was seeing Dustbowl Revival at Eddie’s Attic. It was the first of two shows Dustbowl performed at Eddie’s Attic this year (and three in the Atlanta area!) proving they were willing to cram an 8 piece band on Eddie’s small stage more than once. Eddie’s is a great venue for the Dustbowl Revival sound and a perfect way to get up close and personal with the band. And any band for that matter.
We’ve been bragging about the Georgia Renaissance Festival since way back when we were hosting the “Life In A Kilt Podcast.” There’s a lot to brag about, too, as the Georgia Renaissance Festival is one of the top Renaissance Festivals in the country. From April to June you can put on your kilt, tights, bodice or chainmail (heck, sometimes even all at once) and celebrate with cold mead and hot turkey legs. Music, comedy, roaming characters, jousting, boutique shops and rides spread out over acres of medieval buildings and land make the Georgia Renaissance Festival one of the top destinations in the Atlanta area. It’s one of the few events the entire family will agree they have to come back to several more times. As a public service to you, here are a few tips from seasoned Georgia Renaissance Festival goers (us):
1: After about the third week in April, dress light. It gets really HOT.
2: You’ll need cash. There are ATM machines on the grounds but be wise and get your cash before you visit.
3: You can rent a costume if you don’t have one. (Why don’t you have one??)
4: You can get any food on a stick.
5: “Did they wear that during the Renaissance?” is never an appropriate question.
6: Bring your own beer mug. It saves plastic and makes you look like a Ren Fair Pro.
7: Order and print tickets online before you go and you’ll save $$$.
Georgia Renaissance Festival, 6905 Virlyn B. Smith Road, Fairburn, GA 30213
We’ll spare you the “wax on, wax off” jokes and tell you that the Mr. Miyagi may be the most delicious cocktail in Atlanta. We can’t say for sure because we’re still sampling them all but we do know it’s the best we’ve had so far and that’s saying a LOT! If you’re wondering about the taste, think of what it would be like if you could actually lick Mr. Miyagi himself, and we don’t mean in a fight, no one could do that. We’re pretty sure if you could actually savor the taste of the wise sensei himself, you would experience sesame-infused vodka, ginger liqueur, wasabi and lime. Holy crap, forget the “Crane Technique,” there is no way to defend against this cocktail! We’ve enjoyed it with dinner and at the bar with friends and it’s delicious no matter the circumstances and drinking the Mr. Miyagi draws much less attention than actually licking Noriyuki Pat Morita. It wouldn’t be politically correct for us to yell “bonzai!” right now, but we think, somehow, it’s what Mr. Miyagi would have wanted.
The Mr. Miyagi at Brush Sushi Izakaya, 316 Church Street, Decatur, GA 30030
This is Atlanta’s big daddy art festival and a must-see event for southern art lovers. Local and international artists gather to showcase their artwork and give us all a chance to take some beautiful art home with us. Not to be confused with my own hometown Knoxville, Tennessee’s “Dogwood Arts Festival,” the Atlanta Dogwood festival covers the ground of Piedmont Park with hundreds of arts, crafts, food, beverage and entertainment vendors for a weekend of sharing art and creative energy. This was one of the first events I attended after moving to Atlanta and I always feel like it’s a perfect kick off to the spring and summer seasons.
Atlanta Dogwood Festival at Piedmont Park
Sometimes you find a little cafe that you think is not going to be so different from the others, but then it smacks you right upside the head with a tasty sandwich. That’s what happened to me at Recess in Krog Street Market. At first glance I thought Recess was a vegan restaurant but then I started noticing some chicken, fish and beef dishes hidden throughout the menu, so we can call it “mostly” vegan. Somewhat vegan? All right, let’s just say it’s vegan in the same way Bernie Sanders is a Democrat. Okay, good. I got the Mushroom Patty Melt and I’m not embarrassed to say it was the best patty melt I’ve ever had. I kinda want another one right now. So if you made a New Year’s Resolution to eat healthy but you still want to eat tasty, Recess has you covered. Like a mushroom. With melted patty.
Recess, Krog Street Market, 99-V Krog Street NE, Atlanta, GA 30307
I don’t have kids but I do have dogs. My dogs are kind of like my kids but if you ever hear me using the phrase “fur kids” you have permission to bang me in my brain with a rawhide dog chew. Still, I want them to have the ultimate care whether it’s day care or boarding and, thankfully the doggie people at Kirkwood Bark & Lounge make me feel like my dogs are in the best of care. We frequently drop them off for a “socializing” but more often than not it’s for daycare while we’re away at work. A few times they have had to stay overnight and I’m always at ease when they are at Kirkwood Bark & Lounge. AND if I ever want to peek in on them I can, thanks to Kirkwood B & L’s web cams. Now if only I could figure out a way to turn off the visuals when they are pooping at home…
Kirkwood Bark & Lounge, 2006 Hosea Williams Drive, NE, Atlanta, GA 30317
You didn’t really think we were going to do a “Best Things” list without doughnuts did you? Oh, you silly, silly person. At Sublime Doughnuts, you can order from a extensive menu of gourmet doughnuts as well as ice cream and doughnut “burgers.” Some of these doughnuts you won’t find in any other shop in the world. Only in Atlanta. And, really, how much more Atlanta can a doughnut place be than creating shrimp and grits doughnut??
Sublime Doughnuts, 2566 Briarcliff Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30329
In midtown Atlanta is a block called Atlantic Station, featuring stores, boutiques, restaurants and a cinema. It’s surrounded by several high rise condos and apartments giving hundreds of midtowners a place to do their shopping, dining or just hang out. The square has its own “Central Park” where visitors can participate in yoga during mild weather and ice skating during the chilly holidays. You can get there on MARTA and a shuttle but there is usually plenty of parking in Atlantic Station’s own underground parking deck. Catch a movie, an outdoor concert and a burger all while walking just a few yards around a beautiful city block.
Atlantic Station, 1380 Atlantic Drive NW, Atlanta, GA 30363
Ah, Little 5 Points. If the rest of Atlanta is the normal, happy little neighborhood block, Little 5 Points is the Adams Family house. A scruffier Greenwich Village, if you will. Colorful, graffiti-clad buildings and people draw you in to buy crazy sunglasses, funny t-shirts and vinyl records. There are hustlers trying to talk you into a game of three card monte and street rappers offering to do custom rhymes for you for a few bucks. The Variety Playhouse brings in some of the best new bands and comics and The Porter is one of the best stocked beer bars in Atlanta. Consignment stores, vape shops, pizza joints and trendy clothes provide one of the most unique shopping experiences in the city. Show up in October and you can witness one of the largest and freakiest Halloween Parades you’ve ever seen. Looking for a perfect off-the-wall gift for that person you can never find the right thing for? Visit The Junkman’s Daughter. A visit to Little 5 Points is like a shopping, eating, entertainment amusement ride of its own. It’s always one of our favorite Atlanta things to do.
Little 5 Points Neighborhood
If there is one thing Atlanta does very well it’s breakfast and brunch. We’d have to be complete idiots to pick one single place that does breakfast the best. So, yeah, that’s what we’re going to do. Goldberg’s Fine Foods isn’t our only favorite breakfast place in Atlanta but it’s the one we visit the most. Great breakfasts with a variety of choices ranging from omelettes, traditional eggs and pancakes, and bagels makes Goldberg’s Fine Foods a great choice to start your day. With eight Atlanta locations to choose from (including at the Airport) it’s easy to find a Goldberg’s close by. We’re very hesitant to suggest you limit your Atlanta breakfast and brunch options to just one restaurant, but we’re confident if you try Goldberg’s one time, you’ll become a regular breakfast customer.
Goldbergs Fine Foods, 3003 N Druid Hills Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30329
— Rick Baldwin