Rows of shotgun houses and old brick buildings once inhabited by Cotton Mill and railroad workers now comprise a charmingly dense and notoriously artsy enclave largely protected from the asphalt sprawls and behemoth developments plaguing many Atlanta neighborhoods. Cordoned off by a rail yard to the north and Oakland Cemetery to the west, the historically working-class district has meandered down its own narrow streets on a path to urban renewal in recent decades. Yet while its demographic character may have shifted, the community manages to hold fast to its tight-nit feel and bohemian hotspots its come to be known for.
The tiny, shacklike entrance reveals an eclectic and loyal late-night crowd. Music at this underground clubber’s club ranges from hip-hop and Brit-pop to downtempo and rare grooves. The dim basement space feels like the most happenin’ speakeasy in town.
No sneaker store in town can compete with the 63-year legacy of Walter's Clothing. Being the old man on the block hasn't kept Walter's from staying hip. Try squeezing in on a Saturday and you'll see why. Walls of Adidas, Nike, Fila, Reebok, and Converse have kept customers fresh-to-death for decades. If you can't find your footing here, you're probably lost.
Even after all these years, the fiery nuances of Szechuan cuisine at Marietta's Tasty China — and the mild intestinal discomfort that can accompany it — is still totally worth the drive. Despite many personnel changes since opening in 2006, Tasty China has managed to keep churning out the kind of hot and numbing, tongue-tingling fireworks that keep us venturing back out to the 'burbs for more. Try the burning ma la burrito-like beef roll or a bowl of bubbling red peppers and tender white fish. And don't forget the crispy cilantro fish rolls.
The shop usually scoops around 22 flavors — including core flavors such as salted caramel, brown butter almond caramel, and the milkiest chocolate in the world. Keep an eye out for the Jeni's food truck, Street Treats, roaming the city, as well.
H. Harper Station bills itself as a “modern watering hole.” The cocktail menu is divided by liquor choice, and with more than 40 selections, can be a tad overwhelming. H. Harper is part neighborhood bar, part upscale restaurant, and part old train station along a still-sketchy stretch of Memorial Drive.
There are three components that make a taco superb: the tortillas, the filling, and the salsa. El Rey de Taco gets them all right. Pat yourself on the back if you're lucky enough to catch one of the tortilla mavens making handmade tortillas that emanate the unmistakable smell of fresh masa. When it comes to tacos, the chivo (goat) and cabeza (beef cheeks) are standouts, and the salsas – although limited – are pure picante perfection. A chilled glass of horchata (a drink made with cinnamon, rice, milk, and other ingredients) is a refreshing addition to your meal.
Atlanta's best full-time option for seeing stand-up is an intimate venue tucked away in the back of Midtown's Vortex Bar & Grill. The Laughing Skull Lounge has featured Marc Maron, Kyle Kinane, Maria Bamford, and countless other quality stand-ups.