Atlantans are at once impressed by and dismissive of Midtown. They’ll tell you that no part of the city has evolved more dramatically over the past two decades, and then they’ll wax nostalgic about how it used to be (funky, seedy, a little scary) and complain about what it is now (chain restaurants and a disappearing gay epicenter). But there is much to love amid the sea of national and local knockoffs. The city’s art institutions such as the High Museum, SCAD-Atlanta, and the relocated MODA anchor the neighborhood. It’s only blocks away from arguably the city’s finest greenspace, Piedmont Park. Where once there was a wasteland, now there are great restaurants, groceries, specialty shops, townhouses, lofts, high-rises, and even people. Judging by the cranes dotting the landscape, many more folks will soon call it home.
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.
Originally a cotton-gin manufacturer, the Goat Farm is a Westside haven for working artists and performance companies, a frequent location for movie shoots (cough cough, Hunger Games, cough cough), and a great live music venue.
In the central East Atlanta spot formerly occupied by retro soul bar the Village, you'll find 529 — a tiny, smoky space that oozes cool. Despite being the size of a Manhattan apartment, there's a closed-circuit TV above the bar on which you can watch the band playing on the stage behind you. The front patio’s about as big as the performance space, with the added bonus of a pass-through to the bar and plenty of fresh air.
Hidden among Duluth’s strip malls and congestion sits this neon-illuminated beacon of relaxation for adults and children alike. A mere $25 buys a full 24 hours of access to single-sex, clothing-optional locker rooms with steam rooms, saunas and showers. Once there, drop some extra bucks for an exfoliating body scrub or the (legal) green tea massage. Don the provided uniform and enter the co-ed area that boasts more than seven different steam rooms to purge your toxins. Grab a meal at the restaurant, drop your clothes off at the in-house laundromat and give the kids a few bucks for the arcade should you want to swim in the lap pool, relax in the charcoal dry sauna or get your tired soles kneaded in peace.
This (literally) underground club, located below the Graveyard Tavern in East Atlanta, hosts local and touring indie rock and hip-hop shows (T.I. and Iggy Azalea once shared the stage here). The aptly named space is also home to old-school dance parties.