East Atlanta is near the epicenter of the city's trendsetting counterculture. The 'hood boasts a diverse mix of dingy bars, a decent smattering of affordable shops and restaurants, and the city's highest concentration of hipsters. The music scene attracts an impressive roster of visiting bands.
Get late-night eats at Octopus Bar
Six nights a week, after 10 p.m., the patio at So Ba - a tasty and affordable pho joint by day (and, well, part of the night) - transforms into Octopus Bar, a sort of cool speakeasy for people who want good food in an unpretentious environment. The items on the largely Asian-influenced menu are inventive, as are the specialty cocktails. And it's open till 3 a.m. Makes post-bar Taco Bell so much less appealing.
Sing or spectate at Mary-oke
If you haven't been to Tuesday night karaoke at Mary's YOU HAVEN'T LIVED. Just kidding. But, seriously, it's a super-fun, raucous time. The DJ has a great selection of songs and the catalogue is on a computer, so you don't have to lug those big, dumb binders all over the place. It's not as drag queenie as karaoke at Blake's in Midtown, but still lots of fun.
See a band at the Earl or 529 or the Basement or ...
EAV is Atlanta's smoky, divey music venue mecca. Literally every night a local, regional, and/or national band is playing somewhere in EAV. Go see one.
Eat pretty much anything at Holy Taco
Plenty of people were suspicious of Holy Taco when it opened in early 2008. Really, they wondered, did East Atlanta need another Mexican joint? Alas, chef Robert Phalen's unusual take on tacos - you'll find them stuffed with things like chicken hearts, tongue, and goat - has made it a welcome addition to the neighborhood.
Buy local produce at the East Atlanta Farmers Market
An annoying thing about farmers markets: being forced to get up early (like, before noon) on a weekend morning. By operating from 4-8 p.m. on Thursdays, the EAV Farmers Market eliminates the necessity to get up at a normal human being hour on a Saturday. The market reopens on April 19. Ready your reusable tote bags.
Park for free
As most of Atlanta fell victim to PARKatlanta's hostile takeover (and parking meters and multispace pay stations sprouted up everywhere, practically overnight), East Atlanta was spared. For some reason it's not and never has been approved for parking meters, so EAV remains one of few retail-traffic-heavy intown neighborhoods with free on-street parking. If you can't find on-street parking, be mindful of the posted signage in the lot in which you park - booting scams abound.
Don't get used to using your cell phone
EAV has really terrible cellphone reception. Like, early '90s bad. Erecting a cell tower somewhere in the village is frequently discussed and is a big source of contention among neighbors (the ones who want to be able to actually make and receive calls from their homes versus the ones who don't want to die from brain cancer from the radiation). Best not to bring it up.
Drink a beer/watch a band/eat some food at the EAV Strut
According to a countdown clock on its website, there are 186 days left until this year's EAV Strut (as of March 12), the day in September when people flock from neighborhoods throughout the city to drink in EAV's spirit and quirk. And beer. Lots of beer. There's also live music, a parade, art, vendors, and, hey, CL always has a booth. Carpooling is definitely recommended.
Eat sausage in the middle of the night at Delia's Chicken Sausage Stand
On a stretch of Moreland Avenue that's overrun with fast-food joints, Delia's has been a refreshing presence. Besides being bright and cheerful with a welcoming outdoor patio, Delia's serves fresh, handmade, locally sourced sausages - on Holeman & Finch buns, no less. Best part: It's open 24-hours on Fridays and Saturdays.
Get tattooed at 13 Roses
You have to get tattooed by people you trust. Well, you don't have to, but it's probably not a terrible idea. People - you people! - trust and adore the artists at 13 Roses, located on the top floor of EAV's iconic Flatiron building. It was voted best in Atlanta in '08, '10, and again in '11 by CL readers.