Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Georgia's capital is buzzing with hip
restaurants, quirky cocktail bars, and new cultural attractions.
Here's what
to do on a trip to Atlanta.
There's a reason Atlanta is called the Empire City of
the South.
In the last eighteen months alone, its crane-filled skyline has
yielded a six-block shopping mecca, two major cultural attractions and dozens
of restaurants where reservations are harder to come by than a Falcons Super
Bowl championship.
Everywhere you look, there's a celebrity; after all,
Georgia's film industry is one of the largest in the country, after
California and New York.
Eat: Andrew
Thomas Lee Marcel: With eight Atlanta restaurants (four of which
opened in the last eighteen months) and at least four more in the works, Ford
Fry is Atlanta's most sleep-deprived restaurateur.
One of his latest and
most buzzed-about offerings is Marcel, an unabashedly glamorous steakhouse in
the Westside Provisions District serving the priciest porterhouse in the city
($124.95 for 30 ounces).
Thankfully, Fry is a master in the art of creating
bold dining experiences, and the restaurant's brass-top tables, curved
leather banquettes, and dapper bartenders shaking cocktails will help you
forget the impending bill.
Revival: The second Atlanta restaurant from Top Chef finalist Kevin
Gillespie, Revival showcases the red-bearded culinarian's signature
unpretentious style.
It's housed in a historic home in the food-centric
Decatur neighborhood and features deeply Southern fare such as creamed Georgia
white shrimp served atop red Savannah rice.
Opt for the family-style dinner,
where your choice of entrée is served with an assortment of sides like pole
beans and skillet corn bread from the Gillespie family cookbook annals.
Wash
it all down with a Georgia mint julep or a toasted old fashioned.
Atlas: Part museum, part restaurant, Atlas in the St.
Regis Atlanta allows
diners to eat and drink inches from original works by Picasso, Van Gogh,
Chagall, and Matisse.
The art, part of British billionaire Joe Lewis'
private collection (Lewis founded Tavistock, which owns Atlas), complements
the masterful food from celebrated Atlanta chef Gerry Klaskala and chef de
cuisine Christopher Grossman, formerly of The French Laundry.
When available,
order the sprouts salad sourced from Decatur-based Vonnie's Greens and the
tender dry-aged ribeye.
The wine list favors bottles from old-school European
winemakers (think Morgon by Daniel Bouland) over punchy newcomers.
Don't
leave without browsing the library lounge, which displays a curated selection
of required Atlanta reading like A Man In Full.
Little Bacch: Fifty-two seats.
Four entrees.
One singular
experience.
That's what you'll find at Little Bacch, the baby sibling of
Atlanta's enduring Bacchanalia, located a floor above.
This little jewel in
the Westside Provisions District is hidden and quiet, with teal walls and
leather upholstery.
Begin with a martini and caviar service, and you'll feel
like you've been whisked away to a Parisian expat haunt.
The Summerland
Farms salad, made with vegetables from the suburban farm tended by Little
Bacch owners Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison, is noteworthy, but Chef Joe
Schafer's most talked-about menu item is the whole roasted chicken, stuffed
with foie gras and presented with its feet and head jutting out of the
casserole dish.
Food Halls: Atlanta's Old Fourth Ward neighborhood is home to two
brand-new food halls: Ponce City Market and Krog Street Market.
The former
represents the largest adaptive reuse project in Atlanta history, transforming
the circa-1926 Sears, Roebuck & Company building into 300,000 square feet
of office, residential, retail, and restaurant space.
The Central Food Hall
anchors it all, with restaurants from celebrated chefs Anne Quatrano, Linton
Hopkins, and Sean Brock.
Over at Krog Street Market, a nineteenth-century
stove warehouse is now home to sixteen food and beverage outposts, from a
dumplings stall helmed by relative unknowns to a Mexican restaurant operated
by Ford Fry.
Drink: Tomas
Espinoza Little Trouble: This trendy bar offers a gritty,
neo-noir experience in the otherwise upscale Westside Provisions
District.
Conceived by the team that launched Decatur's hip Victory Sandwich
Bar, it shakes up "super crafty cocktails" and highballs (like whiskey
punch) that can be ordered individually or in portions serving two to four.
If
you're looking for Atlanta's cool kids, you'll find them here.
Bar Margot: What happens when you cross two of Atlanta's most respected
chefs with two of its best barmen? You get Bar Margot, a quirky cocktail
lounge inside Midtown's decidedly non-quirky Four Seasons Hotel.
(The
bar's name is a nod to Margot Tenenbaum from The Royal Tenenbaums, which
tells you a lot about the atmosphere.) Prolific chef Ford Fry, Four Seasons
Executive Chef Robert Gerstenecker, and craft cocktail wunderkinds Greg Best
and Paul Calvert have created a groovy place with intricate drinks, handmade
pastas, and vintage vinyl records playing in the background.
Grain: In Atlanta, it's a lot easier to find a good restaurant with a
decent cocktail program than a good cocktail bar with decent food.
Grain is an
exception.
Located in a sliver of a space in Midtown, this convivial joint
from the creators of Cypress Street Pint & Plate and Seven Lamps
specializes in bold cocktails like the Oyster Shooter, a gin, cucumber, and
lime concoction that ups the ante with wasabi, squid ink, and a Kumamoto
oyster.
In a hurry? There's always a cocktail or two on draft.
Open until 3
a.m.
six nights a week (that's late for Atlanta), this is a place where
restaurant industry folks come for cocktails, conversation, and
charcuterie.
In that order.
Shop:
Christy Fassnacht Buckhead Atlanta: For seven years, six blocks
of prime real estate in the heart of Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood sat
vacant while recession-battered developers wrung their hands.
But at last,
Buckhead Atlanta is open, sporting high-end shops like Alice + Olivia and
Jonathan Adler.
You'll also find local boutiques like Bella Bag, where you
can purchase certified pre-owned handbags from Dior, Gucci, and Prada for a
fraction of the retail cost.
For six stories of home décor inspiration, walk
across Peachtree and enter RH Atlanta: The Gallery at the Estate—the largest
Restoration Hardware store in the world.
Project Love: Created by Atlantans Amy Crouse and Elizabeth Mathes, Project
Love is a new sleepwear line that donates more than half its profits to
meeting the needs of women around the world.
The popular pieces, identifiable
by their signature patterns, are available at independent boutiques such as
Buckhead's W.Port, which specializes in new lines.
Kane: Atlanta native Elizabeth Kane Wing's eponymous Westside boutique
carries well-known lines like Vince alongside jewelry from emerging Atlanta
designer Shelly Brown (wife of musician Zac Brown).
The industrial steel sign
hanging behind the register is laser-cut with Kane's family crest,
exemplifying the store's two sides: edgy and traditional.
Do: Laura
Grace Bordeaux Center for Civil and Human Rights: Prominent
African American architect Phil Freelon designed the landmark building that
houses the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Atlanta's $68 million
attraction in Centennial Olympic Park.
Exhibits include "Spark of
Conviction," curated by Jill Savitt of the U.S.
Holocaust Memorial Museum,
which focuses on the modern-day global human rights movement.
There's also
an exhibit by Tony award­–winning playwright George C.
Wolf about the
American Civil Rights movement, in which visitors sit at a mock lunch counter
and imagine the emotions faced by peaceful protestors while their seats rattle
from fictional kicks and their headphones echo with taunts. College
Football Hall of Fame: This museum is a shrine to the unofficial religion of
the South.
When you arrive, you'll be asked to designate your favorite
teams.
The interactive exhibits throughout the building will then offer
information on the players and games you care about most.
In the Hall of Fame
gallery, you won't peer at plaques; instead, you'll search 10 flat-screen
digital displays for statistics on your favorite inductees.
Atlanta BeltLine: Hugely popular with locals, the BeltLine showcases one of
the most comprehensive urban renewal efforts in the United States, repurposing
22 miles of abandoned railroad corridors into a labyrinth of parks and trails
similar to New York City's High Line.
Arrive on a sunny Saturday, and the
sidewalks fairly buckle beneath bikers and pedestrians.
In once-gritty
neighborhoods, restaurants along the BeltLine (Ladybird, for example) have
two-hour waits for tables, and on hot afternoons, King of Pops vendors along
the pathways run out of paletas.
SCADfash: The city's only fashion museum, this 10,000-square-foot space on
the Atlanta campus of Savannah College of Art and Design educates students and
visitors alike about fashion's history and cultural significance around the
world.
"Oscar de la Renta," SCADfash's inaugural exhibit (on display
through December 31), features some of the late designer's most famous
gowns.
In January, the museum presents "I Feel Ya: SCAD + Andre 3000
Benjamin," which showcases 47 jumpsuits scrawled with the Outkast member's
musings.
Stay:
Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta: With a
formal English garden and a 15,000-square-foot spa, this five-star hotel is an
oasis in the heart of Buckhead.
Its 42-story landmark building (designed by
Robert A.M.
Stern) has 127 rooms; spring for one with a balcony, which affords
some of the best people watching in the city.
Georgian Terrace: Though it's nearly a century old, this grand dame in
Midtown remains as hot as the day in 1939 when it hosted a gala for the stars
of Gone with the Wind.
Celebrities such as Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn have
shot scenes here, and it's the hotel of choice for practically every touring
theatrical production that performs at the Fox Theatre directly across the
street.
When you're not stargazing, descend to the bottom floor for a craft
cocktail from speakeasy-style Proof & Provision.
Allison Entrekin is an executive editor with Southbound Magazine and the
Georgia Travel Guide. She covers the Southeastern United States beat for
Travel + Leisure. Follow her @aweissentrekin.
There's a reason Atlanta is called the Empire City of the
South.
In the last eighteen months alone, its crane-filled skyline has yielded
a six-block shopping mecca, two major cultural attractions and dozens of
restaurants where reservations are harder to come by than a Falcons Super Bowl
championship.

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