Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Last weekend Ernesto's primo Marcos came to Atlanta with his girlfriend Shanel for a little escape from San Diego.  (I know, Atlanta?  Really?) 

  I liked that they came to Atlanta with a list of places to check out, because frankly when I think of taking guests "sight seeing" in Atlanta, I am at a loss.  You know how it goes, you don't really explore the city where you live like you do when visiting another city. 

When we discovered that they are big time foodies too, their destination choice made sense.  Maybe it had a little something to do with us living here, but they often pick destinations based on what they have seen/read about the cities food scene.  If there is one thing Atlanta has, it is an abundance of great restaurants [and shopping, for that matter]. 

We indulged the whole weekend in both cultural and gastronomical activities.  What a great time!  Sometimes it takes visitors to make you explore in your back yard. 

I am happy to say after 10 years in Atlanta, I finally know what the Cyclorama is.   Located right next to the zoo in Grant Park, this historic site is not a biking route/facility as I had thought (ha!)  It's actually a museum that houses a cylindrical oil painting of the American Civil War Battle of Atlanta. Visitors view the enormous painting from their seats as the central cylinder rotates slowly affording a view of the entire painting while a narrator tells the story of the battle.  A great history lesson! The painting is said to be the largest oil painting in the world, and if unrolled would almost fill a football field.  It weighs around 9000 pounds!

Another site that I am embarrassed to not have visited before is the Martin Luther King Center.  There is really no excuse, I mean,  I live just two blocks from the house where he was born and 3 blocks from the center. 
Well, this was a weekend of firsts.  The MLK center was so interesting and gave an amazing recap of unjust times.  It was even a bit emotional.  It's hard to believe the civil rights movement was a relatively short time ago.

Usually when Ernesto and I have visitors we cook for them.  This time? Not even once.  I have never eaten out so often.....ever!  5 days in a row, some days 2 times a day.

Here is a great list o places to try if you are already in Atlanta or coming to visit:

The Vortex  (Little 5 Points) A unique burger joint with a crazy decor and a funny as hell list of "stuff you should know".  For example, the Vortex is an "idiot-free zone" at all times. So if you are acting like a great big jerk, we will be sure to let you know, right before we throw your ass out." (visitors choice, featured on this Man vs Food episode)

The Porter  (Little 5 Points) Pages and pages of beers from around the world. (our choice, a favorite spot close to our place)
Fontaine's Oyster House (Virginia Highlands) Just like the name says, this is the house of Oysters!  Delicious and always fresh.  Also serve up a great gumbo! (our choice, we love oysters!)

Paolo's Gelato (Virginia Highlands) Ooooh Paolo!  This place has been my favorite for years now.  Unique flavors are his specialty and I tried rose and avocado this time.  Both were great, but I stayed true to my favorite, pistachio.

Gladys Knights Chicken & Waffles  (Midtown) How have I missed this landmark southern food joint?  Clearly everyone else knows about it because at 10pm we still had to wait an hour for a table.  Outside. On the sidewalk.  The food was classic and the service proved that there really is such a thing as "southern hospitality".  While everyone else did order the chicken and waffles, I opted for a veggie plate with greens, black-eyed peas, grits and green beans. Yum! (Picked by our guests, featured on this episode of Man vs Food)

Big Pie in the Sky (Kennesaw)  I had never heard of this place, I had only even been to Kennesaw one time.  I missed that episode of Man vs Food, but Marcos and Chanel didn't.  When they saw the "carnivore pizza challenge"  they wanted to check out the 30" monster.  Have you ever seen a pizza this big?  At $35 it was a deal for the four of us, and it would have fed another 2-4 people too.  Cheap family night!

Tap  (Midtown)  Named for the restaurants extensive list of draft beers and barrel wine selections, Tap is a great place to grab a drink.  They also serve wonderful food, but after stuffing ourselves with that pizza, we didn't even consider it. 

Flip Burger Boutique  You may have heard of this gourmet burger place because the chef Richard Blais was on the the popular show Top Chef.  We each ordered a different burger and cut it in four so we could try each of them.  You cannot leave Flip without ordering one of the ridiculously delicious milkshakes.  My favorite is the Nutella-burnt marshmallow followed by the pistachio-white truffle, and the Krispy Kreme, all of which we ordered that night.  This is a very badly lit photo, but can you see there is a soft boiled egg on top of this steak tartare burger (yes, that is raw meat!)
Thank you Marcos and Shanel for showing us some new spots in Atlanta.  We had a great time! 
Do you watch Top Chef, Food Network, or Man vs. Food?   Have you ever gone to a restaurant because of a show you saw or an article you read about it?

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