Because I love to travel, in my opinion the best way to spend my birthday weekend is to get out of the house and out of town on a weekend getaway. I love visiting new towns or cities that I haven’t been to in years and experiencing what’s new. I mainly get super excited about planning where and what to eat though! You guys know I’m all about the food when I travel, right? Two months ago for my birthday, Remington and I took a weekend road trip just down Interstate 75 to Atlanta. We hadn’t been in years and it was a good excuse to go and hit up IKEA while we were in town.
I quickly got to planning and researching where to eat while we were in town and boy are there a TON of restaurants as you’d expect in a city of that size. It’s overwhelming compared to planning a beach trip where there are a handful of options.
One thing I knew I wanted was a Shake Shack burger since Atlanta’s location is the closest one to us and I’d never had one before.
We hit up Buckhead, the area of Atlanta where Shake Shack has a location, for an early dinner on Friday on our way into town. Good timing for us because it was not super busy!
I was tempted by the new Chick’n Shack briefly, but I had to get their tried and true burger for my first experience. And a shake. I had to get a shake. When the shake of the week is matcha citrus, you know I wasn’t passing that up.
We both ordered the classic ShackBurger and fries – of course we had fries, they are the perfect crinkle fries. If you are not familiar with Shake Shack’s methods – read this article and also check out Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for a Fake Shack burger to get your fix if you live hours from the nearest location. Did it live up to the hype? Oh yes, yes it did. I’m drooling over the screen right now, dying for one of those babies and a bucket of the fries.
Next up, any birthday weekend trip to the big city is not complete without a stop at Sprinkles.
Ironically, the sprinkles cupcake flavor was my favorite one this visit, but we also tried banana, salted caramel, black and white, chocolate marshmallow, and irish chocolate.
Because we love breakfast food, we always try to hit up one or two really good local breakfast joints when we travel. Since we opted to stay in a hotel this time that did not offer complimentary breakfast, well, we HAD to find something to fill our bellies before a day of sightseeing. Everything I read said that Highland Bakery was THE place for breakfast in Atlanta. They have multiple locations and we discovered that one was only about a 10 minute drive from our hotel in an old warehouse building.
We arrived fairly early for a Saturday crowd and the place was already hoppin’, but we did not have to wait for a table.
The menu was a mishmash of delectable goodies from an Italian style open faced egg sandwich to southwestern style corn pancakes and burritos to a host of benedict options and sweet, flavored pancakes or french toast. Lots of variety here to keep everyone happy, even the pickiest eaters can get a simple granola or breakfast sammie. We thought it was totally reasonably priced for the portion sizes as well.
I ordered the Cilantro Corn Pancakes, which were layered with black beans and topped with two over medium eggs, sour cream, salsa, shredded white cheddar, avocado and cilantro. These were so tasty loaded with tons of fresh flavors and FILLING. I could not finish this massive plate of corn cake goodness.
Remington had a bowl of their homemade granola, which he says was very good and we also HAD to share a sweet potato pancake. Guys, this was the BEST sweet potato pancake, maybe even the BEST PANCAKE I’ve ever had…ever. It was the perfect fluffy texture filled with the right balance of sweet potato and spice, then topped with a molasses syrup and toasted pecans. I would kill for one right now.
Needless to say, if you are in Atlanta, find the nearest Highland Bakery and go there. Now.
Breakfast left us pretty satiated, but after hours of walking around the aquarium and Coca-Cola museum, we found ourselves hungry for a late lunch and headed over to Ponce City Market. Despite it being near 2:00, Ponce’s flourishing Food Hall was jam-packed with long lines at many of the food stalls. If you are unfamiliar with the Food Hall at Ponce, it is the epicenter of this large market hub found in an old Sears & Roebuck warehouse currently made up of 24 food and drink stalls. The space can accommodate more vendors though and is ever expanding with two more set to open soon. It is intimidating trying to decide where to eat as an out-of-towner because a lot of these food stalls and restaurants are concepts from amazing, celebrated chefs. So how do you pick a few out of the bunch to try when you may not be back for months? Let me tell you, it’s no easy feat.
We hit up W.H. Stile Fish Camp first because the fresh fish and oysters looked and smelled amazing. They had a Crispy Today’s Catch Vietnamese Salad that sounded interesting and right up our alley. We ordered one to go so we could check out another food stall and share our treasures.
Next, we stopped by El Super Pan, a Latino Sandwich bar for a cuban sandwich and pork belly bun. Then we were able to find a quiet spot at a table upstairs to enjoy our food! If you are struggling to find seating downstairs in the main food hall, you may find a spot upstairs or even outside, so definitely check there.
I cannot say enough good things about this Vietnamese Fish Salad. It embodied the flavors of some of our favorite Vietnamese dishes, like the vermicelli noodle bowl, but in salad form! The fish is whatever fresh catch they have that day and it happened to be catfish, but it was super fresh and perfectly cooked. It was crispy on the outside with just the right amount of crust, but flaky and tender on the inside! The acidic lime and fish sauce flavors of the dressing paired with cucumber, cilantro, scallions, cabbage, peanuts, and the fried fish was such a satisfying combination! Definitely recommend this salad and W.H. Stiles Fish Camp. Everything they brought out from the kitchen looked amazing.
We also shared the pressed Cubano Mixto sandwich, which was Cuban roasted pork, ham, salami, pickles, yellow mustard, and swiss cheese on pan cubano bread. Such a contract to the fresh fish Vietnamese style salad, but separately delicious. The bread was the epitome of soft, buttery Cuban bread and the meat was all tender, melt in your mouth goodness – a quality, classic Cuban sandwich. If you are looking for a quick Latin food fix, check out this lively sandwich bar at Ponce.
For something sweet, we couldn’t resist Honeysuckle Gelato. All day, we’d been witnessing these cups of sinfully delicious gelato go by us – heavenly scoops topped with epic raspberry sauce or amaretti crumbles! How could we pass that up even though we couldn’t finish our cuban? The final vindication was a line wrapped around to the next food stall.
Their menu offers recommended flavor and topping combinations for scoops, shakes and cookie sandwiches, which was helpful for someone like me who gets overwhelmed by too many choices. They let us sample as many flavors as we liked and boy were they good! They were all super rich and intense, you could really tell they are using fresh, quality ingredients. I went with one of Honeysuckle’s favorites though: Honey Fig + Pistachio Gelato with Amaretti Crumbles. That honey fig gelato was the bomb. It was so unique, but I couldn’t get enough! And I can never pass up a good pistachio ice cream.
Remington also went with a suggested combo: Cheesecake + Dark Chocolate Gelato with Raspberry Sauce. That raspberry sauce was as good as it looks.
Definitely check out Ponce City Market if you are in Atlanta. The shopping is great and the atmosphere is cool, but the food scene is epic.
675 PONCE DE LEON AVE NE
ATLANTA, GEORGIA 30308
Hours of operation vary. Please view each business’ hours on the Directory page
Having eaten a large lunch so late, we weren’t starving for dinner, but did manage to work up enough of an appetite to check out Krog Street Market. Krog is another indoor street style market in Atlanta featuring food stalls and shops, albeit a MUCH smaller version of Ponce, however no less enticing.
A large corner of the market is taken by Hop City, a beer pub with a vast selection and garden style seating. Behind it was a massive beer and wine store too. Remington enjoyed a pint while we walked around the shops and decided what to eat. We had put our name down at Superica, which is supposed to be stellar Mexican food, but it was an hour and half wait at 7:30. We didn’t really want to eat dinner at 9:00pm.
Instead, we checked out Gu’s Dumplings, which promised the best Szechuan dumplings and cuisine in Atlanta. Because there was no seating inside…or outside, we enjoyed our chinese on the steps outside. Unfortunately, it was too dark to get pictures of what we ordered. We tried both the Vegetable and Pork dumplings and the Chengdu cold noodles. A half order of 6 dumplings was PLENTY (the dumpling size is generous here) and the portion size of cold noodles was more than enough for us to share even without the dumplings – it was huge. You can pass on the vegetable dumplings in my opinion, but the pork dumplings and cold noodles were outstanding. When the menu says “You will dream of these noodles at night!” it’s no lie. The sweet and spicy robust garlic sauce sticks with you!
Sunday morning we awoke with plans to hit the doors of IKEA as soon as they opened, but needed nourishment first. In Midtown, near IKEA, we found West Egg Cafe, a breakfast/brunch and lunch restaurant serving up classic and not-so-classic Southern specialties.
On Saturday and Sunday, you can order from the breakfast or brunch menus.
I had the Peachtree Plate – two eggs any style, brown sugar bacon, pimiento cheese grits, fried green tomatoes, and biscuit. I ordered my eggs poached and I have to admit that they were swimming in water and lacked flavor as did the fried green tomatoes. The tomatoes tasted of cornmeal and nothing else. The best things on the plate were the brown sugar bacon and pimiento cheese grits, but everything in general just needed salt.
Remington ordered the Georgia Benedict – turkey sausage patties, two eggs, turkey sausage gravy over split biscuit, with skillet potatoes. Again, everything lacked flavor and needed salt – the potatoes were bland and the sausage mediocre. He said the best things on the plate were the biscuit and the gravy.
Maybe we both just made poor choices for breakfast, but we cannot wholeheartedly recommend West Egg. The food came out quickly and we did not have to wait for a table, but service from our waitress was lackluster. Could have been an off day for her as well.
After a morning of schlepping through IKEA, we worked up enough of an appetite to check out Bartaco at the recommendation of a friend. We weren’t starving, but it was a nice option for a lighter lunch since you order by the taco a la carte. So you can order as much or as little food as you want.
The menu is filled with very well priced tacos, trays, rice bowls, a variety of other Mexican food novelties and sides. Everything was very affordable for such a gem in Atlanta. In fact, this ended up as one of our least costly meals and one of the best! Moral of the story is that you don’t have to spend a lot to eat well in a big city.
The interior has a cool, beachy vibe with navy blues and crisp whites. The pendants hanging from the ceiling were all made from woven baskets and European dough bowls.
We ordered 5 different tacos to share: (from left to right) baja fish, falafel, duck, pork pastor, and sesame ribeye. They were all delicious. Everything was done up right – all of the meats were tender and juicy, all of the sauces and flavors paired perfectly, they were simple, clean, but balanced. Our favorites? Pork pastor and sesame ribeye.
We also ordered a side of grilled corn w/ lime, cotija cheese, cayenne pepper. It comes on the cob, but they will gladly serve it off the cob for you. I’m not always a fan of corn, but this is some corn I can get behind! It was loaded with flavor and tons of cotija cheese. Yum!
The friend that recommended Bartaco can usually be trusted with restaurant selections, he does co-own a restaurant consulting/marketing company afterall. Looks like we will continue to heed his foodie advice. This place was fast, friendly, and delicious – a do not miss!
Atlanta has three locations, including one at Krog St Market. We visited the one at Westside Provisions because it was not far from Bartaco on our way out town. It was the perfect way to cap off a great foodie weekend! I had Luxardo Cherries Jubilee and Intelligentsia Coffee. So good. Just so good. The hubs got Churro and devoured it all before letting me snap any photos. In his defense, it was delicious.
That’s a wrap on this weekend foodie getaway to Atlanta. With the unlimited restaurant choices in a city of this size, this is merely a handful of options, but some of them are mighty fine ones. Hopefully our recommendations will come in handy on your next getaway to the peach state.