We are starting the day with a beautiful view from our room, wouldn’t you say? This is Mid-Town Atlanta and the best way to get to know a city is to stay in the city center and start with a food tour! Today, we will be doing the Downtown Southern Food Walk and I can hardly wait to see the city! So, let’s take one last look at the pool and be on our way!
The Southern Food Walk boasts a 2 mile walk through Atlanta’s historic Downtown neighborhoods over a 3.5 hour period. We will also learn about the Civil Rights Movement and about Dr Martin Luther King, get off the beaten path and end up in Atlanta’s oldest market with a total of 15 tastings in 7 eateries. I’m glad we are starting off hungry! We are taking an LYFT for the first time ever too. Parking is at a premium in Atlanta and in addition to paying 35.00 a day for hotel parking we would also have to hunt for a parking space at all the venues we will be seeing in Atlanta this week, plus pay another parking fee at all those stops. So LYFT here we come! The meetup restaurant for our first stop featured BBQ! You can’t get more Southern than that! I thought the fire station across the street from the restaurant was cute too, so here is a snap of that! Dalmatian and all!
The Smoke Ring Restaurant certainly fixed us up with BBQ! Come right in and join us!
These were the first fixins. BBQ wings, BBQ pork belly (like bacon only much thicker), Brunswick Stew, collard greens, macaroni and cheese (Atlanta style) and BBQ pulled pork………YUMMY! And it was all served up on metal trays with blues music in the background! Perfect! Believe me when I tell you I love collard greens and these were some of the best EVA! The drinks were a mild alcohol concoction called the Bootlegger’s Companion, a midnight moon strawberry shine with sprite and lemonade! Now, we have been fortified to walk anywhere! What will we see next?
We passed the Mercedes-Benz Stadium…….. home of the Atlanta Falcons…..which also has a tour………..saved for another day!
And we passed over the railroad terminals and very big lots. These huge, empty lots are now used by the Hollywood crowd, movie makers, to film their movies in. Next, we came to a row of very old buildings………as with many cities Atlanta is in an ever present conflict over whether to keep the buildings or tear them down. So far, these old timers have been kept from the chopping block. One of my favorites was Friedman’s Shoe Shop. Since 1929, this has been a favorite in Atlanta……In the 70’s the shop was sold and the new owner decided to specialize in really big shoes. Now, who has really big feet for the most part? Athletes! Shaquille O’Neal wears a size 22! His shoes and boots are shown in the window display. They are HUGE! To see how the shop started and why it has been so popular over the years watch the video, just click on the link above! You’ll view an awesome story! In addition to buying a million or so dollars A YEAR in shoes for himself at Friedman’s, Shaq purchases shoes for young athletes, who can’t buy shoes in the size they need. The community is supporting each other!
Now, I don’t know if this was a coincidence or whether the street artist just loves alligators. But, on the side of Friedman’s Shoe Shop an artist was commissioned to paint this……..and Friedman’s also specializes in alligator, crocodile and lizard shoes in every color including pink! This building was originally the Star Hotel with rates 50-75 cents a night!
And this was one of the original entrances…… Very nice!
Next, we went to a park-like setting with restaurants and outside seating galore, in the middle of a downtown shopping area. We could hear music and were drawn to it!
Here we are at ATL!
And here is the music maker! This is Woodruff Park ATL and a great place to sit and enjoy your lunch and relax and listen to jazz. You could tell it was a favorite spot for lunch with the folks that work downtown!
Another piece of artwork as we walk along!
All along our walk there were several old buildings that had famous Atlanta citizens drawn on them. They were called Hero Walls!
Peeking out behind the trees of this old building, was an old, old advertisement, that has been kept. It is for a washing powder that promoted its use by advertising, one would not have to work like a slave on washing day. That was their advertising slogan at the time.
Our next stop was the Arden’s Gardens Juicery. Now, I am not a big fan of healthy juices. I like fruit and vegetables, but not mixed together to make you healthier. My husband likes them even less. But, to be polite I tried the “Sunrise” and the “Yoga 1” drinks and ate their homemade kale chips. Well, surprise, surprise we LOVED the drinks , even my husband, and I swooned over those kale chips! Needless to say, it was one of the shops we went back to and bought oodles to take back to the hotel and feasted like kings all week! Never, say never!
Moving on…………..This building is the previous YMCA. It is empty while the city decides it fate. The artwork here represents the integration of black and white officers in 1948, who worked together in teams on the police force. I hope they keep this building!
Our last stop was the Sweet Auburn Curb Market. If you click on the link, it is quite the video all about this Municipal Market! The Market has served Atlanta for over 95 years and is a true treasure. Originally, the market was a rather run down building and the black folks were not allowed to set up their food stalls inside the market. So, they set them up outside all around the market instead. It proved to be a very good business move because most folks just walked around the stalls on the outside until they had purchased everything they needed and then left, without ever stepping inside the market. The inside served primarily as a meat market and the fragrance inside from the hanging carcasses and chickens running wild and the heat, all mixed together to create quite a tangy aroma. But, this market was in the very center of Atlanta and it was hopping! Today, there are many, many restaurants, small specialty food shops, and vegetable and fruit stands with each shop owned by an independent vendor. It is fabulous and spotless and the first scent you are greeted with is the smell of chocolate from the bakery! The Market is huge and we had to wait in line at several venues to grab a seat! This is the place to be! Our first eatery here was the Grindhouse with their Killer Burgers! Now, you are probably wondering why so little food is being shown. I was so caught up with everything, trying all the different foods and having such a good time with the ten other guests on the food tour, that I forgot to take photos of food after the first stop! I must have been really impressed to do that! And I was!
So, let’s visit some of the other shops inside the Sweet Auburn Curb Market……..There was the Just Add Honey Tea Shop.……Yum yum……………
and Miss D’s New Orleans Praline Shop, where we sampled the pralines and her famous flavored popcorn! Miss D was evacuated during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans to Atlanta. She loved it so much she decided to stay in Atlanta and open her shop here! It was a good thing for Atlanta and especially for the fans at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, because she has the contract for the popcorn sales there!
Then we had the delicious South African meat pies from Panbury’s Meat Pies. It’s a good thing we all split a pie because they were huge! The South African couple, who own this shop were not sure about their futures when they came to the US. One was studying Fine Art and the other Medicine. Their longstanding joke between them was they could always open a meat pie stand, if worse came to worse. Well, it didn’t get worse, but the more they thought about it, the more they thought a meat pie stand would be just the ticket in Atlanta! And, it is! You can read more about this young couple and their success story HERE!
Last, but not least, I had to walk off some of the food I had eaten all afternoon. So, I roamed around other vendors and took photos. Here are giant bags stuffed with collard greens, my favorite, and quite fresh at the market. Yes, there is a Learning Kitchen here also!
and the Chinese venders had all sorts of cool stuff…………..especially in the fruit and vegetable section……..
Now, can you guess what these huge pink items in the middle of the meat display are? Hint: The Shop is called The Porky Pig Market; PIGS EAR!
And to finish up our time at the Market there was this sign…….
And, that’s exactly how we left that Food Tour! I say, if you are going to Atlanta, the Downtown Southern Food Walk is a must, if you want to experience the history, vibe and food of Atlanta! It was Wonderful! Click on the link to see the different Food Tours offered by them. The guide was exceptional and weIl versed to make the Food Walk interesting. The pace was good and there was a lot of good discussions between the guide, visitors and proprietors. I will definitely be taking their second food walk in another section of the city, as I can’t wait to be back in Atlanta!