Atlanta eateries, neighborhoods offer something to satisfy every taste

May 1, 2012

Atlanta can basically be divided among five neighborhoods: Buckhead, Downtown, Llittle Five Points, Midtown, and Virginia-Highland, each with its own distinctive highlights.

Atlanta can basically be divided among five neighborhoods: Buckhead, Downtown, Llittle Five Points, Midtown, and Virginia-Highland, each with its own distinctive highlights.

One of the most affluent communities, BUCKHEAD, is where some bigger names and celebrities live (a list that reportedly includes Elton John, Justin Bieber, and Kenny Rogers). The region features exclusive malls (such as Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza) and little-known retail districts, such as West Village, a collection of unique, off-the-wall finds.

If you're looking for nightlife in Buckhead, Fado-an authentic Irish pub-might be one option. Dining options include Chops Lobster Bar, Twist, and Seasons 52. For cheap eats, visit Souper Jenny or Fellini's.

Many of the city's main attractions are downtown, including the Georgia Aquarium, Zoo Atlanta, New World of Coca-Cola, and Centennial Olympic Park. Shopping hubs include Underground Atlanta, which offers unique specialty shops, boutiques, and chain stores, and the Mall at Peachtree Center, which also has bookstores, kiosks, and apparel shops.

For an artistic view of Atlanta, include the neighborhood LITTLE FIVE POINTS, or L5P, a take-off of San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district, on your itinerary. The place to be for Atlanta's artistic subculture, you'll discover many funky clothing boutiques, alternative bookstores, and body art shops.

Dining is easier on the wallet in L5P. Places to try include La Fonda Cantina, Little Five Points Pizza, and Front Page News-Moreland Ave. Fox Bros. BBQ is known for its barbecue. For a nightcap, try the Corner Tavern, Star Community Bar, or the Euclid Avenue Yacht Club. For non-alcoholic nightlife, Dad's Garage has classic improv shows, and 7 Stages and Variety Playhouse offer memorable stage performances.

For a vintage shopping experience, shop Abbadabba's or Stefan's. Sevananda sells natural products and health foods, and Wax 'n Facts is one of the few places in Atlanta where you'll find plenty of vinyl records.

MIDTOWN, a fast-growing section of Atlanta, houses some of the city's finest dining locations. It is home to the Ansley Park neighborhood of grand estate homes. Dining experiences include a stroll down the Crescent Ave. area for restaurants such as Front Page News and Vickery's Bar & Grill. Posh nightclubs such as Opera can be found here as well. The upscale tapas restaurant Table 1280 is located at Woodruff Arts Center. Stop by Atlantic Station, Midtown's "City within a City," for hot spots such as Geisha House and Rosa Mexicano.

The heartbeat of Atlanta's arts scene, Midtown also is home to the Woodruff Arts Center, which is composed of the High Museum of Art, Alliance Theatre, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and 14th Street Playhouse. Other sites in the area include Atlanta Botanical Garden, Center for Puppetry Arts, and the fabulous Fox Theatre. The 187-acre Piedmont Park offers ample jogging trails and walking paths.

Shop at Atlantic Station, an outdoor shopping district featuring Dillard's, H&M, Express, and Publix. Specialty boutiques such as Sage and Fab'rik also call Midtown home.

Lastly, VIRGINIA-HIGHLAND, also known as Va-Hi, is a destination for shopping and nightlife, with sidewalk cafes, live-music bars, and funky boutiques. It is noted for breathtaking cottage-style homes and offers ample green space, including John Howell Park. Sidewalks make this a family-friendly, in-town neighborhood.

The district's entertainment scene strikes a balance between laid-back and lively with low-key pubs, such as Atkins Park, and extroverted nightspots such as Blind Willie's Blues Bar. As for restaurants, include Noche on your list for tapas, Murphy's for a contemporary classic meal, Doc Chey's for noodles, and Fontaine's Oyster House for casual seafood.

Visit the district's array of unusual eclectic boutiques and designer shops such as Mitzi & Romano and Bill Hallman.