Southern hospitality is a real thing. When I was in Atlanta, you could feel it in a few distinct ways. First, I was consistently referred to as “hon” or “love” in a way that reminded me of Atlantic Canadian grandmothers. Secondly, everyone I talked to was genuinely interested in having a conversation, and when they learned I was visiting, they were generous with tips on how to best enjoy Atlanta. And lastly, and luckily for someone who is a food and beer lover, the hospitality came shining through every time I sat down for a meal or for a beverage.
My introduction to southern hospitality and food started shortly after arriving in Atlanta from Saskatoon. I was starving, and through a bit of good fortune, I found Max Lager’s, a great gastropub, around the corner from my hotel. My server’s recommendation of the fried chicken was a winner – set on top of mashed potatoes, drizzled with honey and served with some tangy greens, it was a great first taste of Atlanta and was enough food for two. Or one hungry travel-weary Canadian.
I walked off that caloric disaster I perpetrated against my own body in the general direction of a craft beer bar downtown. Probably not the healthiest decision, but I lucked out ordering up a Fu Manbrew by Monday Night Brewing. It was a perfect hot day wheat beer with a touch of pepper on the finish. The bar had a dive feel to it (in a good way!) and might have been the only place in the city with a playoff hockey game on the TV.
The next day, I took in an afternoon Atlanta Braves game and opted for a Yuengling. With a great depth of experience, I can say unequivocally that it pairs well with baseball. After all of the time I spent in Philadelphia over the years, Yuengling holds a special place in my heart. Other than this delicious reminder some of my earliest trips to the USA, I stuck to Georgia beers for the rest of my visit.
A friend back in Halifax and I have a running joke of where we were last ID’ed when buying liquor. As we’re both in our 40s, we wonder where the place of our last IDing will happen. For me, that progressed from the ballgame, to a run-down CVS to “sketchy liquor store in downtown Atlanta” when I picked up these SweetWater beers for my hotel room. Of these, I liked the Hash session IPA the best – full flavoured at a lower alcohol %. As I enjoyed these I also revelled in being ID’d three times on the trip.
My exploration of souther food would not have been complete without a feed of barbecue. At Twin Smokers BBQ I got a lunch time meal that had me full until the next day. Perfectly tender ribs, collard greens that were smokey and dripping in pork fat, mac and cheese and chicharron that were brought out with my beer… this was lovingly prepared food and the best meal of my trip.
I had planned on a couple of vacation days in Atlanta before a conference, but work requirements back home conspired to cut those days short. After wrapping up one morning and part of an afternoon toiling away in my hotel room, I caught a train out to Decatur to pop in at a couple of highly recommended craft beer bars. My first stop was the Brick Store Pub and I tried a few amazing beers. On the left in the full glass, Reclaimed Rye by Creature Comforts was smooth, malty and a touch spicy from the rye. Not a particularly good fit with the 35C temperatures outside, but a wonderful beer. On the right, A Night on Ponce IPA by Three Taverns Craft Brewery located minutes away from the bar, packed a punch. I briefly considered calling my craft beer tasting plans after this 7.5% beer, but the second bar was calling my name and was only about 200m away.
And I’m glad I pulled up a chair on the patio of The Square Pub. The setting was beautiful on a hot late afternoon and I always feel a little bit of magic in having a drink outdoors. Their sriracha and green chile pork belly mac and cheese put some desperately needed food in my belly. And one of the beers I tried here was probably my favourite of the trip. POG Basement by Scofflaw Brewing was a highly unusual IPA – it was tropical and a touch sweet and had a creamy mouth feel. The thing that crossed my mind on the second or third sip was that it reminded me of Fruit Loops crossed with beer. Doesn’t sound appetizing, but it was.
No trip to Atlanta would be complete without some desserts. I’m not normally a big fan of sweets, but these two were amazing. Peach cobbler (can’t write that without hearing Cartman’s voice) in an individual-sized skillet and a Coca-Cola pecan tart were so sweet my teeth started to hurt. I got these off of a dessert buffet and would have grabbed an armful to back to my hotel room if it wasn’t for the shame of all of the eyes watching.
On just about every American city visit, I make a point to head to a taqueria. My last night in Atlanta, Rreal Tacos hit the spot for a cheap and delicious meal – these pork trompo, carnitas and adobo chicken tacos set me up perfectly for my last Atlanta experience…
… my last Georgia craft beer tasting at World of Beer in the Midtown neighbourhood. My server, in a true show of southern hospitality, asked my name and shook my hand welcoming me. When he learned I was from away, he couldn’t do enough to make sure I got to taste the best of some local beers. I opted for a flight of summer and heat appropriate beers including a pineapple IPA (left), a guava cream ale (second from right) and a hefeweizen (far right). The best of the bunch was Gutenberg’s Gose with hibiscus and lime by Printer’s Ale. Refreshing and thirst quenching, and a lovely last taste of Atlanta.