Until Next Time, ATL

I’m working on this post from an Amtrak train to New Orleans. It’s pretty great that this is an option so I can skip the airport, but also says a lot that the station I’m in serves one train in each direction daily and nothing else. I might write another post about my train thoughts on their own later.

Atlanta was pretty good. I really enjoyed the admittedly vague feel of where I was downtown. I mentioned the lack of traffic and abundance of space in an earlier post, and it made for a relaxing and comfortable month. Most days I walked 10~15 minutes to and from lunch, and it was a completely relaxed time. Maybe I’m weirdly calibrated because I lived so long in NYC, but I’m not used to thinking of being downtown as being so chill. It still felt very city to me, but way less tense than New York.

I also got to hang out with people in person that I never get to see, and it was lovely. It reminds me somewhat of the Summer of 2008 when I spent 10 weeks driving around the US mostly stopping in cities to meet up and hang out with people I only knew from the internet. Funny to be doing a somewhat similar, albeit much slower, now that I’m 40.

Anyway, it will likely come as no surprise that I have decided that the best send-off that i can give to Atlanta is a list of my favorite food.

Strike Out Wingz

I’ve never been a huge eater of chicken wings. In fact, while I’ve eaten plenty in my lifetime, I can’t really remember the last time I ordered them myself. However, I knew that “lemon pepper wet” was a pretty famous Atlanta wing flavor so I googled for some when I got into town, and Strike Out was where I ended up.

And the food was incredible. I was actually kind of blown away, and it meant that in January I’m pretty sure I ate at Strike Out six or seven times. The food was always cooked to order, both the wings and the fries. Hot, crisp, and perfect.

I think I lucked out that Strike Out was where I ended up going to try wings in Atlanta for the first time because I tried some lemon pepper wet at a couple of other places, and the wings were merely fine. If I’d started anywhere else I wouldn’t have gotten obsessed. Strike Out Wingz showed me not just how delicious lemon pepper wet wings could be, but also just how good wings could be. If everyone made wings like this, I’d eat them all the time.

Tum Pok Pok

While most of the places on this list are here because I ate multiple meals at them, this is a one-off. Mostly because it wasn’t in the neighborhood I was staying in. Instead, I had to rely on my Atlanta-based coworker Nattalie for a ride. And for the recommendation. Both of which I’m grateful for.

The food was amazing. Easily up there with some of my favorite places from NYC. The combination of savory, sweet, spicy, and herbaceous flavors that make me love Thai food were on full display here.

While I technically didn’t eat here more than once during my trip, I definitely would have if it had been an option. And I did enjoy it so much I ordered larb to go as we left so I could eat it for lunch on the train (which was delicious, much better than Amtrak’s standard lunch options).

Tan Cha

After Tum Pok Pok, Nattalie suggested milk tea at Tan Cha (apparently a recommendation from her optometrist).

It’s possible that I was primed by how good dinner was, but this was legitimately one of the best milk teas I’ve ever had. This was only the second time that I legitimately considered asking if I could buy tea leaves directly from the store.

On top (literally) of an incredible black tea as a starting point, they also offered a matcha foam (basically drinkable whipped cream) that was delicious. I was, in fact, torn in my opinion on it. On the one hand, it was incredibly tasty (though a bit sweeter than I would have preferred). On the other hand, the foam took up volume in my cup that could have gone to more delicious tea. What a conundrum!

I was quite close to ordering another cup to go so that I could have it on the train ride, but I resisted. Which was probably a good thing since trying to juggle a cup of tea along with all my luggage would have been pretty awkward.

Saigon Bites

There were some cold, rainy days in Atlanta during January, and warm noodle soup is one of my standbys for that kind of weather. Fortunately, Saigon Bites was in the food court a couple of blocks from where I was staying.

Pho is one of the great soups of the world. It’s straightforward, delicious, and manages to balance deep flavor with a light taste. Saigon Bites isn’t my new favorite source of pho, but it is legitimately excellent. Their broth was just what I wanted out of a pho broth, and their meatballs were especially excellent.

So if you’re craving pho in downtown Atlanta, Saigon Bites is a great option.

As long as you’re craving lunch or an early dinner, at least. They’re located in a food court that’s definitely scheduled around a downtown office-working crowd, and they close at 6pm (or 5pm on Wednesdays, 4pm on Saturdays). Which is a notably later closing time than other places in the same food court. Still, if they’re open, they’re a great source of delicious noodles and soup.

My train out of town

Ultimately, Atlanta was a really enjoyable way to start my year. It’s not the most famous or exciting city on my itinerary for the year, and I doubt I’d want to live in the city long term just because of how it’s spread out and how weak the public transit is.

That said, having spent a month in the city, I could easily imagine myself doing so again.






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