Atlanta Food Walks: the intersection of history and southern cuisine. On a spectacular (almost) fall day, Friday Date Night is going to walk the walk and hear the talk. And eat! The walking tour of downtown Atlanta describes itself as providing “Amazing Food and Unexpected Places” and it does not disappoint. For me, the inspirational storytelling is just another unexpected treat.
Our tour begins in the historic Castleberry Hill neighborhood at Paschal’s.
It’s the unofficial headquarters of he Civil Rights movement and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is featured prominently inside.
Paschal’s is famous for soul food and our group of nine is served plates with fried chicken, candied yams, cornbread dressing and gravy.
The chicken is hot and fresh and fried perfectly. I don’t eat fried chicken very often, but when I do, I want it to taste like this! The sweet potatoes are probably the sweetest I have ever eaten. They are tasty but I cannot imagine how much sweetener goes into this dish.
While we are enjoying our first plate of food, Akila McConnell, the Founder and CEO (Chief Eating Officer) of AFW, details the early years of the Civil Rights movement and the role that Paschal’s plays in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.
After everyone is finished we walk over to Smoke Ring, a relatively new establishment in the the shadow of the Georgia Dome and it’s soon to be replacement dome.
Our next tasting plate features beef brisket, greens, mac & cheese and pulled pork. Smoke Ring “nails it” on every item on my plate.
The only alcoholic beverage served on this tour is featured here as well. You can see it above my plate. It’s a Bootleggers Companion and it’s made with hard apple cider and apple moonshine. It tastes sweet and refreshing and it’s sort of hard to tell that it’s a strong concoction. Those who order a second one (at an additional charge of $4.) do so at their peril!
We are walking…which includes several stops to include history of the Five Points and Fairlie-Poplar neighborhoods and a look at the gulch that modern Atlanta was built above. Now we are in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood at Arden’s Garden. This is the brainchild of Atlanta-based exercise guru and juice purveyor Arden Zinn.
Our group is welcomed by an extremely energetic and charming young lady who introduces us to two different refreshing juices and some crunchy dehydrated kale chips.
The rehydration process has only just begun because next up is a visit to the specialty tea boutique Just Add Honey.
The wall of teas is pleasantly fragrant.
And the peach tea really hits the spot.
As we relax, Akila tells us about the sweet tea that is so much a part of southern culture.
We are never rushed on this tour, but it’s time to move on and we are about experience some low-country cuisine at Sweet Auburn Seafood.
Nothing says “low-country” like shrimp and grits.
These grits are smooth and creamy, just the way I like them, and the shrimp are plump and juicy. There is a nice little kick in the flavoring and of course the andouille sausage could also have something to do with that.
I’ve lived in Atlanta for over 34 years and today is my first visit to the Sweet Auburn Curb Market. I’m happy to have finally made it! We are presented with 3 more southern classics.
From the right, black eyed peas (not my favorite), hoe cake (looks like a pancake, it’s a Native American form of corn bread), and banana pudding (yes, I could have had more of that one).
Last, but not least is a visit to Miss D’s New Orleans Pralines.
Hurricane Katrina is responsible for Miss D moving her home and business to the ATL. She was welcomed here and has given back to the community which took her in. We taste one of her many popcorn choices.
No taste of the south would be complete without pecan pralines.
There is a lot going on in this tour. It’s about four hours long, but it flies by because our tour guide is so energetic and charming. She is obviously enjoying herself, whether she is teaching about street art or food or Atlanta neighborhoods.
When you are on a staycation, or have guests in town, you should consider taking the Downtown Southern Food Walk. It’s from 11am to about 3pm and it costs 65 dollars. Tours run on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. You’ll have more than enough to eat and drink for lunch and you will learn so much about the city and the food of the region.