1004 Stone Soup Kitchen

The hardest part of my last morning in Atlanta? Deciding between Ria’s Bluebird and Stone Soup Kitchen for breakfast. Both have adorable websites. Both were about a 20 minute walk away. The former supposedly has the best pancakes on the planet, while the latter has cheese grits. Cheese grits? Done and done.

Stone Soup Kitchen

SSK is everything I could want a diner in the South to be. Colorful characters. Impeccably fried eggs. A good biscuit and a bottomless cup of coffee. Sunshine and no hurry. The cheese grits didn’t blow my mind, but they were a great excuse for a nice walk on my last morning in town. But then so were the sweet potato biscuits that I picked up to take home.

Miles walked: 3.75

If you go:
Stone Soup Kitchen
584 Woodward Ave
Atlanta, GA 30312
(404) 524-1222


1003 A Day of Epic Walking

With the conference over at noon, I found myself with a free day and nothing to do. Another epic walk was in order, but my first stop was the High Museum, where I had a very important date with my friend Dalí. It was Bank of America’s Museums on Us weekend, so while I would’ve paid the $18, getting in free was even better! The Dalí exhibit focused on his late work, including his obsessions with Catholicism and the nuclear age. It was really fascinating stuff, and I’m glad I made the trip.

The High

I stopped for a cappuccino at Bakeshop along the way, so I wasn’t hungry until later – which worked out well, as I found myself wandering in the historical neighborhoods around Piedmont Park for an hour or so. I tried to get lunch at a restaurant right on the park, but I was apparently invisible, so I moved on and ended up at The Flying Biscuit, where I was seated at a table by a door that opened and banged shut every other minute. My biscuit and soup were excellent, but the service reminded me of why I don’t miss eating alone.

54 Columns

My afternoon walk took me past a game of soccer played by men in kilts, into Scarlett Loves Rhettro and down Ponce de Leon, through quiet neighborhoods and past urban art.  I had no map or agenda, and no reason to hurry back to Dawn’s, so I just sort of zigzagged around until I was hungry and tired and back in Inman Park. I grabbed a beer at a bar near Highland Bakery, then checked out a few shops before stopping for dinner.

Dinner with EB White

My last dinner in Atlanta was nothing fancy, just a black bean burger and a beer with a good book at The Albert. And then a good night’s sleep.

Miles walked: 10

If you go:
High Museum
1280 Peachtree St NE
Atlanta, GA 30309
(404) 733-4444

903 Peachtree St NE
Atlanta, GA 30309
(404) 892-9322

The Flying Biscuit
1001 Piedmont Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30309
(404) 874-8887

Jack’s Pizza & Wings
676 Highland Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30312
(404) 525-4444

The Albert
918 Austin Ave
Atlanta, GA 30307
(404) 872-4990

1002 King of Pops

Suz and Ken were presenting first thing in the morning, so as promised, I brought sweet potato biscuits.  I picked up a regular biscuit for myself which, while delicious, could hardly compare to the sticky treats lurking at the bottom of the grease-stained paper bag.  The morning’s presentations proved interesting – good stuff about usability and staff training – even if the day’s keynote employed the sorts of stupid gimmicks I’ve come to expect from library conferences.  Suz and I played hooky for a while and discovered a scary mouth chair and a variety of other bizarre and wonderful vintage delights, and by the time she dropped me off back at the conference hotel, I was wiped.

It was too early (and too gorgeous) to call it a day, though, so I meandered back to Dawn’s with my heavy backpack, intent on a short nap and then further evening wanderings. In hopes of grabbing a quick snack (or a beer), I stopped into the Irwin Street Market, a sweet family of businesses tucked away in the Old Fourth Ward.

Irwin Street Market

Spaces like the Irwin Street Market are what I like so much about small towns – or cities or neighborhoods that have seen better times.  They also highlight things we find so frustrating about Ann Arbor.  The Irwin Street Market is an allied family of vendors- a cafe, a coffeeshop, an ice cream counter, a designated community kitchen, and others – created with the explicit intent of nurturing local businesses.  In doing so, they’ve provided a sweet and vibrant third place.  By contrast, Ann Arbor has communities of businesses, but lacks any shared spaces of this sort (as far as I know).  There’s the Workantile Exchange, but that serves a specific population rather than providing space and place for anyone who cares to wander in.  There’s nothing like either in our neighborhood, and very little chance of anything like either opening up.

But I digress.  I wanted to tell you about King of Pops, after all.  I don’t know the precise details, only a fuzzy version of the origin story, but what I was told was that the titular King of Pops used to be a fancy businessman of some sort until he decided to ditch that life and become popsicle royalty.  In less than a year, he has built a veritable popsicle empire using a cart, a street corner, and a killer mural:

King of Pops
Photo by Gush Party, USA

Oh yeah, and amazing popsicles.

King of Pops
Photo by Gush Party, USA

I love the idea that a guy can go from businessman to local food sensation in under a year. I also love the idea of fancy popsicles – including the amazing chocolate sea salt one I picked up at the Irwin Street Market, one of a handful of King of Pops outposts scattered around the city.  I also also love the idea of spaces dedicated to fostering small business while also building community.

Atlanta, I think I love you.

Miles walked: 7

If you go:

Irwin Street Market
660 Irwin St
Atlanta, GA 30312
(404) 586-0920

King of Pops
various locations, primarily:
1079 North Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30306
(404) 507-6774

1001 Sweet. Potato. Biscuits.

If there’s one thing the South does well, it’s biscuits. There are many other things they do well as well – fried chicken, grits, greens, naming things Peachtree – but I’d like to talk about biscuits for a moment. Sweet potato biscuits to be precise.

Sweet. Potato. Biscuit.

Now if you’re like me and have spent most of your years above the Mason/Dixon line, you may be unaware of the fact that biscuits go with anything. You may also be unaware of the fact that you can make anything with sweet potatoes. And you would certainly be surprised to learn that putting sweet potatoes IN biscuits produces something so sweetly harmonious that you just might fall off your breakfast chair out of joy.

Well, that’s what happened to me this morning at Highland Bakery. OK, I might be exaggerating about the falling off the chair bit, but I certainly am not exaggerating when I say that once I bit into this crumbly biscuit, I very nearly lost all interest in the rest of my breakfast, including both bacon AND coffee.

I’d tell you about the rest of my meals from my first full day in Atlanta, but to be honest, nothing quite measured up.  The opening keynote of the conference was interesting, and I liked walking through the Sweet Auburn District.  It was fun to have dinner with Suz and Ken, though our actual dinner was a bit underwhelming.  We parted ways late in the evening, and I wandered back to Dawn’s with visions of sweet potato biscuits dancing in my head.

Miles walked: 6.25

If you go:

Highland Bakery
655 Highland Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30312
(404) 586-0772

0930 Burgers and Sauce(d) in Atlanta

I’m in Atlanta for a few days for the LITA National Forum – my first opportunity for professional development since leaving GW more than a year ago.  It’s also my first time in Atlanta, so I’m hoping to see as much as I can during/around the conference sessions.

That said, I arrived with no actual plan, half a day to kill, and no lunch.  Fortunately Dawn, my Airbnb hostess, was similarly hungry, so after dropping my stuff and getting a tour, we grabbed a quick lunch at Grindhouse Killer Burgers, located in the Sweet Auburn Curb Market. Dawn’s vegetarian, so I was surprised that she recommended a burger joint, but I shouldn’t have been, given how damned good it was. It’s the rare burger place that does veggie options as well as they do the meat, but Grindhouse is apparently one of them. I had a turkey burger with mushrooms and Swiss and crinkle fries and both were so good – which was good, as I needed some quality fuel for the afternoon ahead of me.

Dawn sketched out a walking tour – 2-3 hours of wandering around the parts of the city where people actually live – including recommendations for places to stop for snacks or drinks as I needed refreshments.  2-3 hours turned into 5,punctuated by frozen yogurt, a knitting store, Little Five Points, and a camel-like stop at a drinking fountain on Freedom Parkway.  I walked up Peachtree and down 10th, stopping to chill out in Piedmont Park and to watch a marching band practice.  I hung a right on Highland and checked out a few cute boutiques, passed the King of Pops, and kept walking to Little 5.  And then, growing increasingly tired and famished, I wandered down Euclid, miraculously finding my way back to Dawn’s street with no map or internet-enabled phone to guide me.

My situation was getting desperate.  I passed up the bars and restaurants of Little 5, expecting to find something to eat closer to Dawn’s – and not realizing that a solidly residential area lay between the two.  I was delighted, then, to find myself at the doorstep of Sauced, a relatively new restaurant and cocktail spot on the edge of the Inman Park neighborhood.

Despite my pathetic bachelor eating when Shane’s away, I do genuinely enjoy going out to eat by myself.  I like people-watching or getting wrapped up in my book while eating at my own pace.  I like being in my own little bubble – solo, but not alone.  Tonight, though, I found myself making conversation at the bar – ranging from Italo Calvino to Chicago settlement houses – over a gin lime rickey and a plate of skewers and sauce.  I wish I could tell you about the sauces of the day, but I was too hungry to really take notes.  I know that one was a truffled mayo-aioli-type thing, and another was a peachy chili sauce, and I know that I sopped the sauces up with grilled veggies, sauteed asparagus, and tofu.  I know that the bartender toyed with majoring in the classics, and that my fellow bar diner was reading Ovid because of Calvino.  And I know that after a small but delicious dinner, I climbed the stairs to Dawn’s place and almost immediately passed out.

Miles walked: 8.75

If you go:

Grindhouse Killer Burgers
209 Edgewood Ave in the Sweet Auburn Curb Market
Atlanta, GA 30303
(404) 522-3444

753 Edgewood Ave
Atlanta, GA 30307
(404) 688-6554