NFT Atlanta Centennial Place / Techwood / Downtown

Centennial Place / Techwood / Downtown

Downtown is like Disneyworld—filled with tourists and people who are out to get your money. You can ride horse carriages, aero balloons, or trolleys, but places to buy bread or use the bathroom are scarce. Fairlie Poplar is a redeeming historic district, GSU adds some academic weight, and Techwood and Centennial Park are up-and-coming residential enclaves. Centennial Park and the Georgia Dome took a beating from the ‘08 tornado, but things should be back to normal by now.




         


This Neighborhood Featured in...
Atlanta Street Art

By Sara Cheshire
There's more to Atlanta than graffiti-splattered streets, hypodermic needles and huddled masses of hungry children. Sara Cheshire tells it like it is.

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Guide to Entertaining Tourists

By Sara Cheshire
It's not just peach tree climbing anymore.

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...But My In-Laws Don't Drink

By Jared Cobb
So find a nice place to walk with them then. Like a sports bar, a Civil War burial ground or a park.

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Atlanta by Train

By Sara Cheshire
Public transportation in Atlanta? But what if you're agoraphobic or wearing heels? Sara Cheshire feels your pain, but she also likes to save on car insurance. And that's why Sara takes the MARTA. Follow her as she nimbly carries you to museums, nightclubs and puppet shows while strategically avoiding preachers and beggars. So jump on the ninth largest US rapid-transit system! With minimal body contact and foot travel, it's just the way Atlantans like it.

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On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Josh Green
Photo:  Josh Green

Georgia Dome
The House That Deon Built is coming around in the aesthetics department, thanks to a $30 million recent upgrade that gutted the awful teal-and-peach color scheme of yore. Opened in 1992, the Dome's 71,000 seats make it the second largest in the world, behind that big spiky egg in London. It's still the most sizable dome in the United States, and unlike, say, Lucas Oil Field in Indy, there's not a bad seat in the house. I was driving downtown in 2008 when the Dome survived a direct tornado hit--proof that, though still a teenager, downtown's spaceship has full-grown cojones. Now let's tear it down and get what Atlanta's new Falcon regime really needs--open-air battles.



Posted By:  Josh Green
Photo:  Josh Green

W Downtown
You don't have to be an out-of-towner to enjoy the truly exceptional environs of Atlanta's new W Hotels. Three properties, each with its own style, have opened in the last two years. I especially love this stunner downtown, a stone's throw from Centennial Park and the Aquarium. Descriptors like posh, swank and tony don't begin to capture the swagger at each restaurant and bar. If you’re going merely to drink, budget for it. Premium beers will set you back about $7, and top-shelf cocktails in the neighborhood of $12. I won’t recommend wandering alone by oneself after dark, as this is downtown we’re talking about.



Posted By:  Josh Green
Photo:  Josh Green

Atlanta City Detention Center
I'll go ahead and recommend you not go here, but I hear it's not so bad. Depending on the particular night and duration of your stay, the staff is reportedly amicable, and the food lukewarm. Mmm. This imposing 17-story orifice holds bad guys provided by more than a dozen local, state and federal agencies, which means you can potentially do some nationwide networking during your stay. The honchos here swear by the "direct supervision" model, meaning in lieu of bars you're in a vast, open room with tons of friendly folk just a shank's length away. And you won't be lonely. In 2005, the jail averaged about 900 offenders per day, one of which was my uncle. Suffice it to say a trip to Underground Atlanta got balls-out stupid.



Posted By:  Josh Green
Photo:  Josh Green

Philips Arena
"Kick his ass, you Czechoslovakian pussy!" roared the man from Pittsburgh sitting next to me, a Guinness in his left hand, camera phone in his right. "Yeah," I echoed, "put his goddamn face through the glass!" It was hockey love, as they say, at its most primal. A handful of elementary school students, giddily anticipating the next round of T-shirt-gun hoopla, laughed in approval of our hijinks. I had no idea what was happening. No comprehension of the rules. But when corporate hands down free tickets, I'd watch Scooby-Doo on Ice if it meant having seats like those--so close to the action I was chilly. All forty of us in the lower level at Phillips were swept away by the want of violence, for a reason to justify spending $7 per beer on a Tuesday night in December, an elixir for witnessing the city's hobbling hockey team. The game--or match, whatever--came down to a final-minute score by the Penguins, which deflated the semi-enthused arena. There was no fighting, either. But damn those seats were terrific.



Posted By:  Katherine Dean
Photo:  J.E. Kemp

Centennial Olympic Park
Nothing warms my soul with holiday cheer more than watching little Southern girls and boys attempt to glide gracefully across a man-made sheet of ice only to teeter, topple over and then howl at the top of their lungs. Every year, at Christmastime, this is the sweet and hilarious spectacle that unfolds at Centennial Olympic Park, where clever elves raise a tent, hang some twinkly lights and fabricate a frosty slab to create Atlanta's only outdoor Ice Skating Rink. Kids from 1-92 are invited to twirl, slip and slide across the ice, or simply watch their loved ones uncomfortably attempt to acclimate to a winter phenomenon that never occurs naturally in these parts. If you'd like to enjoy this festive event, which is sure to lighten your heart and put you in a merry mood, head down to Centennial Park soon. Admission to the rink is $7 per person with an additional skate rental fee of $2 and skating sessions last 90 minutes.




Posted By:  Katherine Dean
Photo:  Katherine Dean

Westin Peachtree Plaza
Hey Westin execs! What gives? The tornadoes that tore apart the downtown area touched down nine months ago. And yet, the formerly beautiful and shiny hotel seems to be one of the very few buildings that still bears the ugly scars of the twister. Everyday on my way to work, there it is, phallically thrust into the clouds, with ugly black windows where silver windows should be. Like the toothless grin of a redneck, the Westin looks trashy. C'mon, Westin people! This is Atlanta, not the trailer park. I know you guys have it in you. Make your high-rise pretty again, 'cause right now it's the glaring eyesore in Atlanta's skyline.




Posted By:  Josh Green
Photo:  Josh Green

Stats
This is Buffalo Wild Wings for the upwardly mobile downtown set. Stats--a quadruple-level man-haven opened last year within steps of the Georgia Dome, Phillips Arena and the giant fish tank across the street--is like your neighborhood pub crossbred with a bar from the future. We're talking swank. We're talking Esquire-readers galore. We're talking five jaw-droppingly cool bars under the same roof and countless flatscreens, both indoors and out. The grub--all of which is expertly prepared--reaches far beyond typical wings and burgers. The generous pulled pork barbeque sandwich, for instance, is fit for a lineman. The crab cake BLT is divine. And Stats boasts the best sweet potato fries in the city (perfect with a Sweetwater 420/cool autumn day). Indoors, a smattering of bar-area tables have a self-pouring system that actually pumps beers of your choosing to taps built in to the table. This eliminates the chance you'll miss a Falcons first down while waving at a waitress for a refill. At last check, the table-tap system was the only of its kind in the United States, making Stats the swiftest and most technologically advanced way to suck your disposable income dry.



Posted By:  Katherine Dean
Photo:  Katherine Dean

Exeloo Public Toilet
Finally! The powers that be have decided to do something about the stench of urine that constantly emanates from the Five Points area. Atlanta's solution to the public piss problem? Exeloo Public Toilet, a.k.a. "The Robot Bathroom of Woodruff Park." The Jetson-esqe crapper is air-conditioned and outfitted with space-age metallic fixtures, buttons that provide you with all of your basic lavatory needs (toilet paper, paper towels, etc.), soothing elevator music to make doing your business more pleasurable, and, of course, an omnipotent robot voice to guide you through it all. Once you've entered and the door has closed behind you with a Star Trek/vacuum tube "swoosh," Mr. Bathroom Robot's voice instructs you to mind the 10-minute time limit. I can only assume this is to dissuade homle... ahem... residentially-challenged folk from setting up permanent camp inside these most comfortable accommodations or perhaps to prevent horny GSU kids from getting their swerve on in public. Best of all though, the Robot Bathroom is designed to keep many icky pubic potty processes, such as flushing, hands free. The clever beast even self cleans when not in use, so it doesn't stink like poo inside. I'm sure our fair city dropped a huge wad on this fancy-pants outhouse, but relief from the malodor along Marietta Street is well worth it.



Posted By:  Sheronda Gipson
Photo:  Sheronda Gipson

Stats
There are hundreds of sports bars in Atlanta and the surrounding metro area, but few can boast the sophistication and innovation of Stats. Located in the heart of downtown on Marietta St, next to the Georgia Aquarium, Centennial Park and the CNN Center, Stats is your corner pub on steroids. Three levels of tvs and bars with a roof top deck; the food, typical bar type, which'll get you through a game or two. But the piece de resistance of Stats is the fact that they have beer taps at the tables. Yes, you heard me right! Depending upon availability there are tables that house two beer taps, beer already designated and when you are seated the waiter or waitress will turn the tap on for you upon request and you can drink the night away without seeing the bottom of your beer mug. Genius! One downside is that Stats can become a bit of a diva during popular sports events by having long lines that wrap around the building and velvet ropes up to the rooftop deck. But if you can get past all that extra stuff, Stats is a premier bar.



Posted By:  Katherine Dean
Photo:  Katherine Dean

Just Around the Corner
I have a pretty hard and fast rule about ordering "the special" wherever I go. Even in spotty establishments, the plate du jour is usually a safe bet. When I stray from my self-enforced rule, things can get dicey. At Just Around the Corner, located at the intersection of Spring and Marietta and oddly tucked into a parking deck, I strayed and paid the price. Upon entering the cute box-car shaped diner, I could feel the heat from the grill (where the fresh-looking, house-special burgers sizzle away) and the fryer (where the hard-to-fuck-up fries get golden). But did I order either? No. Instead I opted for a take-out Turkey Italian. I should have known something was askew when I saw the short-order cook pop the bread for my sandwich in the microwave. Eww. Things only got worse back at the office when I bit into the chewy abomination. It smelled like old refrigerator and tasted a few days overdue. While I loathe rancid meat, I couldn't fathom attempting to get a refund on a sandwich I'd discarded as soon as I sampled its foulness. You could definitely do worse in downtown Atlanta, but if you visit Just Around the Corner, for the love of God, stick with the burger.



Posted By:  Katherine Dean
Photo:  Katherine Dean

Rosa's Pizza
Lots of pizza joints in Atlanta claim to make a true New York-style pie. But don’t be fooled by their thin-crust trickery. Just because they slap a slice in the double-decker pizza oven and toss it to the proper thinness doesn’t make it so. If you want the real thing, or at least the best that Atlanta’s got going, you need to head to Rosa’s Pizza. Sure you’re gonna need to yell your order across a counter that is far too high and yes, you’re gonna stand in a pretty long line. But when you’ve got that piping hot slice in hand, you’ll forget all these petty inconveniences, because the pies they serve up are some of the best in the city. Located downtown on what is loosely defined as the Georgia State Campus, you can find Rosa’s just by following your nose. After passing through the malodorous (read: urine-drenched) corridors around the Five Points Marta Station, you’ll agree that it’s the best smelling eatery in the area. Be warned: Rosa’s keeps the hours of most other downtown establishments. They close up shop at 6:00 PM, and make sure to bring cash because they don’t take credit cards.



Posted By:  Sheronda Gipson
Photo:  Sheronda Gipson

Jamaica Jamaica Caribbean Restaurant
Just when you thought Underground Atlanta was dead, this tourist phoenix is trying it’s best to rise from the ashes. Good thing there is a hot and spicy spot that is fueling the fire. Jamaica Jamaica is by far one of my favorite places in town, serving authentic Jamaican fare at the price of Jamaican J. Now, the restaurant, which is on the lower level of the Underground is dark and dank, kinda reminiscent of an old juke joint on the back roads of Montego Bay. But the food, oh my God, the meat is tenderer than a Mother’s love, the vegetables are fresh and yes they serve the real deal–Jamaican Rum Punch. Amazing!



Posted By:  Beth Linder
Photo:  Beth Linder

Hyatt Regency
A Klingon walks into a bar. No, really. A Klingon, followed in suit by Jack Sparrow, his duet of Harpies, and Glen Quagmire from The Family Guy. Normally the spectacle of this odd quintet would either mean that you went a little overboard on the acid or the Fox Network had reached a new level of desperation. For a moment, let’s be hypothetical. Maybe Jack digs the Klingon’s neo-planetary style and wants to trade a few gold crowns for a 3D ridged forehead prosthetic? Or maybe Quagmire is looking to score some Pirate’s booty? Maybe, just maybe, you’re over thinking the obscene presence of this binge-drinking bunch after your own lethal combo of caffeine, sugar, and alcohol at DragonCon? Odds are, it’s the latter. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the hootenanny. This may be the only mass public display of latex-wearing, fur-covered, fishnet-tangled, pastie-patched, sword-bearing, kilt-donned creativity you may ever have the chance to experience. Next year (August 29-September 1), come see for yourself. These hard-core fans do it best. Giggity.



Posted By:  Beth Malone
Photo:  Beth Malone

Elliott Street Deli & Pub
I’ve found it. The best bar in Atlanta. Not the Earl or P’cheen. Not Estoria or El Myr. The first indication that you’ve arrived at Elliot Street Pub are the motorcycles. At least four will be parked out front. Next, you’ll meet Mike—part-owner of Elliot Street. He’s huge. He could snap you like a twig—but he won’t. He’ll offer you booze and a wealth of knowledge about Castleberry Hills. Instead of shooing bums from his front door, he hugs them and wonders where they’ve been. Plus, he lets you drink on the honor system! It’s embarrassing to see nine tallies on the chalkboard by your name at the end of the night, but fess up and pay. If you’re hungry, eat. Elliot Street is rumored to have the best potato salad in town. Apparently, they load a baked potato with all the fixin’s and smoosh it up. For a bigger bite, try the Dirty-Bird-in-Blue Sandwich. The people who accidentally end up here are an eclectic lot. A little hip-hop and a lot of rock-n-roll make for one of the most authentically Atlanta nights around—you just have to find it first.



Posted By:  Carla Kaiser
Photo:  Carla Kaiser

Woodruff Park
You like beer? Got any friends who like beer? Y'all might want to consider making an appearance at Creative Loafing's 2nd Annual Beer Fest on Saturday June 9 from 2-7 pm at Woodruff Park in downtown Atlanta. There will be over a hundred different beers to taste, local bands, free food samples from local restaurants, and an undefeated chess master who can kick 8 people's asses at the same time. Last year's Beer Fest was my first real experience of downtown Atlanta on a weekend day. I saw so many cool cars cruising around, including a Chevy with butterfly doors and an orange glitter paint job. Not to mention the beer. There was a lot of that, too. Tickets cost $30 at the door or $20 in advance.



Posted By:  Carla Kaiser
Photo:  Carla Kaiser

Centennial Olympic Park
Perhaps you've heard of the DIY movement? Well, listen up. The bi-annual I.C.E. (Indie Craft Experience) is coming June 2. There will be 103 indie vendors of everything from homemade paper to zines and baby clothes. This year's event will also feature live music, craft workshops, and a giant clothing swap. Did I mention the swag bag? You get one of those, too, just for showing up. If Thomas Kinkade paintings make your heart sing, I.C.E. might not be your scene, but if you enjoy supporting independent artists, then by all means bring your wallet to Centennial Olympic Park on June 2.



Posted By:  Sara Cheshire
Photo:  Carolyn Richardson

Rialto Center for the Arts
I always have some affection toward the underdogs: Chicago Cubs, Howard Dean (!), and the Rialto, step-child of the Woodruff Arts Center. We complain about downtown being a vacant suck-hole after hours, but are you doing anything about it? Start a trend and migrate south to the Rialto. The music, dance, and theatrical performances often feature international artists (especially jazz and Latin), which can be more colorful than the black tie affairs up the street. Free Wednesday lunchtime music concerts are held in the lobby, which also doubles as an art gallery. The Georgia State University music ensembles offers free concerts—perfect for my “Atlanta club for the broke.” Just around the corner is the remodeled Balzer Theater for more theatrics and a 24-hour diner is across the street. With blue plates, delectably urban black and white cookies, and a welcome lack of concrete football ball fields, er, parking lots, you can almost pretend you’re in one of those highly functional east coast cities, minus the crappy weather.



Posted By:  Jennifer Kornder
Photo:  Jennifer Kornder

Centennial Olympic Park
When it is not being bombed by terrorists, Centennial Park is alight with children and tourists during any pretty day of the year. Sometimes there are even musical performances—lunch time events as well as large commercial concerts. I went to one such performance during the summer of my fourteenth year, when I was moonlighting as a street musician downtown. A clean-looking homeless man named Kevin invited me to go. He explained to me the meaning of the word “ablutions” and described how he conducts his ablutions in downtown fountains; then he shared a sweet honey roll with me that he had recovered from the trash. Kevin and I watched some shitty band cover a Santana song, and then I was on my way—I sure didn’t want to accidentally lose my virginity to a homeless guy. I was reminded of this incident on a recent trip to the park as I watched the children play in the Olympic Ring fountains. The park holds interest not only as a place to recapture your innocence, but as a place where lost innocents can be found.



Posted By:  Sara Cheshire
Photo: 

Sun Dial
If you don’t want to get down and dirty with crowds this 4th, or lack connections to a condo rooftop, consider taking a ride up the glass elevator to the top of the Westin Hotel. Three choices are available for panoramic views of fireworks all over ATL if just one set of explosives doesn’t do it for you. The cheapest pick is the live jazz trio and bar in the Lounge. For food, the View on level 72 is hosting a standing room only “picnic”: chicken fingers, corn dogs and potato salad. (Tickets must be purchased online at www.ticketalternative.com). Or, for $65/person, have a fancy three-course meal at the Sun Dial Restaurant. Price includes a surprise dessert and revolving floor action. Sure, it’s cushy and pricey, but maybe for once, you don’t want to sweat or dodge those stray fireworks. From my guess, this glass menagerie will afford views of the shows at Centennial Olympic Park, Turner Field, Lenox and possibly downtown Decatur. Come back for Turner’s First Thursdays Art Walk (first Thursday of each month) and mooch free hors d’oeuvres if you feel you need to get more of your money’s worth.



Posted By:  Sara Cheshire
Photo: 

Les Fleurs de Lis
Finally, here is a downtown restaurant that you would expect to find in a large city. Les Fleurs de Lis Café is a quaint, yet lavish spot tucked away in the historic Healy Building. Come downtown for their wine and beer tastings (paired with a five-course French meal) or their unique brunch menu. Or try their fantastic fixed three-course dinners on Thursdays. Reservations are recommended. For lunch I enjoy the tuna and egg on their crusty bread drizzled with olive oil. Expect to pay $8 for lunch and $20 for dinner. You know I’m usually cheap, but it is definitely worth the extra dollars to feel like you are in a real city, and a European one at that.




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