Monday, January 18, 2010

Atlanta, The Belle Of The South!

Having just gotten back from the Atlanta Gift Show, I'm reminded that Atlanta is one of my all-time favorite cities outside of Boston.  Despite the cold spell during this trip, I still got to visit all my favorite stores, restaurants and hang outs that make my semi-annual trip to Atlanta special.  So, I thought I'd share with you some of my favorite spots in Atlanta so if you're going there anytime soon you'll have some fun things to check out.

Hands down, the best place to stay in Atlanta is The Gaslight Inn located in the Virginia Highlands section of the city on St. Charles Avenue NE.  It's one of the nicest, cleanest, stylish and friendly B&B's I've ever been to.  I've been staying there for over 6 years for almost 2 weeks every 6 months.  The Inn is comprised for 3 buildings:  The Main House, The Carriage House behind the Main House and a lovely building with 3 suites located directly across the street.  The owners, Mark and Emory are so committed to the B&B that they actually live in a beautiful home across the street from the Inn as well.  The morning breakfast is one of the best, cookies in the afternoon, always wine, soda and juice available in the Main House, some rooms with fireplaces and jacuzzi tubs and even a suite with a full kitchen and washer dryer. 

My home away from home is always the St. Charles Suite in the house across the street.  The furnishings are delightfully southern and the bathroom is about as big as the Atlanta Hartsfield Airport!!!  It's a very popular Inn and it's always good to reserve well in advance because it has a very loyal following.  Check them out at and enjoy your stay. 

Atlanta has some wonderful restaurants, a few stand out as must visits during your stay.  One of my all-time favorites is The Colonnade on Cheshire Bridge Road.  The clientelle is nicknamed "gays and greys" because there are always a room full of gay men (of all ages) and some fabulous "blue haired" ladies!!  It's so popular that it has a regular set of followers and although I'm only there every 6 months, I always seem the same cast of characters!  The Colonnade was founded in 1927.  The restaurant moved to its present location in 1962 and has been owned by the Jones' family since 1979.  Adding to its charm is the fact that it's located next to a somewhat seedy motel, which in it's hayday was probably one of the hot Atlanta motels! 

The menu is amazing...some of just about every type of food you'd want to eat and the best Southern Fried Chicken in the city.  Every entree comes with 2 sides and there are over 30 to choose from, including tomato aspick, collard greens, pole beans and "bean of the day".  A couple words of warning...they only take cash (there is a cash machine located in the lobby), they don't take reservations and the wait can be 45 minutes to an hour on Friday and Saturday nights and the drinks are POTENT!!  Plan to'll have a great time!

Another of my favorite restuarants is Ecco.  It's part of the Fifth Group and they also own South City Kitchen, La Tavola (see below) and a great Mexico restaurant on Highland Avenue.  Ecco is fine dining at it's best, but also has a great semi-circle bar to dine and drink at.  If you go, be sure to ask if Eric is behind the bar and tell him I sent you...he's awesome!  Oh, and free valet parking right behind the restaurant.

La Tavola is located just off Highland Avenue in Virginia Highlands.  They have an extensive wine selection and some of the best comfort food you'll find in Atlanta. Free valet parking across the street.  It's a small restaurant and a bit cramped, but it's well worth it to wait if you have to.

A group fo 12 of us dined at Al Fredo's on Cheshire Bridge Road during this trip (just down the street from The Colonnade).  Italian dining does not get any more authentic!!  The restaurant has been in business since 1974 and you'd swear you were on the set of a restaurant in Little Italy (or The Godfather!).  Pasta of your choice comes with every entree.  Free parking adjacent to the restaurant and they do take reservations.  Frequently packed so call ahead for a reservation. 

As far as shopping goes, a must stop is Boy Next Door for great men's clothing.  I always find brands there that I don't see any place else. 
They have an extensive selection of bathing suits....from

skimpy to trunk style.  A great selection of t-shirts and jeans and there's a great 50% off section that's chock full of goodies every day of the year.

If you're looking for antiques, a great shop is Antiques and Beyond.  It's Atlanta's largest shop and filled with almost every style and era of antiques.  Heavy emphasis on furniture, but lots of great smalls, jewelry, china and fun stuff.  I've been going for years and always find something that I can't live without!

Outwrite Bookstore is one of the very few gay-oriented bookstores remaining in the country.  They're located at the corner of Piedmont and 10th Street in the Ansley area of town.  They have a great selection of books, calendars, magazines and some gift items.  They also have a great little coffee cafe and an area to sit and relax or hop on the computer using their free wifi.  Independent bookstores like Outwrite need our support.  Whether you're gay or straight, you're sure to find great best sellers and top reads.  Check out the staff selections that appear throughout the store.
I could write a ton more about Atlanta, but don't want to keep you reading all day long!!  Feel free to contact me for other suggestions and fun places to visit.  The Aquarium is an absolute must see!!  It's one of the most amazing I've seen.  I haven't yet been to the World of Coke, but a friend works for Coca Cola and he says it's filled with wonderful history and a chance to taste Coke drinks from around the world.  If you go, have a wonderful trip and enjoy!


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