There is always a lively spirit of creativity at The Sound Table, but it changes throughout the night. The upstairs dining room boasts a menu that "zigzags through global influences: Belgian-style frites, Oaxacan hanger steak with salsa verde, Chinese grilled ribs redolent of soy and chile," says Atlanta magazine, which placed restaurant on its list of the area's 50 Best Restaurants. However, the menu's capricious nature doesn't stop at the recipes, it also affects the availability. The selection changes frequently as the chefs incorporate new, seasonal ingredients.
On the downstairs level, the bar is a bit more consistent, although still inventive. In addition to the international assortment of wine and beer, the bartenders mix drinks that Creative Loafing Atlanta hailed as "some of the best cocktails in the city." These shaken and stirred concoctions are separated into categories that range from bright & dry to strong, rich & strange, and they occasionally feature nontraditional ingredients such as pine liqueur or garam masala.
Although the food and drinks help keep spirits high, it's the live music that transforms the two stories of exposed brickwork, booths made of wooden slats, and soft industrial lighting into a lively neighborhood dwelling. Typically starting around 11 p.m., an ever-rotating lineup of DJs and bands performs throughout the week, energizing the crowds with anything from the raw, percussive fusion of African and Latin jazz-funk to globally-influenced psychedelic.
For more than 20 years, Carrie Heller's life has been a balancing act between honing her circus talents and helping others. Today, the licensed clinical social worker, a founding member of the American Youth Circus Organization, blends therapy methods with big-top techniques at the Circus Arts Institute, benefiting children and adults alike with mind- and body-benefiting acrobatics that send students swinging, twirling, and laughing through the air.
Carrie and her team of instructors acquaint students with circus-performance fundamentals using the trapeze, tight wire, Spanish web, and juggling balls. They bolster core and upper-body strength during Circus Arts Fitness workouts, which have been featured on CNN for their exciting approach to toning. For students with special needs, such as sensory challenges or ADD, they host Circus Arts Therapy classes. These sessions channel playful and positive energy as small groups learn to navigate circus equipment, enhancing their confidence, social skills, and physical coordination in a much more natural way than going on a handstand speed date.
When Wine Shoe owners Nora and Shannon Wiley started planning the shop's design, they wanted something that would blend their worldly travels with the historic culture of the surrounding Castleberry Hill neighborhood. The result was promptly recognized by Atlanta magazine, which compared Wine Shoe to a "private wine cellar in France stocked with wines from all over the world."
Today, the facility's floor-to-ceiling wine wall stands as a new challenge to rock climbers and as a stunning backdrop to an assortment of wine-related activities, including classes that drew more than 3,000 total students during 2011. Many of those students gathered around Wine Shoe's 12-foot rustic table, where, sitting beneath a glistening bronze and crystal chandelier, they paired sips with scrumptious hunks of education.
The shop carries more than 150 different wines, the majority of which come from small producers. It also keeps its door open to pooches, as Nora and Shannon's security dog, Beeren, is always looking for new buddies with whom to discuss the nuanced flavors of rawhide bones.
Divan Restaurant & Hookah Lounge serves Persian-influenced Mediterranean feasts amid exotic artwork, plush pillows, and flowing curtains. Hooded lanterns cast a warm glow on murals depicting a sultan's court, colorful modern canvases, and tucked-away corners where diners share mezzes amid crimson cushions or chairs wrapped in silver cloth. As they dine upon dishes such as duck confit with black-currant relish and grilled lamb with pomegranate-mint demi-glace, guests enjoy the comforts of the hookah⎯a traditional water pipe that relaxes users with smoke that combines a touch of tobacco, sweet notes from fruit molasses, and a dash of wispy ghost.
As wispy tendrils of hookah haze dissipate overhead, diners clink glasses filled with drinks such as fruit-flavored martinis and sup on plates of blackened salmon, garlic-butter grilled shrimp, and molten chocolate cakes with hints of tarragon and raspberry sauce.
Since 2006, Academy Ballroom Atlanta's instructors have helped competitive and social dancers two-step toward mastery of ballroom and Latin dance styles. Their classes range in style from the fiery moves of salsa to the elegant steps of the waltz to the boisterous footwork of swing, all of which can be scaled to suit varying abilities. During private lessons, the teachers' personalized attention helps develop each pupil's dance floor skills before they improve their patterns and techniques among peers at group classes. Those lessons culminate in group practice sessions, during which guests review their newfound moves while making an effort not to dip their partner into another dimension. Along with in-studio training, Academy Ballroom Atlanta hosts monthly semiformal dance parties, and its performance company, Atlanta Ballroom Dance Theater, wows crowds with shows—up to 90 minutes long—performed by professional and pro-am dancers.
The aroma of brewing organic, fair-trade coffee from Brazil wafts through the air at 50th Street Cafe during breakfast and lunch. Behind the breakfast counter, cooks work to reinvent classic breakfast dishes. They flip pancakes made with cookie dough and drizzle them with chocolate or add fresh mozzarella and basil-pesto hollandaise to unorthodox omelets. Farm-fresh eggs and housemade hash browns, early-morning staples, arrive alongside less traditional panko-battered walleye fillets. The griddle sizzles like a knight in shining armor left in a hot car, laden with half-pound patties of Cattleman’s Selection ground beef, which end up on thick-cut sourdough toast with Old Smokehouse bacon and melted swiss cheese. That heat is also reflected in the bright hues of yellow tile and orange accents as well as whimsical calico-patterned carpets. The staff at 50th Street Cafe works to reduce its collective carbon footprint by using recyclable materials.
A night on the town can take many directions: dinner can lead to a comedy show, dancing can transition to quiet drinks in a shadowy booth, a raucous concert can segue into a slice of pizza. Hitting all those spots in one night, however, can require a small fortune in cab fare. Not at the Andrews Entertainment District. Like a toddler trying to draw their city, this 30,000-square-foot nightlife oasis puts eight restaurants, bars, and clubs under one roof.
Patrons sample sushi and infused Russian vodkas atop the frozen counter of Czar Ice Bar or dig into eclectic small plates from around the world at Cellar 56. Prohibition, meanwhile, serves classic cocktails in an environment reminiscent of a 1920s speakeasy, complete with plush leather furniture. Nearby, Atlanta's branch of the Improv Comedy Club hosts jokesters on nationwide tours while Andrew's Upstairs fuels floor-thumping dance parties late into the night.
One of the great surprises about Atlanta is its bustling local theater scene. Actor’s Express is one of the most reliable and innovative groups in town, always focusing on challenging, creative work. Located in the King Plow Arts Center in West Midtown, the theater itself is rather intimate. You can easily spot the actors in the lobby after the show to congratulate them on a job well done, but the quality is equal to that of Atlanta’s larger, haughtier venues. Founded in 1988, Actor’s Express has always believed in pushing the boundaries of the local theater scene, as evidenced by recent productions like the sexy drama Venus in Fur and the historical rock musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. They also incorporate classics like Equus and Kiss of the Spider Woman into their seasons. Annual subscriptions are available, which make for an inexpensive and interesting gift.
The moonshine is always flowing at P'cheen. Bartenders at this local bistro create seasonal cocktails from a selection of 10 or more moonshines, with flavors that include cherry, apple pie, and black tea. They also serve a full list of classic cocktails, such as the speakeasy old fashioned—a mix of bourbon, angostura + orange bitters—and craft beers. In the kitchen, chef Alex prepares a menu of international fusion dishes that complement the throwback libations. His specialties change with the season, since he sources many of his ingredients locally, but may include gazpacho made with local veggies, Guinness-battered fish and chips, and braised short ribs. Brunch is a favorite among regulars, with bottomless mimosas and a good mix of breakfast and lunch foods.
Crescent Avenue in Atlanta’s Midtown is a great little row of restaurants and bars, with a full range of options from Irish pubs to upscale seafood. On the most casual end of the scale is a Florida beach-themed spot called Flip Flops. There is a pizza kitchen offering pies or pretzels, but it’s best to show up at Flip Flops later in the evening for drinks with friends instead. If Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville (the song or the restaurant) puts a smile on your face, then you will feel right at home at Flip Flops, with its tiki island décor and patio seating. There’s ample space to meet up with friends for a drink before heading to one of the destination restaurants on Crescent Avenue, but beware: Flip Flops does have a serious frat party reunion vibe. Just go with the flow and you should have a great time.
Bowling isn’t just a hobby at 300 New York—it’s a vibrant social experience worthy of luxurious flourishes. That’s why cushioned lounge seats flank each of the 32 mood-lit lanes in the main concourse area. Each of these lanes faces a large screen that flashes music videos and tutorials on how to remove stuck fingers from bowling balls. Up in The Loft, bowlers can lounge and take in views of the concourse while sipping cocktails from the full-service bar. A dedicated wait staff connects them to offerings from the onsite bar and restaurant—an eatery known for serving dishes from executive chef Chad Bowser’s menu. Some of Chad’s creations include two-bite chicken or beef sliders and hand-battered fried calamari that can be paired with anything from beer to specialty martinis.
Nabbing the top spot in Jezebel Magazine’s Best of 2013 contest for best night club, Opera Nightclub presents old-fashioned red-curtain glamour. After cracking the dress code, VIPs can romp freely through all areas under the club’s 100-foot ceilings, including a VIP-only upstairs area with cozy private nooks. Cash in two drink tickets for a beer or a cocktail to delicately balance while finally perfecting the Super Bowl Shuffle, or take in the deck’s panoramic view of the city and its galactic ceiling. Opera’s crowd-charming DJs spin top 40 hits alongside genre-specific jams, catering to hip-hop hankerings and salsa appetites alike.
Cartoon skulls color the ragged wooden sign outside Matador's, creating a rustic, yet playful, atmosphere where cuisine from the Michoacán region treats taste buds to an authentic taste of Mexico. Pulled pork, tilapia, and tofu are just a sample of what's stuffed into the tortillas of 14 types of tacos, which sate south-of-the-border cravings quicker than a deep-fried bolo tie. Combination plates and vegetarian options round out the menu at the restaurant's two locations, both of which offer spacious patio seating. At the newer Glenwood Park location, patrons can relax in a separate bar area as flat-screen TVs glimmer across intoxicating bottles of top-shelf spirits.
The Hawks migrated to Atlanta from St. Louis for the 1968–69 season and have since become a venerated local institution. Though the Atlanta club has never claimed an NBA title, they've appeared in the playoffs 27 times since 1969, stamping their punchcard frequently enough to receive free hot dogs for the whole team during their next postseason appearance. Since 1999, the Hawks have perched in the rafters of Philips Arena, where more than 18,000 fans cheer them to victory in the Eastern Conference's Southeast Division.
Surrounded by rustic brick walls, the guests at MillTown Arms Tavern raise frosty pints in celebration of their favorite teams' triumphs. Flat-screen televisions flicker with the evening's games, and dartboards aid guests in deciding who pays the tab or who is slightly lopsided. The patio seating gives diners an infusion of vitamin D as they enjoy a full menu of pub-style grub, including fish 'n' chips, enchiladas, hot dogs, and caprese salads.