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.
The skilled scoopers at Honeysuckle Gelato pass overflowing cups of frozen artisan desserts through the window of their pale-blue treat truck, thrilling customers with southern-inspired flavors culled from local ingredients. Fresh milk from local farms forms the base of velvety treats with flavors such as Provencal lavender and Gallberry honey, traditionally spread across pillows to fend off nightmares. Other flavors include spicy chocolate and a cheesecake blend of locally crafted ricotta and mascarpone cheeses, optionally augmented with a drizzle of homemade caramel or jam. Those hoping to avoid milk mustaches or frozen milk fu manchus can opt for a sorbet such as the salted watermelon. Customers of the restored shaved-ice truck can mix two flavors in a regular cup ($3.50) or take home a hand-scooped pint ($7.50).
Rising Roll dishes out tasty lunch fare, earning recognition as a best buy from Zagat. Sink your teeth into paninis, melts, and gourmet wraps. The Mad Italian layers salami, pepperoni, ham, provolone, lettuce, tomato, and Italian dressing on a toothsome boule, croissant, or wrap with a side of red-skin-potato salad, pasta salad, or coleslaw. Vegetarians will delight at the pesto portabella, a combination of marinated grilled portabella, crumbled goat cheese, roasted red peppers, and pesto. A selection of salads, such as the Maui (crisp romaine, grilled chicken breast, crumbled blue cheese, mandarin oranges, and chopped pecans), provides carb-free eats for diners restricted by diets and devout bowling leagues.
Chefs at Raku concoct authentic Asian dishes in traditional Korean and Japanese style, served on rough-hewn wooden tables lit by elegantly patterned paper lanterns. House specialty tonkatsu, pan-fried crispy pork loin, graces the menu with its unrepentant tanning habits ($8.95). Traditional Japanese-style ramen comes in a variety of soothing favorites, with combinations such as soy-based broth, peas, ramen, and tender pork ($7.95). Asian favorites such as steamed pork-belly buns draped with hoisin sauce ($3.95) or hearty donburi dishes mingling meat, vegetables, and rice ($6.95+) sate the secret desires of shy palates, and imported Asahi beer cascades from its cold draft. Raku is open until midnight on Sunday–Thursday and until 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights for extended gatherings of friends, family, and lukewarm coworkers.
Fresh ingredients twist together in rich, flavorful pirouettes throughout Downtown Gourmet's Mediterranean-influenced menu. Correct a night of embarrassing somnambulant cell-phone eating with breakfast options such as omelettes filled with your choice of vegetables or a breakfast sandwich deftly delivering egg, cheese, and a turkey patty down your gullet (both $2.95). At lunch, greenery seekers can forage salads in build-your-own varieties ($4.99), or take to pitas loaded with falafel, rotisserie shawarma chicken, or thinly sliced lamb shawarma ($4.99). The menagerie of mastication also includes New York–style pizza by the slice ($1.85), hot subs ($4.99), and lasagna ($6.40). Homemade desserts such as walnut baklava and triple-chocolate brownies administer swift injections of sweetness to departing diners ($1.99).
Flanked by rustic stone columns and carved lions, 5 Seasons Brewing's entrance looks like the secluded front to a Napa Valley villa, belying its cozy atmosphere and community-focused mission to provide tasty, affordable food and drink. Founded by chef David Larkworthy—son of a pioneering advocate of using organic food in restaurants—Five Seasons Brewing carries its commitment to community to its ingredients, cooking with a cornucopia of regularly shifting local produce from a gaggle of affiliated farms. The menu features such fusion dishes as crispy alligator served with a blackened chili glaze and Remoulade. At tables, guests dig in to home-baked bread, whose warm crust exudes tangy scents from the brewery's spent beer grain.
In the towering tanks that skirt the pub, brewmaster Kevin McNerney creates a kaleidoscopic selection of unique small-batch beers. The cofounder of flagship Georgia brewer SweetWater, McNerney brings two decades of experience to his craft, making refreshing brews such as the Chug Monkey and turning to ancient Belgian traditions to make his crisp, orange-infused witbier.