The kitchen at Max Lager's grills fresh game, wood-firing it with North Georgia oak and hickory, within the oldest independent brewery in Atlanta. Burgers formed from fresh ground Angus beef or bison nestle neatly on a bun bearing lettuce, onion, and tomato, alongside crisp fries or zesty corn salsa. The traditional Max burger conveys cheddar and bacon on a vessel of meat ($11 for beef; $12 for bison during dinner), whereas the Fiesta burger incites a mouth-bound mosh pit of pepper-jack cheese, sautéed onions, and bell peppers ($9 for beef; $10 for bison), providing excitement without the threat of being head-butted by someone in a bandana. The Skillet burger, topped with fried egg, ham, and bacon ($10 for beef; $11 for bison), eliminates the need to serve brunch on a smartphone to make it more portable. Salads come on board as a substitute side ($1 extra), and whole-wheat buns do a guest performance on request. The lunch menu offers more iterations of the luscious meat patty than the dinner menu, so eaters can plan accordingly.
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.
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 Great Urban Race is a one-day event pitting teams of two against one another in a race combining physical challenges, scavenger hunts, and puzzles. Up to 700 twosomes will traverse 4 to 8 miles of Toronto terrain on foot and by public transportation as they solve 12 challenging clues in a fun quest to reach the finish line first. Sample clues and challenges from past Great Urban Races include charades, bubble-gum chewing, pig Latin deciphering, bicycle races, and word scrambles, making this race ideal for competitive eaters and cryptographers alike. Teams are encouraged to dress up in matching outfits, and prizes will be awarded for best costume. Prizes are also given for race results, with $300 going to first place, $200 to second place, and $100 to third place. The top 25 teams will qualify for the National Championship in New Orleans in November, with the top three teams receiving free entry. Each participant gets a T-shirt and postrace refreshments of fruit, granola bars, and a run through a Perrier sprinkler. Read over the rules and FAQs for more information.
At Hop City Craft Beer and Wine, staff members weave through a forest of bottle-lined shelves and coolers, seeking out perennial favorites or new, hidden gems for each customer. In addition to more than 1,700 varieties of beer, Hop City features an assortment of specialty grains, yeasts, and hops for home brewing, earning it a World-Class rating from Beer Advocate. As many as 60 functional taps line one of the store's walls, allowing patrons to fill growlers with their choice of macro- or microbrew, such as the Dogfish Head 90-Minute IPA or the Avery Czar Imperial Russian stout. Divided by style and California Raisin content, a nearly 800-bottle-strong wine selection fills its own impressive space.
Visiting CRÜ Urban Lounge is less like drinking in a bar and more like hanging out at your hippest friend's ultra-trendy loft, largely thanks to founder Chetan Goud's keenly upscale and eclectic sensibilities. Goud drew from his extensive travels through Europe, New York, and California in the creation of his hyper-modern yet intimate restaurant and cocktail lounge. With its high ceilings, luxurious black leather furniture, two-story layout, and unabashed use of umlauts, CRÜ Urban Lounge exudes a cosmopolitan, European-tinged vibe, matched to a T by its food and drink offerings.
The menu swings effortlessly from udon noodles and chicken tacos to hot dogs, as well as grass-fed burgers culled from local and seasonal ingredients, mirroring an international selection of wines and craft beers. Weekend brunches ply guests with hearty smoked-salmon frittatas and sweet apple-bourbon pancakes, and creative cocktails bring classic drinks to the 21st century—adding apple bourbon to a shandy or creamy egg white to a whiskey-amaretto sour.