The Ultimate Bar & Grill’s chefs break free from the shackles of pub-grub conventions with a revamped menu of bar starters and full-grown entrees. Platter pamperers steep 24 wings in a sauna of spices, such as lemon pepper and sweet chili ($17.99), before massaging rémoulade and marinara into fried green tomatoes ($6.99). Cloak Vienna beef dogs in an ensemble of Chicago-style duds, including mustard, relish, veggies, celery salt, and Prohibition-era fedoras ($6.99). Twinkle-toed clusters of snow crab legs quickstep through Cajun seasonings ($19.99), and chicken ($13.99), steak ($14.99), or shrimp ($15.99) cascade across the teriyaki stir-fry's mound of peppers, onions, and garlic. Taste buds plunge into the drink menu's wines, suds, and creative cocktails, such as the vodka-laced Electric Lemonade.
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.
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.