First opened in 1994, Return to Eden neighborhood natural market has been offering the best natural foods and supplements for years. With a friendly staff, great raw food and vegetarian options, and the metro area's largest selection of gluten free foods, don't miss out on this Atlanta original.
On a 6-acre farm in rural Georgia, Bella Cucina owner Alisa Barry and her team of chefs cook produce from their organic garden into small batches of artisanal sauces, spreads, and olive oils. Their "unbelievably delicious" artichoke-lemon pesto earned a spot on Oprah’s O List in 2004, and Atlanta: 365 Days, 365 Thing To Do calls the full roster of sauces "mouthwatering."
But the food is only one part of Barry’s mission to empower gourmands. She also stocks shelves with dozens of Italian cookbooks that brim with slow-food recipes and designs a line of ceramic cookware that respond to junk food by defensively sealing their lids.
Grills and stockpots sizzle as Carniceria El Tio #2's chefs imbue seven types of meat—ranging from familiar grilled chicken to exotic beef tongue—with zesty Mexican spices. Each morsel barely gets a chance to discuss grill politics with its meaty brethren before it slides into a soft corn taco, a hefty burrito, or a towering torta sandwich crowned with cilantro, cheese, and avocado. On weekends, the kitchen begets an array of hard-to-find Mexican specialties, such as pozole brimming with pork and hominy or menudo, a savory tripe soup.
You could easily spend every Saturday in Atlanta driving all over town, hitting up different farmers markets to stock up on produce for the week. One sure place to visit is Piedmont Park Conservancy’s Green Market in Midtown; just get there early if you want to park anywhere remotely near the 12th Street entrance. Depending on the season, the vendors in this market will offer whatever local fresh specialties are on hand. The standard vegetables and fruits are complemented by exotic teas, flavored goat cheeses and freshly brewed coffee. There are even food trucks on hand, serving breakfast or lunch to hungry market-goers. The Green Market at Piedmont Park also makes a fun first stop on your way to an arts festival or other rotating events at the park. And while it’s not the largest of Atlanta’s farmers markets, it provides an inspiring sampling of local products.
Hundreds of exotic and native plants spread across more than 30 acres of growing space at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Under the careful watch of the garden's horticulture team, these species provide a serene backdrop for garden visitors even as they educate them on the wonders of the natural world. The botanical discovery doesn't stop after the sun goes down. At night, visitors can explore the verdant pathways lit by millions of twinkling bulbs for the second annual Garden Lights, Holiday Nights, or decamp to the conservatory for a look at a mammoth collection of species orchids and the chirping poison dart frogs that keep them company. Amid its ever-changing visual display, the Atlanta Botanical Garden hosts frequent events such as concerts, holiday light shows, seasonal festivals, and an annual member-plant dance.