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.
L'Thai Organic Cuisine & Wine Bar's cooks arrange authentic Thai feasts using wholesome ingredients, more than 80% of which are USDA-certified organic. The sprawling menu is stuffed from binder to page edge with preservative-free seafood, curry, and veggie dishes. A number of the dishes are vegan, vegetarian, or gluten free, creating the most accommodating culinary arrangement since adjustable fruit hats.
At the summit of Mount Yonah, hikers bask in the dying sunlight and soak up views of verdant foothills that span the horizon. Before the sun dips below the peaks, they meander back down the craggy trail toward Habersham Vineyard, where they can toast to a wholesome day of hiking. This scenic hike is one of dozens of possible routes led by Skywater Georgia Wine Hiking’s knowledgeable guides. They draw upon their knowledge of the region to showcase the best trails and wineries during daylong tours. Based on each group’s fitness level, interest, and ability to tolerate photo-bombing sasquatches, guides can plan easy-going three-hour hikes around Victoria Bryant State Park, or embark instead on a 10-hour journey up the steep foothills of Standing Indian. Regardless of the tour route, guides take time to point out local flora and fauna, and energize groups’ with a light lunch.
WineStyles helps imbibers take their technique from semi-inspired slosh to sophisticated swirl by traversing taste buds across a variety of distinct wine blends. The shop hosts a range of rare reds and whites at each tasting, and specializes in hard-to-find wines from vineyards large and small, ensuring tasters get to shake tongues with a few blends for the very first time. During the tasting, Groupon holders and palate pals will spend the evening imbibing vibrant varietals, allowing mouths to mingle with an array of intriguing flavor profiles. If something strikes your fancy throughout the tasting, simply spill a few drops on your shirt and the expert staff will happily sniff out a corresponding bottle for purchase. Like wallet chains and second helpings of pie, reservations are recommended, though not necessary.
San Francisco Coffee Company beans are roasted fresh every morning and brewed throughout the day at 45 South Cafe, enhancing the aromas of the lattes and mochas complementing a menu filled with light breakfasts and lunches. Sun-dried-tomato wraps envelop breakfast burritos, and handmade maple-ginger granola dapples bowls of organic yogurt and fresh fruit. As the sun reaches its zenith, panini presses melt swiss and cheddar cheeses in monte cristo sandwiches, preempting desserts and other treats served all day.
The café invites the local community to relax and socialize amid its art-laden exposed-brick walls, whether for book-club meetings, children's story time on Wednesday mornings, or monthly wine tastings, prompting Norcross Patch to dub it the Best Coffee Shop in 2012. Within those inspiring confines, local musicians let loose on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, inspiring sing-alongs and dreams of one day being a roadie. The shop further supports the local community by donating a portion of its profits to the Summerour Middle School Foundation.