Atlanta has been a traveling turnstile for me for years.  I’ve joked with friends that I have been over, under, around, and through more times than I can count, while never actually staying to visit.  But a recent business trip led me to reconsider.

Arriving a couple of days earlier than necessary, I threw down the challenge for Atlanta, Georgia to give me her best.  She stepped up to the plate, and here are some of my choices.

First, besides Margaret Mitchell–refer to reneejohnsonwrites for further information on her–the person I always think of when Atlanta is mentioned is none other than Ted Turner.

CNN, TBS, TCM, Atlanta Braves Baseball, and Ted’s Montana Grill–all based in Atlanta!  So, naturally, I gravitated to Ted’s Montana Grill for a bit of bison, beverage, and Western atmosphere served with southern hospitality.

 

Never had bison? No worries.  The wait staff is well educated on the particulars with this ranch raised (on Ted Turner’s personal ranch, of course!) option.  They’ll also recommend a nice beverage.  After looking over the options, and having previously tasted buffalo burgers and steaks while traveling through the American West, I decided to try something I’d never had before: Braised Bison Short Ribs.

 

The barbecue sauce is rich, reminding me more of a steak sauce.  It is served with garlic mashed potatoes and carrots.

I was concerned it might be a little tough, but needn’t have worried.  It was tender and filling.

Naturally I wanted a beverage to complement the meal.  Again, my waiter was wonderful, suggesting the Buffalo 41, though it seemed as if it might be too sweet for me.

I had to hand it to him, he was right!  (The pickles are good, too!)  Great dining experience, and even received a calendar on the way out.

 

Buffalo 41:  Bourbon, Grand Marnier, and lemonade with wild berries–mostly blackberries.

It’s a homerun for Ted Turner and Ted’s Montana Grill!

You’ll walk a lot in Atlanta, as the city is spread out, rising from ashes to follow the train’s path.  As you’re walking you will run into inviting places to walk, such as Oakland Cemetery.  

Margaret Mitchell is buried here.  So is Bobby Jones. There’s  a visitor’s center in a lovely Spanish-style house which is close to where General Hood watched Atlanta burn during the Civil War.

More on Historic Oakland Cemetery at reneejohnsonwrites.com.

After walking several miles, working up an appetite, I asked the ladies in the visitor’s center where I should have lunch.  They named a couple of different places, but I don’t think I heard anything after: Six Feet Under.  I mean, come on, it’s right across from the cemetery.

After all that braised bison the day before, I decided a vegetarian meal was in the cards.  Where else but in the south would the chef create Fried Green Tomato Sliders?

Fried green tomatoes on honey wheat with pimento cheese, red tomato, red onion and microgreens.

This is about as southern as it gets.  Crispy, creamy, cheesy, tangy, with a slight bite.

To die for!

I also wanted to try something authentically southern–you know–old school.  A modest family restaurant, The BBQ Kitchen at 1437 Virginia Avenue, was nearby.  This is for those times when you want food like your mama made, or if you’re not from the south, like you wish your mama made.

Be warned though.  Serving sizes are huge!

I ordered the smoked brisket, collards, fried okra, potatoes and gravy and cornbread muffins.  I’m not ashamed to say I ate most of it.  It was delicious.  And I passed up the peach cobbler.

Come on, give me kudos for skipping dessert anyway.

This left one more opportunity on the last day of my visit to dine somewhere special.  I knew just the place.  I’d been eyeing it since I’d arrived.  The Sun Dial Restaurant in the Westin Peachtree Plaza.  (At the top of the blog, it’s the tall cylindrical building.)

Spinning to revolve for a 360 degree view of Atlanta, it rises 72 stories above the street.

   

Somehow they paced my meal perfectly, managing to take me all the way around before leaving the check.  Oh, and what did I order?  Blackened Georgia trout over tasso-crawfish grits.  (If you like shrimp and grits, you’ll love this dish!)

Once again, I skipped dessert, hopping the MARTA–Atlanta’s Metro–to arrive in Buckhead for a little shopping.  Lenox Mall is a rather high end shopping opportunity.  If you’ve seen the brand in a glossy magazine ad, you’re likely to find an entire store dedicated to it right here.

Oh, and stop in at Sprinkles for a cupcake while you’re charging your phone in one of the conveniently located charging stations with comfortable seating.                              

Thanks Atlanta.  It was a delicious journey!

Renee Johnson is the author of Herald Angels, Acquisition, and The Haunting of William Gray.  She is currently working on a Young Adult novel, while editing a suspense novel which has international flair–an homage to her love of travel and foreign food.  She lives on a farm in North Carolina with her husband, Tony Johnson, and two very spoiled German shepherds named Hansel and Gretel. 

Coming March 24, 2017:  Behind the Mask.

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