12 Hours in Atlanta
After work on Friday I drove up to Atlanta from Ft. Benning to meet an old friend while she's doing her internship at a consulting company as part of her Wharton School MBA program (yes, my friends are smarter than your friends). I ended up having about 12 total hours between Friday night and Saturday that I spent in Atlanta, not including sleeping, and what follows is an account of my stay. This is by no means an Atlanta bucket list post, but rather a list of fun places to check out if you only have a few hours in A-town.
Located in Westside is the Westside Provisions District. I highly recommend checking out this trendy hotspot to indulge in boutique shopping and amazing food! Clearly it's located in the Westside of Atlanta, and if you're coming from the Ft. Benning/Columbus area on a Friday night, you can expect some light traffic. I arrived right at 8 pm (2000 for my military homies) and was able to find some decent parking. Luckily this area has lots of free parking, which is kinda hard to find in Atlanta (another great reason to check it out if you only have a few hours).
First things first, margaritas. I know you thought I was going to go all Iggy Azalea on you. Sorry I let you down. And if you didn't get that joke then blame it on my poor delivery and affection for horrible music. My friend (let's call her Shmegs), met me at Taqueria Del Sol.
By 8 pm, the line at Taqueria Del Sol was already out the door and down the sidewalk, but when Shmegs tells me it's worth the wait, I just keep my eye on the prize. A 45 min wait is made totally acceptable with a few margs in hand. While one of you keeps your place in line, the other needs to head inside to the bar and snag some margaritas. No issue with bringing these outside to sip on in line. And oh my lanta were they good! Ok, now for the food. Order what you want, I'm not going to stop you. But if you don't order at least 3 of their tacos I'm going to find out where you live and let my dog take a dump on your porch. His name is Gus, and he is an equal opportunity porch pooper. I recommend the Carnita, Fish, and Memphis tacos.
After ordering another round of margaritas, we caught up for an hour or so before realizing our butts were numb and decided to walk around the complex. Take your pick of bars, restaurants and sweet shops to walk into. We grabbed a glass of wine at JCT Kitchen & Bar on their second floor where they had live music. Talk about a great outdoor seating area! After we couldn't hear our own voices because of the crowd we called it a night.
Old Fourth Ward
Since we went to bed around midnight, we got up late and then headed over to Old Fourth Ward, which is South East and across I-85 from where we were the night before. Considered another hotspot to the locals, Old Fourth Ward is rich in history, but is also being re-energized by developers who like turning abandoned brick industrial buildings into trendy/modern "markets." Shmegs and I visited one such area called Ponce City Market.
Nestled between Virginia Highlands and Old Fourth Ward, Ponce City Market is a magical multi-level place with enough options to make your head spin. The building is the old Sears, Roebuck and Company factory and as you walk around the shops, the old factory machines are on display. There's also a nice rooftop scene from what we hear (putt-putt golf, rooftop bar, and a great view of Atlanta), but you have to pay $10 to go up and everything is priced separately on the top, so we decided to skip it.
The Beltline, an improved running/multi-use trail that basically goes around the core of Atlanta, sits right against Ponce City Market. Ride your bike there and lock it up in the tunnel before heading into the market for some chow.
Shmegs and I skipped breakfast, but decided to stop at Hop's Chicken to split a chicken biscuit (get the fram fram sauce!) so that we wouldn't have to shop on an empty stomach. Check out Shmegs' hands all over my side of the chicken biscuit. She may be smart but she's got no manners. Burping and swearing at the table like a sailor too. Get your life together Shmegs.
After visiting several boutiques and swiping our way through some of our favorite clothing stores, it was time for lunch. You literally (and by that I mean figuratively) cannot go wrong when picking a restaurant here. We went with Indian food because both of our husbands aren't big fans of Indian food and we figured we'd live out our wildest fantasies without them dragging us down. Wild, right?!
So, as far as Indian food goes, Ponce City Market is home to Botiwalla, which specializes in Indian street food. Shmegs and I both ordered the Paneer Tikka Roll because we LOVE paneer cheese. If you haven't tried it, you should order it whenever possible. Anyways, it was heaven wrapped in a buttered naan. Wash it down with a Mango Lassi.
You could spend hours walking around Ponce City Market, and in the cooler months you can walk over to Krog Street Market via the Beltline, which is about 1.5 miles away. Or drive. No judgement. Anyways, I enjoyed my 12 hours in Atlanta, but I am well aware that I barely scratched the surface of everything this city has to offer. And even though I went for an overnight trip, it is totally possible to do what I did as a daytrip from Ft. Benning. Head up in the morning, check out Ponce City, hit up the Westside, and head home. I'd like to thank Shmegs for letting me stay at her place and for showing me a good time. You're a pretty solid gal.
about the author
Riley is an active duty US Army Captain and the Founder of Right and Up. She’s currently stationed in Washington, DC, with previous assignments at Fort Huachuca, Fort Bliss, Fort Riley and Fort Benning. You can typically find her eating embarrassingly large amounts of food in local restaurants, or exploring her military town with her husband, Sean and her dog, Gus. Connect with her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!