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Best of Atlanta 2011 Index

 

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2011 Index of Winners

Best gym deal

There are some people in this world (lots of them, actually) who really like to exercise. The rest of us need incentive to get our fat asses off the couch beyond the possibility that we'll no longer have such fat asses. Retro Fitness, a chain that's heavily represented in the Northeast, but only hasmore...
There are some people in this world (lots of them, actually) who really like to exercise. The rest of us need incentive to get our fat asses off the couch beyond the possibility that we'll no longer have such fat asses. Retro Fitness, a chain that's heavily represented in the Northeast, but only has a few locations in the South, opened its 15,000-square-foot Buckhead location less than a year ago, and it's awesome. All of the equipment is brand-spankin' new, there's a cardio room/theater where you can watch a movie on the big screen while you sweat, and the rest of the cardio equipment has individual TVs to take your mind off the agony. Probably the best thing about Retro Fitness: It's cheap. There's no sign-up fee, monthly membership dues are only $19.99, and for $5 extra you can either get unlimited tanning or massages in its nifty, computerized massage bed. 3050 Peachtree Road. 404-549-7126. buckheadga.retrofitness.net. less...

Best hot tchotchkes

Highland Row Antiques isn't your mildewed neighborhood yard sale. The Poncey-Highland shop specializes in mid-century modern pieces like retro ashtrays and deco artwork, as well as other kitschy vintage pieces. The small, curated storefront gives way to a giant Basement Market with bric-a-brac from moremore...
Highland Row Antiques isn't your mildewed neighborhood yard sale. The Poncey-Highland shop specializes in mid-century modern pieces like retro ashtrays and deco artwork, as well as other kitschy vintage pieces. The small, curated storefront gives way to a giant Basement Market with bric-a-brac from more than 20 dealers, ranging from $5 Americana saltshakers to a $500 Danish couch. 628 N. Highland Ave. 404-815-8830. highlandrowantiques.com. less...



Best selection of handmade jewelry

The term crafts, as in arts and crafts, used to evoke images of macaroni necklaces and little cabins constructed of crudely glued together popsicle sticks. Atlanta's craft scene is a hell of a lot more sophisticated than that. The Beehive Co-Op sells clothes, bags, and beauty products by some of themore...
The term crafts, as in arts and crafts, used to evoke images of macaroni necklaces and little cabins constructed of crudely glued together popsicle sticks. Atlanta's craft scene is a hell of a lot more sophisticated than that. The Beehive Co-Op sells clothes, bags, and beauty products by some of the area's best indie crafters, and its selection of jewelry is especially impressive. Established in 2004, Beehive owners Malene Davis and Preeti Ayyangar secured a sunny and spacious retail location in the Edgewood Shopping District in early 2010. About half of the space is dedicated to handmade baubles like A Bardis' colorful drop earrings, delicate fortune cookie necklaces by Christina Kober Designs, and Madeline Burdine's whimsical, nature-inspired metalwork necklaces, earrings and cuffs. 1250 Caroline St., Suite C120. 404-350-3898. thebeehiveatl.com. less...

Best way to skip a trip to the farmers market

We all feel good about ourselves when we shop at the farmers market, don't we? Look at us strutting around with our reusable tote bags, mentally applauding ourselves for waking up early on a weekend in order to consume with conscience. If the scene's too much for you, or if you just like sleeping in,more...
We all feel good about ourselves when we shop at the farmers market, don't we? Look at us strutting around with our reusable tote bags, mentally applauding ourselves for waking up early on a weekend in order to consume with conscience. If the scene's too much for you, or if you just like sleeping in, Vegetable Husband delivers fresh, local produce to its subscribers' doors once a week. Proprietor Margie Thorpe does the dirty work for her clients. She picks up a variety of fresh fruits and veggies from area farms, divvies them out in adorably folksy baskets and arranges for home delivery by friendly volunteers. A basket from Vegetable Husband is something to behold, especially in the summer when it overflows with a bounty of organic edibles such as peppers, okra, green beans, the best tomatoes you'll ever taste, melons and blueberries. 404-617-9302. vegetablehusband.com. less...

Best Caribbean

Stir It Up takes its name from the well-known Bob Marley song that evokes hot stuff, but not cooking. While you won't get that kind of hot stuff at this Jamaican restaurant in Little Five Points, you will get food sensual enough to make you lick your tablemates' fingers. Owners Christopher and Vivianmore...
Stir It Up takes its name from the well-known Bob Marley song that evokes hot stuff, but not cooking. While you won't get that kind of hot stuff at this Jamaican restaurant in Little Five Points, you will get food sensual enough to make you lick your tablemates' fingers. Owners Christopher and Vivian Williams say they also chose the name because Jamaican cuisine is a stirred-up mix of cultural influences. The Williamses won't compromise their food's quality with the steam trays common in most Jamaican restaurants. Everything is cooked to order and nothing is toned down to placate timid palates. Standouts are the salted, diced cod tossed with warm cabbage slaw, and the richest, glossiest oxtail stew on the planet. 1083 Euclid Ave. 404-963-2384. stiritupatl.com. less...

Best coffeehouse

Octane isn't just our favorite coffeehouse in town, it's one of our favorite places in town. The staff is friendly (and hot). The music is awesome. It serves craft beer. The atmosphere is conducive to working or dating or meeting or creating. And most importantly, the baristas still make the best damnmore...
Octane isn't just our favorite coffeehouse in town, it's one of our favorite places in town. The staff is friendly (and hot). The music is awesome. It serves craft beer. The atmosphere is conducive to working or dating or meeting or creating. And most importantly, the baristas still make the best damn coffee and coffee drinks in town. Never change, Octane. Never change. 1009-B Marietta St. 404-815-9886. octanecoffee.com. less...

Best modern cocktails

4th & Swift's bar manager James Ives' drinks employ all manner of house-made tinctures, essences and bitters, often in combinations that sound insane. Ginger-infused rum, basil, lemon grass-black sesame syrup, lemon tincture and pink peppercorns? But Ives' brilliance is in creating perfect balance withmore...
4th & Swift's bar manager James Ives' drinks employ all manner of house-made tinctures, essences and bitters, often in combinations that sound insane. Ginger-infused rum, basil, lemon grass-black sesame syrup, lemon tincture and pink peppercorns? But Ives' brilliance is in creating perfect balance with his medleys, making for the most interesting and delicious drinks in town. 621 North Ave. 678-904-0160. 4thandswift.com. less...

Best new beer

We've always been proud of our local bottled beers, it's just that there's so few of them. Well that's beginning to change, starting with Wild Heaven, a new brewery from Nick Purdy. Along with consulting brewmaster Eric Johnson, Wild Heaven has so far released two beers: Invocation, a Belgian-style goldenmore...
We've always been proud of our local bottled beers, it's just that there's so few of them. Well that's beginning to change, starting with Wild Heaven, a new brewery from Nick Purdy. Along with consulting brewmaster Eric Johnson, Wild Heaven has so far released two beers: Invocation, a Belgian-style golden ale, and Ode to Mercy, an Imperial Brown Ale. Try a glass of the deep, bitter toffee-tinged Ode to Mercy with a stinky cheese, or the slightly fruity and spicy Invocation with roast pork or chicken. wildheavencraftbeers.com. less...



Best breakfast

Flying Biscuit Cafe - Midtown
And multiple metro Atlanta locations.

Best burritos

Willy's Mexicana Grill
And other metro Atlanta locations

Best cajun

Henry's Louisiana Grill Henry's Louisiana Grill

Best deli

Goldberg's Bagel Company & Deli
And other metro Atlanta locations.

Best hotdog

The Varsity The Varsity
And other metro Atlanta locations.

Best locally brewed beer

SweetWater Brewery

Best Mexican

Nuevo Laredo Cantina

Best place to dine alone

And multiple metro Atlanta locations.

Best restaurant to take visitors

The Vortex - Little Five Points|The Vortex Bar and Grill - Midtown

Best Southern

Mary Mac's Tea Room Mary Mac's Tea Room

Best sushi

Ru-San's
And other metro Atlanta locations

Best veggie Burgers

Grindhouse Killer Burgers - Midtown

Best author to befuddle the critics

Blake Butler
When Atlanta author Blake Butler's surrealist domestic novel There Is No Year showed up in the New York Times Book Review earlier this year, critic Joseph Salvatore waxed equal parts ecstatic and befuddled. In his effort to describe the language-driven tale of a mother, father and son, he dropped namesmore...
When Atlanta author Blake Butler's surrealist domestic novel There Is No Year showed up in the New York Times Book Review earlier this year, critic Joseph Salvatore waxed equal parts ecstatic and befuddled. In his effort to describe the language-driven tale of a mother, father and son, he dropped names like William Faulkner, Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman. And then he declined to take a stab at interpreting what the book might be about. This is true in much of the criticism around Butler's work: Whether critics love him or hate him (and there are plenty of both) they seem to have no clue what to do with his work. That reaction speaks to There Is No Year's visceral power: It will run through your body as much as your mind and probably leave you mumbling to yourself for days. www.gillesdeleuzecommittedsuicideandsowilldrphil.com. less...

Best local poet

Kevin Young

Best male actor and best female actor

Chris Kayser and Tess Malis Kincaid

Best opening

Launch of Streetela
In April, the warehouse at 900 DeKalb Ave. slung open its loading dock doors for the launch of Streetela, a new ATL apparel brand that's taking work off walls and rail cars and putting it on T-shirts and tote bags. Art lovers and party people packed into the space to check out tightly curated works frommore...
In April, the warehouse at 900 DeKalb Ave. slung open its loading dock doors for the launch of Streetela, a new ATL apparel brand that's taking work off walls and rail cars and putting it on T-shirts and tote bags. Art lovers and party people packed into the space to check out tightly curated works from Evereman, Ola Bad, DO IT, Paper Twins, Joy Phrasavath, Joe Tsambiras and more. The dense crowd spilled into the gravel lot out front, making the spring evening feel like a balmy summer night. Local bands Carnivores and Shepherds played to a horde of onlookers. Lines snaked up to the Good Food Truck and the Big Pickle for snacks. And from across the street, a glowing Evereman projection proclaimed "4 U ATL." streetela.com. less...

Best play

August: Osage County
Despite the risk of burning out some of Atlanta's best actors through prolonged exposure to scorching family drama, the Alliance Theatre should make an annual tradition of its production of Tracy Letts' August: Osage County. Director Susan V. Booth cultivated a sense of family connection by filling themore...
Despite the risk of burning out some of Atlanta's best actors through prolonged exposure to scorching family drama, the Alliance Theatre should make an annual tradition of its production of Tracy Letts' August: Osage County. Director Susan V. Booth cultivated a sense of family connection by filling the cast with mainstays of the Atlanta theater scene, including Georgia Shakespeare Artistic Director Richard Garner, 7 Stages Artistic Director Del Hamilton and grande dame Brenda Bynum, who left retirement to play a vicious, drug-addicted matriarch of a squabbling Oklahoma family. August: Osage County presented the Weston clan as a dysfunctional social microcosm, with blood-sport banter that made the three-hour running time pass like a rocket. Alliance Theatre, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. 404-733-4650. alliancetheatre.org. less...

Best reason to wander into a vacant warehouse

Dashboard Co-Op
Dashboard Co-Op seems blissfully unaware of the word "boundaries." And "rules." And "limits." And "functional indoor plumbing." Launched in early 2010, the local arts organization and online gallery has made some bold moves to help bridge the creative corners of the city. Founders Courtney Hammond andmore...
Dashboard Co-Op seems blissfully unaware of the word "boundaries." And "rules." And "limits." And "functional indoor plumbing." Launched in early 2010, the local arts organization and online gallery has made some bold moves to help bridge the creative corners of the city. Founders Courtney Hammond and Beth Malone excel in reimagining and repurposing raw, vacant spaces as multipurpose art/music/food wonderlands. Dash's collaboration with pop-up restaurant Dinner Party in an unoccupied Westside storefront married two normally independent communities and challenged the ideas of what a gallery or a restaurant is. The sound and video installation Ants and Grasshoppers illuminated an empty Castleberry Hill warehouse and created an interesting juxtaposition between the bare-bones space and the tech-heavy artwork. The artist co-op and its founders instill in us a sense of civic pride, a feeling that just about anything is possible if we simply get off our tushes and make it happen. dashboardco-op.org. less...

Best theater company

Actor's Express
An outpouring of support accompanied Actor's Express' S.O.S. fundraising drive this year, which indicates the fierce loyalty of the edgy playhouse's fans and the value of its mission. The theater has changed locations and leadership over its two and a half decades, but sustained its identity as Atlanta'smore...
An outpouring of support accompanied Actor's Express' S.O.S. fundraising drive this year, which indicates the fierce loyalty of the edgy playhouse's fans and the value of its mission. The theater has changed locations and leadership over its two and a half decades, but sustained its identity as Atlanta's most exciting playhouse. With impeccable recent productions including the insightful comedy Becky Shaw and the twisty musical See What I Wanna See, Actor's Express brings such intelligence and passion to its work that even its most challenging scripts become accessible. The company began its 24th season this fall with the hip rock show Spring Awakening. Here's hoping the youthful onstage energies will be matched by a resurgence of financial security. 887 W. Marietta St. 404-875-1606. actors-express.com. less...

Improv group

Dad's Garage Theatre Dad's Garage Theatre

Local male actor

Chris Kayser

Stage director

Susan V. Booth

Best concert venue

The Tabernacle

Best local DJ

DJ Ployd

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