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Best of Atlanta 2012 Index

Best Of Atlanta Main Photo (large)


2012 Index of Winners

Best Atlanta-based music blog

Maurice Garland
Name-dropping Southern hip-hop has become something of a hipster commodity on a national level in recent years, but nobody covers the music and the scene as thoroughly as Atlanta's own Maurice Garland. With his self-titled blog, Garland is not only the undisputed authority on rap south of the Mason-Dixon,more...
Name-dropping Southern hip-hop has become something of a hipster commodity on a national level in recent years, but nobody covers the music and the scene as thoroughly as Atlanta's own Maurice Garland. With his self-titled blog, Garland is not only the undisputed authority on rap south of the Mason-Dixon, his well-curated mix of new music, interviews, commentary, and music criticism has elevated him a level above tastemaker to cultural guardian. When Killer Mike decided to title his new album R.A.P. Music, it was in reaction to Garland Tweeting his thoughts about the state of "Rebellious African People's" music. Has anyone ever named an album after one of your Tweets? www.mauricegarland.com. less...



Best jazz club

Churchill Grounds Jazz Cafe

Best neighborhood bar

Corner Tavern Edgewood Corner Tavern
And multiple metro Atlanta locations.

Best new venue

Terminal West Terminal West
Outside, its bouncers are smiling. Inside, its three bars supply 25 different beers. Terminal West is now Robert Shaw and Alan Sher's dream venue, built after years of throwing concerts inside a King Plow Arts Center gallery space that required them to rebuild and destroy their stage setup for everymore...
Outside, its bouncers are smiling. Inside, its three bars supply 25 different beers. Terminal West is now Robert Shaw and Alan Sher's dream venue, built after years of throwing concerts inside a King Plow Arts Center gallery space that required them to rebuild and destroy their stage setup for every show booked. Their persistence inspired an avid following that justified the need for a permanent venue. Terminal West now resides inside a former 6,700-square-foot iron and steel foundry, and its back patio faces train tracks running parallel to Marietta Street. But the better view is inside - featuring a stage setup capable of illuminating and amplifying newgrass pioneer Sam Bush, New Orleans sissy bounce queen Big Freedia, and the most buzzed-about DJ/electronic music producer of the year, Skrillex. Best of all, it's here to stay. less...

Best perennial soul stirrer

DJ Kemit
Based on his output over the course of the last year, it would be hard not to recognize DJ Kemit as one of the city's best DJs. He is after all, the musical force behind three of the city's most beloved soul/house nightlife events: Soul Makossa, Kickin' Up Dust (both at the Sound Table), and the mega-funmore...
Based on his output over the course of the last year, it would be hard not to recognize DJ Kemit as one of the city's best DJs. He is after all, the musical force behind three of the city's most beloved soul/house nightlife events: Soul Makossa, Kickin' Up Dust (both at the Sound Table), and the mega-fun Spread Love (595 North). He's also one of the featured spinners - along with Salah Ananse, Kai Alce, and Ramon Rawsoul - at the massive annual House in the Park gathering. And Kemit recently dropped his debut album, Everlasting, which showcases vocals by superstars such as Eric Roberson, Carl McIntosh (of Loose Ends), N'Dambi, and more. So, you see our point about not giving him some shine, right? Yeah, we thought so. www.twitter.com/DJKemit. less...



Best sports bar

Taco Mac Taco Mac
And other metro Atlanta locations.

Best gateway to somewhere better

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport's new $1.4 billion international terminal Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport
Driving up the roadway lined with flags and corporate overlord Delta Air Lines, you oddly feel like you're not in Atlanta, but in a parallel dimension. You notice the sleek building - Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport's new $1.4 billion international terminal - on your left. Consideredmore...
Driving up the roadway lined with flags and corporate overlord Delta Air Lines, you oddly feel like you're not in Atlanta, but in a parallel dimension. You notice the sleek building - Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport's new $1.4 billion international terminal - on your left. Considered Atlanta's new front door to the world, the 1.2-million-square-foot concourse - which is decked out with airy atriums and chock-full of public art - is a vast improvement over the former terminal. What will most delight frequent international travelers: arrivals no longer have to recheck their bags, and go back through security, to exit the damn airport, as they did for years at the main concourse. Yes, there were news reports about alleged favoritism over concessions programs. There was debate over whether it was really needed. There's no direct connection to MARTA rail, a major fault. And some tourists have complained about sore feet from all the walking. But the new terminal remains a wonderful addition to the bizarrely beautiful, romantic, and impressive busiest airport in the world. less...

Best jogging path

Freedom Park Trail Freedom Park

Best political move

Building Marta
Yeah, yeah, we can hear the complaints. It doesn't go anywhere. It's dirty. It doesn't work. But before you bemoan life with MARTA, first imagine life without it. In the late 1960s, metro Atlanta snagged federal funding left on the table by Seattle voters after they decided not to create a transit system.more...
Yeah, yeah, we can hear the complaints. It doesn't go anywhere. It's dirty. It doesn't work. But before you bemoan life with MARTA, first imagine life without it. In the late 1960s, metro Atlanta snagged federal funding left on the table by Seattle voters after they decided not to create a transit system. Racism and myopia caused the suburbs to say "No thanks" to the regional transit agency. And state lawmakers never showed much interest - but plenty of hostility. More than 40 years later, we have a system that connects the heart of the city to the world's busiest airport - a luxury that not all aviation hubs can claim - and a bus network that tries to link people in between its rail routes. Sadly, MARTA's a shell of what it could be and, should the state not step up and invest or give metro residents control of the system, will further atrophy. That's a shame. Were it not for MARTA, according to recent statistics, an estimated 185,000 additional cars would clog the region's roads. More than 60 percent of the city's hospitality employees, its largest industry, wouldn't make it to work. Nearly 50 percent of its straphangers have no other way to move around their world. Looking forward, which is something the state neglected to do when it thumbed its nose at what's considered one of the country's most efficient transit systems, we should be thankful for the foundation it's provided. Better yet, MARTA's helped Atlanta lay the groundwork to become more dense and the kind of walkable city that everyone - young and old - wants to call home. Not to mention provide us another way to move around when the next gas spike happens. It's a damn fine service, and the local leaders who fought hard to bring MARTA to life deserve a round of thanks. www.itsmarta.com. less...

Best show of radical dedication

Occupy Atlanta
It's been a year since rabble-rousers across the country settled in parks and vacant lots to protest greedy banks, income inequality, and other social ills in what became the Occupy movement. And while some cities' groups ultimately fizzled - or, as in Oakland's case, mushroomed - after being bootedmore...
It's been a year since rabble-rousers across the country settled in parks and vacant lots to protest greedy banks, income inequality, and other social ills in what became the Occupy movement. And while some cities' groups ultimately fizzled - or, as in Oakland's case, mushroomed - after being booted from their encampments, Occupy Atlanta sunk its teeth into Georgia's unfair foreclosure laws and ran with the issue. They shouted down courthouse foreclosure auctions and set up tents in front yards outside the homes of families being threatened with eviction, all the while risking arrest. In some cases, they actually helped people avoid being put out on the street. That's not to say the members of the leaderless group were always right, or that the think tanks and legal groups fighting the issues aren't doing just as commendable a job. But the leaderless group added a dose of radicalism to the foreclosure issue. And last time we checked, they were still fighting. less...

Best skate park

Historic Old Fourth Ward Park Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark

Best street

Peachtree Street

Best Tumblr

Atlanta History Center
Corporate and nonprofit forays into social media are often awkward and clumsy - really, why does a fertilizer need a Twitter account? But the Atlanta History Center has figured it out. There's the world's busiest airport when it was basically just a tower and strip of asphalt. And there's Peachtreemore...
Corporate and nonprofit forays into social media are often awkward and clumsy - really, why does a fertilizer need a Twitter account? But the Atlanta History Center has figured it out. There's the world's busiest airport when it was basically just a tower and strip of asphalt. And there's Peachtree Street packed with men in fedoras and celebrating Japan's surrender in World War II. Oh, and here's an as-it-happened, liveblog reenacting the 1917 fire that consumed nearly 300 acres between the Old Fourth Ward and Midtown. By digging into its vaults and sharing historic photographs, audio files, relics, and other do-dads on Tumblr (and often with humor), the Buckhead-based center deftly manages to do what so many museums can't - become more than a building filled with exhibits. Not to mention tempting a younger generation to make the trek north on Peachtree and pay a visit. less...

Best TV anchor send-off

Monica Pearson
For nearly 40 years, Monica Pearson (formerly Kaufman) of WSB-TV has been considered the evening news anchor in Atlanta. There were others, yes, but none matched the Kentucky native's celebrity. After decades of reporting on such stories as the Atlanta child murders and the 1996 Olympics, the winnermore...
For nearly 40 years, Monica Pearson (formerly Kaufman) of WSB-TV has been considered the evening news anchor in Atlanta. There were others, yes, but none matched the Kentucky native's celebrity. After decades of reporting on such stories as the Atlanta child murders and the 1996 Olympics, the winner of multiple Emmy Awards and wearer of 1 million hairstyles called it a career. And Jesus, did WSB-TV celebrate. An in-studio meet-and-greet! A congressional commendation and City Hall reception and proclamation! A farewell ball! Radio interviews! And then ... tours of Monica's closets! Clips of Monica trying on boots! Shots of Monica hanging out by a lake at the home she shares with her husband. The heady hero worship was, for some reason, oddly mesmerizing once you got sucked in. less...

Best way to pimp out your nonprofit's office

Lifecycle Building Center
Days before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention swung a wrecking ball into old buildings that were probably health hazards themselves, volunteers visited the decommissioned labs and offices and started unscrewing furniture. Instead of a landfill, the desks, filing cabinets, and shelves, allmore...
Days before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention swung a wrecking ball into old buildings that were probably health hazards themselves, volunteers visited the decommissioned labs and offices and started unscrewing furniture. Instead of a landfill, the desks, filing cabinets, and shelves, all in usable condition, traveled to southwest Atlanta to the Lifecycle Building Center. The all-volunteer nonprofit is housed in a nearly 100-year-old mammoth warehouse where the salvaged items are resold at low cost to homeowners, artists, and businesses, or sometimes given free to qualified charities and churches. The project, a partnership with several intown design firms, building companies, and greenies, aims to tap a potential gold mine and source of unnecessary waste. According to the center's figures, Georgians tossed out an estimated 2.9 million tons of wood, gypsum wallboard, metal, and other building materials. By interrupting the process before demolition, they're able to reuse the items, thereby reducing the amount of waste that goes into dumps. Their efforts also offset the need to cut down more trees to build another bookshelf. less...

Best bookstore for browsing

Book Nook Book Nook
There are places you go to find exactly what you're looking for. Then there are places you go to find what you didn't know you were looking for until you actually find it. Does that make sense? Anyway, it will when you carve out a couple of hours from your busy schedule and visit one of Book Nook's threemore...
There are places you go to find exactly what you're looking for. Then there are places you go to find what you didn't know you were looking for until you actually find it. Does that make sense? Anyway, it will when you carve out a couple of hours from your busy schedule and visit one of Book Nook's three area locations. Before you even walk in the door, it's obvious this place is great, thanks in no small part to the logo on its sign, which features an anthropomorphized book and CD, jauntily walking atop some musical notes, the latter of the two wearing a bow tie and a fedora. What the books and CDs inside lack in human-like qualities and fancy dress, they make up for in sheer quantity. The Decatur store - the closest to intown Atlanta - is a biblio- and discophile's treasure trove spilling over with gently used DVDs, comics, records, and, of course, books. (More than 150,000 of them, the Nook says.) And from the 45 rpm records - some of which are still in their original sleeves - to a stack of vintage Rolling Stone and Premiere magazines, you could spend all day flipping through everything in the store. Book Nook also offers money and store credit for your used media. So it's also a place to get rid of the things you didn't know you didn't want anymore. Does that make sense? less...

Best brand-name shoe bargains

Marshalls Marshalls
Like any of the other brand-name-discount-stores - T.J. Maxx, Ross, and their ilk - Marshalls tends to be hit or miss. It depends on how nice a neighborhood it's in, what time of the year it is, and how much or little the employees care about things being in order. The Marshalls tucked away at themore...
Like any of the other brand-name-discount-stores - T.J. Maxx, Ross, and their ilk - Marshalls tends to be hit or miss. It depends on how nice a neighborhood it's in, what time of the year it is, and how much or little the employees care about things being in order. The Marshalls tucked away at the back of a shopping center on Peachtree Road in Buckhead is either staffed by people who care or overseen by a manager who makes sure they care, because this place (at least the shoes) are in order and the selection is fantastic. By which we mean, "on-trend." By which we mean, "not last year's or last season's crappy stock." (Although there's some of that on the clearance rack - minus the crappy part.) Believe it or not, there is a difference between Marshalls stores, even in the same city. Your feet will thank you for believing us. Multiple metro Atlanta locations. less...

Best car wash

Cactus Car Wash Cactus Car Wash
And other metro Atlanta locations.

Best caterer

Bold American Events & Catering

Best CDs

Criminal Records Criminal Records

Best fancy pants for men

Billy Reid Billy Reid
You ever wonder where that well-dressed mixologist at the trendy bar - the guy with his sleeves rolled up to reveal forearms covered in tattoos, maybe a circa-1870 mustache perched upon his liquor-drenched lip - got his Southern-gentleman-with-an-edge outfit? No? Well, should it ever occur to youmore...

You ever wonder where that well-dressed mixologist at the trendy bar - the guy with his sleeves rolled up to reveal forearms covered in tattoos, maybe a circa-1870 mustache perched upon his liquor-drenched lip - got his Southern-gentleman-with-an-edge outfit? No? Well, should it ever occur to you to wonder, and he happens to work at a bar where the tips are good, there's a decent chance some of his look was picked up at Billy Reid's new Westside store. Open as of May, Reid's Atlanta store is a homey, masculine affair that a local fashion site described as a "retired Army colonel's antique-outfitted study" (we were thinking 19th-century farmhouse with a pop of color for a modern twist). As for the clothes, Louisiana-born-and-bred Reid's designs for men and women are tailored and refined, but in a distinctly Southern way - crisp and rugged. His sense of style has gone over well in the fashion world well beyond our muggy, swampy slice of the U.S.A. (Reid was named GQ's Best New Designer in America and won the Vogue Fashion Fund Award.) Located a stone's throw from fellow high-end and eponymously named men's boutique Sid Mashburn, Billy Reid is helping Atlanta's Southern gentleman (and hot bartenders) look their best.


1170 Howell Mill Road. 404-994-3144. www.billyreid.com.

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Best fashion on the fly (literally)

Bijoux Terner
When you're at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, whether you have an hour to kill before a flight or a several-hour layover, it's like they have you right where they want you. You want a burger and a beer? That'll be 20 bucks, thanks s'much. Gonna buy a book to read? Be prepared to pay full pricemore...
When you're at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, whether you have an hour to kill before a flight or a several-hour layover, it's like they have you right where they want you. You want a burger and a beer? That'll be 20 bucks, thanks s'much. Gonna buy a book to read? Be prepared to pay full price for that paperback. Perhaps a less likely way to waste some time: Do some shopping. Better known as the "everything is $10 store," Bijoux Terner in the T and C terminals is a great place to lose track of time and come perilously close to missing your flight. A wonderful mix of ghetto-gold costume earrings, cute sunglasses, watches, floppy straw hats, and every color pashmina you could ever imagine, Bijoux Terner is so fun to browse and even to buy a last-minute gift for the friend you'll be crashing with during your time out of town. Now if only it sold burgers and beer. less...

Best fitness-related peer pressure

The Body Firm Atlanta
If your friend jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you jump, too? What a dumb question our parents used to ask us. Of course we wouldn't. We don't live in New York. BUT, if your friend (or, say, 20 of them - and a big, strong trainer dude) did a gazillion lunges in a public park on a hot afternoon,more...
If your friend jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you jump, too? What a dumb question our parents used to ask us. Of course we wouldn't. We don't live in New York. BUT, if your friend (or, say, 20 of them - and a big, strong trainer dude) did a gazillion lunges in a public park on a hot afternoon, would you lunge, too? The answer is yes, at least if you invested in a four-week boot camp in Piedmont Park led by the Body Firm Atlanta. Lead trainer Dez White, a former wide receiver for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, the Chicago Bears, and our own Atlanta Falcons, says his plan is to push people to reach their personal fitness goals by figuring out where they're starting - whether they're fitness beginners or advanced exercisers. His rates are reasonable, too: $75 for four weeks of training. (There are other locations, mostly OTP, and programs that vary in price.) "Peer pressure" has a negative connotation, but when you feel like giving up, it sure is helpful to have people beside you urging you on. Not as painful as jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge, but you'll feel the burn. www.thebodyfirmatl.com. less...

Best haircut with history

Silver Moon Barber Shop
Opened in 1904, Silver Moon Barber Shop has laid claim to being the "Oldest Black Shop in Atlanta." While the once-bustling street has seen hard times, with most of the historic buildings losing their luster, the inside of the barbershop has held up over the years. The ambiance radiates the past, frommore...
Opened in 1904, Silver Moon Barber Shop has laid claim to being the "Oldest Black Shop in Atlanta." While the once-bustling street has seen hard times, with most of the historic buildings losing their luster, the inside of the barbershop has held up over the years. The ambiance radiates the past, from the old-school barber chairs to the mirrors that line the walls. Silver Moon is noisy at the moment due to streetcar construction right outside its door - but it's noise that's accompanied by the promise of good things (hopeful) to come for embattled Sweet Auburn. The past heroes of the avenue might not recognize anything were they to walk along the corridor, but they would remember Silver Moon. During the 107 years that a barber's pole has hung outside Silver Moon Barber Shop many things have changed, but inside Sweet Auburn still thrives. less...

Best local boutique

Fab'rik
And other metro Atlanta locations.

Best pet pampering

There are several good things about dog clothes. For one thing, they're impossibly small and often feature pet-related puns written in rhinestones. For another thing, they go on dogs. Adorable, fur-covered, small dogs that smell like perfumes instead of dog stink! Glamour Paws was already a great placemore...
There are several good things about dog clothes. For one thing, they're impossibly small and often feature pet-related puns written in rhinestones. For another thing, they go on dogs. Adorable, fur-covered, small dogs that smell like perfumes instead of dog stink! Glamour Paws was already a great place to get dogs clean and then get them dressed, then this year it moved to an even larger location just a few doors down from its old space on North Highland Avenue in Virginia-Highland. Besides full-service fancy dog grooming, dog attire, treats, leashes, and collars, it now sells premium pet foods, too, so it really is an upscale one-stop pet shop. And as potentially disastrous as it sounds, it also offers paw primping and prettying for cats. If you're looking to save some money on grooming (so you have more to spend on dog costumes) Glamour Paws offers self-doggy washes for only $10 on Sundays. less...


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