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Best of Atlanta 2017 Index

Poets Critics Dolls Main Large





2017 Index of Winners

Best scam

Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Sure, MERCEDES-BENZ STADIUM is shiny and new, and we’d be fine with it if it was done strictly with private money. But the use of at least $700 million of public money that will primarily benefit a football team owner with a net worth upward of $3.4 billion seems shady at best, especially when so manymore...
Sure, MERCEDES-BENZ STADIUM is shiny and new, and we’d be fine with it if it was done strictly with private money. But the use of at least $700 million of public money that will primarily benefit a football team owner with a net worth upward of $3.4 billion seems shady at best, especially when so many local projects could benefit from that type of funding. While the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation has “donated” upward of $20 million to the impoverished Westside neighborhoods next to the stadium, that hardly makes up for the hundreds of millions of dollars in public money that has gone to the stadium construction increasing the value of the Atlanta Falcons. At the end of last year the Falcons had already inked deals worth $900 million in stadium sponsorships! Imagine the impact if the public money used for construction was directed to neighborhood organizations in the poorest areas of the city. Or imagine the impact on Atlanta if 700 small businesses were given $1 million each to grow their businesses. We can only dream of a society where individuals and small businesses are more important than large corporations and billionaires. less...

Best thing to come out of the new stadium deal

Westside Works
Like we said, the deal to build Mercedes-Benz Stadium was incredibly lopsided in favor of the rich guys, but one good thing did come out of it: WESTSIDE WORKS. The long-term training program was designed to prepare residents of Westside neighborhoods (such as Vine City, Castleberry Hill and more) formore...
Like we said, the deal to build Mercedes-Benz Stadium was incredibly lopsided in favor of the rich guys, but one good thing did come out of it: WESTSIDE WORKS. The long-term training program was designed to prepare residents of Westside neighborhoods (such as Vine City, Castleberry Hill and more) for jobs in construction, the culinary arts and education, among other fields. And according to data captured by Westside Works, it looks like the program is having a positive impact, with more than 500 people receiving training and 78 percent of them retaining a living wage after one year. Time will tell if these changes will truly alter the lives of the students who have participated and the neighborhoods they live in, but for now, it’s looking like a success story. www.westsideworks.org. less...

Best zen nature spot within 17 miles of Downtown Atlanta

Sweetwater Creek State Park Sweetwater Creek State Park
A quick drive west on I-20 from the connector delivers you to a serene environment that feels far, far away from the chaos of Atlanta’s urban center. At SWEETWATER CREEK STATE PARK you can find your bliss in myriad ways: Rent a canoe and go out on the 215-acre reservoir and contemplate the interconnectednessmore...

A quick drive west on I-20 from the connector delivers you to a serene environment that feels far, far away from the chaos of Atlanta’s urban center. At SWEETWATER CREEK STATE PARK you can find your bliss in myriad ways: Rent a canoe and go out on the 215-acre reservoir and contemplate the interconnectedness of us all or take a hike and praise the creator of your choice (or none at all, if that’s your thing). The best hike combines the White Trail with the Red Trail, leaving the visitor center and heading counterclockwise for a 4.5-mile loop jaunt. Starting with a warning not to disturb rattlesnakes about a mile in before winding through a forest past a turtle pond and climaxing with a roughly 2-mile ramble on the red trail, hugging the whitewater swells of Sweetwater Creek beside you. The sounds alone will provide salvation. Bathe in the water for a rebirth, with plenty of deer checking you out in the brilliant afternoon light. Whatever your chosen journey, Sweetwater Creek will deliver the zen you seek. 1750 Mount Vernon Road, Lithia Springs. 770-732-5871. www.gastateparks.org/SweetwaterCreek.

photo by: Joeff Davis

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Best hope for fighting homelessness

Affordable Housing
AFFORDABLE HOUSING. We need more of it. Like, a lot more. And mandatory inclusionary zoning — something, perhaps, to watch for in mayoral candidates’ commitments — is legislation that, in other cities, has been a catalyst for the creation of affordable housing. Such an ordinance would mandate thatmore...
AFFORDABLE HOUSING. We need more of it. Like, a lot more. And mandatory inclusionary zoning — something, perhaps, to watch for in mayoral candidates’ commitments — is legislation that, in other cities, has been a catalyst for the creation of affordable housing. Such an ordinance would mandate that some percentage, generally between 10 and 30 percent, of housing be affordable, which has been defined as 60 percent of Atlanta’s area median income (or $60,219). Now, some say “affordable” should be based not on area median income but on what someone who works full-time making minimum wage can actually afford. But we’ve got to a draw a line in the sand at some point. Let’s get this done. less...

Best florist

Candler Park Flowers Candler Park Flowers

Best yoga studio

Kashi Atlanta

Best martial arts studio

Sung Ming Shu Dojo: Cuong Nhu Martial Arts

Best craft beer store

Hop City Craft Beer and Wine



Best skate shop

Stratosphere Skateboards Stratosphere Skateboards

Best store for antiques and estate-sale gems

Brick + Mortar Brick + Mortar
David Kowalski is a master at curating old and new at his store, BRICK + MORTAR, which began as a pop-up at Paris on Ponce before becoming a full-blown shop at Westside Provisions District. Inside, blouses by local designers like Megan Huntz sit alongside home décor items, such as the boutique’s eponymousmore...

David Kowalski is a master at curating old and new at his store, BRICK + MORTAR, which began as a pop-up at Paris on Ponce before becoming a full-blown shop at Westside Provisions District. Inside, blouses by local designers like Megan Huntz sit alongside home décor items, such as the boutique’s eponymous line of candles. But the antiques and estate-sale finds are what truly shine — and hearing Kowalski’s tall tales about them is part of the fun. He recently acquired an antique model steamboat from Natchez, Mississippi, formerly used in theatrical productions that retails for $1,500. But you can find more affordable gems, like vintage road maps, for a mere $5. Kowalski checks out 10-15 estate sales a week, mostly in the Southeast, so you can always expect to find new, old treasures. 1170 Howell Mill Road, Suite 106. 404-492-9207. www.thisisbrickandmortar.com.

photo by: Lindsey Max

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Best OG comic book shop

Oxford Comics
The metro Atlanta area is rife with comic book shops, both old and relatively new, but when it comes to sheer selection and diversity of products, OXFORD COMICS is the leader of the pack. Pop in the shop on any day of the week, and you’ll see for yourself: tons of brand-new comics from mainstream andmore...
The metro Atlanta area is rife with comic book shops, both old and relatively new, but when it comes to sheer selection and diversity of products, OXFORD COMICS is the leader of the pack. Pop in the shop on any day of the week, and you’ll see for yourself: tons of brand-new comics from mainstream and indie publishers, old-school back issues, trade paperbacks and hardcover graphic novels, hard-to-find action figures, trading cards, DVDs, T-shirts, posters and even snacks. And there’s more comic-related stuff where that came from in stock for both hardcore fans and casual customers. 2855 Piedmont Road N.E. 404-233-8682. www.facebook.com/oxfordcomicsandgames. less...

Best dance company

Zoetic Dance Ensemble

Best muralist

Fabian "Occasional Superstar" Williams
Even if you don’t know the name FABIAN “OCCASIONAL SUPERSTAR” WILLIAMS, you’ve more than likely seen, or been impacted by, the artist’s work. His massive, vibrant murals — such as his fluorescent portrait of Hosea Williams, which was completed in July, adorn buildings across the city andmore...

Even if you don’t know the name FABIAN “OCCASIONAL SUPERSTAR” WILLIAMS, you’ve more than likely seen, or been impacted by, the artist’s work. His massive, vibrant murals — such as his fluorescent portrait of Hosea Williams, which was completed in July, adorn buildings across the city and serve as both eye-catching visual treats and as multilayered, often-whimsical political statements. And the North Carolina native’s artistic efforts this year extended beyond just creating it: Joining forces with a number of his fellow muralists, Williams successfully battled the City in court over the right to have paintings displayed on private party without excessive government interference. But whether we’re talking advocacy or the creative process, Atlanta’s a better place with Williams here doing his thing. www.occasionalsuperstar.com.

photo by: Joeff Davis

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Best internet satirist, or troll with a heart of gold

Zach Lamplugh
Likes, retweets, comments, threads: The internet can be a hot spot for important discussion, but it’s more often a place for people to scream slurs at a meme. Reactionary rage and transparent bids for attention are what inspires ZACH LAMPLUGH and his meta faux-news network Please Share. The comedianmore...
Likes, retweets, comments, threads: The internet can be a hot spot for important discussion, but it’s more often a place for people to scream slurs at a meme. Reactionary rage and transparent bids for attention are what inspires ZACH LAMPLUGH and his meta faux-news network Please Share. The comedian (who’s one-third of the Ladie’s Night sketch group) releases videos on Please Share’s social media platforms where nothing humans do is good enough. Is creating infographics the best way to combat racism? Are unicorn frappuccinos enforcing gender roles? Nah, but Lamplugh makes a hilarious case for it all. Generating millions of views, the good-at-heart satirical videos have succeeded in making Facebook laugh as well as confusing the hell out of the angry web-masses including alt-right garbageman Gavin McInnes. Gavin might not get it, but we do. www.twitter.com/secretgrampuh. www.facebook.com/pleasesharenews. less...

Best concert venue

The Tabernacle

Best band to turn up and drown out current national politics

Art School Jocks
No, nobody should ignore the sinking ship that is the Trump presidency. But sometimes coming up for air, in the form of catchy protest pop (post-)punk, is what's needed to continue forging ahead. That's where ART SCHOOL JOCKS come in. With a well-crafted eponymous EP released in June via Father/Daughtermore...

No, nobody should ignore the sinking ship that is the Trump presidency. But sometimes coming up for air, in the form of catchy protest pop (post-)punk, is what's needed to continue forging ahead. That's where ART SCHOOL JOCKS come in. With a well-crafted eponymous EP released in June via Father/Daughter Records, the foursome of scene veterans combines various influences (post-punk, Britpop, emo) with socially aware lyrics. Hit 'Just a Gwen, which garnered the group national attention via NPR, Stereogum and Mother Jones, explores and denounces the dark irony of victim-blaming culture Ñ don't dress that way, watch your drink Ñ around sexual harassment and assault. This music is the perfect salve for these hard times. www.artschooljocks.com.

photo by: Joeff Davis

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Best local promoter

Zero Mile
Over the last few years, Atlanta has witnessed a dramatic spike in the quantity and quality of music being booked across the board. From corporate behemoths to DIY guys booking smaller rooms, competition among promoters is thick. When the management and promotions teams behind Terminal West (led by Scottmore...
Over the last few years, Atlanta has witnessed a dramatic spike in the quantity and quality of music being booked across the board. From corporate behemoths to DIY guys booking smaller rooms, competition among promoters is thick. When the management and promotions teams behind Terminal West (led by Scott Orvold and Alan Sher) and Agon Entertainment announced they'd partnered to launch ZERO MILE, the new organization took over booking for Athens' Georgia Theatre, and Atlanta's Variety Playhouse and Terminal West, while working with other venues, as well. Working together, Zero Mile put into place a network that allowed for all three venues to flourish together as a viable independent operation. Since May, Zero Mile has booked everyone from Waka Flocka Flame to Gillian Welch, tackling a broad range of musical terrain. Zero Mile will also oversee booking and promotion for the music venue being built as part of the upcoming Atlanta Dairies development on Memorial Drive. As Atlanta continues its dominance as one of the most vibrant cities in the Southeast, Zero Mile's ingenuity and dedication to building from the ground up has positioned the organization as a major player, primed for expansion and growth as a leader of Georgia music. www.zeromile.com. less...

Best trap music ambassadors

Migos
Are MIGOS really bigger than the Beatles? No. But Offset, Quavo and Takeoff are the de facto leaders of the new school. The album Culture received a massive boost by the success of "Bad and Boujee," and has since seen "T-Shirt" and the Gucci Mane-aided "Slippery" gain steam as legitimate mainstream hits.more...
Are MIGOS really bigger than the Beatles? No. But Offset, Quavo and Takeoff are the de facto leaders of the new school. The album Culture received a massive boost by the success of "Bad and Boujee," and has since seen "T-Shirt" and the Gucci Mane-aided "Slippery" gain steam as legitimate mainstream hits. The group's style of call-and-response ad-libs reminiscent of '50s era doo-wop groups have both innovated and redefined how melody is used in hip-hop across the board. A lot of young artists are direct descendants of the style that the Northside trio has been cultivating for years now, and the broader music world has finally taken notice. www.migosonline.com. less...

Best instrumentalist

Marquinn "Quinn" Masonry
On any given night of the week, MARQUINN "QUINN" MASONRY can be found playing music from Gallery 992 (his regular spot) and Aisle 5 to the wilds of the Atlanta Beltline, sputtering and blowing into an alto saxophone. Be it with the Convergence, the Wolfpack, Konda, Leo Project, Charolastra or some othermore...

On any given night of the week, MARQUINN "QUINN" MASONRY can be found playing music from Gallery 992 (his regular spot) and Aisle 5 to the wilds of the Atlanta Beltline, sputtering and blowing into an alto saxophone. Be it with the Convergence, the Wolfpack, Konda, Leo Project, Charolastra or some other spontaneously formed ensemble, Masonry is a tempestuous player looming over Atlanta's free jazz and improvised music scene. He's a MVP for anyone who's paying attention; the kind of player who doesn't have to show up for practice and still nail his performance every time. Masonry's thoughtful yet emotional performances pack in variety and passion, enough to transfix anyone within earshot, and his influence can be discerned not only in the work of his Best local music compatriots, but further afield via such icon musicians as Marshall Allen of the Sun Ra Arkestra, Sonny Stitt and John Coltrane. Even when he's between parts, quietly listening to the rest of the musicians on stage, waiting for his cue, Masonry is dialed into his own wavelength. He lives the music he plays, and it's his sense of intuition that guides his music and leaves an impression on his fellow performers and anyone who has gathered to take in his presence.

photo by: Joeff Davis

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Best band sticking to its guns

Biters
BITERS tirelessly chase rock stardom in a world that doesn't know how much it needs rock stars. Even when mainstream rock music had a cleaner bill of health, the journey to the top was often fast-tracked by creative and aesthetic compromises. Fortunately, Biters aren't about to take a single shortcut.more...
BITERS tirelessly chase rock stardom in a world that doesn't know how much it needs rock stars. Even when mainstream rock music had a cleaner bill of health, the journey to the top was often fast-tracked by creative and aesthetic compromises. Fortunately, Biters aren't about to take a single shortcut. The band's dedication to classic punk and rock 'n' roll sounds is steadfast, so don't expect to ever hear singer Tuk Smith rap over artificial beats. They're never ditching the denim and leather or changing hairstyles, either. Each member is too dedicated to a look, a sound and a lifestyle to never sell out. www.bitersband.com. less...

Best desserts

Sweet Charlie's

Best Caribbean

Papi's Cuban and Caribbean Grill

Best Japanese

Nakato

Best oysters

Kimball House Kimball House

Best local farm

Love is Love Farm

photo by: Joeff Davis

Best late-night hangout

Bon Ton Bon Ton
Midtown’s BON TON is as seat-of-the-pants as a restaurant gets. The mode here is house party, and the décor is pure kitsch in the retro den of fictional founder Hoa Nguyen and his most interesting mashup of Louisiana-meets-Vietnam cookery. A cheeky neon sign reads “Fancy Service” as fried basketsmore...
Midtown’s BON TON is as seat-of-the-pants as a restaurant gets. The mode here is house party, and the décor is pure kitsch in the retro den of fictional founder Hoa Nguyen and his most interesting mashup of Louisiana-meets-Vietnam cookery. A cheeky neon sign reads “Fancy Service” as fried baskets of seafood, boiled peanuts and banh mi sandwiches roll through the dining room until 2 a.m. Maybe Prince comes through the speakers, maybe Otis Redding. All music pairs well with their frozen versions of Pimm’s Cups and Vietnamese Irish coffee, served in color-changing plastic vessels, of course. Though the Bon Ton family tragically lost their head bartender, the talented Patrick Kuhen, late last month in a road accident, they celebrated his life in true Nola fashion: with a second line led by a brass band through the streets of Midtown. 674 Myrtle St. N.E. 404-996-6177. www.bontonatl.com. less...

Best new café

Petit Chou Petit Chou
In a recently restored, periwinkle-painted edifice on Memorial Drive in Cabbagetown sits PETIT CHOU, a French-meets-Southern café that backs up its cozy ambiance with a serious commitment to local sourcing and a deeply felt mutual respect between management, staff and customers. Chef Diana Presson Ellermore...
In a recently restored, periwinkle-painted edifice on Memorial Drive in Cabbagetown sits PETIT CHOU, a French-meets-Southern café that backs up its cozy ambiance with a serious commitment to local sourcing and a deeply felt mutual respect between management, staff and customers. Chef Diana Presson Eller has called it her “little idealistic, egalitarian-dream, feminist anarcafé” and serves up an array of sandwiches, salads and house-made craft sodas with ingredients like hyssop and cardamom. At breakfast, there are hearty grit bowls, avocado toast and Croque Monsieurs, and the chicken liver mousse — available any time of day and served with house preserves, toast and seasonal produce — is a must-order. Currently open only for breakfast and lunch, Petit Chou will eventually expand to dinner hours with a full bar program. 662 Memorial Drive S.E. 470-270-8996. www.petitchouatl.com less...

Best unsung hero

Decatur’s Kimball House has a dedicated oyster room with a viewing window. In this lovely nook, about 5,000 oysters from around the world are shucked each week, and more than half of those (like, 3,500) get shucked by a hero. No really: His given name is HE RO, and for obvious reasons, he goes by Hero.more...

Decatur’s Kimball House has a dedicated oyster room with a viewing window. In this lovely nook, about 5,000 oysters from around the world are shucked each week, and more than half of those (like, 3,500) get shucked by a hero. No really: His given name is HE RO, and for obvious reasons, he goes by Hero. Part of the Karen ethnic group, Hero was born in war-torn Burma but spent most of his childhood in a Thai refugee camp near the border before arriving in the U.S. at age 15. Watching him swiftly and deftly open bivalves today, it’s hard to imagine Kimball House without him, and one would never guess he’d never even touched an oyster before joining Kimball House in September of 2013. So, next time you are slurping during oyster happy hour (5-7 p.m. every weekday) clink a glass for our culinary hero, Hero. 303 E. Howard Ave., Decatur. 404-378-3502. www.kimball-house.com.

photo by: Joeff Davis

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Best brunch

Rising Sun
Whether you’re hankering for a pile of pork chops with two eggs and grits or a healthful vegan grain bowl with seasonal veggies, the search ends at RISING SON, tucked away in the Tudor village of Avondale Estates. This mellow spot is soaked in familial comfort, with husband-and-wife team Kathryn andmore...

Whether you’re hankering for a pile of pork chops with two eggs and grits or a healthful vegan grain bowl with seasonal veggies, the search ends at RISING SON, tucked away in the Tudor village of Avondale Estates. This mellow spot is soaked in familial comfort, with husband-and-wife team Kathryn and Hudson Rouse focusing on vegetables from local farms, friends and even their own garden. In season, their tomato sandwich tastes like home, and you can always order from the meat-and-three menu. Standouts include a fried chicken, bacon and cheddar biscuit; chorizo tacos; fried trout over cheese grits; and crispy breakfast dumplings with ginger, cilantro, and maple soy glaze. Rising Son is a calm oasis amid the chaos of Atlanta brunch culture: satisfying but not sloppy, sophisticated yet chill. 124 N. Avondale Road, Avondale Estates, 404-600-5297. www.facebook.com/RisingSonavondale.

photo by: Lindsey Max

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Best biscuits

Erika Council
Known for her famous pop-up Sunday Supper Club, ERIKA COUNCIL’s biscuit recipe (and perhaps her graceful charm) comes by way of her grandmothers. Lately, she has been popping up at B’s Cracklin’ BBQ, mixing and folding flour, butter, shortening (or B’s famous lard) and buttermilk into layersmore...
Known for her famous pop-up Sunday Supper Club, ERIKA COUNCIL’s biscuit recipe (and perhaps her graceful charm) comes by way of her grandmothers. Lately, she has been popping up at B’s Cracklin’ BBQ, mixing and folding flour, butter, shortening (or B’s famous lard) and buttermilk into layers by hand. The softest, fluffiest biscuits and her iced Cinn-rolls draw long queues and early sellouts. Council’s grace extends to her pretty blog, Southern Souffle, where she shares her recipes and stories of the South. We crown her our Biscuit Queen. www.southernsouffle.com. less...

Best Atlanta beer

Juice Willis IPA Series Wrecking Bar Brewpub
Perhaps the most-talked-about craft beer trend of 2017 was the New England-style India Pale Ale. An easy-drinking riff on craft’s most popular style, NE IPAs prioritize tantalizing hop aromas and juicy flavor profiles over bitterness and the “hoppy” wallop generally associated with IPAs. Wreckingmore...
Perhaps the most-talked-about craft beer trend of 2017 was the New England-style India Pale Ale. An easy-drinking riff on craft’s most popular style, NE IPAs prioritize tantalizing hop aromas and juicy flavor profiles over bitterness and the “hoppy” wallop generally associated with IPAs. Wrecking Bar’s one-off JUICE WILLIS IPA SERIES — which the Little Five Points brewpub started in January — has been a joy to behold in that regard. They’ve released a new beer every few weeks (nine variations and counting at press time), each time adding new recipe tweaks and a new Bruce Willis pun for the name. It’s rare to see a local beer that’s so on trend, delicious and admirably exemplifying brewing innovation all at once. Check @wreckingbarbrewpub on Instagram for the latest batch. Wrecking Bar Brewpub, 292 Moreland Ave. N.E. 404-221-2600. www.wreckingbarbrewpub.com. less...

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