Best of Atlanta 2021: Do


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Readers’ Choice

The Overlook
The Overlook

Photograph by Nick D'Andria

New Climbing Gym: The Overlook

The intimidation factor is nil at the Overlook, a new gym dedicated to making bouldering—a form of freestyle climbing—accessible to everyone. Located in the West End alongside the BeltLine, the gym welcomes kids as young as six and hosts special events for LGBTQ+ and female climbers.

Jazz in the Burbs: The Velvet Note

Metro Atlanta has lost a few iconic jazz clubs, including, most recently, Café 290. But this Alpharetta venue, named one of the nation’s best by Downbeat for six years in a row, has been going strong for nearly 10 years. The intimate listening room was designed by musicians for musicians, and food is served on plastic plates to avoid clinking dishes.

Connector: Westside BeltLine Connector

This relatively flat, 1.7-mile jogger’s paradise between downtown and the BeltLine’s Westside Trail links together historic but underserved communities such as Vine City and English Avenue. And one day, it could make a route from Atlanta to the Silver Comet Trail possible.

New Arts Destination: Pratt Pullman District

Atlanta’s reputation for repurposing historic sites for modern use gets an arts-forward boost with this 27-acre plot in Kirkwood. Rather than filling it with retail and restaurants, the owners dedicated the space to cultural uses. 2022 will see the opening of Imagine Picasso: The Immersive Exhibition; Emory University–produced, arts-meets-science museum Science Gallery Atlanta; the Pullman Pops orchestra series; concerts by nationally touring musicians; and more, all set against the backdrop of a century-old rail park and industrial buildings.

New Golf Bar: Puttshack

Forget nostalgic charm; head to this techy, neon-lit, minigolf bar in the Interlock for a “good vibes only” kind of night—one where themed holes and stiff drinks turn every putt into a party.

New Nail Salon: Les Mains Nail Bar

An immaculate and spacious modern salon specializing in nail art, Les Mains in the Works is known for its proximity to snap-worthy food and colorful murals—ideal for showing off a fresh mani on Instagram.

Best of Atlanta La Choloteca
La Choloteca

Photograph by Hector Amador

Inclusive Dance Party: La Choloteca

Those who know know that Choloteca DJs know how to throw a party. Whether it is a private event or an open-to-the-public queer Latinx dance party at Star Bar, La Choloteca connects Latinx culture with social justice issues “para la cultura!”

Private Party: Elevated Picnics

High school sweethearts Kaneisha Montague and Saaghir Mitchell create elaborate, Pinterest-perfect private picnics with hearty meals—think lemon butter chicken and Spanish rice—plush pillows, and tents to provide protection from the elements. No cleanup necessary.

Color and Hair Stylist: The Cosmic Mirror

Angela Galinetti worked at East Cobb salon Intrigue before breaking out on her own in a shared space in Sandy Springs. At one point, she had a waitlist of 70 people because she knows how to cut and color hair, especially with texture, and won’t let you do anything drastic that might do lasting damage. She is also great at cutting curls because she has them—which any curly girl knows is a find.

Afternoon Bike Ride: BeltLine’s Southside Trail

The southernmost portion of the BeltLine opened to the public in September, connecting the Westside and Eastside segments to make a continuous path from Washington Park to Piedmont Heights. Still largely unpaved, the Southside Trail stretches from Capitol View to Ormewood Park, snaking past Pittsburgh Yard, under I-75/I-85, through a 100-year-old tunnel, and by a small walking-meditation labyrinth. It’s wooded, with limited access points, and, for now, peaceful; explore the new path alongside just a handful of bikers, joggers, and dog-walkers on a three-mile (bumpy but beginner-friendly) bike ride from Lee + White to the Beacon. (Just give yourself time to make it back before sunset: The trail’s unpaved segments remain unlit.)

Dinner and a Movie: Eatavision

Have you ever watched a food scene in a movie and started craving what the characters are eating? Eatavision pairs under-the-stars screenings of food-themed films from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory to Chef (starring Jon Favreau), with a multicourse tasting menu inspired by the action on screen.

The Garden Room
The Garden Room

Photograph by Vanessa Boy

New Instagram Opp: The Garden Room

Sure, a lot of the greenery is fake, and some touches are over the top. (The other place that floats tiny rubber ducks in drinks is at Disney World.) But the floral extravagance is as “immersive” as advertised and fabulously irresistible. Ready-made sets like a wooden carousel horse and a Gustav Klimt–inspired, trellised bower will tempt you to forget about the food, but don’t—the Garden Room shares a kitchen with the swanky Atlas next door.

Hangout on the Westside Trail: Best End’s BeltLine patio

It’s early in this BeltLine segment’s evolution, but a frontrunner for coolest Westside Trail hang is Best End Brewing at the Lee + White district. The huge patio features a tiki bar, eye-catching murals, a shipping-container stage, and firepits galore.

New Bike Lanes: BeltLine’s New Bike Lanes

Buffered from cars by cement planters and other barriers, the interim Southside Trail’s new bike-and-pedestrian lanes over I-20 and through Glenwood Park actually qualify as pretty when flowers are blooming. And no intown street feels safer now for biking.

Overlooked Urban Escape: Michelle Obama Trail

For a lightly patronized nature fix straddling the ITP/OTP line, the PATH Foundation’s paved Michelle Obama Trail is a serene, 3.8-mile route along the burbling South River, quiet older neighborhoods, and a golf course.

Hip-Hop Workout: Trap Boxing by Starr Boxing

Get fit by sweating to your favorite Southern hip-hop beats with trap boxing in Decatur. Instructor Mike Starr leads this 12-round, body-positive, high-energy workout while Bllac Boi the DJ keeps the bass heavy. If you’re famished at the end, purchase a healthy meal from one of the vendors at the gym. Don’t forget to wear your favorite neon workout gear to glow under the black light!

New Food Festival: Gather ’Round

The brand-new, culinary-themed Epicurean Hotel in Midtown feels like it was designed specifically for fancy foodie festivals like this one, the brainchild of Atlanta Food and Wine Festival cofounder Elizabeth Feichter with Kelly Campbell and Rebecca Gann. The inaugural event, held in October, captured the intimate, familiar vibe of AFWF events past. Daytime classes hosted by local chefs discussed everything from natural wine to the history of soul food to Buford Highway itineraries. Tasting events on the spacious ninth-floor patio gave attendees a chance to interact with favorite chefs, grabbing cocktails from Miles Macquarrie and Keyatta Mincey Parker, biscuits from Erika Council, or brisket tacos from Fox Bros. You’ll leave full, satisfied, and excited to keep exploring Atlanta’s ever-growing dining scene.

New Luxury Hair Salon: Salon Posta

Located in a renovated, 1840s-era building that was originally a church, this new industrial-chic salon near the Marietta Square offers a full range of hair-care services for both men and women. Founders include hairstylist Stephen Posta and men’s style influencer Aaron Marino, whose YouTube channel has more than 6 million subscribers.

Thyme to Party
Thyme to Party

Photograph by Jenna Shea Photojournalism

Edible Gardening: Thyme to Party

Husband-and-wife team Daniel Mobley and Sarah Jackson believe growing your own food is cause for a celebration and want to help others grow their own. Their company, Thyme to Party, offers edible landscape design and installation to transform your landscape into something that is both nourishing and a beauty to behold.

Storyteller: Anjali Enjeti’s Two New Books

Anjali Enjeti became the exemplar for pandemic productivity when she published not one but two books at virtually the same time this year. Her novel, The Parted Earth, and essay collection, Southbound, both touch on themes of identity, inheritance, and loss; but, at this two-book-a-year clip, it’s our undeserving gain.

Fun with Wine: Painted Horse Winery

Decades before she planted the first grapevines in 2017, Pamela Jackson built up this farm and stables—teaching neighborhood children to ride and occasionally “painting” her horses (with Kool-Aid) to celebrate events like Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Now, it has become Fulton County’s first-ever farm winery. Award-winning winemaker KJ Bell is crafting impressive offerings (the Pamelot cabernet sauvignon is legit), and local fans are loving barrel tastings and classes on wine pairings, including novel topics like what to drink with junk food (didn’t we all wonder that at some point during the pandemic?). An Alpharetta tasting room is also in the works.

Scholarly Read: Chronicling Stankonia by Dr. Regina Bradley

Using OutKast’s discography as a reference of sorts, Dr. Bradley’s latest book helps define new cultural pathways for Black Southerners who came of age in the 1980s and 1990s and have used hip-hop culture to buffer themselves from the historical narratives and sometimes crushing expectations of the civil rights era.

Movie Date Night: IPIC Atlanta

What sets this venue apart is its two-person “pods.” Styled similarly to premium business class seats on an international flight, the seats’ curved walls make the movie experience more private—no annoying cell phone lights from your neighbors—and the smaller theaters provide a more intimate feel.

New Indoor Cycling: CYCMODE

If you love roller coasters, IMAX, and those old Fruitopia ads, you’ll love CYCMODE. The Buckhead-based studio offers boxing and HIIT ($15 for first visit), but indoor cycling is the draw. An enormous, curved screen immerses you in journeys through Morocco, space, and the innards of a video game.

New Sunday Tradition: Cypher Sunday

Cypher Sunday is hip-hop church. The formula: a fellowship of freestyle and flow, where Soul Food Cypher emcees bring their best off-the-top bars and test their skills with various lyrical exercises. Magic always happens “where two or three are gathered.”

Dog-Friendly Development: Halcyon’s Village Green

At Forsyth County’s Halcyon, the Village Green is a relaxed social nucleus of restaurants, frolicking pooches, and beverages from the likes of Cherry Street Brewpub. Look for “paw-tys” with “puppuccinos” and bacon-flavored bubbles to chase.

Listen to the Ladies

2021 was a banner year for Atlanta women in hip-hop. (As rapper, entrepreneur, and reality TV star Rasheeda summarized in our September issue, they’re “ruling the world and saying that we want to twerk and be bosses.”) Latto’s single “B*tch from da Souf” went platinum in March. A few months later, Ethiopia Habtemariam took over as CEO of Motown Records—the third woman to ever hold that title at a major label. Yung Baby Tate went viral on TikTok for her anthem “I Am,” and, this fall, made her small-screen debut. The list goes on; refer to that September issue for a full defense. Or just take our word for it and skip straight to this year’s don’t-miss singles:
Mariah the Scientist: “2 You”
Kodie Shane: “FaceTime”
Yani Mo: “Life U Choose” —Heather Buckner

This article appears in our December 2021 issue.