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It was a Friday evening commute spent in classic, nerve-jangling Atlanta traffic. The speed-stop-speed-stop flux of cars extended straight from Downtown into the parking lot of Canoe in Vinings, where valet attendants conducted drivers with Wagnerian fervor. My dining comrades were still stuck on the highway; the woman at the hostess station suggested I wait for them at the new outdoor bar.
Watching Atlanta's Westside develop has been the urban equivalent of witnessing a new mountain range emerge in fast-forward: So much fresh geography, so many uncharted nooks. What is currently the area’s most fertile corridor of businesses—between the junction of Northside Drive and Marietta Street and the intersection of Howell Mill Road and Fourteenth Street—felt forsaken just five years ago. Now you can stop for Thai curry at Spoon, pick up cupcakes in a dozen flavors at Caryn’s Cakes, grab panini at Toscano & Sons Italian Market, and disappear into the clump of businesses dubbed the "Beer-muda Triangle": 5 Seasons Brewing Company, retailer Hop City, and Octane, which serves Belgian ales and microbrews alongside coffee. This stretch also claims its share of destination restaurants—Bacchanalia, Abattoir, and the just-opened Miller Union among them.