I consider myself lucky to work in the one part of Atlanta that actually sees a little “hustle and bustle” on a daily basis. Within a stone’s throw, we have the Georgia Aquarium, which recently celebrated their 2 millionth visitor, CNN Center, Centennial Olympic Park, the World Congress Center, Phillips Arena and the Georgia Dome, and thousands of workerbees spread through Downtown Atlanta. So for the tourists, Atlantans and folks from nearby hamlets, you may wonder, what are my choices for food? And the answer is- Not Much.
Unfortunately, the dining options for this area of Downtown Atlanta have not grown with the popularity of the attractions. But there is a gem or two, a lot of mediocrity and a few places to avoid. Here is my synopsis.
The CNN Center Food Court- Unfortunately I eat here way too often. And with most places named Arby’s, Wendy’s or Moe’s, you really don’t need a Steakhead review. But I will say avoid Don Juan’s (its never busy for a reason), and the Chinese place (are you sure that’s chicken?). LePetit Bistro in my mind is terrible. There are usually lines here as it is the only place that remotely looks healthy. A) I doubt its any healthier than any place else in there, B) Half the time they can’t tell their chicken salad from the tuna salad, and C) The hot dishes leave an odor if you bring them back to your desk (I learned this lesson the hard way one day). Avoid it. The Japanese place isn’t bad.
McCormick & Schmick’s- The only decent place for a business lunch in the immediate vicinity so it tends to get crowded by noon. But for weeknight events at Phillips Arena, the daily Happy Hour (4:30-6:30, I think), which includes $1.95 cheeseburgers and other munchies, it’s not a bad option.
Golden Buddha- Your typical mediocre Chinese fare, it’s definitely nothing to go out of your way for. There is a sushi bar, and if you go for lunch, make sure you get the sushi lunch menu that features $8.95 sushi plates, which includes Miso Soup and a roll (you can ask for the spicy tuna roll instead of the standard tuna roll). I went yesterday and the wait staff doesn’t seem too eager to hand this menu out, as neither my waiter nor the waitress for the person next to me seemed to know of its existence. Otherwise, you will easily spend $20-$30 for sushi at lunch.
Ted's Montana Grill- Great burgers, but crowded at lunch. You will likely spend close to $15pp after tip and tax, so its somewhat of a treat. The pickles are addictive.
Park Avenue Deli- This place is my “gem”. It’s located in the same building as Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, facing the park. They serve Boar’s Head cold cuts, and the roast beef is served as it should be- rare. There are also hot sandwiches, salads and soups. It’s not the cheapest deli, but given the choices around here, you’ll easily pay it.
Hopefully some young entrepreneur will see the void being left in this area for decent eateries and will come to the rescue. Until then, Park Deli and the Moe’s Close Talker will have to serve me well.