Food Highlights: Atlanta

During my very recent trip to America, I visited two states: Georgia, then California. The first three days were spent exploring parts of Atlanta, with my sister Melissa. I can say with confidence that the overall objective of our time in Atlanta was to seek out a legendary barbecue joint to eat an American-sized meal of smoky meat, then roll home in pain. We were in luck; according to her research along with a personal recommendation made to me by a U.S. customs agent in the Toronto airport, Fat Matt’s Rib Shack was the place to go.

The legend: Fat Matt's Rib Shack

The legend: Fat Matt’s Rib Shack

As the entire establishment is lit by neon beer signs, the task of taking photos with my iPhone became challenging. I didn’t want to be that person using a bright flash, either, as this was a real mellow, local joint. I did use it once, to capture the photo below of my chopped pork sandwich.

Finally used the flash -- chopped pork sandwich. Soft bun, heavy meat.

Finally used the flash — chopped pork sandwich. Soft bun, heavy meat.

The place was absolutely packed with a combination of locals and visitors. It’s the type of joint where you order at the counter, grab a self-serve lemonade or sweet tea, and take any seat that’s available. A couple guys with electric guitars were sitting up front and started playing the blues about 10 minutes before we left.

Fat Matt’s has a small offering, and they focus on doing a few things very well: ribs, whole smoked chickens, and chopped pork sandwiches. I did the sandwich, served with a small bag of Lay’s, and chose potato salad as a side. Melissa went for a half slab of ribs, and mac ‘n’ cheese. The namesake ribs did not disappoint. I even bought a bottle of Fat Matt’s barbecue sauce to bring home. Stickers were free.

Lit by neon signs.

Lit by neon signs.

The day I arrived in Atlanta, we hit up a permanent food truck park that I had discovered online. We were excited. I won’t give too much away about this one since I’m writing a piece for SOAR Magazine about my food truck experiences, but I will show what we ate there, as both items were pretty delicious. My pulled chicken taco from the barbecue truck was served with pickles (which I’ve heard is Kentucky-style) and homemade pear coleslaw. Melissa had a chicken tikka masala naan wrap from the Indian food truck. Both were tasty.

Pulled chicken barbecue taco.

Pulled chicken barbecue taco.

One last food highlight comes from a fantastic part of Atlanta called Decatur. Technically Decatur is it’s own city, but it is what’s called an in-town suburb of Atlanta proper. So many people call it a city within a city. It definitely has a very quaint, small-town feel and is home to many highly-regarded restaurants, plus over 50 independent shops.

Cakes & Ale cafe for lunch, in Decatur, Atlanta.

Cakes & Ale cafe for lunch, in Decatur, Atlanta.

Having done my research, I knew that Cakes & Ale was located in Decatur (Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurant in America 2011). We were there in the middle of the day, and so only their cafe/bakery was open. Here I enjoyed a perfect panini from their small, daily lunch menu. Salty soppressata ham, creamy ricotta and arugula pesto grilled to crunchy perfection on house-made bread. We shared a salad of roasted root vegetables with cilantro-fennel sour cream served on the side, for dipping.

Arugula pesto, ricotta and soprassetta panini at Cakes & Ale Bakery cafe.

Arugula pesto, ricotta and soppressata panini at Cakes & Ale Bakery cafe.

Check out more photos in the gallery below, and come back soon for my upcoming California food highlights!

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