Small-town Vibes in the Big City

When you have a chance to spend a few days with a friend, do it.  If that friend has a front porch, by all means, go spend time there.  Relax, drink something cold, wave to her neighborhood friends and give a pat on the head and a little scratch under the chin to her dog.  Prop your feet up.  Yes, it’s humid but enjoy the gentle breeze and the swoosh of air from the porch ceiling fan.  Be open to any suggestion from your friend — she knows her neighborhood and surrounding community.  Take her advice on restaurants and antique store browsing.  Have long conversations into the night and, most of all, laugh!  

I had this chance recently on a trip to Atlanta to visit my friend, Lisa.  She lives in Inman Park.  Nestled close to city things, this little area is canopied with oaks, dogwoods, and crepe myrtles.  The streets wind over hill and dell past beautiful parks.   You will pass historical homes and cozy bungalows.  Churches stand strong and welcome all — including a filming crew for the television show MacGyver.  You’d think you were in Hollywood but Georgia has fast become a favorite among the film industry.  

Entrepreneurship is alive and well in this community.  We enjoyed delicious meals your Grandma would have made but I think even my Memaw would have said the grits at Rising Son and Highlands Bakery were the best she’d ever put in her mouth.  You know that creamy, soft, yet just a touch of firmness, that makes them oh so Southern.  So good you just want butter on them — no cheese this time.  Eggs are always “iffy” for me in a restaurant but both these breakfast and lunch spots knew that perfect measure of cooking an egg. Friendly servers who made us  feel like family, not a customer. 

Wahoo Grill served a mouth watering Atlantic Coast scallop and Lisa had trout.  We did talk during our meal but not much.  Delicious attention to the preparation and the seasonings really complimented both dishes.  I’ll never turn my back on deep fried fish with a view of the beach but the meal we shared at Wahoo Grill was one I’d return to again and again.  

Folk Art is a cozy corner restaurant  with sports on the flat screens, tasty libations,  and great food.  The menu covers anything you might be looking for — especially with a group of people wanting different things.  While my meal of BBQ pork and sides of vegetables was not my best choice from their varied menu, I did enjoy the atmosphere and I’d return to try other offerings.  I’ll admit I’m a North Alabama and Northwest Florida BBQ fan and it’s hard for me to go off point when it comes to BBQ.  A+ for effort and trying new things, though!  

When it comes down to it, excellent chefs given the proper kudos for their excellent twists on tried and true favorites, my most favorite meal during our visit was at Matthews Cafeteria in Tucker, Georgia.  We traveled a few miles to this friendly restaurant where we had fried chicken, sweet potato soufflé, and turnip greens.  Yes, low carb aside, I even had sweet tea.  Lisa was recognized by a woman serving up the evening meal.  After several years of Lisa and her friends frequenting this restaurant, this lovely woman was still serving.  A blessing to know that in our crazy world jobs are still steady and workers appreciated.  

Plundering through a couple of antique malls, you might find your Mama’s cookware, old books you read as a child, new and unique items, too.  I came close to buying a handmade throw from India.  I looked at it twice and then on the third look decided to let it go.  I settled on a set of nesting dolls from Russia — Matryoshka.  It will be a fun little item for grandkids to play with at LeeLee’s house.  Hindsight?  Should have bought both. 

Good meals, great conversation, belly laughs, seeing a small town in a big city, and friends spurring one another along during a new phase of life — seek out and find these things.  Treasure them.  Enjoy the life you have surrounding you today, including a few things “off plan.”  

Thank you, Lisa, for sharing your sweet Southern hospitality.  You are loved. 

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