This is an excellent place to take out of town guests or visit if you’ve never been. You can have a cheap tasty meal and then stock up your pantry with healthy organic fresh produce, specialty meat and cheese shops. Plus you can have Atlanta’s cheapest ocean-fresh seafood at Atlantic Seafood where they will also steam your crab and seafood with a dusting of Ole Bay.
Why did I first go to Sweet Auburn? Do you remember in the 1990s, when Ponce De Leon Avenue was seedier than today? Yes, it’s gotten better. There was a little burrito dive called Tortillas. I used to go there at least once a week when I was in college because it was so cheap and different. All the food was fresh and scratch made. Even the fresh dried soaked pinto beans weren’t canned.
Sadly Tortillas closed but it’s been resurrected in Sweet Auburn as Bell Street Burritos and even says “For those who miss Tortillas.”For only $6.50 you can get a huge chicken burrito with the pintos, jack cheese, cilantro, and I add their amazing green tomatillo salsa. I drank gallons of this sauce in the ‘90s. It was pure nostalgia. They also do an excellent fresh chunky guacamole. Advice to starving GSU students: I used to get the simple jack cheese quesadilla, dipped it in green sauce for only $2.25 and was very satisfied. The is real deal, fresh San Francisco-style mission tex mex.
For something different try Afrodish Restaurant, which serves up homemade Caribbean and West African fare like jerk chicken, savory stews, and plantains. It’s curry comfort on rice. The owners have been serving for over 12 years.
If you’re feeling more hedonistic, which I often am, visit Grindhouse Killer Burgers. Like Tortillas, Grindhouse takes something ordinary like a burger and elevates it to a fresh, non-chain artisanal level. I tried the “Apache Style” with roasted New Mexico green chiles, grilled onions and pepper jack cheese. Be really bad and pair it with Vidalia onion rings. I tried my vegan friend’s very good veggie burger made with black beans, protein-rich quinoa and fresh avocado. Pretty good. Grindhouse is also preparing to open a second location at 1842 Piedmont Ave.
Finally for a true taste of the soulful South try the meat-and-three Metro Deli Soul Food, owned by the true Southern diva Ms Mimi. It’s cold, so don’t you want a plate of baked chicken, collard greens, mac-and-cheese, black eyed peas and some cornbread?
Top photo: Bell Street Burritos is just one of the gems tucked inside the Sweet Auburn Market. (via Facebook)