When we decide to check out any new city for the first time, we always try to book some sort of guided tour to help us get our bearings. This trip was our first time in Atlanta, so I set up a tour with Atlanta Food Walks, a company that specializes in tours that bring Atlanta's flavors and history together. This tour operates on Thursdays through Sundays rain or shine, so be sure to bring your walking shoes, an appetite and an umbrella if you aren't sure about the weather!
During booking you will have an opportunity to notify the company of any allergies or other food issues that you might have, and Atlanta Food Walks is great about accommodating these kinds of issues.
The company offers two different tours: Grant Park and Downtown. Since we were out to explore downtown, we chose the Downtown Southern Food Walk for $69 per person. I checked the usual outlets like Groupon, but wasn't able to find any significantly discounted prices so I went ahead and booked through their website at http://atlantafoodwalks.com/
For that $69 we were treated to a two mile walk across downtown that included Paschal's Restaurant, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was known to be spotted frequently, a peak at the old rail yard where popular movies and television shows have recently been filmed.
That price includes all of the food sampled during the tour, and there was even a moonshine cocktail served at The Smoke Ring (our second stop). Additional cocktails can be purchased for $4, and a few patrons opted to do so, so I guess they must have been pretty good.
Our guide was Joy, a native Virginian (just like me!) with a great love of Atlanta that clearly showed as she pointed out some of the historic sites in downtown. The tour is peppered with stories about the founding of Atlanta (originally known as 'Terminus'), the civil rights movement, and of course, the official drink of Atlanta, Coca Cola.
We booked the tour on a Sunday, which turned out to be a mistake for two reasons. First, the meat pies from Panbury's aren't available on Sundays. We enjoyed the burgers that were substituted, but we were bummed that we missed out on the pies. Second, although the Sweet Auburn Curb Market was open, many of the fresh food vendors there were not. I would have loved to see the market bustling at fill-tilt on a Saturday afternoon.
Overall I felt pretty well fed by the end of the tour. Some stops include full samplers like the one at Smoke Ring Barbecue (don't miss out on the pork belly!). Others are just a small, light bite like the kale chips and juices at Arden's Garden. Just know that you are also paying for the tour of town and its history. If you are only in it for the food, you will probably feel like you paid too much.
Joy took a few photos of the group and individuals at certain points along the tour and posted them to Flickr for easy distribution. I also have to give her a shout out for being so patient with the obnoxious guy with the bag full of cameras (that would be me).