Is Avondale Estates the Next Foodie Hot Spot in Atlanta?

Photo Credit: betweennapsontheporch.netFor my entire life, Avondale Estates has been this sleepy little Tudor-styled village of less than 3,000 people (as of the 2010 census) that had clearly seen better days on the way to Your Dekalb Farmers Market or Downtown Decatur when heading to each from Covington Highway.

It’s always been a charming little residential enclave, especially when taking a spin down tree-lined Clarendon Avenue, but the little England-esque “downtown” has always looked a bit…what’s the word…underutilized.  The shops always looked drab or unoccupied.  However, as of late, it seems like Avondale Estates (and its vicinity) is seeing new life as a younger and upwardly mobile populace is looking for affordable neighborhoods ITP.  That’s “Inside the Perimeter (I-285)” for you non-locals.   In short, now that Downtown Decatur has pretty much been fully-developed (and has gotten a bit pricey), the spillover is traveling one MARTA stop to the east in Avondale Estates.  And, of course, as is the case with any neighborhood on the come-up, there are going to be some new food options popping up in the area in addition to what’s been there all along.

Some Foodie-friendly places worthy of checking out in (or near) Avondale Estates:

1. Your Dekalb Farmers Market – 3000 East Ponce de Leon Avenue, Decatur

Photo Credit: Joeff Davis, Creative Loafing Atlanta

In my house, we’ve always called this place simply “The Market”.  Many of the people reading this may already know this, but this is basically THE BEST place to buy groceries in Metro Atlanta.  If buying fresh is your thing, this is the place you need to be every weekend.  And you have to go on the weekend.  It’s super crowded then, but it’s kind of a charming part of the experience.  Kind of like Disney World.  But I promise you that this place has every kind of fruit, veggie, wine, seafood, poultry, meat, cheese, and whatever else you can think of.  And the best part is that the prices here extremely reasonable.  “Whole Who?” you’ll ask.  I’ll tell you this: if you don’t buy anything else from here, get your spices and seasonings from here!  For example, a 2.37-ounce package of McCormick ground cinnamon can run upwards of $2 at the grocery store.  In our spice cabinet, there’s a 6.72-ounce container of ground cinnamon from The Market that we paid $1.26 for.  Three times as much for 2/3 of the price.  Trust me, folks.  I swear by this place.

2. Pallookaville Fine Foods – 17 North Avondale Road, Avondale Estates

Photo Credit: Ryan Sterritt at TellMeAboutYourDay.com

Now, to be honest, I haven’t been here before.  But it’s on my “must-try” list.  And they’ve recently added weekend brunch, so as long as they’ve got reasonably-priced mimosas, I’m down.  And of course, I’ll write a thorough review when I try it.  But the reason I’m listing it here is because it’s more or less the catalyst for all that’s going in the Avondale Estates food scene as of late.  I passed Palookaville on my way to and from one of my visits to The Market and it’s always busy, so they must be doing something right.  It’s definitely drawn more traffic to the little village than anything else I’ve seen.  Now, this isn’t a place I’d suggest for when you’re on a diet.  Pork seems to be a big thing for this place with corn dogs, frankfurter sandwiches, and pork burgers (that is, ground pork with bacon and spices) are the specialties.  I’ll keep you posted.

3. Skip’s Hot Dogs – 48 North Avondale Road, Avondale Estates

Photo Credit: Eric Cash at Creative Loafing Atlanta

Truth be told, you’re not going to find much of a taste of Chicago around here in the ATL.  You’ll be hard pressed to find a good deep dish pizza and Italian beef sandwich down this way.  Since Garrett’s Popcorn recently set up shop around here, though, maybe there’s hope that Giordano’s and Portillo’s will follow suit.  Damn, I still wish I had my old job, if only for those…

Anyway, In the meantime, there is one place to get a good Chicago-style hot dog: Skips Hot Dogs.  Now, I’m not a huge fan of the whole lettuce/tomato/pickle thing on a hot dog.  That’s for burgers in my opinion.  But far be it for me to begrudge anyone of having an honest-to-goodness Chicago-style dog.  But when I did visit Skip’s one time, I gave their Chili Cheese dog a try, and it was quite delicious!  It’s a good place to grab a quick bite without having to stop at one of the big chains.  If you’re going to get fast food, it might as well be good fast food.

4. Southern Culture Artisan Foods – 251 Rio Circle, Decatur

Photo Credit: Southern Culture

I was doing some shopping at Lenox Square one day when I decided to go in Williams-Sonoma.  This young lady was giving out samples of these delicious pancakes and sausage.  She was selling her Shortstacks mix in the store that day and it was nice seeing a young black person like myself have an idea and run with it, so I supported her buy bringing home a couple of containers of her salted bourbon pecan and banana pudding flavored pancake mixes.  But then, I had trouble finding it again for a couple of years.  Well, fast forward a couple of years and a successful appearance on Shark Tank later, founder Erica Barrett has opened up a whole store selling her yummy mixes that have become known to little guys like me and world-famous celebrities alike.  And she’s expanded her line to include sweet bacon rubs and savory truffled grits.  Her shop just opened this week, and I hope to pay it a visit this weekend.

5. The Very First Waffle House – 2719 East College Avenue, DecaturPhoto Credit: RoadsideWonders.net

For those of you who don’t know, Avondale Estates is sort of a mecca of foodie-ism since it’s the birthplace of where many Southerners have spent late nights eating away the drinks consumed earlier that evening: Waffle House.  Now, technically, you can’t actually eat at this original WaHo, but it’s there in all it’s old-school glory to take a tour of on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  But it’s really neat to see where the first big yellow sign that now scatters and covers the South stood.  And if you’re really craving an All-Star Special, there’s a fully-operational newer restaurant just a few blocks down the street.

Personally, I’d love to see Avondale Estates blossom in general, and especially as a hub for food and drink.  There’s word of new development coming to the site of an old Fenner-Dunlop plant on Laredo Drive, effectively multiplying the size of the village.  So maybe some more restaurants and markets are on their way.  Time will tell!

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