We toured Atlanta to find the best, most nutritious restaurants the city has to offer. Here's a unique guide to good eating and great exercise for hungry travelers.
How we did the math: This series is meant as a fun guide to experiencing a city through the Cooking Light lens. All calculations are rough estimates and should be seen as a starting point for your own adventure.
Calorie burns were estimated using this calculator. The approximations are based on how vigorous the activity level is for a 150-pound woman—for example, a stroll around a farmers’ market was calculated at a lower burn than when we tell you to pick up the pace.
We estimated steps at an average of 2,000 steps per mile walked.
All calorie calculations for the meal selections we recommend were rough estimates based on inputting similar dishes and ingredients into this calculator.
Just because you're in a sprawling metropolis doesn't mean that you can't find an honest-to-goodness Southern breakfast. Steps from where Margaret Mitchell wrote Gone With the Wind is Empire State South, the Atlanta perch of James Beard Award winner Hugh Acheson.
While Southerners have long loved to sop biscuit and sausage with syrup, here executive chef Joshua Hopkins puts sorghum syrup in his pork links, serves them with a biscuit so tender it crumbles to the touch, and adds a drizzle of honey. Pair with a side of creamy grits and slurp down a cup of custom-brewed coffee—the perfect jolt to spring you east down 10th Street to Piedmont Park. A steady hike around the 1.7-mile Park Loop will limber you up for the next stage of your journey.
You're rolling now — to lunch, that is. Rent a bike at Skate Escape, directly across Piedmont at 12th Street. Follow the bike path east along 10th Street to MetroFresh, where actor-chef Mitchell Anderson offers seasonal soups, salads, and sandwiches. The omnipresent Mitchili (clever, right?) is his take on a deliciously meaty turkey chili.
Next comes a chocolate fix. Bike up Virginia Avenue to Cacao Atlanta Chocolate Co., and sample one of chocolatier Kristen Hard's bean-to-bar epiphanies. Since you are in Jimmy Carter country, why not make it the Crushed Peanut Brittle? You've earned a sweet treat for the 7-mile bike trek in front of you.
Wheel back down Virginia Avenue to the Eastside Trail of the Atlanta Beltline. The smartest thing to happen to this car-clogged city in years, the BeltLine is transforming a 22-mile path of abandoned railroad corridors into a multiuse "transit greenway" for runners, strollers, pedalers, and posers. Head south to Inman Park on the 2¼-mile east trail, stopping for a refreshing grapefruit-hibiscus ice pop at King of Pops.
From here, consider a side trip to nearby Oakland Cemetery. The 164-year-old cemetery is a repository of Victorian statuary, Confederate obelisks, and stunning downtown views. Return to Piedmont Park via the BeltLine, stopping at Park Tavern for a refreshing, aptly named Eastside Trail Pale Ale. Drop your bicycle back at Skate Escape, and proceed to the Midtown Marta Station.
Let someone else drive—you've earned a break. Take Atlanta's rapid-rail to the Decatur Station, epicenter of the city's craft cocktail movement and some of its better eateries. At chef Billy Allin's Cakes & Ale, dig into the roasted wild salmon with chickpea puree, farro, and pickled cabbage with Brussels sprouts and kohlrabi.
Now go for a half-mile walk around Decatur's picturesque square, ending the night at Paper Plane, where bartender Paul Calvert pours in a speakeasy-like room. A recent menu riffed on Atlanta neighborhoods: Perhaps the North Druid Hills (aquavit, mastic, lemon, and honey) or the Cabbagetown (mezcal, lime, Aperol, ancho chile, tonic) will inspire your next tour of this Southern gem.