Tuesday March 3, 2015

Fatooma Ali, Humber College public relations student

Ten years ago, I graduated from high school, quit my job and relocated to Atlanta, Georgia. I wanted to pursue my post-secondary education at Spelman College, which is a historically black liberal arts school for women. Once I realized that tuition tripled for international students, I decided against it. Apart of me wanted to return to Canada, but the other part of me wanted to explore life outside of my comfort zone. Despite the occasional downsides, I learned a lot about myself in that solitude and I also discovered some of the most amazing restaurants that I’ve ever been to in my entire life.

8. Pearl Restaurant & Lounge

I was never a big fan of seafood until I stumbled upon this hidden gem located in the heart of downtown, Atlanta. As an appetizer, I’d start with their mussels. Like everything else on the menu, they’re sautéed with old bay seasoning, and garlic butter. As for your entree, I’d recommend the rib-eye steak and snow crab legs. This entree is served with roasted red garlic potatoes and green beans. If you have any room left for dessert, I’d suggest their homemade banana bread with nilla wafers.

7. Papi’s Cuban and Caribbean Grill

The first time I walked into Papi’s, I felt like I was on an island from the sound of Cuban Rumba blaring through the speakers, salsa dancing, and bright colours that decorated the walls of the restaurant. Although everyone spoke English, I was greeted, seated, and served in Spanish. This is a traditional Cuban restaurant that takes pride in their identity, culture, and recipes of generations. The Pollo Cuban sandwich served with rice, black beans, and plantains is my favourite item on the menu.

6. Queen of Sheba

Queen of Sheba’s authentic decor, traditional music, and variety of menu items to choose from offers a taste of East African cuisine and culture. For vegetarians, I’d highly recommend the veggie platter, which consists of chopped collard greens, simmered in a mild sauce, red lentils simmered in red pepper sauce, cabbage, potatoes, and carrots. For meat lovers, I’d suggest the ‘doro wat’ which is a famous Ethiopian dish. It is chicken legs simmered in a spicy sauce served with a hard boiled egg and injera (Ethiopian bread).

5. Alluvia Lounge

Although Alluvia lounge is adjacent to the main stage of a gentleman’s club located in the midtown section of Atlanta, the food is phenomenal. They offer an upscale dining experience with luxurious seating and a wide selection of high quality cuisine. The blackened lobster tail served with cheesy grits and fried okra is a combination of delicious sauces and bold flavours, and by far the best item on the menu.

4. The Tavern

This restaurant has been around for over twenty years and is known for their atmosphere, patio, generous portions, and accommodating staff. It is also conveniently located right next door to a mall. This is a great place for appetizers, I’d recommend the blue crabs and Louisiana seafood gumbo which is a spicy soup with shrimp, oysters, and sausage over rice.

3. Bucc’s BBQ

This family owned restaurant was highly praised by locals as the best bbq in Atlanta, and they were absolutely right! They prepare medium, mild, and hot bbq sauces from scratch, and their menu offers a variety of inexpensive entrees to choose from. The beef-rib plate is cooked to perfection, and the meat falls right off the bone. It is served with potatoe salad, baked beans and homemade lemonade.

2. Glady’s Knights Chicken & Waffles

So is it breakfast or dinner? I guess it doesn’t matter when two of your favourite food items are deliciously combined. After seeing the name of this restaurant, I had to try it out for myself. I ordered the ‘Midnight Train’ special which was four southern fried jumbo chicken wings and one original waffle drizzled with warm maple syrup.

1. Busy Bee

You can never say that you’ve experienced what life is like in the south if you’ve never had traditional southern African-American food, also known as ‘soul food’. Busy Bee offers everything from fried chicken breast or fish, to baked chicken smothered in gravy, and turkey wings served with cornbread dressing. Side options include baked macaroni & cheese, candied yams, collard greens with smoked turkey, and fried green tomatoes. You won’t have any room for dessert, so you’ll have to order a peach cobbler to go, you’ll thank me later!

In addition to the savory dishes that I’ve had in the eight years that I spent living in Atlanta, it has been truly an adventure to discover a city through the mark left by its history. Isn’t it ironic that I went to a new place on my own to learn from a post-secondary institution, but instead I ended up learning about different cultures through food, music, and perfect strangers. If you think, and live outside of the box then you’ll learn life lessons that money can’t buy. It isn’t about the food, it is about the experience. When was the last time you went out to have a meal, and the experience moved you?

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