Where to Get Good Beer:
You know, we were going to write this section, but upon asking for help, received a much better rundown than we could have ever given from the legendary MagnaCarterGT. Many thanks go out to him for this awesome set of advice!
If you're looking for beer in Atlanta, you won't be short on options. If you want a big sports bar, you'll find two right across the street from each other in Midtown in the Hudson Grille and Taco Mac, which has the largest draught beer selection of anywhere in Atlanta. Taco Mac also has locations in Lindbergh, Decatur, and by Philips Arena, if you think you can fit yourself in there on Saturday.
If it's a smaller dive you're looking for, Rocky Mountain Pizza on Tenth and Hemphill and The Barrelhouse in Tech Square are favorites of Tech Students thanks to their proximity. There are also a few good dives at the intersection of Virginia Avenue and North Highland Avenue - where the Virginia-Highland community gets its name - such as Moe's & Joes, Highland Tap, and the original Taco Mac, which has a much different feel than its much larger children. If, however, you're looking for something a big fancier, there's theYard House in Atlantic Station - where, true to its name, you can order a yard of beer, and Ormsby's on Howell Mill, which is easily my favorite bar in Atlanta.
True beer snobs won't be disappointed either, as Atlanta lays claim to two of the best beer bars in America in the Brick Store Pub in Decatur and The Porter in Little Five Points; and several great brewpubs, including Max Lager's downtown, 5 Seasons on Marietta Street, and the Wrecking Bar, also in Little Five. All of these places serve excellent food alongside their excellent beer.
Finally, there are Atlanta's breweries. In the past few years the number of breweries around here has exploded from two to at least eight. Luckily three great ones are less than ten miles away: Red Brick and Sweetwater Brewing are the blue bloods of Georgia brewing, and Sweetwater's 420 Extra Pale Ale is the locals' favorite. Also in town are new kids on the block, Monday Night, whose Drafty Kilt is a damn fine scotch ale. If you visit a brewery, make sure to get as much out of the trip as you can, because thanks to Georgia's dumb liquor laws the breweries aren't allowed to sell beer to take away. You should be able to find plenty of it in stores, though.
Oh, speaking of stores: Atlanta also has quite a few good beer stores! Next to 5 Seasons you'll find Hop City, my sentimental favorite. The owner Kraig is a pretty cool dude, to boot. There's also Ale Yeah! in Decatur, and Green's, which is right by the world famous Murder Kroger on Ponce. Green's is also a good place for liquor for riotous celebrations/drowning your sorrows, as well as Tech student favorite Mac's in Midtown and Capital City on Howell Mill and Collier.
Where to Eat Good Food:
NOT THE VARSITY -- Don't fall into the tourist trap that everyone assumes is good simply because it's a landmark of Atlanta. Go by, take a picture next to it, scream "WHAT'LL YA HAVE" at someone, and move on. The food is really not worth it. If you truly want to eat something high quality near Georgia Tech's campus, try Antico Pizza, just north of campus on Hemphill. Run by legit Italian immigrants, it offers a very unique dining experience, and easily the best pizza in the city. Sure, they don't have a 5-5-5 deal like Domino's, but there's a good reason to pay their prices. Marlow's Tavern in Midtown is also near campus, and is a personal favorite. They've got some great food American-style, and a fully stocked bar to boot. Try the asparagus fries, trust me.
Over on Howell Mill, Yeah! Burger is another favorite of Tech students. I guess you'd call it a "burger boutique", but their concept is built around all-natural food. They offer grass-fed beef, bison, and turkey burgers, along with other, even more healthy options, and offer a wide variety of ways to dress up the burger. While we're at it, Yeah! Burger is not to be confused with Flip Burger, another boutique on Howell Mill that's owned by the same former Top Chef winner that also owns The Spence in Tech Square. The Spence is one of the fastest-growing local restaurants in terms of popularity, though it's more of an upscale-type restaurant. Meanwhile, Flip Burger is a boutique that's a little more expensive than Yeah! Burger, but with a nice bump up in food quality. If you go there, TRY THE MILKSHAKES. The Krispy Kreme Doughnut shake is to die for. Finally, we couldn't have a burger section without mentioning what's likely the best burger in the city -- The Vortex, with locations in Midtown and Little Five Points. If you're feeling particularly bold, go for the double coronary bypass.
If you're looking for a less American experience, check out Ri Ra's Irish Pub on Crescent Drive in Midtown. Be prepared to watch some non-American football while you're temporarily experiencing the heart of Ireland. Or maybe you just want some Tex-Mex food -- I'd highly recommend Tin Lizzy's Cantina, right down the street. They've got all of life's needs -- beer, queso dip, and margaritas, yea. Cajun food? Check out Front Page News, on the same street as the other two. This crafty Cajun-style restaurant turns into a roaring bar at night.
You're going to be in the South, so maybe you want to grab some barbecue during your stay? Check out Fox Bros Bar-B-Q in East Atlanta. It's a good ways away from the Georgia Dome, but the best barbecue in Atlanta is well worth the drive. If you want to venture even farther away, check out a close second in Fat Matt's Rib Shack in the region between Midtown and Buckhead. If you don't believe me on the quality, just ask Anthony Bourdain, who loves the place. Finally, within walking distance of the Dome is Daddy D'z BBQ Joynt. Only a mile and a half away (it's worth it, I promise), it provides a true cross between your typical southern food and some phenomenal barbecue.
NOT THE VARSITY -- I'm serious, take all the pictures you want, but don't waste a meal here if you really want to experience the city.
Where to Be Entertained
Some of the most successful companies in the world make their home in Atlanta, not the least of which is Coke. The World of Coca-Cola (within about a mile of the Dome, and closer to Philips Arena) takes you on an adventure through Coke products worldwide. Also, you'll get a chance to see more things with a Coca-Cola logo than you ever thought imaginable. Then, right down the street is the relatively new Georgia Aquarium. Opened in 2005, it was then the largest aquarium in the world, although that's since changed because we all know life's just a big competition of "mine's bigger".
If you're looking for something a little less lively (literally and figuratively), check out the Fernbank Museum of Natural History over towards Decatur. You'll walk in and immediately see a giant dinosaur, and wonder if anything else in there could possibly top that -- no worries, it can.
If you get into town early enough on Friday, one of my absolute favorite attractions is about 25 miles east of the Georgia Dome. Head out to Stone Mountain Park by 8:30pm on Friday (or Sunday) to sit on a huge lawn and see an incredible laser show. Take a picnic and enjoy the weather, in the case that the weather actually cooperates. (You'll come to find out that it can be extremely schizophrenic in this city.)
Atlanta's a fantastic city that's very diverse in population and attractions. If you're heading into town for the Final Four this weekend, take some time to take in some of its wonderful offerings. Welcome to Atlanta, we're glad to have you here.
Locals -- any favorites you care to add to this quick and dirty rundown?