BY BRENT DEY // PHOTOS BY AUDRA MELTON // ILLUSTRATION BY KERRY HYNDMAN
Once a frontline in the Civil War’s Battle of Atlanta, East Atlanta Village, or as locals call it, EAV, is now home to one of the city’s quirkiest neighborhoods. Boutiques, bars and public art murals stand among historical markers, which are in turn watched over by a giant, but whimsical dragon named Sang Bu. Find them all when you point your Zipcar down Flat Shoals Avenue into the hip heart of independent Atlanta.
1. East Atlanta Strut (eastatlantastrut.com) We encourage you to zip, but East Atlanta is all about the strut. Each September, the neighborhood closes its streets so they can be danced upon. Bands set up on street corners, local artists sell their wares and people come out for one last strut in the sun before winter comes and brings what we Southerners consider to be cold weather. If you can’t make the Strut’s 5K or parade, don’t worry—the neighborhood has a festival for every season, including the Beer Festival in the spring, B*ATL in the summer and the EAV Farmers Market every Thursday evening from April through December.
Chat with local farmers and stock up on fresh veggies, homemade goods, and warm Atlanta nights at the East Atlanta Village Farmers Market.
2. Argosy (470 Flat Shoals Avenue SE; 404-577-0407; argosy-east.com) Argosy’s restaurant anchors the neighborhood with its unique design. Carved mermaids, porthole windows and the sheer size of the curved, exposed-wood ceiling give the impression that you’re in the belly of an overturned galleon. Cavernous but cozy, you’ll find plenty of little nooks to tuck away and sip on cocktails - try the Rye Buck or Freckle. An entire meal could be had from the menu’s starters section alone, but you’ll want to save room for the wood-fired pizza or house-crafted hot dogs, which are ground from in-house sausage. Pull out any of the tattered old board games from the back of the room and linger on the lounge chairs long into the night.
From the Jimmy Jam hot dog to the Don-a-Tello wood-fired pizza, you’re in for a satisfying dinner at Argosy.
3. The EARL (488 Flat Shoals Avenue SE; 404-522-3950; badearl.com) Come for the burgers, stay for the rock and roll. This place was literally hand-built by the owner. Bullet holes in the front window are testament to the neighborhood’s pre-gentrified days. Follow the graffiti-stained walls to the back room where locals like Cat Power and The Black Lips played their earliest gigs and must-see acts still come weekly. If you miss the show, you can always stop by early on Sunday afternoons for ‘dunch’—a hangover-friendly mix of acoustic music and one of the best plates of breakfast in town.
Get your music amped-up or un-plugged with electric and acoustic shows at The EARL.
4. Living Walls Murals (561 Flat Shoals Avenue SE; livingwallsatl.com) The Living Walls conference brings the best emerging street artists from around the world to Atlanta to create surreal and wondrous murals. It’s an open-air art gallery with new paintings added each year. Start at Interesni Kazki’s interesting mural on the side of Argosy and find the rest using the map available at livingwallsatl.com.
Take a tour of projects sponsored by Living Walls, which seeks to promote art in public spaces and stimulate dialogue about the changing urban environment.
5. Joe’s East Atlanta Coffee Shop (510 Flat Shoals Avenue SE; 404-521-1122; facebook.com/pages/Joes-East-Atlanta-Coffee-Shop/). Desks, sofas and mismatched chairs give Joe’s East Atlanta Coffee Shop the comfy feel of your grandmother’s living room – if your grandma was hip enough to hang outlandish art from Atlanta legend R. Land on her walls. Plenty of outlets turn virtually every seat in the house into a workstation and the Intelligentsia coffee will keep you humming all day with the guilt-free comfort of knowing that it is percolated with Direct Trade beans. Need a break? Slip out with a scone to the metal chairs out front for the best people watching in the Village.
Get your fix with Intelligentsia coffee, comfy chairs, and a one-of-a-kind replication of The Creation of Adam on the ceiling (with Adam and God sharing a cup of joe, naturally).
6. The Midway Pub (552 Flat Shoals Avenue SE; 404-584-0335; themidwaypub.com) On any night out in East Atlanta, you’re bound to touch down on Midway’s aircraft-carrier-sized patio. With TVs at the bar and whiskies and imported beers lining the walls, it’s a sports bar that doesn’t feel like a sports bar. But why stay glued to the TV when you can play bocce ball out back or darts and an assortment of video games inside? A full range of vegetarian menu items gives the option of eating bar food that’s actually healthy. (That is, if you can resist the bacon-soaked collard greens, Guinness-battered chicken tenders and decadent grit cake BBQ pork stack.)
Start off your night at The Midway Pub for Guinness Chicken Tenders and a cold pint.
7. 13 Roses Tattoos (524 Flat Shoals Avenue SE; 404-880-0713; thirteenroses.squarespace.com) Wanna get inked like the doorman at the EARL? Take the narrow staircase above the Flatiron Bar down an elegantly wood-paneled hallway lined with a museum-quality collection of vintage flash (the little drawings used to give patrons ideas for tattoos). The place is as classy as a tattoo parlor can be. If you chicken out, cue up for a game of pool with the best view of EAV.
Leave your needle-averse friends in the waiting room to play pool while you get inked up at 13 Roses Tattoo Parlour.
8. Village Garage and Custom (1215 Glenwood Avenue SE; 404-228-1120; facebook.com/pages/Village-Garage-and-Custom) If you’re a Zipster, you’re not one to worry about auto maintenance. Stop in anyway to check out all the vintage iron sitting in the lot, like Chevy Impalas needing engine implants and fifties Ford pickups getting dents dinged out. Mike and Travis won’t mind you hanging out in the theater seats out front, and if you want to take some vintage home, there’s an impressive collection of old cameras, turntables and radios for sale at the front desk.
You sure don’t miss the days of car ownership, but is it a crime that you still have a weakness for classic cruisers? Go window shopping at Village Garage and Custom.
9. Starlight Drive-In(2000 Moreland Ave SE; 404-627-5786; www.facebook.com/Starlight6) When the stars come out, head to the Starlight Drive In – one of the few places in America where you can still catch a movie from the front seat of your car. It’s a short drive from the EAV, but with a Zipcar you’ll make it in minutes. Zip over on Labor Day weekend when the lot is filled with classic cars, pin-up girls, rock and roll bands and b-movies during yet another great East Atlanta festival - the annual Drive Invasion.
Catch a flick at the Starlight Drive-In Theatre to get the same new movies and skip the pricey concessions.
The places we’ve mentioned just scratch the surface of this eclectic little neighborhood. There’s a lot of fun packed into the four blocks surrounding Flat Shoals and Glenwood - and a lot of history. Find out yourself! Reserve your Zipcar and begin your exploration.