We asked Kyle Kessler, architect and Atlanta Downtown Neighborhood Association vice-president, to tell us what he loves about living in his neighborhood.

Why I Love Downtown
Downtown is everyone’s neighborhood, and some of us are lucky enough to also call it home. It’s a community that welcomes visitors and locals where Atlanta’s unique past, present, and future meet. Downtown is the center of it all – whether you’re talking about business, government, tourism, sports, art, shopping, transportation, education, dining, or pretty much anything else. It has a rich abundance of history, buildings, streets, people, stories, and history that you can’t find anywhere else.

Where to Eat
Everything on the menu at Lunacy Black Market (lunacyblackmarket.com) on Mitchell Street is delicious, so skip the menu entirely and let owners Paul and Cynthia cook whatever they want. Don’t be surprised if you fall in love with foods you previously refused to eat. Get to know the locals by heading to Sidebar (sidebaratlanta.com), which cleverly located across Poplar Street from the US Court of Appeals. Order “The Downtowner” pressed sandwich with a side of tots. You can grab a seat outside, but don’t block the alley. When the weather’s nice, head to Centennial Olympic Park where you can enjoy a burger and fries from Googie Burger (googieburger.com) while watching kids of all ages play in the Fountain of Rings. Don’t forget to leave room for a PB&J or peach milkshake. For a little more romance, head for the lofty interiors at Peasant Bistro (peasantatl.com) overlooking the park. You can’t go wrong with the French onion soup and a glass of Pinot Gris. If you’re in a rush, Yumm Teriyaki (yummteriyakiatlanta.com) at the corner of Peachtree and MLK is a quick-service, cooked-to-order hibachi restaurant. They’re open late seven days a week and offer delivery if you’re tied up elsewhere in the city.

Where to Shop
While there are farmers’ market popping up in neighborhoods all over town, Downtown’s recently-renovated Sweet Auburn Curb Market (sweetauburncurbmarket.com) has been the best place to buy fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, and fish since it opened in 1924. If you can’t wait to get home, the market also houses many up-and-coming local restaurants and regularly hosts food trucks.  Housed in the historic Concordia Hall, Friedman’s Shoes (largefeet.com) has the largest selection of shoes you’re ever likely to see. With three floors filled with footwear ranging from size 7 to size 22, if the shoe fits…  Paul McCartney was so inspired by the Run Devil Run available at Miller’s Rexall (millersrexall.com) on Broad Street that he wrote a song about it and put the store on the album cover. Even if you’re not in the market for a hoodoo remedy, don’t be surprised to find an old-fashion medicine, ointment, or balm you’ll recognize from your grandparents’ medicine cabinet. The new and vintage furniture at Context (contextgallery.com) is museum-worthy, so feel free to window shop or step inside the showroom to be educated on contemporary design that you can touch without getting in trouble. You don’t have to buy a ticket for the World of Coca-Cola (worldofcoca-cola.com) to visit the gift shop. Be sure to check out the jewelry made from recycled Coke bottles and cans made by local artist Kathleen Plate.

Coming Up
Local galleries, studios, and lofts stay open late for the First Thursday Art Walk (downtownfirstthursdays.com). It’s a great way to unwind after work while getting a little exercise. Theatrical Outfit (theatricaloutfit.org) is performing Red, the Tony Award-winning play about artist Mark Rothko, throughout February at the Balzer Theater at Herren’s – the country’s first LEED-certified “green” theater. There’s not a bad seat in the house, and you’ll want to stick around for the talkback sessions after select performances. Who knew Darth Vader was Irish? Don’t forget to wear green as you watch leprechauns, bagpipers, dancers, and Imperial Stormtroopers march down Peachtree Street in Atlanta’s 130th St. Patrick’s Day Parade (stpatsparadeatlanta.com).

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.

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