Atlanta is a relatively young city: only incorporated in 1847, it was little more than a minor transportation center until the Civil War, when its accessibility made it a good site for the huge Confederacy munitions industry – and consequently a major target for the Union army. In 1864 Sherman's army burned the city, an act immortalized in Gone with the Wind. Recovery after the war took just a few years: Atlanta was the archetype of the aggressive, urban, industrial "New South," furiously championed by "boosters" – newspaper owners, bankers, politicians and city leaders. Industrial giants who based themselves here included Coca-Cola, source of a string of philanthropic gifts to the city. Heavy black immigration to Atlanta increased its already considerable black population and led to the establishment of a thriving community centered around Auburn Avenue.
Very few of Atlanta's buildings predate 1915, and nothing at all survives from before 1868. Its characters, on the other hand – politicians and newspaper people – have changed little, and the "booster" tradition has continued to the present, peaking spectacularly when Atlanta won the right to host the 1996 Olympics. The bid to convince the world of the city's prosperity and sophistication was led by city leaders such as ex-mayor Andrew Young (the first Southern black congressman since Reconstruction, who became Carter's ambassador to the UN) and flamboyant former CNN magnate Ted Turner.
Today's Atlanta is at first glance a typical large American city. Its population has reached 3.5 million, and urban sprawl is such a problem that each citizen is obliged to travel an average of 34 miles per day by car – the highest figure in the country. Cut off from each other by roaring freeways, bright lights and an enclave mentality, its neighborhoods tend to have distinct racial identities – broadly speaking, "white flight" was to the northern suburbs, while the southern districts are predominantly black. That said, the city is undeniably progressive, with little interest in lamenting a lost Southern past. Since voting in the nation's first black mayor, Maynard Jackson, in 1974, it has remained the most conspicuously black-run city in the US, and an estimated 200,000 black fami lies streamed in from states further north in the 1980s alone. The Olympics may not have been the triumph Atlanta so eagerly anticipated – even before the Centennial Park bombing tarnished the event itself, years of disruption and grandiose construction projects had left many Atlantans wondering whether the city had lost more than it gained – but with its ever-increasing international profile, cosmopolitan blend of cultures and hip local neighborhoods, the spirit and dynamism of modern Atlanta is a far cry indeed from its much-mythologized Deep South roots.
Atlanta has some of the finest places to dine. Many premier restaurants and nationally known chefs call Atlanta home. Every type of food or ethnic flavor can be found here. Given below are a few restraunt's with a description of their cusine and ambience.
Chow Downtown- Big open windows and patio give you a panoramic view of the city. Chow's versatile selection includes seafood, southwestern, middle eastern and brunch
Mick's- This restaurant is located in Underground Atlanta and is a reason in itself for visiting. Like much of the Underground, it is designed to look like an underground city street and gas street torches.
Pleasant Peasant- This little slice of Manhattan inhabits what was once a drugstore. New menu every day. Sumptuously prepared dishes such as steak, chicken, seafood, and vegetarian, all of which are served with salad, vegetables and bread at dinner. Lunch is equally as lavish.
Varsity- Self proclaimed, "World's largest drive-in restaurant" has been an Atlanta staple for almost 75 years. 150 feet of chrome diner stand and formica booths serve up Atlanta's premier fast food. Burgers, hot dogs, barbeque, chicken and egg salad sandwiches and even chili burgers.
Hsu's Gourmet Chinese- Casual dining featuring Cantonese and Hong Kong influenced food. Fresh fish and duck are specialties.
Bertucci's Brick Oven Pizzeria- You just can't beat a gourmet brick oven pizza. Whatever you might want on a pizza they have here, even seafood.
Taste of New Orleans- Conscientious Cajun Creole cooking conscientiously concocted by chef and owner John Beck. Lots of good Cajun seafood, gumbo, duck and jambalaya in a casual setting with plenty of warm ambiance.
Mary Mac's Tea Room- An Atlanta tradition since 1945. Former President Carter, among others, frequented this place. Entrees such as chicken pan pie with abundant amounts of giblet gravy, buttermilk battered fried fish and chicken, salad bar, fresh veggies, and corn bread with chicken and turnip brothed pot likker gravy make this place very special.
French Quarter Food Shop- After you finish a bona fide Cajun meal, meander on into the gift shop and get some genuine Louisiana groceries to go. Real Creole cooking by certified Louisiana chefs and owners Missy and Tony Privat.
Atlanta Fish Market- It is worth going here just to see the 3 story, 50 ton fish sculpture. And the food's good, too. Elegant yet casual dining with an emphasis on fresh seafood. Specials and fresh fish charbroiled, steamed and fried every day.
Buckhead Diner- Just like the diners you see in the movies, all chromatic and neon on the outside. This place is hopping with locals and occasional celebrities like Elton John.
Houston's- This restaurant, one of a nationwide chain based in Atlanta, serves good food such as wood grilled burgers, ribs, chicken and salads.