Got an abundance of time until your flight from Atlanta leaves? If you’re like me, you’ll want to spend every minute on how to get a taste of the dirty south without going too far. Take a break from the world’s busiest airport and uber over to one of these three spots below. Just don’t forgot to bring me something back!
1) John’s Fine Soul Food Cafeteria
4161 Jonesboro Rd, Forest Park, GA 30297
Flying Atlanta to Tokyo is no joke. The 13 hour flight, especially depending on how many children are seated next to you, can really whither the soul. That’s why I’ve learned to include in my survival kit, a $10 plate from John’s Soul Food.
Food Photo: John’s Ribs, Candied Yams, Black Eyed Peas, and Corn Bread (Not Pictured)
Trust me, having mac ‘n cheese, bbq chicken, and corn bread to mop up all the fixings is just as essential as your earplugs. That’s why my usual ritual is to check in my bags, grab my boarding pass, and then dart back to the car, speeding towards John’s before coming back to rush through security and go to my gate. There in a modest cafeteria style building you can grab a to-go plate, but if you’re dining in the servings are piled even higher. I usually do both. Coming to Atlanta without a stop a John’s?! You should be ashamed of yo’self!
Sidenote: Their veggie plate is huge and a great deal too.
2) Pit Boss BBQ
856 Virginia Ave, Atlanta, GA 30354 When I start yapping all poetic about Pit Boss BBQ, someone usually incredulously asks, “Atlanta has good barbecue?” Let us now, wherever you are, bow your head in silence for this especially egregious type of ignorance.
Food Photo: Pit Boss Smoke Tinted Ribs with Cheese Grits, Grilled Butter Toast, and Macaroni and Cheese
Come my child, let me rub the liquid smoke off your eyes and welcome you to Atlanta where you don’t have to go far to experience real boss made smoked meats. The menu is huge, the dining room sparsely decorated, and the parking lot packed because I swear you can smell that hickory smoke from the ATL runway as soon as you land. Pit Boss’s BBQ chicken wings are perfect and frequently sell out. Their dry rubbed giant ribs are a great runner up and even their turkey wings are worth missing a flight for!
3) Spondivits Seafood and Bar
1219 Virginia Ave, East Point, GA 30344
Food Photo: Spondivits Surf & Turf (eaten at about 2AM)
They claim they’re world famous, I don’t know about all that. Shit, I’m from Atlanta and I can barely say the name of the restaurant. Anyway, what I will say about Spondivits, the priciest option on the list, is that they really can’t be beat for a great middle of the night meal. If you’ve ever had a plane delayed or flown standby and had time to kill around the airport after 10pm if can be really tough to get a decent meal without driving into downtown Atlanta. Spondivits is nearby, it’s open until 4am (not just open but serving food all night too) and I’m sure their bartenders can make the drink you need too. Spondivits is popular with the party crowd and most people come in for late night buckets of crab legs.
Don’t have enough time to leave the airport? Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport has some of the best food options of airports all over the world. There’s Sweet Auburn Market in the check-in and departures area and Jekyll Island Seafood once inside the passenger terminal. If you’re flying domestic there’s a ton of options including One Flew South and possibly Popeye’s (depending on how long you’ve been away from Atlanta lol… no judgement here). In fact there’s so many great options in the Atlanta airport, Serious Eats was inspired to create a guide of their recommendations for ATL, which has inspired the country to step up their offerings in airports.
Now if only we could get a decent mean ON the plane… until then I hope this inspires some plate smuggling, especially for those long flights!