Eat my way through Atlanta’s biggest food festival

Photo of the article called Eating My Way Through Atlanta's Largest Food Festival

picture: So Jet Lin

Big crowds, long lines, and undisguised mouths soaring like a hungry little bird? A year ago, that might have seemed like a nightmare. But now, with restrictions loosening and outdoor gatherings once again in full swing, it was a voracious dream, Technicolor: a comeback. Atlanta Food and Wine Festival.

Over the past 11 years, the event has risen to become the largest festival of its kind in this emerging city, attracting foodies and food makers from all over the country. As the center of the Deep South and an active crossroads of culture and culinary innovation, Atlanta’s annual festival has built a reputation for being accessible and exciting.

Now, to make up for lost time and missed opportunities, 94 mega chefs (along with liquor brands and various other establishments) were represented at AFWF this September, featuring the Choose Your Own Adventure mode with two additional new events.

For me, one last transplant in the city and back to the south, All Part of it was a new adventure. I’ve never been to the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival, I still haven’t been to many of the hit restaurants that were participating, and I haven’t spent as much time as I like in the historic Old Forth Ward, where the bulk of the action took place. So this became as much a learning experience as it was an eating experience.

That’s what I learned along the way when my little bird’s wings flapped with its mouth and eyes wide open.

Photo of the article called Eating My Way Through Atlanta's Largest Food Festival

picture: So Jet Lin

Different events let you connect with food in different ways

As I mentioned, the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival is great in that it offers events for every type of foodie – and you’ll get the most enriching experience by trying events of different sizes.

For example, this year the festival started with a series of so-called intimate dinner, which was exactly that. They featured the highest number of seats and exclusive access to some of the city’s best restaurants, hosted by local culinary authorities whose recognition extends well beyond the South.

I attended an intimate dinner at dearAn upscale yet homely fashionable Israeli restaurant Westside provisions area, I was affected by reasons beyond the great representative of the establishment. I love to taste the unflavored and unfamiliar flavors of other cultures, this meal was introduced by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, with a menu by Chef Lior Leif Sirkars spicemaster I’m from New York. A loose cocktail hour preceded custom seating at side tables, providing two styles of socialization and instant new friends. Members of the media mingled with general foodies and guests – a mixed bag created a great starting point for conversation.

The second type of event was the themed tasting, which was held at the outdoor event venue. Unfortunately I missed sliced, 18+ station is a tribute to all the foods that can be cut, from pizza to pie to brisket to lasagna, because of my ticket to Aziza. However, you succeeded in it Cluck’dChicken and Cocktail Night.

We all know there are quite a few hotter topics these days than Fried Chicken Sandos Absolutely Which model?So, of course, I had to investigate. More than 20 stations, including spirits brands with nice mobile bars for carriages, justified the cost of entry, as did a lively DJ who kept the tunes rolling all night.

Finally, the headline: tasting tents. Large, packed, and fully loaded, this is the full growing up of the food craze. held in Forth Ward Historic ParkOn each of the two days, more than 60 vendors were present to spend an afternoon full of good meals, cold drinks, outdoor games, music and… Various celebrations. And like any good festival, there was a stage when the region’s top chefs revealed the tricks of their trade to an audience of foodies.

You don’t have to spend your whole day at a food festival

As someone with a nine-to-five job, I really appreciated that weekday events were scheduled with plenty of time for me to get out, drive, park, and get into the gates. Sliced ​​and Cluck’d events were from 7-10pm, so there was no pressure to dodge early, and I didn’t feel in a hurry once I got there.

Photo of the article called Eating My Way Through Atlanta's Largest Food Festival

picture: So Jet Lin

The main event was held over the weekend and for only a few hours at midday. With VIP admission (which arrives at you at 1pm instead of 2pm), you have four solid hours to drink and eat to your heart’s content. This is more than enough time to take the rounds, dance, step back for seconds, attend the demo, go thirds, and then consider your life options.

VIP is the way to be

“Do you really need that extra hour of eating?” you may ask. The answer is yes. If, like me, you’re prone to sudden breakouts and have less patience for streaks than a toddler, early access is well worth the investment.

General admission entry line gets long, sneaks around the corner of the garden and beyond. Alternatively, you can feel the sheer power of stepping into the significantly shorter VIP line to receive readily available food that is still hot after the five people in front of you have unloaded their goods.

While the queues for tasting tents get quite long for hot-ticketed items, don’t worry: Those around you will be eager to let you know if each item is worth the wait. Take, for example, the short rib sliders on duck fat brioche from 5- Atlanta ChurchFried chicken sandwiches from Soulfly chickenWest Indies Shrimp + Butter Crab Roll TGM . bread From Labeir steak and seafoodAnd lobster or bacon sweetened with eggs Soko Southern Kitchen & Oyster Bar– Yes, definitely worth sucking in and standing up for.

What I’ve learned is that the key to getting the best value out of any card (but especially a VIP card) is to start your early access as soon as possible. This means more than just getting to the venue at opening time. If you register your tickets as soon as they are available online, it’s $125 per person per day for VIPs, and $85 for general admission. This year, within eight weeks of the festival, prices have jumped to $99 for GA and $150 for VIPs.

Make room for the unexpected

While the food is the star here, there are a number of specialty spirits brands that make a trip to Atlanta for the event as well, and you won’t want to miss it. You will find some stylish or better funded brands and mobile straps at multiple events – ie I have to try blade and arc Cluck’d’s signature whiskey cocktail instead of waiting in long lines at the main event. This way, I was able to focus more on just weekend drinks like Aperol spritzes their own cocktail Hine Cognac, and Prosecco with Popsicles.

Photo of the article called Eating My Way Through Atlanta's Largest Food Festival

picture: So Jet Lin

It is also important to put your face in every little corner of the event that you can find. For example, a double-decker Coca-Cola truck was serving its little brew at the semi-hidden bar, making Coke Zero the champ. I’ve also found in quieter corners shorter lines, more one-on-one time with enthusiastic chefs, and larger portions (plus samples the size of truly Southern hospitality).

Finally, just because you know a great name, don’t rush to dismiss it. Bring me the spicy chicken Make big hikes from the menu you’re already known for, like Chicken Corn with Caviar and some incredible Chicken Salad Sliders.

Parking will suck, but only a little

Atlanta bars offer ample parking, so a trip into the city really made me realize this privilege. This is a driving city known for its traffic and no-nonsense spaghetti roads that shock towers, so yes, it can be hard to think of parking for a big event like the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival.

Here’s where I got the good news: Although it’s not very easy, it’s actually not that bad.

Not for real. Plenty of free on-street parking is available in the residential streets adjacent to Old Four Ward Park, or paid parking if you don’t mind showing up. The venue chosen for Sliced ​​and Cluck’d has a long commercial street with free parking, and Intimate Dinner restaurants are well-established venues with provisions for valet parking and self-parking. As long as you get to your event early and are willing to walk a quarter mile or so, it really wasn’t as much of a hassle as I expected. Believe me, those extra steps were absolutely necessary at the end of the feast.

Of course, Uber and Lyft are readily available in Atlanta if you want to forgo the idea altogether.

Two days are better than one

At first glance at the event map and after getting tired of parking, I wondered if I wanted to make the trip again for the second day of bingeing. But then, speaking to the event publicist, I learned that these days too Not Interchangeable and worth consecutive visits.

Photo of the article called Eating My Way Through Atlanta's Largest Food Festival

picture: So Jet Lin

Some restaurants choose to participate in only one day of the festival, making them exceptionally limited entries. There were so many restaurants I was so excited to discover on Sunday that I didn’t hear a hiss all week, like Versailles Restaurant by Chateau Elan And the Locate.

Even restaurants that are at more than one event may trade in what they serve. Chef Nick Leahy from the usual Served chicken and dirty rice croquettes at Cluck’d, then Pork Belly Slider on Saturdays. And what wasn’t in the news at all was that Day Two moved on to the tailgate theme, with football-oriented games and decor, plus fancy apps and comfort food that scored major points with a big crowd.

wear “eating clothes”

This is Atlanta, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at the number of amazing photo backgrounds that were at AtlFWF. From Crown Royal Whiskey Throne to display Aperol’s feathers on the swinging bench before a fake garden wall, it’s all social media fodder as rich as financier and blackberry bites to perfection Zocar Pastry.

However, my advice is to not let vanity get past your real reason for being there: to eat and drink to your heart’s content. Plaid clothing is your best friend, as it blocks spills, stains, and sweat all day long. Waistbands and baggy dresses are great ways to digest a ham sandwich in peace and comfort. And supportive shoes are a must – this isn’t a sit-and-eat type event, but an active consumption marathon.

Well, Atlanta. I’m ready for your next one. Make sure you bring the short rib sliders, okay?

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