In addition to local retailers and six James Beard Award-winning restaurants (yes, I said six), the multi-level marketplace also features apartments and lofts. My favorite part of the market, however, was the rooftop Nine Mile Station, an elevated beer garden/casual restaurant with sweeping views across Atlanta from Buckhead to Downtown.
Following an outdoor picnic accompanied by a beer flight (the Founders Green Zebra -- ale brewed with watermelon and sea salt was terrific), I headed over to the adjacent Skyline Park, and tested my skill at all manner of old-time carnival games.
It's easy to see why Ponce City Market has become a rallying point for people citywide.
Beyond the BeltLine
Another neighborhood that has put the East Side on the map is Cabbagetown, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. While lauded for its architecture -- an eclectic collection of Victorian, Romanesque, Bungalow and Craftsman styles -- it is the street art that really defines the area.
The Krog Street Tunnel that connects Cabbagetown with Inman Park has become Ground Zero for the murals, and these are not your ordinary efforts by would-be artists trying to get their message across.
You might say it is a juried art show in concrete and brick. There is an organization overseeing all the art and potential muralists must be invited to share their work. There are op art murals inspired by Andy Warhol; visionary murals inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien and Hieronymous Bosch, and amusing murals inspired by Stan Lee and his vintage comic books. An afternoon spent exploring and photographing all of them is time well spent.
More time well spent would be hopping aboard an ATL-Cruzer for an Eastside Electric Car Tour. The guided 90-minute tour showcases both the scenic vistas and historic significance not just of Atlanta's East Side neighborhoods but of those that adjoin them, including Inman Park and the Old Fourth Ward, home to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Historic Site.
A Food and Drink Lover's Paradise
Atlanta's East Side has also captured the attention of foodies from Anthony Bourdain to James Beard judges. But if you're thinking the cuisine might be too high-falutin' for you, think again. This is Southern cooking raised to the highest level. You won't find anything better than the fried chicken and pimento cheese fritters at Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall, the first outdoor-oriented restaurant/bar to open on the BeltLine Eastside Trail.