A whole new world of food was revealed to me when I joined a food tour in Atlanta with Atlanta Food Walks.
Food is more than just something to keep our bodies going. Food has history. Food tells a story. Food is culture. And in Atlanta, food is exactly all that.
The best way to understand about food in Atlanta is by taking a food tour with Atlanta Food Walks. It’s informative, highly entertaining, and of course, delicious.
How did this food tour work?
We met our guide, Akila at a restaurant which was our first stop. From there, we walked a total of two miles leisurely from stop to stop in downtown Atlanta. Each stop (which was either a restaurant, store, or market) was spaced out perfectly so it didn’t feel like two miles.
The right amount of food was also provided- not too much that you couldn’t walk by the end of it and not too little to where you were wanting more.
How long is the tour?
The tour takes 3.5 hours.
How many stops were there?
7 stops. That may sound like a lot but as mentioned before, the ‘heavier’ tastings were spread out with smaller ones, including drinks in between.
What did we eat?
It’s a food walk in Atlanta so southern food was expected. This included a tasting of fried chicken and sweet potatoes.
And barbecued pork, mac and cheese, and collard greens. These and a tasting of grits were the heavier tastings.
Other tastings included freshly made juices and kale chips.
Cornbread and beans.
Pimento cheese and samoas (coconut and chocolate) crepes.
Praline and popcorn.
Is alcohol served at any stop?
Yes! Though as of this writing I am not yet 21 (the legal drinking age in the US). So as you can see, my grits was accompanied with an empty wine glass.
What did I learn?
The tour follows a story not only of the history of southern food in Atlanta, but of the Civil Rights Movement. Since this was a walking tour, we were shown points of interest that were related to the Civil Rights Movement.
But it wasn’t only history that was taught. We walked past other restaurants that we weren’t stopping for tastings at, but were recommended to visit at a later time.
There were also short stops to see and get explanations on things like a giant empty space, apparently used for filming movies.
And about street art in downtown Atlanta.
Who is the guide?
Akila McConnell is the founder of Atlanta Food Walks and led our tour. Akila meets all the high expectations you may have for a tour guide. She was knowledgeable, ready to answer any questions and knew a lot about her city.
She is not only a food expert, but a storyteller who can capture the attention of even the most uninterested person (but who doesn’t like either history, food or walking?!) with her powerful voice and engaging, almost suspenseful storytelling skills.
What were the highlights?
For me, I liked how we tasted ‘traditional’ southern food like fried chicken but there was also a mix of newer ‘inventions’ such as the pimento cheese crepe.
And as I always mention, I’m a believer in learning by doing or experiencing. Let’s face it, reading a textbook is boring. But it doesn’t get boring when someone who is passionate and knowledgeable (Akila, the tour guide) teaches and you can see with your own eyes (when walking) and taste with your own tongue (the food). Atlanta Food Walks provides this true way of learning.
Overall, the food was all delicious and as a New Yorker who walks a lot, I enjoyed getting to walk in another city too.
What else should you know?
Be prepared for any weather changes. During my visit, I thankfully had a much needed umbrella and rain coat handy when it started to rain towards the end of the tour.
Bathrooms are also readily available at the majority of the stops.
My TripAdvisor review basically sums it up:
Thanks to Akila on her food tour, I was able to explore a bit of Downtown on my short trip to Atlanta. Not only did I get to see Downtown, but of course, try delicious southern food (grits! cornbread! fried chicken! and more!) all while learning about the history of food and the Civil Rights Movement. Akila was informative, had great stories, and was super knowledgeable about the history of Atlanta and the food.
Company: Atlanta Food Walks
Tour Name: Downtown Southern Food Walk
Cost: $65 per person
Note: Thank you to Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau for sponsoring my ticket for the Atlanta Food Walks tour.