Photo by Tyler Meuter

Just a short five minute drive from Tech is Ponce City Market, an expansive combination of dining, shopping, office space and apartments housed in the historic Sears, Roebuck & Co. building across from the Old Fourth Ward Park.

Upon arrival, visitors will be asked to pay $2 per hour for parking, which is common in the Atlanta area though the parking lot was only half full. On the positive side, the first $1 is donated to the Atlanta Beltline, a concept first introduced in a thesis by former Tech student, Rayan Gravel.

Once out of the parking lot, it is impossible not to notice the beauty of the renovated Sears, Roebuck & Co. building. Ponce City Market really is quite a remarkable environment in which to eat or shop. Built in 1926, the building provides a certain nostalgic feel for anyone who enjoys architecture.

Having arrived late for dinner, most of the shops were closed; however, it was obvious that there was a vast selection of shops and visitors could find most of what they would want. In fact, the market is so large that it takes several minutes to get to the Central Food Hall that is advertised as “similar to the legendary food hall at Chelsea Market in Manhattan,” which Ponce City Market’s developers also own. The best way to describe the food hall is to say it was like an urban, hipster food court.

Trying to find a place to eat that would provide a full stomach and a full wallet was about as challenging as trying to schedule Fridays off as a freshman. After spending 20 minutes looking at different restaurants’ menus and leaving seeing $40 steaks and $6 beers, El Super Pan, a Latin-inspired sandwich restaurant by Atlanta chef Hector Santiago, appeared to be within the price range of a typical college student while providing some solid food.  Substantial in quality and quantity, the Cuban sandwich is an excellent choice for around $12.

While most of the restaurants were expensive for those on a budget, the Market should be commended for its diverse selection. In addition, most of the restaurants had a decent sized selection at the bar.

For consumers who are willing to spend the money, the market is a good place to go for an afternoon. It has high quality food, plenty of selection and an interesting environment with tons of stores in to shop. If strapped for cash, a discerning consumer will find that the Market is still a great experience.