4/15/11: Eating Atlanta

Too often, Tech students limit their food options to standard on-campus fare without realizing there are dozens of restaurants on the Tech perimeter. The lunchtime hamburger should be a sufficient reason to jump just off campus to grab some good grub during those solid eight-hour class days.

While making your way to labs and classes require a brisk walk everywhere, four fast-service restaurants are just within reach: Junior’s, Five Guys, Burger Joe’s and Goodfella’s. For those who seek less grease and more of an experience, two full-service restaurants, Grindhouse Killer Burgers and FLIP Burger Boutique, are not far.

First, the Tech landmark restaurant Junior’s deserves its top pick for this roundup, combining service, quality, price and location. For a mere $5.55, the burger basket includes a quarter pound burger with all the fixings, fries and a fountain drink. If Tommy’s manning the register, you’ll have the kindest service found at any similar restaurant, and he is always on top of any issues you may have.

The hamburger tastes homemade and is just greasy enough to soak the bun a little by the first bite. To counter this, eating it upside down prevents any major structural failure of the supportive buns. The fries are not the most flavorful around, but the seasoned salt makes up for it. As for location, there is nothing better than having this meal just behind Tech Tower ready in about five minutes during peak hours.

Next on the list is Five Guys on Northside and 10th Street, a national chain genuinely dedicated to making one thing very well and with fantastic ethics. Their burgers are definitely greasy, but this is not the kind of place to work into a diet. All 15 toppings are free, but be warned: a regular hamburger for $5.99 with everything on it will require you to have no scruples about stuffing your face in public. You could even order this meat heap without the bun. The sheer joy of eating such a once-in-a-few-months burger should suffice in this case, however.

The retro diner uses peanut oil to fry the best fries in the area, yielding the salivation-inducing greasy paper bag patrons leave with. In fact, ordering their smallest fry option ($2.59) is enough to feed two, and if someone gets fry-happy and decides to scoop a few more cups-worth of fries in your bag, which can happen, be prepared.

A final suggestion, though not recommended, for a fast lunch is Burger Joe’s on Marietta Street. For $5.99, a freshly made, although rather unappealing, standard hamburger with the usual toppings will be paired with a surprisingly good bag of fries. The fries are notably crunchy, that is, they are probably rolled in cornmeal to provide a regular fry with about a 70% coverage of pure crunch per fry. They are, however, very greasy, and for this price and this greasiness, you would bebetter off down the street at Five Guys.

Deserving an honorable mention is Goodfellas Pizza and Wings on the corner of Spring St. and North Ave. Though primarily a pizza place, their Godfather Burger for $6.95 is a fine meal and a smart alternative for those realizing their error in dining at the unmentionable “V” across the street. The burger is similar to Junior’s, but it feels a little more substantial, and the fries are a little better.

When you have a little more time to venture further from campus, there are two more interesting burger places to visit.
FLIP Burger Boutique hosts local celebrity chef Richard Blais’ creations in the realm of sandwiched patties. The 5.5 ounce beef patties hover just under $10, but the $14 local organic grass-fed beef burger and $20 black diamond steak and foie gras burger are definitely overpriced.

Toss in options like turkey, lamb, shrimp, chorizo, chicken, tuna and chickpea for your burger with a very respectable bar selection, and a good weekend meal with friends is made. Make sure you get there before the crowd, though. It’s about an hour wait by 9 p.m,. and no reservations are taken.

For less of a wallet crunch and more of an interesting take, try Grindhouse Killer Burgers in the Sweet Auburn Curb Market near Georgia State University. Near the back of the historical market full of butchers and vegetable stalls, a projector shows campy 70s and 80s samurai and grindhouse films on the old brick wall behind the counter.

These burgers are less messy than Five Guys’ burgers, but the taste is certainly better with the perfect degree of char. Whether there are one or two patties of fresh ground beef, turkey or bean/quinoa, for the price of $3.99 and $5.99 respectively, on a fresh potato bun and nice crisp fries for $1.99, this dedicated diner is a lesser-known Atlanta favorite with great food.


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