ATLANTA -- Go ahead and make your funny little jokes about how confusing it is to navigate the roads in Atlanta. It's OK. We get it all the time.
"Head down Peachtree, take a left on Peachtree, hang a right at the dead end on to Peachtree and turn into the Peachtree parking deck to visit the Peachtree Tavern."
While there are locals like myself who have been here for 38 years or longer, the culture in the city has transformed into a virtual gumbo of people from all places and walks of life. The 1996 Olympics and big business boom of the 1990s brought transplants from all over the country into our city, and that growth hasn't slowed since the turn of the century. Atlanta isn't just a southern city anymore.
When the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams fans hit the football capital of the south to take in Super Bowl LIII, make the jokes in earnest, but also take in some of the great places to eat, drink and visit in a city that is loaded with entertainment options.
Let's break down some of the hot spots in town to visit during Super Bowl week. Please note that I didn't work in a "Hotlanta" reference in the previous sentence. We hate that.
Cliff's Notes guide to barbecue
You're in town, and you want some true southern barbecue, right? There are plenty of options, so let's hit the highlights. Fox Bros. (1238 DeKalb Ave NE in East Atlanta) is probably the spot you've heard of more than the others thanks to its frequent appearances on Food Network, ChowHound and other outlets. If you go, get the brisket. Off the beaten path, there are tremendous options that you have to hit. B's Cracklin Barbecue (2061 Main St NW in West Atlanta) has a southern coastal flavor, and is the best barbecue in the city. Order the sampler plate with pulled pork, brisket and cracklin' cornbread. You won't regret it. If Korean barbecue is more your style, Heriloom Market (2243 Akers Mill Rd SE in Smyrna) is for you. It's located in the same building as a run-down convenience store, and everybody knows hole-in-the-wall barbecue is the best barbecue.
More contemporary dining
If barbecue is too old-school for you, check out the new-school by hitting Ponce City Market (675 Ponce De Leon Ave NE in East Atlanta). Billed as "Culinary Central of the South," the historical landmark has been transformed into a vibrant food hall that features award-winning chefs serving multiple styles of local, national and international dishes in a social atmosphere that can't be beat. Banshee (1271 Glenwood Ave SE) is another spot to hit up on the east side. The menu changes by season, and the atmosphere is fun and vibrant. If you're looking for some fun, check out Gunshow (924 Garrett St.) from renowned chef Kevin Gillespie. It's like food gambling. Each chef creates one dish per night, and each one is brought by your table. You either accept or reject the dish, and don't get another shot at ordering it if you decided to pass.
Did you say steak?
Oh, we have steaks. Bones (3130 Piedmont Rd NE) in the heart of Buckhead has been a staple in town for decades, and the French Onion Soup is a must-order before the perfectly-cooked steaks make it to the table. Just up the road, Chops and Chops Lobster Bar (70 West Paces Ferry Rd NW) are sister restaurants where Atlanta's elite meet. If you want to venture out of the heart of Atlanta, 101 Steak (3621 Vinings Slope SE) in Vinings is a relatively new establishment that will blow you away.
Get your drink on
Marcel (1170 Howell Mill Rd NW) is the place for you high-class drinkers. With the feel of a 50's-style lounge and top shelf scotch, it's a great lounge to relax, sip and socialize. Just east of the city in historic Decatur, Kimball House is a contemporary bar with creative mixology located in an old train depot. If old-school is your jam, Northside Tavern (1058 Howell Mill Rd NW) blasts out blues, cheap PBR, Wild Turkey -- with an occasional incognito celebrity mixed in. Talk sports, politics and everything in-between at Manuel's Tavern (602 N Highland Ave NE) in Virginia Highlands, and visit the birthplace of the name "Buckhead' at Atlanta's hometown sports bar Irby's (322 East Paces Ferry Rd NE), right in the heart of Buckhead.
If you still haven't marked your calendar for the Super Bowl, the game will be kicking off from Atlanta on Feb. 3 and will be televised by CBS and you can stream it right here. If you're thinking about buying a new TV for the big game, CNET has you covered. They shared their best picks for every budget.
Tour the town
There are plenty of attractions to take in within the city limits and outside the perimeter (I-285). Weather in January and February is always a craps shoot, but a hike up Stone Mountain only takes a couple of hours, and is suitable for exercise hounds and those just looking for a nice afternoon outing. Back downtown near Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the College Football Hall of Fame, the Georgia Aquarium, Skyview Atlanta, the Center for Civil and Human Rights and the World of Coca-Cola are all located in within one square mile of each other around Centennial Olympic Park. Just east of downtown, The King Center and Carter Center are great locations to learn about the lives of Martin Luther King, Jr. and President Jimmy Carter.
Atlanta has plenty to "show" for it
A trip to Atlanta wouldn't be complete without a trip to the Fabulous Fox Theater (660 Peachtree St NE) in midtown. Smokey Robinson will take the stage on Jan. 26 (the Saturday prior to Super Bowl week), Disney's DCappella will follow it up one night later. Just up the road at the Alliance Theatre (1280 Peachtree St NE), the musical Ever After is in the middle of a month-long run that can provide a little culture for your trip. If you want a little laughter in your life, Punchline (3652 Roswell Rd) has different acts all week, and the Basement Theatre (175 W Wieuca Rd NE) -- which is literally a small theatre in the basement of an office building -- has PG-rated improv at 8 p.m. and the raunchy R-rated version at 10 p.m.
But for the true Super Bowl fan, you can't go wrong with the Super Bowl Music Fest next door to Mercedes-Benz Stadium at State Farm Arena. The lineup features Aerosmith, Post Malone, Bruno Mars, Cardi B and more, and is right in the center of all of the Super Bowl festivities.
Swing those sticks
If the weather cooperates -- and it looks like it might -- tee it up at one of countless metro area golf courses. If you know somebody who can get you on at Piedmont Driving Club, Capital City Club, East Lake Golf Club or the prestigious Peachtree Golf Club, take them up on it and never, ever lose that person as a friend. For the rest of you (us), Chateau Elan, Achasta, County Club of the South, Bear's Best, Reynolds Lake Oconee and Legacy on Lanier are just a few of the top-tier courses located within an hour of the city.
One last word of advice …
Don't be afraid to venture OTP (outside the perimeter). The city of Atlanta is wonderful, but there are plenty of other entertainment options outside I-285 including The Battery Atlanta, wineries in the north Georgia mountains near Dahlonega, the Appalachian Trail and plenty of hiking options along the Chattahoochee River, Flint River, Lake Lanier, Lake Oconee and other parks in the area.