One of the best things about Atlanta is its diversity. My dad told me that Atlanta is statistically more culturally diverse than New York City, and one cruise down Buford Highway will make you believe it. Within a five mile radius of the city you can find a place serving authentic cuisine from insert-any-country-name-here. That being said, I haven’t been taking advantage of it at all, so take this as my encouragement to you to get out and explore the neighborhood more often. You may find something you never would have tried otherwise, and that’s how this adventure began.
Earlier this month I had an unorthodox sort of girls day with my lovely friend Lindsey (but then again, any day in Atlanta is rather avant-garde). Every time Lindsey and I get together we seem to find the most unique things to do, and this outing was no exception.
She had been wanting to take me to this Ethiopian restaurant, which made me realize I had never had authentic African food before. I had also never been to Monday Night Brewing, and even though the two don’t exactly tie together (if you’ve been to MNB before you’ll get that pun), we decided to kill two birds with one adventurous stone and spend the day exploring one side of midtown to the next.
TIES & TAPS
Another great advantage of living in Georgia is having tons of local breweries to choose from. They all have their own distinct style, and that’s why I love going on brewery tours. No two are the same, and that’s the best way to really soak in the character.
Monday Night Brewing has been making an impression on me lately (I'm becoming a brand nerd, uh oh), so it had been on my list for a while. My parents gave it a rave review, so I was pretty excited to jump in and experience how Atlanta does brews on the west side.
Apparently, so was everyone else because when I got there, they were already over capacity an hour after they opened. But, somehow I managed to get in and Lindsey (the responsible and punctual one) had already gotten a glass and tickets so we just shared. Some of my favorites were the Fu Manbrew (wheat with a touch of ginger), the Drafty Kilt (described as a ‘roasty’ bombshell), and their classic Eye Patch Ale (upfront, yet sensible). They ran out of the Nerd Alert before I could try it, so it must be pretty good too!
The crowded atmosphere guaranteed that there was a lot of character and Lindsey and I had fun people watching while we waited in line for refills. We spent most of our time in line, but once the main room cleared out a bit Lindsey and I were able to explore the brewery and check out the awesome stuff they had on the walls and ceilings. My favorite was the famous Tie Wall, a collection of abandoned neckwear that was all too fitting for the white collar rebel vibe they’ve got going on.
LOST IN ETHIOPIA
By now we were starving, so it was time we hopped over to Desta Ethiopian Kitchen for a well deserved feast (discussing craft beer and human culture all afternoon can really work up an appetite). Sometimes I feel like I’m a slave to American food, with all it’s greasy cheesy deliciousness. Even fresh American food uses distinct flavors, and I was about to experience a ton of new ones that I wasn’t sure I’d like at all. I haven’t studied much about Africa, so it was a great opportunity for my curious self to learn more about Ethiopian culture.
From the moment I walked in, I loved the ambiance. Artwork covered the walls, and the upstairs seating felt cozy and welcoming. I was glad Lindsey was there, though, because she knew how to navigate the menu and explained the process. I’ll do my best to relay this back to y’all.
To start, there is no silverware so instead you eat with your hands. Lindsey ordered a vegetarian platter that came with an array of spreads and toppings, sort of like a cheese plate. I was glad there was a dictionary on the side of the menu so that I didn’t have to ask a million questions. I was recommended the Tibs, which is an entree of diced meat (I chose lamb, yumm), sautéed in a blend of spices and then mixed with rice or potatoes.
Everything you order comes with some type of bread, and Lindsey talked me in to going the traditional route and getting Injera which is a spongy flatbread used to scoop up food (makes it way easier to eat!). It was fun trying all of the different things on Lindsey’s platter and I loved learning what all of the different names meant. The menu also had a list of common Ethiopian phrases, which is where I learned that “Desta” means happiness. And that sums up my experience eating there, I left feeling full of happiness.
I loved spending the day with one of my best friends and learning so much from our little adventure. If you’re in the mood to try something new, I highly recommend Desta. It’s warm atmosphere will leave you in high spirits with an open mind. If you have any suggestions for where I should explore next, drop a comment below!