Atlanta: Latinland USA, a Tiki Tiki Guide

High Museum Atlanta

The High Museum, Atlanta.

This essay is part of the Hispanic Heritage Month Series, Latinland USA, a Tiki Tiki Guide.

bren herrera, flanboyant eats

by Bren Herrera

Welcome to the “A,” also known as Atlanta! This southern city is southern in geography, but making its imprint as a burgeoning metropolis. Yeah, we’re no NY, LA, Miami or even D.C., but we do have our share of eclectic neighborhoods and must-see, must-do spots you simply can’t miss if you can weather the brutal heat!

If you’re Latina — or a lover of all things Latin — and find yourself visiting the city, here’s my personal take on what you must do!

Most Eclectic, Authentic Latin neighborhood: Buford Highway

About 15 minutes North of downtown, the Buford Highway area which is made up Norcross, Doraville and few other ‘burbs is replete with pupuserias, Cuban sandwich shops, farmers’ markets stocked with our native foods and other stores selling chucherias. Plan to spend at least a half day there.

Best Mexican Restaurant and Free-standing Taco Truck

There are so many Mexican restaurants to choose from seeing as though Mexicanos make up the largest Latin population here, but of the ones I’ve visited, Los Bravos is it for me. It has great chicken and avocado soup for only $5! They also have great lunch special plates ranging from $6-$10, served with bottomless fresh chip and salsa. The location on S. Cobb Drive, Smyrna, GA is jam-packed on Friday nights and usually has a 45-minute to 1-hour wait. But, it’s well worth it. Plus, it’s owned by Cubans!

I scoured the city for a really yummy taco truck like the ones L.A. boasts having. I finally found one in Marietta (a heavy concentration of Latinos, including Brazilians (see below). This truck is in a random parking lot next to country corner store, but the lines wrap around the sidewalk between 11 and 2. Americans, Latinos, Asians and everything in between get a fix of their tripe, barbacoa, chicken and carne tacos topped with repollo all for $1! You can not beat that. Check out a review here at Flanboyant Eats.

Best All-Around Latin Restaurant

We have celeb chefs in Atlanta, in case you didn’t know. Among them is Chef Hector Santiago whom appeared on Bravo’s Top Chef. His restaurant, Pura Vida is nestled in a super quaint and totally unassuming street in Virginia Highlands, a Georgetown-like ‘hood. Have anything and everything on his menu.

eclipse di luna, atlanta

Bren's sister and Papi bailando at Eclipse di Luna

Sabroso Eats and Beats

Eclipse di Luna (Buckhead/Miami Circle and Perimeter). This Latin tapas restaurant, with ambient lighting and eclectic styling stays packed every day of the week. Specializing in a variety of staple Latin appetizers like empanadas, yucca frita and queso Manchego with olives, makes it a go to spot for that sabor fix. To top it off and make it “must visit” while in Atlanta, the live music is one of the best in the restaurant scene. Both locations have great music, but the Perimeter location has an incredibly sensual band that plays Brazilian & Cuban music, soca, merengue and vintage baladas. There’s plenty of dance space, so go on and work off your calories!

Best Venue for World Music and Latin Sounds

The Rialto Center is the Arts theater for Georgia State. Their season is always exciting with acts and performers from all over the world. I’ve seen Paquito D’Rivera, Los Muñequitos de Matanza, Eddie Palmieri and a host of other Latin folklore, jazz and salsa groups perform there. There’s not a bad seat in the house.

Best Shopping

Not really catered to Latino-centric wares, but if you’re looking for fun and sexy shopping, you must hit Atlantic StationLittle Five Points, Buford Highway, Cumberland Mall and Virginia Highlands.

Best Place to Get Our Hair Done

If you like the Dominican way of doing hair, you will find more than 10 whole in the wall salons doing fantastic roller sets con crema que train directly from D.R. All you have to do is drive to Windy Hill in Marietta, GA (about 15 minutes from Downtown) and you’ll step into any chancletera hablando typical Spanish with all those chismes and dichos you grow up listening to in the privacy of your home! Because gossiping at work is just so, uh, politically incorrect.

Best Dancing and Night Out

You have to go out dancing when you visit a new city, right. Otherwise you won’t sweat off any of that food you just indulged in! Go to Havana Club . Get your dance-on to all kinds of Latin grooves, drink mojitos, be sexy with the chicas, have a chulito get you another drink and enjoy the vibe! The ambiance is typical Latino, but a slight posher.

Best Bakery

There is a strong Brazilian contingency in Atlanta. I’ve found that the best bakery is owned by them. At the Brazilian Bakery Café, located in Marietta, GA, you can stock up on all kinds of delicias they’re known for including pan de queso, BRIGADEIRO and BEIJINHO, a favorite of mine made up of coconut with sweetened condensed milk cream topped with coco flakes! To die for. You can also stay in for sandwiches, soups, and other specialty’s. Visit their site for a full menu.

Bren Herrera is a professional singer/songwriter, classically trained cellist, self-taught chef and published writer. The Cuban-born Herrera, who lives in Atlanta, writes the food blog, Flanboyant Eats, and the fashion site, B So Chic!

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By Contributor on October 5, 2011 · Posted in the habla habla

10 Comments | Post Comment

Unknown Mami says:

Love the pic of sis and papi. It’s always the food places that entice me the most.

Posted on October 6th, 2011

Lisa Quinones-Fontanez says:

Great suggestions! Atlanta is a place I absolutely want to visit. And a night of dancing is exactly what I need.

Posted on October 6th, 2011

Eliana Tardio says:

I would love to visit Atlanta, it looks like an amazing and exciting place to visit. Very nice pictures :)

Posted on October 6th, 2011

Justice Jonesie says:

These places sound fantastico! Love Atlanta, will add these to my places to visit!

Posted on October 6th, 2011

Patty at A Day in My NYC says:

I was in Atlanta a few years back for work and I had no idea so many places were there. Would love to go back someday! :)

Posted on October 6th, 2011

Sujeiry, 1st Lady of Love says:

I often wondered where you partied it up in Atlanta! Comes to show we Latinos are everywhere and make sure every city where we reside is just like home.
Sujeiry, 1st Lady of Love´s last [fabulousness] ..5 Things…I Learned About Sisterhood Through LLBloggers

Posted on October 6th, 2011

carmen says:


Posted on October 7th, 2011

Morena says:

Wow, you really seems to know your city well! Thanks for all the tips, I had no idea Atlanta has so many options, now I know where to go if Im ever there. You`ve made me hungry!
Morena´s last [fabulousness] ..ROBERTO CUADRA.- A Gourmet Experience In San Salvador

Posted on October 8th, 2011

Bren @ Flanboyant Eats™ says:

it’s definitely growing with so many new and cultural things to do and experience. There’s the entire MLK historical site which is a must-do, Ebenezer church and all…. The High Museum, which is pictured above, MODA, which is an awesome design mesuem across from the HIGH. Fernbank (where Cynthia Bailey from the Housewives of Atlanta an d super model got married), thousands of other restaurants, VA Highlands is eclectic; so is Little Five Points. East Point is very urban but you can find great wholes in the wall. Downtown Marrietta (a Cuban song comes to mind) and Decatur are great for little markets, shops, dining, etc…. oh, the list goes on!

Thanks for reading, gals!

Posted on October 10th, 2011

Latinland USA: A Tiki Tiki Guide says:

[...] Atlanta by Bren Herrera. [...]

Posted on October 14th, 2011