For many in-towners, the thought of a “suburb” conjures up images of strip malls, McMansions, country clubs, and maybe even the Real Housewives of Atlanta (not that there’s anything wrong with that).  Of course, you do have to get on one of our exciting highways to go “OTP” (that’s “Outside The Perimeter” for visiting readers).  But, by definition, Atlanta’s first true suburb was not Marietta, not Alpharetta; it was…wait for it…Inman Park, which is so far from…suburban.

Suburbs are typically residential areas outlying a city, so back in the day, that’s exactly what Inman Park was.  However, Atlanta has grown a li’l bit since Inman Park was founded in 1876, thus keeping the “original suburb” from morphing into “stereotypical” suburb territory.  Instead of strip malls and chain restaurants, there are local businesses, “mom and pop shops,” and unique restaurants.  Instead of brand spankin’ new mansions, there are gorgeous Victorian homes (and, yes some very large ones) with loads of colorful character.  And instead of the Real Housewives, there are, well, women that are a whole lot different than those “ladies”.

It’s easy to get to Inman Park, and sometimes you don’t even have to brave the highway.  From GK|CRE’s Westside Headquarters we cruise through Downtown to Dekalb Ave., and when the Beltline is completed, it will be even easier to get to and from the ‘hood.  (Pst, speaking of the Beltline, that’s the next topic for Gene’s radio show, but you didn’t hear it from us.)  Of course, you can also get to Inman via MARTA, and from Inman you can ride on over to Decatur for a quick bite, but that’s a blog for another day.

You history buffs may know about the trolley line that used to run through Inman Park.  On that former route, up Edgewood Avenue from Downtown, is the appropriately named Trolley Barn.  This was the service and housing facility for Atlanta’s first electric street railway line, and now plays host to cool events and happenings.

Down the street is Shaun’s, which we were all seriously bummed to hear is closing in December, but we need to show our love regardless.  Courtney, Shaun and crew have always taken great care of us year round, but we’re particularly partial to the laid back vibe that Sunday pasta night offers.  This is a perfect time to relax after a hectic week and/or wild weekend.  The salad with buttermilk dressing, a perfect pasta, and a little Inman Park Ice Cream always make for a solid and satisfying evening.  Liz, are we right?!  Any other night of the week, we really, really like the pommes frites “graisse de canard” and, if the sweet tooth is activated, the sticky toffee pudding, which is arguably the best dessert in the city (but, who’s arguing?).  Man, how can this place close?

Cruising west, down Edgewood Avenue, we run into a bunch of other hip spots, both old and new.  Thumbs Up Diner is a breakfast/brunch staple, and Sound Table is our new go-to for killer drinks (try the Fourth & Sand and you won’t be sorry), and to check out some of the best DJs in the country on the ones and twos.  For you yoga enthusiasts, veer off the Edgewood path a bit to Dekalb Avenue and get your downward dog on at Jai Shanti Yoga.  Their practice relaxes (some of) us even on our most stressful of days.  Another stress reliever?  The traditional sake pour at “Miso” Izakaya, which is technically in Old 4th Ward, but it’s close enough when it comes to great sake!  One of those with a Japa Dog (yes, a Japanese hot dog), and all is right with the world.

We can’t talk about a neighborhood without letting our artsy side show, so we just have to make mention of Whitespace Gallery, also on Edgewood.  We give props to Brian and David at BLDGS Architects who designed “the space”, and we can’t say enough good things about the cultured and fabulous (yes, we said fabulous) owner, Susan Bridges.  We’re also digging the photography on display right now through November 20 called Interior Mind | Exterior World.  That’s deep.  Seriously.

But, let’s get back to food for a sec.  Inman Park sure does have some good eatin’.  Do not miss Parish.  We like their New Orleans’ styled restaurant for a morning pastry, an afternoon salad, or a great dinner.  Okay, so we really like Parish all the time.  Some of our other favorites are Fritti and Sotto Sotto, the next-door Italian neighbors that comprise the block we can’t live without.  Riccardo Ullio, this ‘hood has you to thank for a million wonderful meals…Grazie!

Looking for a treat?  From Fritti, you can go a few blocks either direction for two of the most decadent treats in town.  If you’re looking for a unique experience (and romance if you feel so inclined), we have a real affection toward Cacao and its “bean to bar” philosophy.  And, the owner, Kristen Hard, is pretty sweet, too.  Turning the other way down Elizabeth, you’ll stumble upon Savi Urban Market – the quaint grocery/wine shop/café named after its owner’s wife, and where we go to pick up the best freaking cookie you’ll ever eat.  The giant jar of Rooster cookies sits on the counter and when you check out, we dare you not to buy one.  No, make that a double dare.

While we’re on the topic of dares, we have another one for you.  Actually, make that a “challenge.”  There are a few really beautiful California Redwood trees (scientific name: Sequoia sempervirens ) on Elizabeth Street.  Try to find them and if you do, we’ll buy you….a Rooster…seriously, post your Redwood pic on Twitter and reference @GKCRE and we’ll call in our credit card number to the store that day and your next Rooster will be on us.  What else?  You know what would go perfectly with that cookie?  (Shameless plug in 3…2…..) A cup of Inman Perk coffee.  Click HERE to read about how we snazzed up the place.

Place is important, and we enjoy buildings with a history, so we have to give a shout to our friends and client, The Icebox, creator of the best and baddest branded apparel in town, who took up residency just a couple years back in the space that was formerly home to the Atlanta Ice Company.  Now, THAT is cool. Right around the corner are Rathbun’s and Rathbun Steak, where we go to get some of the best meals in the city and say hello to the A-team:  Chef Kevin Rathbun, Doug, Cliff, and, of course, Clay (that dude knows his gin!).  Fellas, we salute your impeccable service, presentation, hospitality, and those damn meatballs that are almost too good to be true.  Thank you.

Ok, so there are a plethora of amazing dining options in Inman Park, but so much more to this ‘hood than meets the eye, or rather, mouth.  For one, the fact that it’s not really a “park” but a bunch of pocket parks connected by the Freedom Park Trail, which, for the record can take you to the Virginia-Highlands or is a perfect place to start your trek all the way to Stone Mountain.  No, seriously…try it.  Then, there’s how close-knit and supportive this community is.  All come together for the Inman Park Festival each year during the last weekend in April, just as the neighborhood came together in the ‘80s to stop proposed I-485 from barreling through their beloved backyards.  Thank goodness.

So, yeah.  You won’t find an Applebee’s, a water park or cul-de-sac in Inman Park.  Not that today’s real suburbs don’t have some flava’ too, it’s just that this is a different kind of “suburb.”  And we like it that way.

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