The scene: Atlanta has been a Sunbelt city on the fast track in recent years, with new attractions, a burgeoning culinary scene and several neighborhoods undergoing transformations. One of those is Grant Park on the city’s Eastside, which has become increasingly hipster, artsy and funky, the perfect setting for Ria’s Bluebird, which mixes southern tradition with hippie flair — think shrimp and grits with organic grits and SoySage alongside real sausage and locally cured artisanal bacon as a breakfast meat option.
The restaurant, now 17 years old, looks like a basic diner from the front. But it used to be a drive-thru liquor store, and the former drive-thru lane has been covered with a translucent roof into an open-air patio space. The space is a cool and secret-feeling oasis within the city with heavy wood beams holding up the roof and ceiling fans spinning over picnic-style tables with heavy stone pedestals and stone benches, like something out of a national park picnic area, and even a trickling fountain. This ambiance is compounded by a large mural of a watery image reminiscent of Hokusai’s famous Japanese Great Wave woodblock print. The rest of the exterior brick walls of the main building, every inch of them, are covered by the graffiti-style murals Atlanta is famous for. The inside portion has a more hipster coffee shop feel, and completing the artsy flair, staff is heavily tattooed and sport Ria’s Bluebird logo t-shirts that look a bit like old-fashioned Memphis record labels.
Because the focus here is on breakfast and brunch dishes (served all day), weekends are a bit of a zoo, when it’s always slammed. But on weekdays it is a great choice for visitors seeking a relaxing and delicious breakfast with local flair.
Reason to visit: Caramelized…