Anna Zarcone Wagner grew up in Durham, North Carolina and attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After college she ventured to Atlanta where she fell in love with the big city life while still being in the South. Anna has spent the last 17 years working in Atlanta radio selling advertising campaigns including on air, events, digital and social media. After meeting Brian Wagner through a radio station event, she married Brian (her best friend) and had two children. In recent years Anna has enjoyed the flexibility of a job share which enables her to stay active in her career yet allows her to be room mom to her kindergartner Sam and spend time with her 2½-year-old daughter Zoe.
My restaurant obsession is with a little place called Better Half. The restaurant is named after the chef’s better half, his wife. She works the hostess stand while the chef (Zach Meloy) is cooking right at the open bar. Pull up a stool and ask him about what he’s adding to the dish. The restaurant was made possible by a kick start campaign after they held private dinners (called Pushstart Kitchen) in their loft in an artist community where they welcomed strangers into their home and cooked for them. We went to one of these dinners with friends last year, and that’s where we fell in love with Meloy’s creative cuisine. The menu changes almost daily. Better Half has the most unique dishes without being too over the top. The one dish that remains the same is handkerchief pasta with a tomato marmalade which Zach made for his wife on their first date—it is amazing!
349 14th Street NM, Building C
King + Duke
King + Duke is another one of my new favorite spots for date night or a night out with friends. They have a great outdoor bar area that faces Peachtree Road and is fun to hang out in when the weather is nice. At King + Duke you pick a protein and then a few sides to share with the table. I love this concept because it gives you an opportunity to try lots of different dishes and flavors. The menu changes seasonally so I’m looking forward to my favorite side dish there—the Brussels sprouts—coming back on the winter menu. They are crispy and oh so delicious! The roasted mushroom shareable side is also to die for! The Fritto Misto with fried okra and green tomatoes is wonderfully crispy without being overly greasy.
3060 Peachtree Road NW at West Paces Ferry Road
Since I live here I’m not too familiar with the different hotels but I can say I love the part of town we live in. It’s called the Westside by some or West Midtown by others. It’s an up and coming part of town that is really growing. We’re less than 10 minutes from downtown for Falcons games or concerts, 10 minutes from Midtown for museums or shopping at Atlantic Station. New restaurant and shopping concepts are popping up all over the Westside such as a special concept J. Crew, JCT. Kitchen and Bar, Miller Union and Jeni’s Ice Cream. Housing is also still affordable.
The St. Regis Atlanta
The St. Regis is a beautiful hotel in the heart of Buckhead. They have a gorgeous rooftop outdoor bar that is perfect to hang out with friends while having cocktails. Have dinner at the King + Duke then walk over to The St. Regis afterwards for a drink. This is also a great place for celebrity spotting as a lot of the actors stay here while they’re in Atlanta filming.
88 West Paces Ferry Road
The Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta
My new favorite place to shop is The Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta (in Woodstock). Added to the usual great deals found in outlets, this outlet center has a huge selection of great kids’ stores which speaks to me these days. I especially love Naartjie Kids, a South African store with really unique patterns and looks. Half the store merchandise always seems to be on sale!
915 Ridge Walk Parkway, Woodstock
Lake Lanier Islands, Lanier World
My husband and I recently took the kids, along with another family, to Lake Lanier Islands, Lanier World. Between the water slides and the wave pool for the kids, the many great restaurants (and cocktails!) for adults and the lakeside beach, there is more than enough to stay entertained for a whole day. I even took the kids up on a Ferris wheel. You know that it’s been a good day when you’ve pushed through, skipped naptime and the day ends in tears because they don’t want to leave. (Well, maybe we could do without the tears!)
7000 Lanier Islands Parkway, Buford
A native Virginian, Rush Levitt moved to Atlanta, her husband Scott’s hometown, in 1996, after living in many amazing cities including Austin, TX, Washington, DC and Denver, CO. Rush and Scott are proud parents of three boys, ages 15, 13 and 9. A former fundraising consultant with Coxe Curry & Associates, Rush decided after the birth of her second son to stay at home with her kids and dedicate volunteer time to her church, their schools and the public school system.
Go West! We live in close proximity to Atlanta’s Westside, an area that showcases our city’s urban renewal and is home to so many unique restaurants, bars and shops.
Taqueria del Sol
Having lived in Texas for six years, I love Mexican food! My family’s go-to place that we can all agree upon is Taqueria del Sol. We go early so we don’t have to wait in the long lines that tend to form due to its popularity. I highly recommend the carnitas taco and the spicy turnip greens.
200 Howell Mill Road NW
I recently discovered a new restaurant called bartaco that will surely become another favorite spot. The great outdoor patio resembles a breezy beach shack—it’s like an escape to Southern California. They serve creative tapas-style tacos, delicious sides and the best margaritas.
969 Marietta Street NW
Two fun rooftop bars with great views of Midtown Atlanta:
Six Feet Under
685 11th Street
JCT. Kitchen and Bar
1198 Howell Mill Road, NW, Suite 18
Two of our favorite date night restaurants include The Optimist, offering fresh seafood and an oyster bar, and Bocado, serving unique seasonal food.
914 Howell Mill Road
887 Howell Mill Road
The Four Seasons in Midtown is situated in the midst of great restaurants and nightlife and is in close proximity to the High Museum of Art and Piedmont Park.
75 14th Street NW #2100
Peachtree Battle Shopping Center, located in the heart of Buckhead, has many of my favorite shops. Frolic is a woman’s stylish clothing boutique that also has a great jewelry collection. Next door to Frolic is Woo Skincare & Cosmetics, offering my favorite cosmetic lines with local convenience. Who wants to go to the mall? They also offer skincare and spa services. Richard’s Variety is an eccentric dime store, Mint Julep is Atlanta’s only Lilly Pulitzer Signature Store and H&F Bottle Shop offers a great selection of wine and spirits.
2385 Peachtree Road NE
Woo Skincare & Cosmetics
2339 Peachtree Road NE
Richard’s Variety Store
2347 Peachtree Road NE
2353 Peachtree Road NE
H&F Bottle Shop
2357 Peachtree Road NE
With three boys who play baseball, our favorite pastime is obviously…BASEBALL! We spend the majority of our weekends at Frankie Allen Park, home to Buckhead Baseball, our local recreation baseball league. We also enjoy cheering on the Atlanta Braves during MLB home games at Turner Field.
My family also enjoys playing tennis. Atlanta is home to the largest city tennis league in the world—the Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association (ALTA). My “escape” is playing on an ALTA tennis team out of the Buckhead YMCA.
Karen Sheldon is a North Carolina transplant who moved to Atlanta (Buckhead) 20 years ago. She and her husband, Stuart, are parents to three boys: Will (17), Jack (almost 15) and Drew (nearly 14). Karen was a stay-at-home mom until 2004, when she opened Sprong Children’s Shoes, which still operates at 375 Pharr Road in Buckhead. For the past three years, she has taught preschool at Northside Methodist Preschool to have more time for her teenagers’ ever-changing schedules and to get her “little kid fix” without having any more of her own!
My favorite category!
Saltyard is one of my new faves! Tapas plates to die for and fantastic service too. You have to get the deviled farm eggs, fig bruschetta with blue cheese and honey (real sliced figs—delish!) and the pièce de résistance— brussels leaves! They are only available while supplies last every night, so order early! There are also plenty of great proteins and of course, desserts (Chocolate Nemesis is our favorite).
1820 Peachtree Road NW
Another favorite new restaurant and more kidfriendly. Crazy good tacos and rice bowls (for those who don’t die for Mexican—like me!) that have toppings that are unusual enough for adults (pork belly, sesame ribeye, chorizo, wild boar and duck), but some normal enough for the kids (chicken and fish). Also yummy fresh side dishes like chipotle slaw and spicy cucumber salad. Fantastic atmosphere, especially when it’s nice enough to sit at their huge outdoor back dining area. And really good margaritas!
969 Marietta Street NW
The best boutique hotel to stay in when visiting Atlanta is the Glenn Hotel. Located in a building in midtown Atlanta that was built in 1923, it’s much cooler than a chain hotel. It also has an awesome rooftop bar to view city lights year-round.
110 Marietta Street NW
I’d always rather shop for my home and yard/garden, and the best place in Atlanta is Kudzu Antiques (photo below). Their original location is in Decatur, and their newer location is in Sandy Springs (just north of Buckhead). I always find one-of-a-kind items here: some antique, some new, some gently used. They have great furniture and lots of great
accessories—lamps, folk art and always funky and different decorating items. Every time my mom comes from North Carolina, she has me take her to look for fun yard art at Kudzu! They also have several designers on staff at both locations to advise and help with fabrics, etc. for custom furniture and decorating tips.
2928 East Ponce de Leon Avenue, Decatur
Kudzu and Company
6450 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs
Just the Thing
I am not a big fan of clothes shopping, so I tend to do more online, but love to shop Just the Thing for all accessories, costume jewelry, cute purses and a few cool clothing items. They carry the great Ciao Milano anoraks and rain jackets.
529 Pharr Road NE
Stone Mountain Park
A must-see, seasonally great thing to do in Atlanta is Stone Mountain Park and the laser show. There are various festivals and events throughout the year and the laser show (usually in warmer weather) begins at dark and is amazing. Packages available—some include dinner.
1000 Robert E. Lee Boulevard, Stone Mountain
A great (and free) place to “play” in Atlanta is the brand new BeltLine. Great paths for walking and biking on a 22-mile historic rail corridor that goes around the city. When the BeltLine is complete, it will link 45 in-town neighborhoods and also allow folks to access mass transit at various locations.
Laura and Lynwood Mallard
Laura grew up in Atlanta and Lynwood moved there when he married Laura in 1997. Lynwood works for the Coca-Cola Company, and Laura is in sales for an oncology biotech company. They have two children, Kate and Jack, who are in sixth and second grade at Pace Academy.
Café at Pharr (Buckhead)
Most people we know eat lunch at Café at Pharr once a week or so. Café at Pharr has all kinds of chicken salad and homemade bread, always made that same day. The menu is simple, the food is fresh, and your meal makes it to the table quickly. Laura likes the celery chicken salad plate with their delicious ginger dressing, and Lynwood likes the BLT on any of their great breads. Yogurt rolls, standard garnish, make you wish you knew how to make them at home. And the staff is always friendly and happy to pour you a to-go cup of your beverage on the way out.
3145 Peachtree Road, Suite 101
Great atmosphere for eating, inside or out. Located on the Chattahoochee River, so if the weather is nice, it’s worth the wait to sit outside. Southern, sophisticated seasonal menu.
4199 Paces Ferry Road SE
At our current life stage, most of our dining is casual. Another favorite spot is Yeah! Burger. Great, fresh unprocessed food, and our family’s favorite burgers in town (which says a lot with a number of good burger options these days). The basic Yeah! Burger is a favorite along with the fries and onion rings. The fried pickles and ranch dressing can singlehandedly bring Lynwood and the kids back to this spot.
1168 Howell Mill Road
The St. Regis Atlanta
Located in the heart of Buckhead, between various Buckhead neighborhoods and eight blocks of shops and restaurants called “Buckhead Atlanta.” If you are there in the winter, be sure to go ice skating on the 7th floor terrace. The hotel has a wonderful holiday atmosphere in December.
88 West Paces Ferry Road NW
With little time to shop, Laura likes to go where she can get most everything in one place without having to walk into a mall. And the best place to do that in Atlanta is Tootsies, a women’s specialty retailer.
3400 Around Lenox Road NE
1198 Howell Mill Road NW
1198 Howell Mill Road NW
The Fish Hawk
And our shopping section is not complete without mention of Lynwood’s favorite shop in the U.S., The Fish Hawk. Lynwood and Jack would spend half of their weekends there if sports didn’t get in the way. Gary, Rob, Bob and the rest of the staff will give you friendly expert advice on everything from bass fishing to saltwater fly fishing, and can set you up with local guides/accommodations for trips that range from the Chattahoochee River to bonefishing in the Bahamas. If you have a fisherman in your family, you can do no wrong with a gift certificate from The Fish Hawk.
3095 Peachtree Street
Our family “play” time usually includes the fields at Buckhead Baseball or Northside Youth Organization, and local tennis courts and golf courses. If we had more time, we would ride bikes in Piedmont Park or on the popular Silver Comet Trail. (But we never seem to find that elusive “more time.”)
445 Pharr Road NE
Northside Youth Organization (NYO)
140 West Wieuca Road NE
1342 Worchester Drive NE