In celebration of Little Five Points’ annual Halloween parade and festival later this month, we’re paying homage to one of our favorite quirky Atlanta spots. When I visited the area years ago for the first time, I was a bit anxious—there are lots of colorful characters and establishments you won’t see anywhere else in Atlanta. But once you realize how awesome Little Five truly is, you’ll want to hang out there as much as possible. I love spending time in this bohemian neighborhood, visiting one-of-a-kind shops and restaurants and logging the best people-watching time in the city.
Moreland Avenue is the lifeline running through Little Five Points, with the area nestled next to Inman Park and just south of Freedom Parkway. If you are new to the area and unsure if you’re actually in Little Five, just take a look around. You’ll know when you get there because, well, it’s just that distinct.
Little Five is a neighborhood filled with people who care, establishments that have been around for decades, and events and shows you literally can only find here. So let’s get started navigating the wild and weird streets of Little Five Points!
When communication, music, photography, artwork and everything else we consume culturally seems to be locked in the digital world, it’s nice to go to a store and actually touch a record, flip through a comic book and talk to genre geeks in person. Criminal Records offers the ability to appreciate all things pop culture in a cool, authentic setting.
Besides the regulars, Criminal Records receives a large number of tourists who pick up vinyl on their way to the airport. Lots of tourists, including many international ones, make a trip to the area after hearing such great things about Little Five Points and the goods you can find.
“Little Five is one of the neighborhoods, if not THE neighborhood, to take a trip to,” says Cliff Krapp, a manager at Criminal Records. “There’s good shopping, good food, good entertainment—it’s very Atlanta.”
I don’t really remember what the ’80s were like since I was barely alive. But if I had been able to rock rad shoulder pads and teased hair, I’d know for a fact how well Bang-On captures that retro vibe. This custom T-shirt shop lets you personalize a shirt any way you want, and it has a bitchin’ vibe straight out of another decade.
You can choose from hundreds of existing designs, fonts, T-shirt styles and colors to make the ultimate statement in YOU fashion. Customers even have the option of sending the Bang-On crew their own design! And if T-shirts are too passé for you, the store offers other fashion options, like underwear and baby onesies—great gift ideas that come in official Bang-On pizza boxes (trust me, it’s cuter than it sounds).
Little Five is full of odd creatures, and Junkman’s Daughter is like the mother ship calling them home. No, really, there’s a spaceship coming out of the building’s entrance! There’s no way you’ll miss this eclectic shop when taking a trip to the neighborhood—what with the spaceship hanging over the door and a massive mural welcoming shoppers. Junkman’s Daughter houses 10,000 feet of cool, unique and just plain odd items—clothing for men and women, silly gifts and wild accessories (including zombie socks we just had to buy for the season). And, of course, October brings in the mother load of costumes, wigs, makeup and anything else needed for Halloween.
Abbadabba’s is a well-known shoe store in Atlanta, with locations in Buckhead, East Cobb and Kennesaw. But the Little Five location is the one that started it all. In 1981, this Abbadabba’s (which is just fun to say) started offering cool footwear for men, women and kids. The store sells timeless sneakers and shoes that look great and actually feel great on your feet. Popular brands include Toms, Vans, Converse, Dr. Martens, Birkenstocks, Chaco and more.
The staff is super knowledgeable about Abbadabba’s products and brands, and will definitely point you in the right direction for the perfect pair of shoes. And don’t get us started on the adorable kids’ section.
The natural foods industry is booming now, but years ago, these markets were few and far between. Sevananda began as an organic food co-op more than 35 years ago, and has now become a consumer-owned market offering the very best in locally sourced, organic products. The store is dedicated to “food integrity” and supplies the various departments with super high-quality fare.
Your mouth will water when you peruse the deli section (by the way, the kitchen is vegetarian and many of the items are vegan or gluten-free). Sevananda serves different ethnic meals depending on the day, including seitan stroganoff, soysage and peppers, spicy collards and much more.
Lots of Atlanta products get great shelf space throughout the market. For example, Atlanta-based Ginger Vyne offers bottles of its juices, including ginger kiwi and ginger hibiscus, and we found vats of Weeks Honey delivered straight from their Georgia farm.
In some Atlanta neighborhoods, gemstones might be THE thing everyone is lusting over; in Little Five, it’s all about another kind of stone. (No, not that type of “stone,” although there is a medical cannabis store, The Pot Shop, just a few doors down.) We’re talking about crystals! Crystal Blue has been a Little Five Points staple for almost 30 years and offers a huge supply of crystals and other tools for spiritual and emotional healing. The store is an eclectic space selling crystals, stones and anything else that may satisfy any of your metaphysical needs.
I might not understand all the nuances of owning crystals and their meanings, but I do know what’s pretty. I chose the light blue crystal (celestite) as my favorite—bonus, it enhances spiritual awareness AND a cute outfit!
FOOD & DRINK
If you don’t know The Vortex, where have you been hiding?! Though the original location still resides in Midtown, it’s the Little Five spot, with its enormous skull entryway and upper level patio, that sticks in people’s minds. Before you take the kiddos to dinner, be warned: The Vortex is a bar and nobody under the age of 21 can enter. Plus, the décor really doesn’t scream family time (trust me, you’ll know when you get there).
I love tater tots (like for real, I wish I could fill a bathtub with these little potato-y pillows), and The Vortex majorly delivers on that front. Their burgers, like the Rebel Outlaw (with pulled pork, cheese and bacon) and Fat Elvis (peanut butter, bacon and fried bananas), are good; the OMFG Burgers are deliciously deranged (the Zombie Apocalypse comes with a sirloin patty on Texas toast with lots of helpings, “with a steak knife stabbed right through its soulless zombie face”).
Enjoy your meal and make sure you don’t ask too many questions—The Vortex is a self-proclaimed “idiot-free zone.”
Aurora Coffee is a chill spot to grab an espresso macchiato, open your laptop and/or people watch. The coffeehouse offers a huge array of coffees, teas, hot chocolates and iced drinks. They have a large menu of “bears” (half iced coffee, half flavored milk), which you can make either “grizzly” or “wounded.” (It’s much easier to stop by Aurora then make us go into detail of what a “wounded panda bear” is.)
If you don’t look carefully, you might think Savage Pizza is the neighborhood comic book store. It’s full of superhero artwork, chachkies and décor–in fact, the exterior of this restaurant is covered in an awesome sci-fi mural. But as you inhale deeply and take in that unmistakable smell of pizza, you know you’re in for a treat.
Savage Pizza makes all its food from quality ingredients and original recipes, with delicious pies like the No Brainer or the Sav-Veg, and limited specials, like the Chupacabra and Children of the Corned Beef. The food and the superhero ambience make for a fun dining experience. And remember: With great pizza, comes great responsibility.
For seven years, The Porter Beer Bar has been serving more than 800 different types of beer to the masses. The laid-back vibe and excellent food menu makes The Porter a great place to hang with friends or just meet up after a long day at the office.
It’s hard for us to recommend a beer just because of the sheer volume The Porter offers. Instead, ask your bartender or server what he or she recommends, depending on what you like, what you’re eating and possibly how much you want to consume. And always order the Belgian fries. With everything. (Have I mentioned how much I like any type of fried potato?)
Extra, extra, read all about it! Front Page News brings New Orleans charm to Atlanta! As someone who once lived in The Big Easy and now resides in the ATL, I’m super cautious when a restaurant or bar uses the laissez les bon temps rouler attitude. But Front Page News is the perfect marriage between these two inspirational cities—you can find po’ boys and jambalaya on the menu right by the Georgia catfish fingers and Sweetwater beer-battered fish.
New Orleans isn’t just the inspiration for food at Front Page News. Live music and entertainment are a huge part of this establishment. Check the website for upcoming shows and times (make sure to look at the Moreland location), and you may just think you were born on the bayou.
Zesto is like taking a step back in time, where endearing waitresses still serve frosty milkshakes and hamburgers to a gracious and ravenous bunch. There are four other Zesto locations, but this is the one, opened in 1967, that Little Five customers flock to after a night of drinking, on a hot summer day or as a way to spend some quality time with the family.
I asked general manager Dolores Slaughter, who has been with Zesto for 40 years(!), why she’s worked here for so long. She credits her great customers for allowing her to stay for as long as she has. “We have a good crowd,” Dolores says. “You know what they want, and they’re great!” And serving delicious items like the Chubby Decker (Zesto’s double-decker hamburger) paired with a strawberry milkshake will always keep the people coming back for seconds.
When all that shopping and people watching finally exhausts you, walk over to Sweetgrass Salon & Wellness Spa for a relaxing spa treatment, like a body wrap or hot stone massage. The salon and spa is in a charming space, and offers great hair services and Aveda products, as well. Bonus? There’s an in-house chiropractor who offers holistic wellness care, and all the artwork is available for purchase!
After you’ve dined at the Wrecking Bar Brewpub and dropped some cash in Wish, walk a bit further on Euclid and catch a show at the Variety Playhouse. This theater/nightclub combo hosts a variety (get it?) of shows for the Atlanta crowd. Musicians, authors, actors and hard-to-define performers all make their way to the Variety Playhouse stage throughout the year.
As you might hear in Little Five Points, “we’re all here because we’re not all there.” Make sure you check out some great shops and restaurants, and more than that, some great people! Go outside your comfort zone—learn about the metaphysics of crystals, buy vintage cowboy boots, get a tattoo and make a few cool friends along the way. And don’t forget to tell them StyleBlueprint sent you!