Eating Good Food Badly During Anime Weekend Atlanta

One thing is inescapably true: it’s incredibly difficult to eat well during any kind of convention. I must have hit a new low during Anime Weekend Atlanta at the beginning of the month. Oh, I had some pretty good meals, to be sure, but I didn’t temper them with, you know, vegetables or exercise or anything esoteric like that. It was like Fried Food Fest or something. Anyway, here’s a report on what I did to my arteries during the con, and why I spent the next few days eating a little more sensibly.

Friday’s lunch was a trip to Big Chow Grill, a regular Anime Weekend destination, in the company of my baby and two other very small guests. I met up with my friends Laura, Elizabeth and Jessica, none of whom I ever see enough of, and Jessica’s two small children, one aged two and the other just three weeks. It was observed that, if it takes a village to raise a child, it takes four people to have lunch and take care of three younguns. Things got so chaotic with loud little ones that I phoned my daughter for backup and had her wheel my baby into the mall to calm him down for a little bit. Big Chow was as good as ever – I had one medium-sized bowl of spicy stir-fried chicken over rice and a second medium-sized bowl of spicier stir-fried chicken over egg noodles – and our service was exemplary.

Marie was able to get to the show a little after six, and while my daughter continued being wild and twelve, Marie and I took the baby out for supper. We made it over to Smyrna’s US Cafe, a favorite of some of our family that I’ve been putting off revisiting for far too long.

We’ve never eaten at US Cafe as much as I would like, because, unaccountably, my daughter does not like the place. Neither does my brother, and whenever we would be visiting my mom and dad, he would always veto going there, even though it was so close by. It’s a very family-friendly sports bar, full of screaming kids, pool tables and big games on the TVs. For some, I’m sure it must be hell on earth, but the burgers and wings are very good and, of all things, the salsa they serve with the chips is just heavenly.

I’ve always liked this place a good deal, and my dad was friendly with the owners. He liked coming here a lot, and really liked the milkshakes. I had been putting off a visit, knowing I’d get sad thinking about my father, particularly with him not around to talk about football this season. But I was in the mood for a burger, and I don’t know whether there’s one better in the Smyrna area, so I bit my lip and we had a good meal.

Saturday morning, I probably should have had a small bowl of melons and blueberries for breakfast, but, as recounted in the previous chapter, we went to Mountain Biscuits and I had one with country ham and one with lots of syrup. Then for lunch, I met up with Matt at another sports bar, the Galleria’s Jocks and Jills, to watch the Georgia game.

There used to be several more Jocks and Jills locations in town, but according to their website, there’s just the one left, in the Cobb Galleria, where, presumably, the ground rent is a little manageable. There’s also one in Macon and another in Charlotte. It’s a sprawling sports bar with several rooms, including a space upstairs that is occupied during game time by Atlanta’s Rutgers Club. I tend not to pay much attention to what goes on in conferences other than the SEC (and now I have one and maybe two more teams to follow, so thanks a million, Slive), but while we were there, it looked like Rutgers was having a rough time of it at the hands of Syracuse.

When I watch a game out, I typically have an appetizer over the course of the first half, and then order an entree towards the end of halftime, and then tip quite generously for hogging a table for so long. This time I had some nachos – in a rare concession to health this weekend, I asked them to go very, very light on the cheese – and, later, some hamburger sliders with homemade chips. The food was acceptable and the service fantastic, but I wouldn’t go here unless I wanted to watch a game.

I only got a little bit of con time on Saturday before going to my mother’s house, which is closer than my own to the con, to change. I went to go see Bryan Ferry with David and a couple of his friends from “back in the day,” Tom and Patt, with whom he was haunting clubs thirty years before. Bry was playing the same venue, Chastain Park, where I first saw him in 1988. Heck of a good show, if perhaps not his best, and enlivened by guitarist Chris Spedding ripping the absolute hell out of Neil Young’s “Like a Hurricane.”

Afterwards, David said that he was in the mood for greasy burgers. I found myself not really feeling like arguing. So we ended up at a Steak ‘n Shake, where I ate the new Fritos Chili Cheeseburger, which is the absolute last thing anybody on the planet needs to eat at midnight. It’s two patties, a slice of pepperjack, shredded cheese, chili and jalapeno peppers. Evidently, I didn’t really feel like avoiding a heart attack, either, eating such a thing at midnight. There were several other late-evening revelers from the convention, all costumed up, all similarly damaging their arteries. It sure was good, though.

I ate better on Sunday. Promise.

Update, 4/5/12: Some months later, months which, I swear, I ate better, I stopped by US Cafe’s other Cobb County location. This smaller “express” outlet is a lot less noisy, but the burgers and shakes are just as good.

Other blog posts about US Cafe:

Atlanta Restaurant Blog (Dec. 9 2010)
A Hamburger Today (Apr. 3 2012)


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