Like many communters driving back and forth on I-75 in Cobb County, I wondered what would possibly move into the big building that had been, for so many years, a huge Burlington Coat Factory. We all watched as the structure was redesigned for Andretti Indoor Karting, including the addition of a gorgeous skylight. I didn’t think this sort of place was entirely my cup of tea, and didn’t anticipate visiting, but Brave, the public relations team that works with Andretti, invited Marie and me to come out with our kids, and we were proven wrong. The children had a completely wild and wonderful time, and even us boring old fuddy-duddies enjoyed a good meal and a thrill or two.
The first Andretti Indoor Karting opened several years back, on GA-120 in Roswell, and has been a huge success. There are lots of places around the Atlanta area that speed fans or people who want to chill playing video games and having a few drinks can go, but Andretti sets itself apart from its competitors by serving unexpectedly good food as well. We enjoyed a “Route 66” sampler platter of appetizers while we thought about our orders.
In an amusing twist of fate, my daughter had actually been to a bowling alley with friends just a few days before, and came home desperate to brush her teeth and clean the awful taste of that place’s pizza from her tongue. This gave her the unique chance to compare the sort of food one normally eats at cavernous entertainment places like this with what is made fresh in Andretti’s kitchen, and comes out of their brick oven. She had a Margherita pizza and completely loved it. She says that it was one of the best pizzas that she’s ever had. I had the taco pizza, and while I would not quite go as overboard with the praise as the girlchild, I would agree that this certainly was a very good pie.
Everything on the menu is of unexpectedly high quality. This is far, far removed from basic arcade food, and feels more like an above-average American bar and grill, with the dinging of video games and the roaring of engines occasionally audible in the background. Marie felt like indulging in a steak without having to grill it herself, and was quite pleased with what they offered.
After we ate, it was time to play. Marie and our son went to play video games – sadly, for those of us who grew up in mall arcades, they don’t cost a quarter anymore – while the girlchild led me to the locker room to don helmets and take karts around the curvy track. It has been observed that I have, upon occasion, been seen to drive like a reckless maniac speeding from hell. These observers have clearly never seen my daughter on a go-kart track. She lapped me at least twice.
But truthfully, the laser tag was my favorite part of the play. Many years back, some time before we started dating, Marie and I would occasionally join co-workers at the old Q-Zar in Athens to dash around and zap each other. Andretti’s course is a little smaller than what we got used to all those years ago, but it has two floors, with lots of wonderful sniping opportunities. Our son turned out to be not quite the kill-machine that he thought he was, but he had a completely wonderful time trying to zap me.
If you have teens or younger kids, then the early evening during the week is a fine time to come. If you want to play without younger kids around, Andretti is open late, until midnight or two on the weekends, and the under-eighteens need to clear out before ten. We left at nine and the crowds were getting bigger, with a large line forming at the check-in station. The chaos and fun completely exhausted our son and he had just about the best night’s sleep that anybody has ever had. Don’t be fuddy-duddies like us; Andretti is a great evening out for families. Our thanks to Austin, and all of the wonderful lionesses at Brave, for inviting us and proving us wrong.
(As noted, this was a media event and our meal was complimentary, along with some of the games and activities. It’s our policy to always note when we’ve received our meal without charge. If you would like to invite us to your restaurant’s media events, please drop Grant a line at firstname.lastname@example.org .)
You can see all the restaurants that we have visited for our blog on this map, with links back to the original blog posts. It’s a terrific resource for anybody planning a road trip through the southeast!