Around Dragon Con – Food

Posted: July 22, 2019 in Dragon Con, Entertainment, Holidays, Needless Things
Tags: ,

[This article was originally written for publication on the Needless Things website in August of 2018. Unfortunately, it was a part of the archives lost in the September 2018 migration of the site to a new platform. In the case of this and the other ‘Around Dragon Con’ articles being published this month, the things covered here are still as contemporary and relevant as they were when these articles were originally on Needless Things. Enjoy this one and the others, and, hopefully, you’ll find something in the ‘Around Dragon Con’ articles that will make your time in Atlanta better than it’s been before.]

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If there’s one piece of advice that we- as in anyone and everyone giving advice about Dragon Con –beat like a dead horse every year when talking to you- as in anyone going to Dragon Con no matter how many times you been before –every single year, it’s that you need to shower and use deodorant. Sometimes, like, say, Saturday, you might even want to do it more than once depending on what you’re wearing and doing, and, no, Axe body Spray, Febreze, and/or Fresh Linen scented Lysol are not acceptable substitutes. Yes, I have seen people at cons try to shortcut matters by spraying what they’re wearing (even while they’re wearing it) with half a can of Fresh Linen scented Lysol. It doesn’t work. Ever. So, yeah, get a shower in at the start or the end of each convention day.

However, right behind that bit of advice is the other beaten like a dead horse bit of advice pertaining to the human body’s nutritional needs. You must eat, and, preferably, you should do it more than once a day with meals consisting of more than power bars, meal drinks, and/or beef jerky. Fortunately, the hotels have their own restaurants, quick grab places, and bars that serve food and Dragon Con long ago conquered the Peachtree Center Food Court and made it the official convention canteen. Not so fortunately, all of these combined are not quite capable of serving and seating the now 85,000+ attendees with the same speed and efficiency of service that they can when not slammed with Dragon Con attendees, football fans, and the miscellaneous others in town for the various Labor Day weekend events. This is especially true on Saturday. That can occasionally be an issue when you want to have a good sit-down meal while not having the time to wait in line for 45 minutes and then having the (extremely understandable) smaller delays as the staff has to juggle serving you and the small army of other people looking for a meal.

That’s where a little pre-planning can help you out a lot.

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Here’s the thing. I know a lot of Dragon Con attendees- whether the reason they have is the heat, the extra walking, feelings of safety, or the insanely tight schedule they’ve made for themselves –don’t like to stray too far beyond the official Dragon Con host hotels and buildings and/or the Peachtree Center Food Court. I’ve even known some attendees who got a room in a specific host hotel and didn’t even want to leave that specific hotel for the entire weekend. If you just absolutely cannot see yourself ever straying beyond that tight of a perimeter… well… It’s just more opportunities for the rest of us looking for a good meal.

Downtown Atlanta is packed with places to eat. There are some sections where walking a city block almost feels walking through the food court because of how many restaurants and bars you walk past. There’s not simply just quantity out there. You’ll also find quite a bit of quality and variety.

Here. This is a ridiculously large JPEG map of the area. It’s likely going to be close to impossible to read here, so you may have to download it from here or from my Tumblr page. Even then, it’s going to be a tad smaller than the original upload, but hopefully still readable enough for you.

Food Map

First, so you can find your bearings, check out the red boxes on the map. Those are the Dragon Con host hotels and buildings. I didn’t mark the Peachtree Center Food Court on the map, but, as it’s connected to the Hyatt and the Mariette by sky bridges, I figure most of you know where it’s at. Besides, the idea here is to get a little beyond the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds and long waits there and elsewhere in the immediate host buildings. Do you see all those little orange dots all over the map? Those are places to eat. Those are not even all the places to eat; because to get the map to show every place there is to eat, I would have had to have zoomed the image down to the level of just looking at single city blocks. Hey, putting 14 screencaps together like a puzzle was annoying enough by the time I was on screen cap #8. 30 screencaps showing greater detail and I’d likely have ended it halfway through by shooting my monitor.

Look at all those little orange dots while, again, keeping in mind that there are even more places to eat around some of those dots than even what’s seen here. There is a huge selection of places to eat within a two to three blocks walk from the convention’s host hotels. That’s not that far, and, once you’ve broken away from the thickest of the crowds packing the sidewalks around the host hotels, that’s actually a fairly quick walk as well.

Obviously, everyone is going to have different ideas of what is and isn’t an acceptable walk, especially in the heat and/or, as with some forecasts for the occasional con weekend, rain. However, looking to expand your or your group’s eating options at con can be a good thing.

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Time may or may not be one of those good things. Depending on where you go, where most others aren’t going, and what your walking speed is, you could conceivably spend less time walking and getting seated elsewhere than you do waiting in line in the food court. Where you’re at when you decide you want to go eat is also going to be a factor in this. If you’re in the Westin checking out the fantastic Horror Track offerings this year, it may take you less time to hit something like Ted’s Montana Grill or The Bistro than it will take to head back over to the food court area. If you’re in the Hyatt and you want to eat and then head over to a panel in the Marriott, it may take you less time to foot it over to something like Max Lager’s Wood-Fired Grill & Brewery than it will to walk through the crowds to the Peachtree Center Food Court and wait in the long lines.

More options if you have certain dietary needs (or just dietary desires) is absolutely a good thing. You can go to Google maps and bring up downtown Atlanta around Dragon Con fairly easily. Once there, click the little help icon to highlight places to eat. From there, type whatever you’re looking for into the map’s search bar. Do you need something a little more vegetarian or vegan? Type it in and it’ll highlight places around the general Dragon Con area offering such foods. Do you want some BBQ, pizza, or seafood? Same deal. I was even able to search for places with gluten-free menu items for a friend last week.

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Downtown Atlanta has a lot of food options to offer up to the average convention goer that aren’t too far of a walk from the host hotels. You just have to break out of the mindset of never leaving the convention’s downtown footprint. Sometimes it isn’t going to be convenient for your schedule to look outside of the immediate confines of the convention. Sometimes you might not want to just because you have a certain craving. I’ll freely admit I can easily get in a Yami Yami or a Metro Café Diner rut. That’s especially true if my wife is in Metro Café Diner cake mood. You’re also not likely going to want to go outside the normal area routine more than a couple of times during your Dragon Con weekend. However, as with any convention planning, it’s probably better to have some backup plans ready to go. Based on where you are at the time, where you need to be later, your overall schedule, and how thick the crowds are and how long the lines are; some of these places outside your normal travel pattern might just be some good backup plans.

We tend to come in early and stay a few days after con. I’ve eaten in a few of these places. Some of them are worth checking out. But, as always, keep safety in mind as well. If you don’t know the city well, maybe hook up with a friend or some friends who do. If it’s late in the evening, try to keep the exploring of new food options a group activity. Additionally, well, if you’re planning to get some heavy drinking in with your meal, keep to the regular hangouts for general safety. But, other than that? Explore the options digitally in the upcoming year and then give them a try at your next Dragon Con.

Jerry Chandler is a lifelong geek who, while enjoying most everything fandom has to offer, finds himself most at home in the horror, dark fantasy, and science fiction genres. When not wasting too much time on social media, he can be found writing regularly here at Needless Things, but has also written for websites like Gruesome Magazine as well as remembering to put up the occasional musings on his on blog. He’s been a guest on several podcasts from the ESO Network, Decades of Horror, and the Nerdy Laser. He has also recently become a regular cohost of The Assignment: Horror Podcast.

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Comments
  1. […] food court is physically connected to both the Hyatt and the Marriott by two sky bridges. Moreover, there are many places to eat all around the area. […]

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