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Top 5 Hidden Gems Near Ponce City Market

Ah, Ponce City Market.

Time to hit up the group text and see who wants to meet at the former Sears-showroom-turned-food-hall to partake in a smorgasbord extravaganza!

…but what if you could do better?

Don’t get us wrong, we love Ponce City Market! Food halls in general are our bread and butter (think of the splitting potential!) and there’s some dynamite dishes and restaurants to choose from. 

Maybe you don’t feel like braving the lines. Or maybe you’re feeling antisocial and trying to avoid running into someone you know. Or maybe you’re just looking to try something new.

No matter the reason, we feel you.

Here are five alternate options around the area if Ponce City Market isn’t today’s vibe…

Jerk Chicken Combo – Eats | Photo Credit:


What It Is

While meat-and-threes may have a certain lowbrow reputation, they’re the perfect comfort food regardless of your background or tastes. Eats has been offering comfort to ATLiens since 1993. While it may not thrill your nutritionist, it’s a far healthier alternative than most spots you’ll be hitting along Ponce, not to mention cheaper (most combos are sub-$10 for a meal you’ll likely end up with leftovers of).

What to Get

It would simply not be a trip to Eats without getting their iconic jerk chicken. It’s spicy, it’s juicy…it’s perfect. The uninitiated can start with the flagship special: jerk chicken with black beans, rice, and the requisite cornbread. If you’re ready to go a little bolder, my go-to is the Jerk Chicken with Broccoli Casserole and Baked Sweet Potato. You get the kick of the chicken, the rich creaminess of the casserole, and the buttery sweetness of the sweet potato all crammed onto a platter struggling to support the weight of the magic on top.

If that doesn’t deserve a Michelin star, I’m calling foul to the Michelin institution as a whole.

Cacio e pepe – Ruby Chow’s | Photo Credit:

Ruby Chow’s

What it is

This new restaurant from Chef Guy Wong, of Le Fat and Miso Izakaya fame, opened up in February 2020 (didn’t we all have such big plans in early 2020?) and has been serving modern and innovative Chinese small plates and noodles ever since. Don’t let the trendy decor fool you, this food is delicious, too and packed with flavor. If there’s room, definitely try to be seated on the patio.

What to get

The joys of a restaurant with small plates is that you can try so many more dishes than usual. When you go to Ruby Chow’s, bring a group and go splitsies on:

  • Peking duck steamed bun: the tender and juicy duck pairs immaculately with the fluffy steamed bun and all the fixings (cucumber, scallions, hoisin, star anise jus)
  • Pork belly & grits: do I have you at pork belly? Enough said.
  • Cacio e pepe: you read that right. The best cacio e pepe I’ve had in Atlanta is at a Chinese restaurant. I can’t explain why, but every bite is teeming with gastronomical and textural overload. It’s creamy, it’s garlicky, it’s even spicy. If you understandably have doubts, do yourself a favor and order it.
  • Mango sticky rice: after all the salty and umami and spicy goodness you’ve engaged in, top it off with a refreshing treat. This sweet coconut rice is lifted into the stratosphere by the bright and tangy mango ice cream.
Santa Fe Scramble- Java Jive | Photo Credit:

Java Jive

What it is 

Unlike Ruby Chow’s, there’s nothing trendy about Java Jive. This old school breakfast joint has been helping its patrons nurse their hangovers since 1994. While it may not offer bottomless mimosas or Instagrammable shrimp and grits, you can’t beat the classics. Pro tip: they’re cash-only so next time you’re at the ATM before hitting the Clermont Lounge, withdraw an extra twenty for breakfast the next day.

What to get 

Ask almost any regular and they’ll point you in the direction of the Santa Fe Scramble. This spicy wonder, full of chorizo, peppers & onions, and potatoes, will wake you right up. All egg dishes come with either a biscuit or wheat toast…do I even need to tell you that you need to order the biscuit?

Wings – Dugan’s | Photo Credit:


What it is

Dugan’s has been slinging lemon pepper wings since before it was cool. Think about the food scene in 1985: KFC was the fanciest fried chicken you could get and you were probably washing it down with a tall glass of New Coke (note: I wasn’t alive in 1985 and am mainly basing this off of Stranger Things). Enter Dugan’s, proudly touted as slinging up “Atlanta’s original wings.” With its booming music and massive horseshoe-shaped bar, you won’t find a much livelier spot for a Falcons game or a regular afternoon of wings and pitchers.

What to get

Lemon pepper wings. What else? The Mango Habanero sauce is a unique and delicious mix of sweet and spicy, but if you’re an ATL wing purist, you’ll want to get lemon pepper. Order it with a side of the bacon cheese fries and you’ll cover all the (important) food groups.

Spread – Rina | Photo Credit:


What it is

“Rina” literally translates to “joyful song” in Hebrew, but it simply means “happiness,” which is exactly what you’re in for at this new Israeli restaurant right across the Beltline from Ponce City Market. You’ll easily spot this bona fide eatery by its bright and colorful patio and unique branding but the food deserves to be the star. Several of the recipes have been passed down through owner Tal Baum’s (known for Aziza) family dating back to a falafel stand in Israel in the 1950s! The dishes have been refined for decades and the end result speaks for itself.

What to get

There’s no shame in over-ordering when the cuisine is so fresh and flavorful. Start with the Hummus No. 0 served with their drool-worthy homemade pita bread. Then get the Chicken Shawarma pita stuffed with babaganoush, Israeli salad, and caramelized onion. And just for good measure, get a side of falafel because you’ve earned it. Each of these items tastes straight out of Tel Aviv.

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