Food - What to eat at the Peachtree Center food court

With direct access to Marta and Dragon Con's three main host hotels, the Mall at Peachtree Center is a strategically located food hub

If Dragon Con — the massive fantasy and gaming convention that will bring an estimated 60,000 people to Downtown Sept. 4-7 — were one giant restaurant (use your imagination), the Mall at Peachtree Center would be its kitchen. A network of pedestrian sky bridges, like human-size hamster tunnels, link the three-tiered Mall to Dragon Con's three major host locations: the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, and the Hilton Atlanta. Peachtree Center's food court is also both the welcoming committee and the departure point for MARTA riders. During peak meal hours, this major transportation hub is overrun with hundreds of costumed fans in search of creature comforts. We figured y'all could probably Google "Peachtree Center food court" and find a directory of every business on the premises. But with more than 35 eateries to choose from, here's an annotated guide to eating at Peachtree Center instead.

There's an abundance of shopping mall food court Chinese food at Peachtree Center, which means get the bourbon chicken at Tropical Cajun (Gallery Level FC4, 404-577-0016), obviously, because bourbon chicken doesn't exist in Chinese restaurants that aren't in shopping malls and is, by extension, special. There's also a Benihana (Avenue Level A2, 404-522-9629. www.benihana.com) on the premises. The hugely popular Aviva by Kameel (Gallery Level B30, 404-698-3600) sets the bar for Mediterranean food Downtown, at Peachtree Center or otherwise.

Want a break from the hullabaloo? Gibney's Pub (Gallery Level & Avenue Level A7, 404-688-0928. www.gibneyspub.com) awaits at the bottom of a dimly lit staircase off of the Mall's main food court. Newly added Gus's Fried Chicken (Gallery Level A5, gusfriedchicken.com) is destination-worthy. Plates at the famed Memphis-based chicken joint range from $7.30 (a thigh and a leg) to $11.50 (two breasts and a wing) and come with baked beans, coleslaw, and a slice of white bread. Gus's also sells pie — whole and by the slice. A slice of chess, coconut, pecan, or sweet potato pie will set you back $2.95, or go ahead and get the whole damn thing for $14.50.

Cool off with a good ole' Oreo Blizzard from DQ Grill and Chill (Gallery Level B71C, 404-389-0682. www.dairyqueen.com) — aka a Dairy Queen that also serves hot food — always hits the spot. Keep an eye out for King of Pops' rainbow umbrella, complete with a costumed pop slinger, outside Peachtree Center, too.

For an energy boost that won't require you to remove your mask or eff up your face paint, head over to Planet Smoothie (Gallery Level FC14, 404-420-9222) for a buzz-inducing Java the Nut smoothie made with Colombian coffee, cocoa, peanut butter, frozen yogurt, and nonfat milk.

In the market for foods of the meatless variety? Try Thai vegetarian options such as the hot braised tofu with vegetables or stir fried eggplant at Noodle Cafe (Gallery Level B70, 404-880-9884). Cafe Momo's (Gallery Level B71) got a formidable salad bar and Turmeric Indian Bistro (Gallery Level FC5) has a rotating menu of vegetarian entrées, which can range from channa masala, spinach daal, mixed vegetable curry, and more.

For dessert, Cheesecaked (Gallery Level B21) serves up delightful cheesecake in cupcake form ($3-$5.75). Classic flavors range from Honey Bun to Strawberry Heaven. The one with plain, silky, not-too-sweet cheesecake and moist graham cracker crust dubbed Flawless, is flawless. Things get a little friskier when it comes to specialty flavors such as the champagne-laced Don-Party-On, the margarita-inspired Texas Holdem, and the Oh My Goodness topped with a brownie, caramel, pecans, and whipped cream.

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Now that you’ve got the food thing figured out, here are a few general tips for new convention goers:

• Look at the schedule and plan out your day in advance.
?• Don’t be a grabby asshole — or an asshole of any kind, but definitely not a grabby one.
?• Use the sky bridges if you want to keep cool.
?• Don’t take pictures in the sky bridges. Doing so screws up the flow of traffic and everyone will hate you for it.
?• Leave real firearms, drones, and selfie sticks at home.


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