- Mary Caldwell For the AJC
Downtown Atlanta's Sweet Auburn Curb Market has grown with the city since its origins as an open-air market held under a large tent starting in 1917.
Today's name, which was adopted in the 1990s, reflects the fact that blacks were at first only allowed to sell outside along the curb, as well as its proximity to Auburn Avenue.
From retail shops to places to grab a meal or sweets, the Curb Market's independently-owned businesses all offer a unique experience.
Start your Curb Market visit with these six things to do, and you'll soon want to return to visit other merchants even more frequently:
Style a burger at Grindhouse – Grindhouse Killer Burgers serves up your choice of a beef, turkey or veggie grind, and you can further style your burger from there, adding cheeses, veggies, sauces and yummy extras like sliced avocado or Carolina coleslaw.
MUST TRY: Don't forget to try some sweet potato chips, fries or Vidalia onion rings – or several types to share - on the side. If you'd like to make your service quicker, you can order online before you come.
Indulge your sweet tooth at Miss D's Pralines – You won't be able to resist the Southern hospitality or the treats at Miss D's, including her authentic New Orleans pralines, which are packed with Georgia pecans and are mixed and poured by hand.
FAN FAVORITE: Her "Triple" popcorn, a mixture of caramel, cheese and butter popcorn
Browse and buy at Sister's Bookshop – Explore this warm and cozy independent bookstore, where taking your time and reading while you're there is encouraged. Sister's Bookshop has a good selection of kids, sports, cooking, African-American and religion books, as well as Atlanta souvenirs, jewelry and other unique finds.
BONUS:Kids age 7-14 can also join a summer book club that includes reading, hands-on activities and lunch at the Curb Market.
Pig out at Sweet Auburn BBQ - Howard Hsu blends his Asian heritage with his Southern upbringing to create delicious barbecue dishes and sides at Sweet Auburn BBQ. Some have just a touch of Asian spices added to the barbecue rub, while others, like the King of Memphis Melt, offered as a pulled pork, brisket or chicken sandwich with melted jack cheese, fried egg and pear slaw, have a liberal dose of both culinary cultures.
MUST TRY: King of Memphis Melt
Get some essentials at the Market Pharmacy – As you're browsing through the market, you can also get some practical errands taken care of at the Market Pharmacy. Pick up some antacids if you've overindulged at nearby eateries, or shop for beauty products, vitamins supplements and more.
BONUS: If you need to get a prescription filled, drop it off while you explore the market and pick it up afterward.
Check out the newest tenant, City Provisions - You might have ordered specialty sauces, seasoning blends or hickory-smoked meats from Chef Joe's Online, but you'll soon be able to buy them at the Curb Market's newest merchant, City Provisions. The company is also known for its popular waffle stackers, which are also available at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
Future fan favorite: Waffle stacker sausage sandwiches
How to get there
The Curb Market is located at 209 Edgewood Ave. SE at the intersection of Jesse Hill Jr. Drive in downtown Atlanta.
Parking is available on the left immediately after you turn onto Jesse Hill Jr. Drive. Rates start at $3, but if you spend $5 at the market, a vendor can validate your parking for a free hour.
By MARTA: You can also take MARTA, exiting at the GSU Station. Walk along Jesse Hill Jr. Drive toward Grady Hospital, and the market is about five blocks away. If you'd rather get closer, take the MARTA North line to the Peachtree Center Station, and take the Atlanta Streetcar to the Sweet Auburn stop, which is right across the street from the market.
The Curb Market is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday through Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Some merchants, however, have different operating hours, and some aren't open on Sundays, so check the market's website if you'd like to find out when a particular shop is open.