I've just downed the last sip of a perfect Manhattan at a restaurant almost too fancy to warrant my presence beyond this barstool. Moments ago, I was face-to-face with a massive installation by one of the 21st-century's most renowned living artists, the vision of his sprawling multimedia collage looming as gloriously in my head as it still is over a moving crowd a few hundred yards behind me. I'm thinking about how I might just go ahead and order another Manhattan since I took MARTA here, anyway (a quick 20-minute ride), and about how much I love this place — how much I love the Atlanta airport.
A quality cocktail and an up-close-and-personal look at a 40-foot-long Radcliffe Bailey work? Outside of, say, the High Museum or Radcliffe Bailey's house, there are few places in the world where that's possible. Hartsfield-Jackson's International Concourse E happens to be one of them. At the end of the concourse, restaurant One Flew South embodies unclichéd Southern charm, its walls wallpapered to resemble a sun-dappled wooded glen, its momentary inhabitants travelers from every corner of the globe. One Flew South is a more sophisticated bar and restaurant than you'd ever expect to find in an airport — in some cities even — and actually represents what's happening in Atlanta's food scene. The same goes for the art program at the airport, which, at 4,700 acres, arguably holds Atlanta's largest collection of public artwork.
It is representative of the many small pleasures about Hartsfield-Jackson. Is there any other airport in the world as busy (more than 240,000 passengers a day) that can feel so un-crowded? (OK, OK, those security lines can be a bitch, but otherwise.) Is there anywhere else in Atlanta where public transportation works more seamlessly? Atlanta doesn't always make getting around in town easy. But getting out of town, in style? We got that covered.