Candler Park Market's inventory is perfectly tailored to the oddball mix of hippies and yuppies who live in the neighborhood. There are a few aisles of ordinary sundries, but mixed in inconspicuously with the cans of soup and the laundry detergent are expensive bags of shade-grown coffee beans. The refrigerated case discreetly offers organic milk, imported cheeses and rich European butter. And the wine aisle is a sight to behold -- how is it possible for such a tiny, unassuming store to have such a great selection? Once you've impressed your friends with the killer bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape that you picked up here on your way to a dinner party, you may never shop anywhere else. The locals are fiercely loyal to this scrappy little shop, and the shop in turn gives the locals exactly what they want. Small, neighborhood groceries are nearly extinct in Atlanta, which is what makes Candler Park Market so remarkable.
Sandwiches With a Smile: Another reason to love Candler Park Market is the deli that occupies a nook at the back of the store. It's not much more than a diner-style counter with four stools on one side and a friendly young woman on the other making sandwiches and ladling out cups of soup. They don't even bother with breakfast; after all, a certain 800-pound gorilla called the Flying Biscuit is right across the street. But the sandwiches are worth stopping for.
Bad-Ass Beef: Probably the most unique sandwich on the menu is the BBQ roast beef ($5.99). It's a kicky and delicious combination of rare roast beef and provolone cheese slathered with a little bit of molasses-sweet barbecue sauce and plenty of Dijon mustard. I'm also a fan of the turkey with pesto cream cheese ($6.09). Heady flavors of fresh basil and garlic take this turkey sandwich a couple of notches above ordinary. Chicken salad ($5.29) doesn't deviate much from the standard. Celery gives it lots of crunch, and I thought I tasted a bit of pickle relish in the mix, too. They don't overstuff the sandwiches here, which makes them look a little skimpy, but they're easier to eat than the huge sandwiches people have come to expect. Whoever said a sandwich needed a half-pound of cold cuts squeezed between two flimsy slices of bread to be good?
Salad Days: On one visit, I watched as the girl behind the counter chopped up fresh tomatoes, cucumber and peppers for a Greek salad ($4.99), but I was disappointed when she handed me a packet of store-bought balsamic vinaigrette. Would it kill them to make their own salad dressing? That's my only complaint, though. This is the kind of sandwich shop that will make you jealous of the PB&J that the little girl next to you is eating (available only on the kid's menu -- but perhaps they'll make an exception for me?). Every neighborhood should be so lucky.