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Six hours on ... Buford Highway

A little slice of Blade Runner in the city



Buford Highway is one of the best reasons to live in Atlanta. If you drove the length of the highway from beyond I-285 into Buckhead, you might not even notice the wonderland passing you by. Without looking closely, it's just an ugly stretch of jumbled strip malls and gas stations. But thousands of worlds exist within these strip malls, places that are able to transport you to the other side of the world, smells and flavors that reek of delicious authenticity. Oh, and cowboy boots for toddlers. But we'll get to that.

3 p.m.: Taco time
If you go with an earnest intent to explore, there's no way Buford Highway will disappoint. The most fun you can have is to drive slowly and discover something new. Start at El Rey de Taco — but don't eat too much! We've got a long way to go, and the food of Buford Highway is its main draw. Fortunately, El Rey serves mini tacos that will keep your appetite primed for what's next. The beef cheeks (cabeza) served on handmade tortillas will whet your appetite for more.

4 p.m.: No siesta
Drive on up to Plaza Fiesta, the shopping center that houses Asian and Latino shops and a multiethnic food court. Grab an arepa at La Fonda Paisa, and check out the awesome Western wear at some of the center's clothing stores — it's here that you'll find the city's best children's cowboy boot selection. There's also a Marshall's for bargain hunters with less esoteric tastes. 5 p.m.: Tortilla factory

Across the way is Supermarket Chicago, where you can find all manner of Mexican groceries. Pick up a stack of the freshly made tortillas, and avoid (or give into) the siren call of another taco from the excellent taqueria in the back.

6 p.m.: Chinese café culture
Café 101 has some of the best Chinese food around, as well as one of the coolest and most surreal dining rooms. If you're not hungry for a full meal, try one of the icy desserts — shaved ice smothered in fresh fruit and condensed milk.

7 p.m.: Surreal shopping
Over in Asian Square, everything from Korean pop music to Vietnamese prom dresses are for sale. The Square's anchor is a huge Asian grocery store called Ranch 99 Market, which is an especially good place to find kitchenware at great prices. Sake sets, rice steamers, woks and more are super-affordable, as are the Samurai swords and other fun gift ideas for grandma.

8 p.m.: Japanese heaven
For dinner, drive up past I-285 to Sushi House Hayakawa, one of our city's most authentic Japanese restaurants. Be sure to check out the great selection of sake and sochu — you'll need the lubrication for the rest of your evening, when you'll head next door to Karaoke Melody. The karaoke spot has private rooms, rented by the hour, where you can get your sing-sing on.

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