Why you should always ask a local about the best places to eat

Tara in Atlanta

Before I went to Atlanta last week, I scoured the web for the best places to eat since choosing on a whim didn’t work out too well the last time I was there.

I read lists, reviews and yelps and came up with two places that were highly rated but seemed essentially like gourmet-fied Southern fare. I normally like my down-home food from places that look slightly suspect on the outside and a little like your auntie’s kitchen on the inside, but a slew of goods reviews can’t all be wrong, right?

Either way, when I got to my Downtown ATL hotel, I scrapped my search and asked the bellhop his advice on where to eat. I told him I was looking for two things: good fried chicken and good ribs (typical, I know, but I was in the South and that’s what you eat in the South).

He gave me two places: Pittypat’s Porch and Fat Matt’s. And to be honest, with names like those, I figured he obviously knew what he was talking about.

First up was Fat Matt’s for ribs. It was about a 20-minute drive from Downtown and the taxi driver hit me with one of those ancient card readers that literally imprints your card and then you get one carbon copy—but it added to the authenticity of the experience.

From the outside the rib shack looked a little like a dive bar, and the inside left a little to be desired too. But I wasn’t there for pretty and the smack of smoky ribs that hit my smell senses was enough to tell me I was in the right place. The ribs came, with the meat slipping off the bone and the BBQ sauce slathered to my liking and I blew the bellhop an imaginary kiss for sending me there.

To make matters more Southern, live blues courtesy Frankie’s Blues Mission was on in the backdrop and it made the moment. I was 100 percent in the South and loving it.

Day two came and it was time for fried chicken, so I went to Pittypat’s.

When you walk in, the whole restaurant looks like one big Southern porch where you’d expect to sip mint juleps under a sun hat whiling the afternoon away. I was greeted and tended to with baby’s and darling’s and sweetheart’s and it was beautiful. The fried chicken plate was solid, but it was the wings for the win because they had just the right amount of seasoning.

So, lesson learned, (and not that I didn’t actually already know this, so really, lesson re-learned), always go with a local when it comes to where to eat. The best is to eat where the real people eat. Not where the business travelers are told to go or where the travel guides point you. The people know their place better than anyone else, and more often than not, their review is the only one you’ll need.