Atlanta’s always been a melting pot. But if there’s one area of the city that exemplifies the idea of diversity, it’s got to be Buford Highway. Starting in the late 20th century, this area began attracting immigrants from across the world. From large neighborhoods to small pockets, folks from Korea, Mexico, China, Vietnam, India, Bangladesh, Central America, Somalia, Ethiopia, and more have settled on this stretch of northeast Atlanta, and over the years, more than 1,000 immigrant-owned business have cropped up, from large markets to tiny restaurants, and everything in between.
Today, this multinational influence is one of the main draws to Buford Highway. There are some fantastic restaurants that line the Buford Highway Corridor (check a few recommendations below for just a few). That, and this seven-lane corridor provides easy (relatively traffic-free) access to a few destinations in the northeastern quadrant of the city: DeKalb – Peachtree Airport is located just off this stretch; a little farther winds you up at I-285; once outside the Perimeter, the charming city of Norcross is an easy drive.
The stretch of Buford Highway in Chamblee is sometimes affectionately referred to as “Chambodia” — a reference to the high Asian concentration and abundance of Asian restaurants on this stretch. Tom Wolfe’s novel A Man in Full contains a chapter titled “Chambodia.”
Banh mi is Lee’s Bakery. Lee’s Bakery is banh mi. If you’re a fan of perfect, crusty French bread that contains an array of meats and pickled veggies, most Atlantans will contest there is, very simply, none better to be found in the ATL than this humble eatery. 4005 Buford Hwy. NE
A big bowl of steaming, savory pho. This easygoing soup one of the dishes that put Vietnam on the international culinary map. While many a heated argument has been waged over which restaurant does it best, you’re going to be more than pleased with the noodles at this friendly eatery. 4051 Buford Hwy. NE
The Mexican and Central American community has been huge in Atlanta since the Olympics, and this immense market is a basecamp for all things Latino. Authenticity is the name of the game here — if you were blindfolded and dropped off here, you would swear that you had landed the gran mercado in Mexico City. 5600 Buford Hwy. NE
This eatery is super-popular at lunchtime, when carts of yummy dim sum are pushed around the room. But no matter what time you choose to go, count on friendly service in a laid-back setting, and some of the best Cantonese grub in town. 4825 Buford Hwy. NE.
From the outside, this place looks like a former drive-thru dry cleaners. Inside, quick and easy Mexican-on-the-go is slung out — try the carne asada (it’s exceptional). 5084 Buford Hwy. NE
There are two really epic brick-and-mortar farmers markets in Atlanta. One is Your DeKalb Farmers Market down in Decatur. The other is this one. To say it’s international is an understatement — you’ll be hard pressed to not find whatever obscure ingredient you’re searching for, regardless of which far-flung corner of the globe it originally came from. 5600 Buford Hwy.
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