Offbeat spots offer new experiences in food, fun

Let's face it, we're creatures of habit. Most of us tend to patronize the same old restaurants and watering holes. But variety is the spice of life, so we bring you a shaker full of food and entertainment suggestions to help pull you out of the box.

Motorheads Bar & Grill

Yeah, it's a biker bar. But it's more "American Chopper" than "Hells Angels on Wheels." The décor and overall vibe speak to weekend motorcyclists who come from as far as neighboring states to talk two-wheeled thunder. High-top tables sport flame jobs. A cartoon mural of a woolly-faced biker busting through on his hog decorates the stage's rear wall. Southern rock acts play weekly on Friday or Saturday nights, and on Sunday evenings. From 4-7 p.m. Sundays, Motorheads hosts Bikes & Bands. During the bash, a host of domestic draft beers goes for $1 per pint. And as many as 150 motorcycles fill the parking lot. Thursday nights is standing room only for Motorheads Idol. This 15-week karaoke competition, which began May 1, is patterned after "American Idol." The winner takes away $3,000 and the three runners-up score $1,000, $700 and $300, respectively. Motorheads has a gimmick every night, including customer appreciation on Tuesdays (free pool and $2 bottles of domestic beer) and bike night on Wednesdays ($1 domestic pints and 35-cent Buffalo wings).

THE 411: 650 Macon St., McDonough. 770-898-0008, www.motorheadsbarand Mondays-Saturdays 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Sundays noon-midnight.

Wyatt's Diner

Amid Kirkwood's gentrification stands this funky barbecue shack. Located a hop and skip from the popular Ann's Snack Bar, the wooden hut radiates in bright shades of yellow and green. Don't let the name fool you; it's strictly a take-out joint. Customers step inside tight quarters to order everything from slap-your-mama-good pork ribs and baked chicken to edgier Southern stuff like ox tails and pig ears. Awesome homemade sides percolate on the stove. Think collard greens, butter beans, mac-and-cheese. Desserts and sandwiches are available, too, as are belly washers like the proverbial sweet tea. The staff cranks up the grill at 4 a.m., sometimes earlier. Billows of smoke puff out of the brick chimney. Presiding over everything is Oscar Wyatt, a hospitable man who openly thanks God for 24 years of business at this location. The secret to the popular ribs, Wyatt says, is the top-secret, vinegar-based basting sauce he and his late brother, "Sergeant," concocted years ago.

THE 411: 1674 Memorial Drive S.E., Atlanta. 404-371-0311. Mondays-Wednesdays 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Closed Sundays.

Southern Comfort

Many true honky tonks have given way to flashy, mega-clubs. But Southern Comfort could double as the set from "Urban Cowboy." In fact, its sprawling bar, twinkling Christmas lights and vintage appeal have it popping up in movies like the upcoming Tyler Perry flick "The Family That Preys." Husband and wife George F. and Jackie Jones helm the place, which attracts a large trucker clientele. Even in the middle of the day, you might find an impromptu jam session taking place over steaks, burgers and beer. George, a 70-year-old veteran musician, often joins the picking. And he performs in the house band Trux, which plays Wednesdays through Saturdays. Customers can sit in with the band on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Karaoke is on tap Sundays through Tuesdays, and Wednesdays from 8 a.m.-7 p.m. are customer appreciation with free pool and $1 beer. Don't expect raucous bar fights, but rather true Southern hospitality and friendly "yee-haw" revelry. "My wife is the best security we got," George says.

THE 411: 1383 Cedar Grove Road, Conley. 404-361-5675.Mondays-Saturdays 8 a.m.-4 a.m. 8 a.m.-3 a.m. Sundays.

Han Il Kwan

Up front, guests can order favorites like shrimp fried rice, Korean barbecue and Korean seafood pancakes. But the real fun takes place in the back where the tables come with grills in the center where diners can cook meats and seafood themselves. We order the beef short ribs, and out come an array of appetizers and toppings including kimchee, mashed potatoes and dried fish. After the grill is filled with hot charcoal, a grill is plopped on top and slivers of beef are placed on top. Guests can cook the meal themselves or a staff member will help. Once it's done, the meat is piled in a large lettuce leaf and topped with fresh garlic, hot peppers and a vinegary salad that includes green onions. It is divine. Other grilling options include chicken, shrimp and pork. Reservations are recommended on weekends.

THE 411: 5458 Buford Highway N.E., Doraville. 770-457-3217. Daily 10 a.m.-1 a.m.

Taverna Plaka

By day it's a Greek restaurant, but on Saturday nights, things get jumping. Once the dinner crowd dies down, the restaurant and bar turn into a wild celebration. A DJ spins international music for an equally international crowd. Belly dancers dance, as do patrons who regularly bust their moves on tabletops and partake in the tradition of tossing napkins into the air. After 10 p.m., the cover is $10, but diners get reimbursed.

THE 411: 2196 Cheshire Bridge Road, Atlanta. 404-636-2284, Mondays-Thursdays 4.-11 p.m. Fridays 4 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Saturdays 5 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Sundays 4-11 p.m.

The Wild Mustang

The warehouse space formerly known as Jungle has become a country dance hall for the gay/lesbian set. The Monday night drag show and Friday's Latin night remain on the roster of events, but the country-style décor and wooden dance floor set the stage for free two-step and couples dance lessons on Tuesdays. Although it's closed most Wednesdays, PALS charity bingo hosted by drag queen Bubba D. Licious is held the second Wednesday of each month. Ladies night is Thursdays.

THE 411: Free-$10. 2115 Faulkner Road N.E., Atlanta. 404-844-8800, Mondays 10:30 p.m.-3 a.m. Tuesdays 6:30 p.m.-midnight. Closed Wednesdays, except for special events. Thursdays 8 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Fridays 9:30 p.m.-3 a.m. Saturdays 8 p.m.-2 a.m. Closed Sundays.

La Rumba 2

The upscale Latin nightclub sports a massive dance floor decked out with 50 flashing lights, and 14 plasma TVs showing music videos while a DJ spins tunes. The core audience here is well-dressed 25-to-30 year olds. The dress code forbids shorts, T-shirts, sneakers and ratty jeans. And the vibe is friendly. Veterans often stop to teach newbies a few salsa movies, says general manager Mike Kelly. Partiers 21 and older can retreat to the bar for a Sex on the Beach, frozen piña colada or other tropical elixirs. Live salsa and bachata bands play on occasion. Saturdays are "crazy busy," Kelly says.

THE 411: $10. 4300 Buford Highway, Suite 212, Atlanta. 404-486-0436, Fridays-Sundays 10 p.m.-4 a.m.

Golden Key

Looking to spice up your weekly trip to the grocery? Golden Key caters to a mostly Russian and Eastern European clientele. This is a one-stop shop for Russian magazines, Turkish delight, kefir (a fermented milk drink) and Kras chocolate bars from Croatia. Coolers hold an assortment of smoked mackerel, veal franks, cured pork and frozen bags of pelmeni, a delectable Russian ravioli stuffed with beef, pork or chicken.

THE 411: 4760 Lawrenceville Highway, Suite A3, Lilburn. 770-638-1101. Mondays-Fridays 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturdays 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Closed Sundays.

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