Editor’s note: Jamaica Cove has closed since this tour was published.
Wedged between I-75 and I-85, and a stone’s throw from Hartsfield-Jackson airport sits the tiny town of Hapeville. You might not expect restaurants in this city of only 6,600 residents to do such brisk business, especially for weekday lunch, but it starts to make sense when you see Delta and Porsche lanyards draping around everyone’s neck. Hapeville feeds many an employee of these companies, both of which have headquarters nearby.
Food gems in this city range from a back-when soda fountain inside a fourth-gen pharmacy to ethnic eateries that line both sides of the railroad tracks running through the center of town to a historic Chick-fil-A with a Disney-esque dwarf door.
Beverage options here continue to grow. Arches Brewing is only 1 year old and already expanding production, with a canning line coming soon. There’s hip Drip Coffee or, just down the street, Beer Girl Growlers & Bottle Shop that sits in Hapeville’s newly established open-container district, a two-block zone behind storefronts on North Central Avenue. The talk of the town, however, is Corner Tavern, a bar that Hapeville snagged from neighboring East Point. It’s set to open next month, followed by Tren Loco, which will serve Mexican fare out of a repurposed shipping container right next door to the watering hole.
Here are a few gastro highlights that await in Hapeville. Go now before the lines get longer. But check hours, since some Hapeville eateries go to sleep on weekends.
Arches Brewing. Arches has been in biz for not much more than a year, but the lager-focused brewery is ramping up to increase production by tenfold. I am partial to the bite of Arches' seasonal Mexican Empire Vienna-style lager, but much more is on tap at its tasting room, including year-round brews Unseasonal Lager, dry-hopped pale ale Equilibrium and Belgian blonde ale Southern Bel'. The tasting room — and a casual beer garden out back — is open from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, and from 1 to 6 p.m. Saturdays. Tours are $15 and include six tasting tokens plus an Arches souvenir glass. 3361 Dogwood Drive, Hapeville. 678-653-2739, archesbrewing.com.
Beer Girl Growlers & Bottle Shop. Craft beer nerds will enjoy perusing the shelves stocked with bottled and canned beer from near and far. There's even a selection of cider and mead at this indie bottle shop, plus wine for the oenophile. You'll also find a rotation of 34 brews on tap, in every style imaginable. Enjoy a glass on the patio out back or fill up a growler and guzzle it at home. 587 N. Central Ave., Hapeville. 404-425-9657, beergirlatl.com.
Chapman Drug. What should you order at this near-century-old soda fountain housed in a pharmacy? Everything. But before you make your way to the counter, fashioned from Georgia marble, stop to marvel at the wall full of glass-bottled, hand-crafted sodas — all made with pure cane sugar — that get the Chapman seal of approval. Enjoy local Jake's ice cream as a cone, in a shake, a malt or perhaps a float following one of Chapman's recommended ice cream and soda pairings. Dairy is out? Then lime rickey or sour is in. The former holds fresh-squeezed lime with simple syrup and bubbly soda water. The latter will pucker you up as it holds no sugar, only salt — if you wish. Yes, you wish for this. Take note: Chapman's is closed on weekends. 615 N. Central Ave., Hapeville. 404-761-1136, derekchapman.wixsite.com/sodashop.
Chick-fil-A Hapeville Dwarf House. Yup, Chick-fil-A makes the list. Why? Because the one in Hapeville is special. It is where, in 1946, S. Truett Cathy opened the Dwarf Grill (later renamed Dwarf House). It is also where, in the 1960s, Cathy invented a fried chicken sandwich that led to the birth of the Chick-fil-A restaurant concept and the opening of its first location in Atlanta's Greenbriar Mall in 1967. Snap a selfie with the statue of Cathy on the bench out front, squeeze through the diminutive door, grab a stool and enjoy a chicken sandwich at this diner-like, full-service Chick-fil-A. 461 N. Central Ave., Hapeville. 404-762- 1746, cfarestaurant.com/hapevilledwarfhouse/home.
Jamaica Cove. Stepping inside Jamaica Cove feels like walking into your grandma's kitchen, where there was always some pot boiling on the stove. In this case, it's chef-owner Sybil Lewis, whipping up beans and rice that round out every plate — be it jerk chicken, curry chicken (our pick) or oxtail. Jamaica Cove is a bare-bones operation: tiny service counter, tiny kitchen, a handful of two-tops shoved together to form a community table. But the down-home Caribbean cooking here, plus Lewis' good cheer, trump any need for fancy. 610 S. Central Ave., Hapeville. 404-766-6630, Facebook: Jamaica Cove.
Mami's La Cubana Restaurant. Like Chapman's, Mami's locks doors on the weekend. But, man, does it turn tables for weekday lunch! Jostle for a seat in its crammed dining room or vie for a sidewalk table. Its Cuban is a solid choice among sandwiches. Lunch specials are hearty, like the Tuesday dish of pork with mojo sauce that comes with a side of beans, rice, Cuban bread, grilled plantain and simple salad of shredded iceberg with tomato. So hearty, you'll need that little demitasse of Cuban coffee to stay awake. 579 N. Central Ave., Hapeville. 678-974-5487, mamislacubana.wixsite.com/mamislacubana.
Treat Love. Feed your need for sugar at this cheery candy shop located a block south of the train tracks on Virginia Avenue. Find chocolate-covered anything, gummies, balls of hard fruit sours and too much more bulk candy to name, along with a fun selection of sodas. 755 Virginia Ave., Hapeville. 770-756-6175, mytreatlove.com.
Volare Bistro. Open since 2013, this would be Hapeville's fine dining spot. Exec chef James Allen offers a menu of new American bites. Think: grilled Faroe Island salmon — as an entree with seared spinach and black bean hash or as a lighter offering atop a spinach salad fancied with crumbled goat cheese, dried fruit and walnuts. The veg crowd will be won over by an airy chickpea burger that suffers none of the ailments of the average veggie burger. Volare doesn't have a walk-in cooler; everything here is fresh and made daily. 603 N. Central Ave., Hapeville. 404-503-6730, volarebistro.com.