Northside vs. Intown: Try the best of food and fun in these Atlanta neighborhoods

“This is not a competition,” talk show host David Letterman used to say.

“This is only an exhibition. Please, no wagering.”

We at Living Intown and our sister publication, Living Northside, apply a similar attitude to this comparison of our respective home bases.

We’d never say that one is better than the other, which would more be likely to start fights than build consensus.

But for this issue’s Under the Radar guide, we were intrigued by the idea of comparing the two areas based on a set of criteria, to see how Intown and the Northside play to different strengths and have their own unique character.

We also see it as a way to encourage Intowners to visit some of the underrated features of the Northside — and vice versa.


Intown: Chattahoochee River East Palisades

Drivers sometimes come across the trailheads of the East Palisades Unit of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area by accident, which seems appropriate for such a quiet, lightly used spot. Despite the proximity of I-285 to the north, this natural getaway features a spectacular observation deck, hiking trails through a lovely forest, and a riverside beach leading to convenient places to fish or kayak. Few places better live up to Atlanta's reputation for greenery. (Curt Holman)

1425 Indian Trail.

Northside: Old Mill Park at Vickery Creek

On hot summer days, folks cool off in the creek and sunbathe on its giant rocks. But year round, Old Mill Park attracts people who come to hike, commune with nature and enjoy the serenity of the waterfall. It’s also home to the ruins of the 1839 Roswell Manufacturing mills, which burned in 1926 and were never rebuilt, but provide a link to the area’s antebellum past amid an abundance of natural beauty. (H.M. Cauley)

95 Mill View Ave., Roswell. 770-640-3253.

>>>RELATED: 5 easy hikes to Atlanta's hidden waterfalls


Intown: Mediterranean Bakery and Sandwich

Find outstanding baba ganoush, falafel and succulent kabobs at this friendly hole-in-the-wall spot in a corner of unincorporated north DeKalb County. Just down the road from Buford Highway, this clean, well-lit deli with its tiny grocery section has long been a popular stop for the local Lebanese community and any fans of tasty Middle Eastern fare. (Lane Edmondson)

3362 Chamblee Tucker Road. 770-220-0706.

Northside: Emidio’s Restaurant

Local fans have made Emidio's a popular destination for Portuguese, Spanish and Italian dishes. Owners Maria and Joe Sapeta, who hail from the island of Madeira in Portugal, serve dishes from family recipes and offer communal lunches on the first Sunday of each month. "We play Portuguese music, and people get to know each other," Maria Sapeta says. "That brings us home." (H.M. Cauley)

8610 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs. 770-837-3373.


Intown: Glenwood Park

For about a decade, Glenwood Park, built near Grant Park and Ormewood Park, has offered a prime example of New Urban development and green building practices. The playground and greenspace of Brewer Park in particular sits appealingly at the center of a circular street, faced by residential homes. In addition to its condominiums, shops and such restaurants as Vickery’s Bar & Grill, Glenwood Park boasts a location near the southern extension of the Atlanta BeltLine’s Eastside Trail. (Curt Holman)

Northside: Avalon

This Alpharetta destination features 86 acres of shops and restaurants, as well as a hotel, apartments and single-family homes. The Avalon experience incorporates outdoor activities at the park, winter ice-skating, and free spring and fall yoga sessions. Foodies enjoy sushi at Kona and pasta at Colletta, where you can order a bottle of wine and walk out with your glass, says Avalon general manager Matt Simon. “It’s like being on vacation all the time,” he adds. (H.M. Cauley)

2200 Avalon Blvd., Alpharetta. 770-765-1000.

>>> RELATED: Shop 'til you drop at these 8 Atlanta shopping districts

Intown: Maker Faire Atlanta

Countless city festivals offer food, music and kid zones, but you’ve never seen anything with the ingenuity of Maker Faire Atlanta. Returning to Decatur the weekend of Oct. 1-2, this celebration of gadgets, crafts and hands-on creativity offers such sights as competing robots, tricked-out bicycles, 3-D printers, intricate LEGO sculptures and inventions that don’t even have names yet. (Curt Holman)

Downtown Decatur

Northside: Sandy Springs Festival

Heritage Sandy Springs has presented the September fete since 1985. Crowds come for food, arts, and crafts provided by more than 600 artists and vendors, and have a chance to explore the four-acre park, heritage museum and library. “The festival offers opportunities for residents and visitors to experience who we are becoming as a city, as well as to honor our roots,” say Carol Thompson, director of Heritage Sandy Springs. (H.M. Cauley)

6110 Blue Stone Road, Sandy Springs. 404-851-9111.