EAT & RUN IN ATL'S WEST END WITH STIC
Routes x Culture | Words by Stic | Photos by Terra Coles
Beyonce’s anthem Black Parade is knocking in my earbuds. I’m putting in some roadwork in my Diadora Volos being careful not to crush the black parade of ants that are building what looks like a mini version of the ancient kingdom of Mali on the sidewalk. A fitting metaphor for Atlanta’s modern day Black wellness Mecca. I do believe “Grandmama” Opal Lee, the founder of Juneteenth, would be proud.
Step foot on Ralph Abernathy Rd from Lee street and Atlanta's grit and greatness is hand in hand. This is the West End, where with every step historic promise and modern challenges are juxtaposed in equal parts. Young hustlers camouflage themselves in the mix on the block. As an elder rolls up in a mobility scooter, a d-boy discreetly fills his "prescription". Giant graffiti murals of iconic sheroes and heroes honor the legacy of local and national Black leaders who have at one time or another called these stomping grounds home.
Making my way through the main strip, the scene is lit as usual. Music blasting. People moving. Street vendors hustling on the sidewalk. It's familiar to me, wherever I find the culture, I find home.
I work up an appetite often when I'm running in the West End, and what's so dope is all the great spots to choose from in the area. Just in a couple blocks radius there's more than eight different plant based restaurants, and they're all black-owned. Some of these establishments have been in the neighborhood for decades and some are fairly new, with a range of influences from the African diaspora. If you like to eat and run like I do, the West End has a gang of healthy and soulful food to explore.
The West End is home to a vibrant “Pan Afrikan” hub of black owned shops and restaurants that take pride in culture, community and health conscious lifestyles.
Allow me to put on for my city and share some of the highlights.
When you have a taste for some old school soul food classics like corn bread and collard greens, but want it without the pork seasoning in the greens and minus the dairy in the corn bread, look no further. Soul Veg is the OG of vegan black-owned restaurants. Founded by the Hebrew Israelite community, they are one of the largest vegan restaurant chains in the world, with two locations in the A and others in Chicago, DC, Israel and more. For dessert: Try their signature creamy, vegan ice cream served in a cup or cone. Visit soulvegsouth.com
And a few more ...
Tassili's Raw RealityTassili's is a renowned plant-based raw food pillar in the West End community. Originally a multistoried home that was converted into a raw food kitchen, this cozy hub is a popular gathering spot for local conscious college kids to eat, socialize, and even explore Kemetic yoga upstairs. Spicey Kale with red onion and sun-dried tomatoes is a fav. Most of their dishes are raw but they also have their own version of Pad Thai with a slightly spicy peanut ginger sauce, rice noodles, garnished with a sprinkle of peanuts, herb, cilantro, and scallions. And you can't go wrong with their refreshing raw coconuts and eco friendly straws to go. Visit www.tassilisrawreality.com
Ever try the white, fluffy African grain fufu? It's usually served with a consistency somewhere between mash potatoes and rice congee. It's a yummy staple but what the innovative African chefs at World Taste Atlanta have created with fufu takes yummy to the next level. Try Taste Atlanta's original fufu tacos. It’s fluffy and crispy and drizzled with a tangy, spicy, slightly sweet sauce. Taste Atlanta isn't a plant-based restaurant but the tacos can be ordered vegan including the cheese. Visit WorldtasteATL.com
In the mood for a soft, sweet, gluten free vegan donut? Yes Lion! Stop in the Vegan Dream Donut Shop and Juice Bar...It's a no frills, good feels Rasta spot that delivers the goods..and the irie vibes. Grab a fresh seamoss or "ital" stew and while you are there tell Ras Isez, the shop owner and one of my good bredren, that Sticky sent ya. Visit Vegandoughnuts.com
If you are ever in the area, here's a map of one of my usual routes...
OWNING OUR WELLNESS
It was my comrade, rapper Styles P who said, “I can enjoy 100 dollars in good health better than a person can enjoy a million dollars in bad health.” I'm inspired by his hustle as owner of several juice bars in different hoods in New York. And like what Styles is doing up top, one of the biggest metaphors I take away from Atlanta's West End example is Ownership of Health.
These local entrepreneurs took the initiative to provide healthy options in their communities. And that’s a jewel that also applies to each of us personally. To own our health means to be invested in wellness. Ownership means we assume the responsibility for our own wellbeing. No one can feel good for you. No one can eat right for you. No one can do your workouts on your behalf. We each are the CEO’s of our own lives. Every action, choice and habit is powerful and those daily investments add up.
As the saying goes …health is wealth.
Here's to yours,
Enjoy this playlist inspired by the "Pan Afrikan" vibes of Atlanta's Westend.
Stic | Stay Inspired | #LaceUp | #RoutesxCulture