One of our favorite Atlanta-based bloggers is Malika Bowling, and recently she released a new book that guides food lovers through the culinary scene here in the city. You can pick up
Culinary Atlanta: Guide to the Best Restaurants, Markets, Breweries and More! now on Amazon along with her book Food Blogging 101 (which we highly recommend if you’re considering venturing into the world of Food Blogging – Malika is also the President of the Association of Food Bloggers).
Malika has also been featured on HGTV and The Huffington Post and has been a contributing writer to USA Today, is the Food & Drink contributor for the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, and has been a judge at various culinary competitions and food festivals, including Taste of Atlanta.
Curious how Malika got her start and the advice she has to offer others that are looking to follow in her footsteps? Check out the interview below!
Your book was born out of your blog, Atlanta Restaurant Blog. What made you start a blog?
I’m a huge foodie and love writing. So it was a natural fit to start a food blog. What I didn’t expect was to have it evolve into a career. Besides writing my books, I pick up freelance writing opportunities and I also do social media management and consulting for small businesses, so my blog acts as a resume of sorts for that.
Do you come from a foodie family? What kinds of food did you eat growing up?
Ha! Not at all. My dad is a very picky eater. He raised my brother and I after our mom passed away when we were young. We ate things like Hamburger Helper, Spaghetti and Chili at least once a week. It cultivated a craving for anything new or different for me and my brother. Now, we are both adventurous eaters and constantly text pictures of dishes we’ve tried to one another.
What’s changed in Atlanta dining?
People don’t like to drive long distances for a meal. They eat out much more than even 3 or 4 years ago. So, they don’t want fine dining as much but more casual spots. And while Buckhead was once the destination for the best dining in Atlanta, fantastic restaurants have popped up in all kinds of neighborhoods, mostly because people don’t want to sit in Atlanta traffic for a decent meal.
Culinary Atlanta takes Atlantans on a culinary tour through the southern city and unwraps the best places to find, enjoy and celebrate local food offerings. A bounty of mouthwatering delights awaits you in this engagingly written guide as well as a rich array of other, indispensable food-related information including:
- Food festivals and culinary events
- Specialty food shops
- Trendy restaurants
- Time-tested iconic landmarks
- Atlanta Breweries
- Local coffee shops
How is your book different this time?
I’ve added a section on Breweries which we really didn’t have many of since I wrote the first edition five years ago. I also concentrated more in ITP restaurants vs. OTP. I also have a section on coffee shops as I love to support local businesses in favor of chains. The chapter on coffee shops is called “Not Starbucks.”
What surprises you about the Atlanta dining scene?
How fickle Atlanta diners are. Restaurants like 4th and Swift which I thought would be around for decades have shuttered as people have flocked to what is shiny and new.
What was difficult about writing this book?
Besides trying to keep my waistline from expanding too much while I researched many of the restaurants? I think the fact that menus have changed so much as far as sections and price points. I try to add a pricing guide but pricing at so many restaurants varies with sections like “Snacks” “Share Plates” “Sides”, etc. I think restaurants do it to accommodate diners with allergy restrictions but also to have appeal for many different income levels. It’s a smart strategy but made a bit challenging to give a pricing guide for my book.
Any advice for someone wanting to start a blog?
Decide from day 1 if you are going to try to monetize it or if you are doing it for fun. If it is monetization, you must treat your blog like a business from day one. Also, start building your email list right away. I also have an online course for food blogging. It is available at FoodBlogBlueprint.com.
You wrote a series about Atlanta couples who run restaurants that’s been very popular. Do you have an advice for keeping a healthy marriage alive?
I’m very fortunate to have a loving and supportive husband. But I know we try to put each other first. We check in with each other during the day. Even if it is just a quick text. Also, one of my favorite things is date night. Many of ours involve meeting at the restaurant. He meets me after work, and I think there’s something special about walking into the restaurant and seeing your significant other vs. seeing them get ready (dressing, doing hair / makeup). It adds a level of romance to date night.
Want to share some of your favorite restaurants?
That’s a tough question as there are so many fantastic restaurants in Atlanta! I do love Better Half in Midtown, Doraku for sushi in Buckhead and Poor Calvin’s downtown in no particular orders. Oh and the newly opened Cast Iron in Old Fourth Ward is phenomenal!
You have a special fondness for Agritourism? Tell us about that.
It’s so important for us to know where our food comes from and have respect for the farmers that produce it. It is even more important for a younger generation to know this. That’s why I think Agritourism matters. You can do it near or far. I’ve organized groups for a short trip to a Peach farm in GA but I’ve also gone as far as Ecuador to see the chocolate plantations.