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  • Writer's pictureKamille D. Whittaker

Buford Highway: Gateway to the Global South

Updated: May 12, 2018

Atlanta has actual food neighborhoods — think Inman Park, which is spilling over with new and noteworthy restaurant launches seemingly monthly; and West Midtown, with culinary experiments like the Westside Provisions District that brings together high-brow shopping and culinary concepts that inspire. The Old Historic Fourth Ward has the Sweet Auburn Curb Market, Ponce City Market’s casual Food Hall and soon, Smyrna will boast its own iteration.

But Buford Highway, old Atlanta Highway 13, has always been the city’s mainstay culinary and cultural corridor that always has just what you have a taste for. Call it Buford Highway — or BuHi — it winds 30-odd miles from Buckhead all the way north to suburban Buford, linking three counties and hands down the most diverse concentration of communities in metro Atlanta. While many major cities are divided into distinct ethnic neighborhoods (Chinatown, Little Italy, Little Haiti, etc.), the Buford Highway international corridor takes a more communal approach: It is brimming with strip malls featuring native cuisines of varied immigrant populations, one next door to another. In a single plaza, you can find Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese, Mexican, Colombian, Indian, African and other ethnicities represented by shops, markets and restaurants. The businesses are ever-changing, constantly rotating old favorites and new concepts. But you’ll always be able to find the familiar — Chinese potstickers, Salvadorian Pupusas, Colombian Mojarra Frita and Korean barbecue. Together, new and changing immigrant communities are forging a more global South right here in Atlanta’s culinary artery.


Food Terminal: The Food Terminal has been packed since its March debut. It’s a modern Asian food court with menus of noodle soups, bao, curries, and more.

Quick Bites:

Spice Bistro: Afro-Caribbean and Southern Fusion Cuisine Menu Favorites: Beef Kabob, Braised Oxtail, Turkey Wings

“I moved to Buford Highway in July 2014 and I was sort of frustrated with the coverage of Buford Highway in the media, which was always how ‘this is where you get good food.’ But that’s an incomplete narrative and I wanted to expand that. In particular, I really felt no one was really covering Buford Highway as just Buford Highway, so I started it just an Instagram account to tell that deeper and broader picture. We Love BuHi catalyzes and supports a livable, but still diverse, inclusive and thriving Buford Highway corridor. And with changing demographics, particularly with Asians and Latinos being the fastest growing ethnic populations in the Atlanta metro region, I think that’s something we really need to start talking about and incorporating into the story we tell about Atlanta. I think it’s very timely and essential that we start talking about diversity from a broader, multicultural perspective, and Buford Highway already encapsulates that for a lot of people.”

Foodways: The Buford Highway Oral History Project

The Buford Highway Oral History Project, by the Southern Foodways Alliance, features the stories of first- and second-generation immigrants who brought the foods of their homelands with them and were often inspired by other traditions they encountered in Georgia. You’ll learn about Eddie Hernandez, who received a gift of collard greens and ended up putting them on the menu at his Taqueria. Or Frank Ma, the grandfather of Chinese restaurants in Atlanta, who loves to eat at the Waffle House. And listen to Harold Shinn talk about the role produce plays in community-building along Atlanta’s Buford Highway.

Originally published in Atlanta Tribune: The Magazine | June 2017


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