by Jonathan Baker - 319 Reviews - 185 List
In a recession it's oh-so easy to just buy into discounts and bulk deals. But sometimes it's better to wait, save your money and spend it on things that are memorable. Finding a choice item that you will cherish for years is worth making the wallet a little lighter. From choosing Cantoni over IKEA to taking a holiday in San Francisco instead of St. Simons, we've got your guide to living the high life in low times.
Updated: September 15, 2009
One of the reasons we love Belly General Store is because they carry the 8oz glass-bottle Coke. It's easy to forget that colas were originally meant to be a small dose of fizzy refreshment, like a liquid dessert, not something we regularly pound for breakfast. A six pack not only raises the fridge sophistication, but the sugary-smack has a slightly crisper (and far superior) taste in glass-bottle form. View this as a treat and not an addiction.
In the time of the MLB Network, DVRs and high-def television, catching a ballgame has become a convenience: Watch crystal-clear coverage whenever you want from the comfort of your own home, where beer is cheap and parking is free. However, being at a game in person, with the sheen of the grass and the heat of the sun, makes you feel like you are a part of something. It gives you something to look forward to as the office hours wear long. Plus homers, hot dogs and high-fiving strangers just don't have the same effect in your living room.
Italian food is one of the easiest things to get cheap. So skip a few of those $5 pasta dinners at Eats and enjoy a once-every-few-months splurge on Ricardo Ullio's crown jewel, Sotto Sotto. From the selection of beautiful imported olive oils, to veal-stuffed pastas in a sage and butter sauce, the elegance is worth the wait.
In a time where less traveling and more working is the norm, it's easy to take an ordinary, close-to-home escape to Highlands, St. Simons or Hilton Head. But in a similar amount of traveling time, you could also opt for hitting one of our country's most iconic and cultured metropolitan areas: San Francisco. The city has a polar-opposite culture from Atlanta, allowing you to experience things not found in the South. From taking a trolley car into Chinatown, visiting the colorful Haight-Ashbury district, wearing sweaters in the summertime or making day trips to wine country: venture far and broaden your mind.
We love H&M for its convenience and its insta-trendy options. But, let's be honest--we've all gotten some H&M gear that didn't quite fit right after a wash. The fix for both guys and gals can be found at Bill Hallman. This style guru has choice finds that are stylish but still classic, giving shoppers the chance to land something they might actually wear a few years down the line. From cashmere to cufflinks, Bill Hallman gets it right.
Most of us have wasted both a pocket full of cash and brain cells taking it deep off cheap beer in some dive bar. (Not that there is anything wrong with that.) Consider, however, approaching beer like some approach wine. Savor a few high-quality microbrew pints rather than guzzling your weight in High Life. If this sounds intriguing, we suggest you immediately book time at Decatur's Brick Store Pub. Not only is this the best beer selection in Atlanta, their upstairs Belgium bar has a secret society feel.
In these days of ring tones, digital downloads, iTunes and free music, we suggest going the old-school music route. Buy a record. (As in those giant vinyl discs that you used to find in your parents' closet.) We know you can't download a single off wax or blast it from your car stereo, but let's be honest: Records just sound better. Vinyl has the warmth that digital recordings can't produce, humanizing the art a little bit. Plus, it forces us to slow down and savor the music, rather than just blare it from our earbuds during a workout. It's the way music was meant to be consumed.
People love the "staycation" idea for pampered action in the city. We like it, too, but if you are going to go that route, let's go all out. Our favorite all-in-one is the W Downtown. BLT Steak rivals any steak restaurant in Atlanta. The rooftop bar and pool (um, yeah) just happens to have a Bliss Spa location conveniently located a few steps away. Second-story bar Drinkshop based its entire menu around the "finer things in life" with no flavored vodkas or soda guns and hand-sculpted ice for cocktails. And the rooms? They're simple, sleek and the beds are sent from heaven. You won't want to leave.
Any guy can go into a Walgreens, pick out a disposable razor and a gel can and go to work on his mug. While it's all in the interest of time (and we get that), we like the idea of embracing the morning shave. While razors haven't changed much, using a badger hair brush and a disc of shaving soap might take a few more minutes (and yes--they both clock in around $50 per), but the ritual of lathering up the same way your grandfather did will be something men actually look forward to rather than dread.
What better place to see the true value of your cash than at a sushi restaurant? Permanently expire your multiple lunch dates at Ru Sans and save those buffets for another day. Let sushi be a splurge at Buford Highway's prize Japanese hole-in-the-wall, Sushi House Hayakawa. Fish is flown in from the biggest market in Tokyo, they offer rare Japanese delicacies like Sapporo-style salmon roe or monkfish liver and the owner/chef, "Art" Hayakawa, is as entertaining as he is talented.