You’re missing a culinary treasure if you haven’t been to the Sweet Auburn Curb Market in downtown Atlanta! I’ve been in or around the ATL for almost 50 years. But, until a while back, had never visited.
The Market is at the edge of the Sweet Auburn District, about a half mile from the Martin Luther King Jr Center.
Established in 1918 as an open air farmers market, selling live animals and in-season fruit & vegetables. Animals were slaughtered in the basement. Now, the basement is full of coolers.
The current building was built from fireproof concrete in 1924. Since then, they’ve had only two renovations, but are about to do so again to take it back to its roots.
It was the Municipal Market until the ’80s, when its name changed to the Sweet Auburn Curb Market. Individual businesses rent space inside. Often it serves as incubator space for chefs wanting to start restaurants.
Most produce comes from the Atlanta Farmers Market. The Country Store, now being developed, will concentrate more on Georgia Grown. Sweet Auburn Curb Market caters to Old World Southern Cuisine & Foodways.
Atlanta Culinary Tours offers indoor walking tours of the facility the first Saturdays of October, November & December. The one we participated in was just right.
About a dozen of us offered ourselves up as tasters as we stopped at seven different vendors’ kitchens & stands.
Our first stop was Cafe Campesino @ Sweet Auburn Market. Cafe Campesino, headquarterd in Americus, is the original organic coffee roaster operating in fair trade. They currently work with 18 small farmer organizations in nine coffee-producing countries.
Coffee was the farthest thing from the Bill Harris’s mind when he was in Guatemala helping to build a Habitat for Humanity house for a coffee farmer.
Through that experience he realized how important free trade is. Since he opened the Americus Cafe Campesino in 1997, he and his crew have worked closely with the families and co-operatives they buy from.
Harris’s coffee houses sell the burlap bags the green beans come in for $5. Those proceeds buy eye glasses for coffee bean farmers.
Cafe Campesino celebrates aspects of Georgia, serving peach or praline scones and hummingbird muffins, among other pastries. And their basil lemonade is tart & sweet, perfect for a hot day.
Ciao Bocca, our second stop, was set up outside for a tasting festival, but they usually serve inside. We sampled paninis, and drooled over the Wicked Pies, one of their vendors.
Ciao Bocca ATL caters and hosts cooking classes, either on location or at the shop in SWCM.
The dishes coming out of Metro Deli & Soul Food could easily be mistaken as being from your grandmother’s kitchen. Although the owners are from Ethiopia, their Deep South Cuisine ROCKS!
A few steps further up the way, a plate of delicately fried seafood awaited. Also from Ethiopia, this owner keeps an eye on every morsel coming out of his kitchen. Shrimp, talapia, and salmon were all delicious.
Afro-Dish Authentic African-Caribbean Cuisine was also a stop on the Atlanta Culinary Tour, but I must admit I was stuffed full of fried chicken, spaghetti, sweet potatoes, peas and seafood to sample. When we return, however, Afro-Dish will be my first stop.
Sweets are my primary food group, and Sweet Auburn bakery’s chocolate cheese cake and sweet potato cheese cake went down very well.
Most of their customers also purchase a loaf or two of their breads.
Our last stop on the tour was to visit Miss D’s Pralines. Miss D moved her business to the Sweet Auburn Curb Market after Hurricanes Rita & Katrina blew her into Georgia. Check out her YouTube appearance.
She’s been busy ever since she arrived spreading love & pralines all over Atlanta! Lately she’s been working on her 187 flavors of popcorn.
We sampled the pralines, of course, and the Cajun style popcorn. We all saw what the hoorah was about. They were something else!
I’ve briefly described the Atlanta Culinary Tour stops in this post. Believe me, though, the Sweet Auburn Curb Market experience is much more. And the ACT team gave us a lot of insight and backstage stories during our time together. We highly recommend the tour!
JUST A COUPLE MORE PICTURES… a thousand words & all that: