All posts by Ryan Thomas Smith

Ryan Smith is a sophomore from Philadelphia majoring in Journalism and American Studies. He serves as Sports Editor for The Emory Wheel and writes for SB Nation's and The Main Line Times.

The quest for the best guacamole burger

As a college kid living on a budget, finding cheap, not entirely disgusting food is a habit upon which I pride myself. There are few restaurants in Atlanta that fit this description better than the countless burger joints throughout the city.

The options are endless—BurgerFi, Farm Burger, Flip Burger and Yeah! Burger to name a few, all of which raise the question of whether it’s state law to include “burger” in the name of all potential burger restaurants.

The answer to this question is no, as proven by Little Five Points’ Vortex, which possesses the king of all Atlanta burgers: Not the mildly disgusting Coronary Bypass specials that the restaurant is famous for, but a hidden gem—the Holy Guacamole burger.

photo(6)The Holy Guacamole is the King of Burgers, and should be worshipped as such. There’s nothing unusual about the burger, per se, apart from the fact that it has a huge, glorious glob of guacamole sitting on the patty, waiting to be squashed into a wondrous spread once the bun is applied. But this story isn’t about the Holy Guacamole burger, at least not entirely: it’s about my quest to find a guacamole burger in Atlanta that can rightfully claim to be its equal.

A quick look at a few menus made the job much easier for me. Yeah! Burger is the only other of the aforementioned restaurants to offer a guacamole burger, so off I headed to Virginia-Highland to try it.

I’d been to Yeah! Burger before, but I’d never tried the guacamole there—mainly because it’s subtly listed among their many one-dollar toppings. My expectations weren’t high. Yeah! Burger, in my admittedly amateurish opinion, was a middle-of-the-road burger joint, and the chances of it producing a challenger to the King seemed unlikely. Nevertheless, I included guacamole in my order and sat down to test.

Yeah! Burger’s creation passed the eye test with a generous C+. As opposed to Vortex’s glob, the guacamole was placed on the burger in a less than aesthetically pleasing spread. This resulted in a much smaller guac per capita ratio than desired. Looking at the burger and sighing ever so slightly, I dug in. The results are below:

It wasn’t bad at all. There was more guacamole than I expected, and while it wasn’t in the same ballpark as the Holy Guacamole, it was a viable alternative for about three dollars less.

I should add here that failing to live up to the King of Burgers is nothing to be ashamed of. Yeah! Burger is a fine establishment that advertises simple, tasty burgers and certainly lives up to expectations. Just don’t expect too much.

Here’s a map of some of the best burger places in Atlanta, so you can form an opinion for yourself.

Out of my element: my pedicure at Sugarcoat Salon

photo(4)It was Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014. I had been alive for 20 years and 13 days. I was sitting in a padded chair at Virginia-Highland’s Sugarcoat Salon, and I was about to receive the first pedicure of my life.

I glanced at the tub of water at my feet, nervously looked back at my pedicurist—a pleasant, middle-aged woman who introduced herself to me as Essie—and blurted out the first thing that came to my mind.

“Is this gonna hurt?”

Essie laughed and shook her head. I remained unconvinced, and opted for something called the “Essential” purely because it sounded the least threatening of the available services.

I was treated to a long and nerve-wracking process that was definitely not intended to be long and nerve-wracking. Sugarcoat did everything right—the chairs were comfortable, the water was warm, and the employees were friendly—but I found it difficult to fully enjoy the experience, because, well, this woman was looking at my feet. My feet are disgusting. Even I don’t enjoy looking at my feet. This is not an experience I would wish upon anyone, let alone for an extended period of time. As the water turned less and less blue and more and more foot-gunk-colored, I made a mental note to leave Essie a sizable tip.

I’m in rare company, apparently. Essie told me that Sugarcoat only gets a male customer every two or three weeks, and even then it’s usually a man coming with his wife. I had no such excuse, only my friend sitting to my right and gleefully snapping photos. The whole process was over sooner than I expected—the Essential took 20 minutes at most, ending abruptly when I politely turned down coloring.

Sugarcoat itself is a fine establishment, at least from what I can tell from my limited salon expertise. For one thing, it was named to Atlanta magazine’s “Best of Atlanta 2013” list. It’s also small, intimate, and very pink, sandwiched pleasantly between a pair of larger shops. Most importantly, the windows are strategically placed so as not to allow prying eyes to confirm that yes, that is Ryan from my physics class getting his nails done. I left with wet feet and no complaints.

I’m not going to speak definitively on whether or not I’ll be visiting again, but I will say that I thoroughly examined my feet in the passenger seat on the ride back home, and came away very pleasantly surprised.

Contact Sugarcoat here:

256 Pharr Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30305