We're back with our series Inside Atlanta—each week, we sit down with influential locals to talk about what Atlanta means to them. Today we’re chatting with Elaine Read and Matt Weyandt, the power duo behind Xocolatl. Xocolatl specializes in small-batch chocolate made right at their stall at Krog Street Market. Before setting up shop, the couple traveled around the world and dwelled in the jungles of Costa Rica where they became smitten with the cacao bean. After learning how to make chocolate from real-deal chocolatiers in Costa Rica they brought those techniques back to Atlanta to share with the rest of us.
Today we get a tour of The Big Peach led by Read and Weyandt themselves.
We live in…. “For the past eight years, we’ve lived in Old Fourth Ward and loved the neighborhood for its vibrancy – full of art and artists, families who've lived here for generations, as well as newcomers looking for a dynamic neighborhood, and small business owners who bring character and local color. We were car-less for almost two years, and this is one of the only neighborhoods where you can walk to so many great restaurants, bars, parks and still get business done. We just moved to Adair Park, and while we are still getting to know it, we already love our new neighborhood for its warmth and the friendliness of our neighbors.”
We Wish People Knew… “it IS possible to live and get around town with just a bike. The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition continues to do a lot of great work advocating and pushing the city to be more bike-friendly. The cycling community really seems to be taking off. Cafe + Velo is an awesome cafe on Edgewood catering specifically to the cycling community.”
You Can Find Us… “at our chocolate micro-factory in Krog Street Market and in and around Old Fourth Ward and Cabbagetown. We have all the coffee (Little Tart) and burritos (Bell Street Burritos) we need to make it through the day.”
It’s Dinner Time, We’re Headed to… “Char in Inman Quarter or Gaja in East Atlanta Village. Before either of those two opened, getting Korean meant heading out to Buford Highway, which is always a great place to go, but we've gotten spoiled by not having to travel far for good food. Our 4- and 7-year-olds (who are 1/4 Korean) can demolish kimchi and bulgogi like no one's business.”
Clock Strikes 5’oclock, We’re Drinking… “a glass of wine or beer at home while we're making dinner. We’ve got two young kids and a chocolate factory to run! Back in the day, you could have found us at the Righteous Room, Church, Krog Bar or somewhere in East Atlanta.”
If We had to Stay in a Hotel, We’d Check Into… “We haven't actually been yet, but the Hike Inn at Amicalola Falls in North Georgia is our next in-state family trip. There's nothing fancy about it, very rustic setup, and the only way to get there is a five-mile hike from the top of the falls to the Inn. No cell phones, no electrical outlets in the bunkrooms, family-style meals, and board games. Maybe we're getting old, but it sounds perfect.”
Atlanta’s Best Kept Secret is… “access to parks. There are a lot of nice little neighborhood parks in town, like the Duck Pond Park in Inman Park, but there are also really nice nature parks inside and just outside the city limits. There's a great book and Facebook page by Jonah McDonald called "Hiking Atlanta's Hidden Forests." The title is pretty self-explanatory. Jonah's put together 60 or so hikes that are all in or just outside the city.”
When We’re Playing Tourist We go to… “Of course the King Center and Dr. King's birth home – these are first-stop musts for new visitors. Then, depending on who we're showing around, it could be a night at the Clermont or on Edgewood Ave, dinner in Krog Street Market or along the Beltline, or a trip to the Georgia Aquarium. On a sunny, but not too hot day, we'd have a picnic under a tree in the Oakland Cemetery or at the Historic Fourth Ward Park.”
We Get Our Sweat On… “biking through town. It gets a little trickier in the colder months, but we loved biking our kids to their schools when we were still in Old Fourth Ward. Now that we've moved across town, we try to take turns biking in to work. Getting out of the car and cruising through neighborhoods is a great way to discover parts of the city you'd never have a reason to drive through otherwise and helps us feel connected to our larger city.”
We Love Spending Our Money at… “Atlanta's great farmers markets. We are so lucky to have multiple great options in town – our regular market is Grant Park on Sundays, but we like heading over to Morningside or Freedom Park on Saturdays as well. In addition to farmers markets, there is a growing number of pop-up makers markets around town. Supporting local farmers and businesses is key to investing in the durability and prosperity of our neighborhoods and communities--and we all benefit when our communities are strong and thriving.”