It’s an alluring place that I find myself at more occasions than not. I come here when I’m hungry. I come here when I need to pick up a birthday present or do light shopping. And I’ve also come here for a first date where I found out that the rooftop adds a whole new level of fun. It’s a 2.1 million square ft, rustic, brick market that feeds into the Atlanta beltline, has expensive but niceeeee lofts and it makes you feel like a cool hip, chic, person while you’re enjoying its spoils. In fewer words than more, Ponce City Market is a very magical place everyone should know about.
Built in the 1920s Ponce City Market, or PCM is an old, retail building located in Old Fourth Ward/Midtown that’s been renovated a handful of times to suit the major city’s needs. It was originally built as a huge warehouse for the Sears and Roebuck Co., a once booming company but now a brand I know only think of when I daydream about kitchen supplies and washer appliances. The factory employed over 8,000 workers, feeding pretty heavy into the economy until it shut down in 1987. It later transitioned as East City Hall where about a couple thousand county, state, and federal agencies were housed. That lasted for two decades before closing down completely in 2010.
And then the market lay as a horrible eye sore. Abandoned, empty, and lifeless —maybe even some busted windows. There was a crumbling parking garage and deserted rooms were only used for sets such as Detroit 187. That is until the city decided to sell the $27 million dollar structure to a private company, who brought this market back to life, filling it with high-end retail stores, unique restaurants, and ideas for a better Atlanta. It also sits right off the Atlanta beltline making it very accessible for the pedaling visitors. Ponce City Market officially opened its doors in October 2015 and I hope it stays.
To be honest, I kind of thought this was a place that more locals here were hip on, and I was wrong. Most of the locals I’ve come across know it’s here but have yet to check it out. I kind of stumbled upon this market when I first moved to Atlanta in January. This market was basically right down the road from my then-apartment in Midtown and it was the closest place I could really go to shop around in without getting caught in the slew of traffic jams. It also helped that one of my only friends at the time worked at one of the restaurants inside, so when I’d go in to visit her, I’d explore the culturally diverse options the market offers. PCM was about four minutes away from my apartment and I found myself there a lot. So obviously the more I went, the more I knew I had to report back to you guys on what’s goes on in this fabulous urban market.
Nom Nom Nom
The thing I really appreciate about this market is the food. Anyone who gets close to me knows that I’d rather eat my food, your food and anything delicious in my path than to not. I will trick you to look the other way to grab a bite of your plate, and you can always find me in some corner somewhere munching on something edible. Food definitely always has my heart and food always wins. There’s something about experiencing flavorful meals that just makes me a happier person. So when I say this place has some really good culture and rare restaurants that you won’t find anywhere else, believe me. There are Korean, Mexican, Cuban, Italian, Moroccan, and more restaurants that all offer true-to-the-region menus to help expand our bored taste buds.
El Super Pan
One of my favorite restaurants there is El Super Pan. This place is heaven. The food here was sensationally pleasing on so many levels. It’s a cute little corner Latin-American pridefully booming with palpable culture. It’s the loudest of the bunch and the smells instantly capture your attention— It caught mine at least, but let’s be honest, most food cuisines do. This place is essentially a sandwich bar featuring sandwiches such as the Pork Belly Bun, various style Cuban sandwiches, and side Pan De Atun which is a Spanish focaccia Mexican tuna fish escabeche sandwich. For side items, you can choose between rice and beans, sweet plantains, vegetables and more. The menu offers a ray of vegan and gluten-free items for those with dietary restrictions so there’s no excuse not to stop by. When talking with head chef Hector Santiago, I asked him if there was an underground item he could explain to me. He not only described the delicious meal but took me back into the kitchen showing me exactly how the dish was made.
I have nothing bad to say about this place. The kitchen is clean, the workers are friendly and you really get the feeling as if you were sitting in a Puerto Rican local cafe. They even have a decent selection of beer for those who want to get their buzz on.
Marine Layover, Citizen Supply, and Cobbler Union are only a few of the retail stores you can find in PCM. If you didn’t recognize any of the stores, it’s probably because they’re not something found in a typical mall or plaza. Most of the stores found in PCM are targeted to a specialized audience. Cobbler Union for instance only features high fashioned men’s shoes. There are a few cute boutiques and some other stores such as Alex and Ani, The Frye Company, Archer Paper Goods, and Mountain High Outfitters. And while they all display really cool clothing and impulsive things I try not to buy, my favorite store there by far is Goorin Bros. Hat Shop.
Goorin Bros. Hat Shop
The Hat Shop! Ok, so I’ve become obsessed with hats since I’ve arrived in here in Atlanta. And with the ever-changing humidity and warm, poofy weather, hats have served as a good way to accent my outfits while also hiding a sometimes hair mess of from my wash-n-go’s. My first ever hat from here was an olive green Rebecca style and ever since I’ve been obsessed with this store. There are hats made from all over the world with real genuine materials such as wool, rabbit fur, and leather.
There are hats from Australia, hats from Canada, London, and various cities around the world. Want a dramatic hat to go with a Sunday sundress? You can find it there, in multiple colors no less. Want a hat to go with a simple tee and tattered jeans? There’s a hat for that. There are weatherproof hats making you feel like Indiana Jones and others such as the Slayer which is a basic cap both simple and classy. The sale rack has some pretty good finds too. There’s also a good accessory counter featuring different, delicate feathers to give the hats a finishing touch. Ever since I discovered this store, I’ve grown accustomed to hats being a part of my simple wardrobe. For those who have any inkling on liking hats, which should be most of you, stop in the store while visiting the market. You’ll be happy you did. Your wallet, maybe not so much.
OK.. Go upstairs and round the corner toward the back of the market. Even though it looks like a business office it has signs posted on the windows saying “Come In!”. Go in. This place is a growing creative room full of ideas of what Atlanta should be in the future. It’s a room where business meetings are held where they talk about ways to continue develop the city in terms of artistic, economically pleasing, and ideas bouncing off other ideas develop the city in its best interest. It’s kind of an exhibit. Atlanta is an ever-growing city due to the rapid and increasing population so figuring out exactly how to develop the city should be met with not only what is economically efficient but also what the people want. This space offers a display of what professional developers, college students, and even children imagine Atlanta to be. It’s cool to read the different ideas about what the city may become.
The rooftop is something special. It cost $10 to get up, but it literally feels like you’ve stepped into a movie scene. It’s romantic, fun, and has a stunning view of the city. It’s a cool place to just hang out for any date or just an escape into your inner child. There are carnival games, put-put golf, and drink specials for those of us who are balling on a budget. It’s a place I’d definitely recommend to others no matter what the occasion. Take your parents up when they’re in town. Go with a group of friends looking for a fun alternative to do in the city or blow your dates’ mind the second they walk off the elevator and see the cool scenery. Take whoever, and enjoy the good vibes.
If I didn’t convince you already, I’m pleading to you right now. GO! This market is awesome and you’d be glad you checked it out. Even if you don’t need to buy anything, go just to walk around. I’m sure there will be something there you like, something good to eat, and something new to learn there. There’s an upstairs garden walkway so even if you want to just grab a cup of coffee and chill out, it can be a place to go and relax. It’s also connected to the beltline so you can even pedal up and park your bike in the complimentary valet biking station. Regardless, just check it out!