Atlanta Lingo: Spaghetti Junction Is Not a Restaurant


Pronounced "atlanna" or "edlanna" depending on the Southern source, Atlanta is the home of the Braves and Gone with the Wind. It is also known as "the ATL" and as "Hotlanta" (in reference partially to its sweltering summer temperatures). If you will be among the millions of annual visitors coming to the city, knowing some of the city's slang will help you feel right at home.

1. "Rise Up"
Actor Samuel L. Jackson is not only an Atlanta Falcons fan, he also has been leading the team's "Rise Up" rally cry since 2010. After Bobby Petrino left head coaching duties before the 2007 season was over, and after then quarterback Michael Vick was sentenced to prison on dog fighting charges, the Falcons were looking for a new identity. Falcons fans will be greeting each other with "rise up" at the team's new $1.2 billion stadium, which is scheduled to open in 2017.Located close to the current stadium, the Mercedes Benz stadium will feature a retractable roof, ground to roof windows on one side and a 360 degree high definition video board.

2. "What'll ya have?"
A visit to Atlanta is not complete without having this question yelled at you from behind the counter of the downtown location of The Varsity, an Atlanta landmark since 1928. In fact, The Varsity is such an institution that it even has its own lingo. A "naked dog" is a plain hot dog; a "glorified burger" has lettuce, tomato and mayo; and a "ring one" is an order of onion rings.

This location can seat 800 people and is constantly crowded, especially at lunch time and on football game days. The restaurant's volume is staggering: According to its website, two miles of hot dogs, 5,000 fried pies and 300 gallons of chili are made from scratch daily.

Everyone should have a Varsity experience at least once. Some tips: Keep your order simple and know what you are going to order when it is your turn. If possible, have someone in your party sit at and save a table while you order. Have some patience and soak in the scene. Finally, don't forget to take selfies while wearing your own Varsity paper hat before you leave.

3. Spaghetti Junction, the Grady curve, the Downtown Connector and the Perimeter.
As much as it is known for its attractions, shopping and night life, Atlanta also has the reputation of having horrific traffic ... on a good day. A minor accident, construction or, God forbid, ice can cause even more delays and longer commutes.

Knowing these local traffic terms will help you understand the radio and television traffic reports. Spaghetti Junction is the intersection of Interstate 85 and Interstate 285 along with several access roads in northeast Atlanta. From the air it looks like jumbled spaghetti noodles, so imagine what it is like to navigate it by car. The Downtown Connector is the concurrent section of Interstates 75 and 85 through downtown Atlanta. This 7.5 mile of road is often a mess during rush hour, especially through the Grady Curve, which runs in front of Grady Memorial Hospital. Also known as I-285, the Perimeter completely circles the city.

What's the best way to deal with Atlanta traffic? First of all, plan ahead. If you absolutely have to drive through the city during morning or afternoon rush hours, allow plenty of time and then some to arrive at your destination. Have patience; know you will experience slow and stopped traffic during your commute. Never stay in the far right lane, especially on the interstates through the city. Many of these lanes end up being exit only, and it is often a hassle to negotiate into another lane. Finally, practice some Southern hospitality, y'all. Signal if you need to change lanes and wave thanks to those who let you in. Don't cut off people or cut in and out of traffic. Also, your horn is not the magic button that makes all of the other cars go faster.



A Louisiana transplant, Karen Gunnels has lived in the Atlanta area for 21 years. The former news reporter and secondary English teacher currently lives with her husband, two teenage children and dog Daisy.