How to Support Latino-Owned Businesses in Atlanta Right Now
Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.
National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 to October 15, and it’s imperative that Atlantans take the time to support its Latin-American community in the same way that it has proudly supported the city’s Black, LGBTQ+, and Asian-American communities. Atlanta wouldn’t be what it is today without the contributions and cultural influence from the Latino community, so let’s celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month meaningfully. From donating to nonprofits to attending the city’s annual Georgia Latino Film Festival, here are several ways that you can support Atlanta’s Latino community for Hispanic Heritage Month, and all year-round.
Nonprofits and other services
Built upon principles of economic empowerment, immigration services, family stabilization and well-being, youth services, and civic engagement, the Latin American Association is one of the major resources for Atlanta’s Latino community. With LAA centers in Atlanta, Dalton, and Lawrenceville, the organization has served over 20,000 Latino families with outreach programs like a youth mentoring program, employment assistance, and immigration legal services.
Art can be a surprising source of healing, whether you’re an adult or a child, and Jennie Lobato’s nonprofit makes sure that it can be a therapeutic resource for impoverished children in Atlanta and beyond. The Latina founder and CEO work is primarily based in Atlanta, and throughout its 12 years of service, it has also been able to provide programs in Florida, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, and Ethiopia.
After being founded to oppose Governor Kemp’s fetal heartbeat bill HB481, the organizers behind My Illegal Body realized that several people in Georgia had “illegal bodies” and unjustly policed existences. As a result, the community organization grew to envelop prisoners, immigrants, and sex-workers as well, and it has since served Georgia by fighting for economic, reproductive, incarceration, and immigration justice.
Georgia’s Latino Community Fund is one of the prominent forces backing many of Atlanta’s nonprofits. By providing funding, advocacy, and program development through technical assistance and grant-making, the LCF amplifies the voice of Atlanta’s Latino community through much-needed humanitarian investments.
Restaurants and bars
Old Fourth Ward
Nothing beats grandma’s cooking, and one restaurant that fully understands that is My Abuelas Food on Auburn Avenue. In addition to making fresh dishes inspired by the grandmothers’ recipes, chefs Luis Martinez and Monica Martinez have also made vegan Puerto Rican food more accessible than ever. That way—regardless of whether you want roasted pork or the vegan-friendly jackfruit-based Mr. Pig—you can thoroughly My Abuela’s Empanadillas and other mouthwatering menu options.
Another Latina-owned plant-based eatery that should undoubtedly be on your radar is The Local Coco, or TLC for short. Located in the legendary Municipal Market, TLC boasts a 100% gluten-free and vegan menu that’s filled with Mexican-meets-Southern comida. Inspired by owners Natalie Fisher-Chavez and Nick Firmin’s family history of chronic disease, gluten sensitivity and allergies, The Local Coco is dedicated to serving locally sourced, plant-based food that preserves the flavors, textures, and spice of their ancestors.
Old Fourth Ward
If you often find yourself riding through Old Fourth Ward, LottaFrutta—which sits on the corner of Auburn Ave and Randolph St NE—has probably caught your attention before. The white and lime-green building is home to a frutería, aka a gourmet fruit house. LottaFrutta’s menu features expertly assembled fruit cups known as Frutta Fresca, and the frutería also offers a stunning assortment of sanduches calientes (hot pressed sandwiches). With smoothies, Cuban coffee, and salads available, there’s plenty of reasons to love LottaFrutta, so grab your food and enjoy it at one of the tables outside.
Helados La Neta is a Mexican line of ice cream designed by a multicultural team to share the flavors of Mexico and Latinx culture, and although you can find it stores across the country, Helados La Neta is actually based in Atlanta. You can grab as many pints of Helados La Neta as you like from your local Fresh Market, and if you’re looking for an even more interactive experience with the Atlanta-based brand, you can also recreate some of its boozy and cultural recipes using the ice cream.
Mofongo, paellas, and other classic Cuban dishes await you at Tortugas Cuban Grill, along with some of the best mojitos you’ll likely find in Atlanta. Lauded for its welcoming atmosphere, the restaurant makes for an especially great trip on Mondays, when its mojitos are reduced to a mere $5.
OTP-South Mexican food is some of the best Mexican food in Atlanta—period—and in that subset of restaurants, Taquería La Oaxaqueña is one that reigns supreme. Now settled on Mt. Zion Road, the restaurant has grown from a food truck on the east side to a full-fledged beloved, and Latino-owned, spot for tacos, tamales, and even Mexican pizza.
If you’ve always wanted to visit Peru but haven’t yet gotten the chance, then you’re in luck because The Freakin Incan is the place to get your first taste of the South American country. From seafood ceviches to hearty fried steak, the Roswell eatery has everything you need to get an idea of what Peruvian street food and cuisine is like.
Brazilian espresso, coffee, and tea? Check. Brazilian street food and cachaça-based cocktails? Well, Buteco’s got that too. The Grant Park restaurant is known for serving authentic South American drinks and cuisine, but it also has a penchant for incorporating the arts and music of Brazil into its dining experience as well.
Tacos and Tequilas is one of the city’s most successful Latino-owned Mexican food chains, but unlike many, it boasts having a food truck in its arsenal as well. Established in 2010, the restaurant has made a name for itself with modern, mouth-watering taco options and drink menu featuring over 100 tequila variations.
The home of Atlanta’s beloved prison tacos, El Progresso’s shining dish gets its name from pumping out delicious carne asada and spicy chorizo tacos and being literally across the street from a federal prison. With that unique reputation, El P has become an unforgettable go-to in Southeast Atlanta.
Retail and other businesses
Atlanta boasts a whole indoor Latin shopping mall in Atlanta. Serving as both a shopping center and a pillar in the city’s Latino community, Plaza Fiesta houses several Latino businesses, including El Caballo Dorado, Picos, Floreria La Eterna Primavera, Tattoo Fiesta, and several others.
While Plaza Fiesta remains a staple inside the perimeter, the newer four-year-old Plaza Las Americas shopping mall in Gwinnett County also houses a bunch of Latino-owned businesses northeast of the perimeter. In addition to shopping center mainstays like delicious food options (Las Coronitas, Villano’s Tacos, Fruttypops, and Celida’s Café) and retail shops (Rubi’s Boutique, Arte Terrestre, El Ilustre Norteño, Jewel’s Altare, and Iker’s Fashion) Plaza Las Americas also boasts a gorgeous soccer field, where you can play casually or more competitively as apart of Plaza’s Agua Buena League.
The brand behind the Give All the Damns tees that have been sported by celebrities like W. Kamau Bell, Rabble and Rouse specializes in tee shirts that make a statement, and the small business doesn’t shy away from pressing social issues. The Latino-owned brand even donates 20% of its profits to nonprofit organizations that serve Atlanta’s most vulnerable communities.
Spanglish Boutique is known for its artisanal handmade designs that are inspired by Mexican culture. It offers literally everything—home decor, jewelry, clothing, DIY art kits, and much more. Whether you’re looking for a meaningful gift or a unique, locally made personal purchase, Spanglish Boutique probably has something for you.
Entertainment and recreation
Founded in 2015 by Raul Thomas, Marietta’s New Theatre in the Square revitalized the previously abandoned theater as a family business that would be dedicated to creating theatrical works that are written by, starring, and about Black and Latin people. Since reopening, the entire team at the theatre has been vaccinated and all incoming production cast and crew will be vaccinated as well, and although there is not a vaccine requirement for audience members, it is encouraged that all patrons—vaccinated and unvaccinated—wear their masks while inside the theatre. With exciting new productions set to debut over the following months, now is a great time to support Marietta’s New Theatre in the Square.
For a full decade, the Georgia Latino Film Festival has been pivotal in celebrating the independent cinematic contributions of Georgia’s Latino students, directors, producers, and actors, and it looks to keep that trend going in 2021 as well. This year, the festival will commence on Thursday, September 30, and it will continue throughout the rest of the weekend until Sunday, October 3. Support and celebrate the independent contributions from local Latino filmmakers by attending the festival—tickets range from $15 to $200.