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U nexpected Atlanta Tours & Gifts offers #1 rated Atlanta walking tours. We are Atlanta experts, passionate storytellers, and home-grown Atlanta natives. That’s not just marketing fluff: we have *literally* written the award-winning book on Atlanta’s culinary history.

In 2015, our founder, Akila McConnell, envisioned a new type of tour company — an unexpected tour company — that combined honest and important history in fun and engaging ways. Business coaches told her that she was “gutsy” to incorporate civil rights history in a food tour, but she knew there was more to Atlanta than just the aquarium and airport. Rave reviews soon followed and, today, 35,000+ guests each year continue to be riveted by the companies’ passionate and vivid storytelling.

There’s a reason we have more 5 star reviews than any other Atlanta walking or food tour: we love our city and can’t wait to share Atlanta with you.

I came for the food tour but was enchanted by the history of Atlanta! This was a great way to tour Atlanta and get to know more about the city’s history while getting to enjoy some amazing food!

Laci SoileauTrip Advisor Review

The food was terrific but the added bonus of Joy's energy and knowledge of the history of the city, MLK and the civil rights movement, put it over the top. Would definitely recommend!

Cheryl BowmanTrip Advisor Review

I recently took my whole team (about 30!) out with Joy and Martha on this delightful walking tour. The food was awesome, as was the history and the things we saw. Everyone had a great time.

CarolTrip Advisor Review

Meet The Team

Storyteller

Kristin Storla

Favorite Atlanta Neighborhood: Decatur
Drink of Choice: Blackberry Bourbon Smash
Preferred French Fry: Belgian Fries at the Porter

Kristin Storla is a native Georgia peach. Brought up in Marietta, college in Columbus, and now here in Atlanta, Kristin has stayed close to home for the ever-evolving food and entertainment scene. Kristin found the perfect balance of mixing her two passions, good food and even better people, as a Culinary Storyteller. She makes a hobby of exploring the culinary nooks-and-crannies in Atlanta, eating her way through local favorites. Taking those two passions a step further, Kristin has even started a dinner club among friends.
Not just a foodie, Kristin works as a freelance actor and fight director. She’s worked with local companies such as The Shakespeare Tavern, Out of Box, Sh!t-Faced Shakespeare, and The Center for Puppetry Arts BUT her favorite roles have always been ones where she can eat on stage! She can not only tell you where to grab a great bite, but where to catch an amazing performance in town.

Storyteller, Writer, Researcher

Leigh Elion

Favorite Atlanta Neighborhood: Cabbagetown
Drink of Choice: Wisconsin-style Old Fashioned
Preferred French Fry: Leon's frites (mainly for the smoked tomato mayo)

Leigh has eaten her way through much of the US, having lived in New England, Wisconsin, NorCal, and SoCal. Atlanta's food scene was a huge draw in her decision to make this city her home. By day, she directs the Writing Center at Emory's Oxford College and conducts research on the rhetoric of gentrification - in other words, how people communicate their hopes and dreams for their neighborhoods. Her job as a Storyteller allows her to share her love of Atlanta's communities while always getting to see the city through new eyes.

Leigh hasn't always been the best cook; in college, she once had to call home to ask how to make grilled cheese, and she's set off the smoke alarm every single time she's tried to cook for a date. However, she comes from a family of food-obsessives, so she's constantly challenging herself to try new recipes and learn new skills. When she isn't writing or teaching (in the classroom or on a tour), she loves taking inspiration from innovative local chefs, so you can follow her to any of Atlanta's new restaurant openings or pop-ups. She also always loves exploring on foot, whether that means walking her rescue pup around local parks, running along the PATH trails, checking out new street art, or letting herself get lost in the Buford Highways Farmers Market.

Storyteller

Jennifer Hubbard

Favorite Atlanta Neighborhood: Westside Provisions
Drink of Choice: Negroni
Preferred French Fry: Bon Ton

Jennifer has taken the advice and encouragement from family and friends to expand her passion for food beyond cooking classes, new restaurant finds and menu recommendations. She’s fully embraced the idea by becoming a culinary storyteller. Usually seen as the adventurous one for her food choices, she enjoys helping others step outside their comfort zone and discover things they never imagined they’d like, or even try.

Originally from Chicago, but having called Atlanta home for many years, the world’s busiest airport makes it convenient for Jennifer to indulge her passion for travel, as well. During the day, she advocates for underserved communities, developing programs that help them gain access to justice. As a food tour guide, she participates in community building in a different way, exposing people to unexpected hidden gems and bringing people together whose paths might not have otherwise crossed. Jennifer loves the fact that a simple meal can often become an experience to connect people and create great memories.

Founder/Atlanta Historian

Akila McConnell

Favorite Atlanta Neighborhood: Grant Park
Drink of Choice: Dirty martini with blue cheese stuffed olives
Preferred French Fry: Leon’s Full Service Pommes Frites

Akila McConnell is the founder and owner of Unexpected Atlanta and Unexpected Virtual Tours. She is also a travel writer and historian who focuses on the story of Atlanta.

Much to her delight, a lot of people like to call her a “food and travel expert,” including Conde Nast Traveller, USA Today, Yahoo.com, and About.com. She has written for numerous print and online publications, including National Geographic books, Wandr’ly, the Food Traveler’s Handbook, Atlanta Parent magazine and her own blog The Road Forks.

Akila grew up in Alabama and has lived in Atlanta for almost 20 years. In between, she spent three full years traveling across the world. Akila spends most of her free time reading biographies and cooking with her two micro-foodies.

Sales Manager and Storyteller

Jennifer Tyler

Favorite Atlanta Neighborhood: Buckhead
Drink of Choice: Anything with ginger
Preferred French Fry: Iberian Pig's patatas bravas

Jennifer loves connecting with people through food and stories! She enjoys learning and exploring new places and trying local foods. She has traveled to over 30 countries with plans to visit more. Though she’s lived in several places, Atlanta is home. She graduated from the University of Georgia and later earned her Culinary degrees from the Art Institute of Atlanta and her MBA from the University of Maryland Global Campus. Jennifer’s favorite part of sharing stories that matter with Unexpected Atlanta and Unexpected Virtual Tours is the impact it makes when people want to share their own personal stories.

General Manager

Margaret Spencer

Favorite Atlanta Neighborhood: Kirkwood
Drink of Choice: Wine
Preferred French Fry: Leon's Full Service

Margaret grew up in Minnesota, but her pursuit of a chiropractic education took her to Atlanta in 2010. She’s worked numerous foodie jobs around the city like selling pickles at farmers markets and belly dancing in Turkish and Persian restaurants. When she’s not leading tours or supporting the Unexpected Atlanta team, she’s puttering outside in her garden or walking her two dogs Gryffindor and James Potter. Margaret loves exploring new restaurants in Atlanta’s fabulous food scene and often tries to recreate fantastic restaurant dishes at home. She is happy to call Atlanta home, and appreciates the diversity and progressiveness of this southern city.

Storyteller

Joy Warren

Favorite Atlanta Neighborhood: Buckhead
Drink of Choice: Mojito
Preferred French Fry: Chik-Fil-A Waffle Fries (dipped in Chik-Fil-A sauce, of course

Joy Warren lives up to her name because she exudes joy in life, food, and people. She is an inspirational author of the inspirational youth book “Kingdom Star”, and singer/songwriter from Virginia where she attended Hampton University. As a musician, she has worked with Grammy Award-winning producers and artists from all over the country. However, she attributes the majority of her passion and growth as a person to her time serving in her family’s church as worship leader and youth pastor. Joy also founded a social activism organization called The iForgive Movement, a movement to help relieve injustice through the simplicity and foolishness of forgiveness.
Joy grew up in Virginia Beach but loves the energy, opportunity, and history of Atlanta. She enjoys meeting new people and making people laugh and feel loved because hospitality is not just a southern thing: it’s a way of life!

atlanta food tour guide
Storyteller

Arielle Stott

Favorite Atlanta Neighborhood: Summerhill
Drink of Choice: Gin and Soda with a lime wedge
Preferred French Fry: Lloyd's pizza fries

Arielle Stott grew up traveling to historic sights throughout the South and she never stopped being a tourist. Even on her days off you can find her walking around Atlanta neighborhoods trying to learn more about their rich history and current revival. Her background is in art and she's an avid reader. She's always happy to recommend local museums, and nightlife spots. If you'd like to get into some of the creepier and more unusual facts about the city, she'll never turn down a chance to thrill you with an eerie tale.

Operations Assistant

Brandy Bart

Favorite Atlanta Neighborhood: Cabbage Town
Drink of Choice: Kir Royales
Preferred French Fry: No favorites! She'll even eat bad ones (that's how much she loves fries)

Brandy loves EVERYTHING about food. Brandy is originally from New Orleans, Louisiana so food is her reason for being.
She likes most about Atlanta that it turned her into someone who constantly searches for flavor. Growing up back in New Orleans, she was used to foods with flavors that would punch you in the face so when she moved to Fayette County, Georgia in 1993, it was a shock because people didn't even use salt, true story. Since she doesn't eat out much, she enjoys finding and executing rich recipes that challenge and expose me to new ingredients and techniques.
Aside from eating, Brandy loves to travel so that she can eat what those places have to offer, surprise! In 2011, Brandy went to school in Paris, France to learn the art of French pastry, and she operates a home-based bakery in Atlanta in addition to working as the Unexpected Atlanta operations assistant.

Storyteller

Chiriga "Zoe" Moore

Favorite Atlanta Neighborhood: Little 5 Points
Drink of Choice: blood orange San Pellegrino
Preferred French Fry: sweet potato fries

Chiriga Moore nicknamed Zoe (pronounced ZOH) is an Army Veteran with a passion for traveling, history, and homemade chocolate chips. She provides services as a speaker, writer, strategic consultant and course facilitator in her business Moore Consulting Agency affectionately known as Grow with Zomo. Believing that empathy, strategy and education will result in changed behavior, she works with individuals, committees, and organizations to improve their workplace culture and organizational health.
Having led committee’s internationally, she has received awards, been on the cover of publications and planned events for travel influencers in New Jersey, Florida, Ghana and Puerto Rico. Embodying her nickname Zoe, an acronym for Zone of Energy, she loves to educate and entertain people by helping them to think critically and strengthen their confidence to engage in difficult conversations.

Storyteller

Jay O'Neal

Favorite Atlanta Neighborhood: Blandtown
Drink of Choice: Old Fashioned
Preferred French Fry: Steak Fries. The potato-i-er the better

Jay is a smiley guy that loves meeting new people. With nearly 20 years of experience in arts and entertainment, he loves using storytelling to paint a picture for people newly experiencing the city. Originally from West Philadelphia, he found his love of history while working for the "Big Bus Tours" of Philly. Now he looks forward to showing you a side of Atlanta you may not have seen before.

Storyteller

Paris Weeden

Favorite Atlanta Neighborhood: Midtown
Drink of Choice: Rum Punch
Preferred French Fry: Truffle fries at Saints and Council

Paris Weeden is a multidisciplinary artist hailing from New York City and now based in Atlanta! She is passionate about all things performing arts, storytelling, and FOOD! As a graduate of an HBCU, (Howard University) she learned there is so much more to every story than what is read in history books, and she finds purpose in her work/art through illuminating untold stories! She enjoys bringing people together and what better way to do that than through stories and food!

Storyteller

Courtney Overcash

Favorite Atlanta Neighborhood: East Atlanta Village
Drink of Choice: Old Fashioned
Preferred French Fry: The greasy but guilt-free ones that come after a stroll down the Beltline

Courtney Overcash is from Warner Robins, Georgia, but fell in love with Atlanta more than 15 years ago and has no plans to leave. Admittedly someone who simply can't sit still, Courtney has a number of different enterprises: by day she's a Senior Digital Marketer, by night she's a performer and comedian, and on the weekends, she's a Storyteller with Unexpected Atlanta. Courtney loves her Storyteller role and how it combines three of her passions: food, history, and meeting new people! She'll always have recommendations for the best places to eat, drink, and laugh while in the ATL.

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