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Searching for the best fried green tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes To-Go from Mary Mac's

credit: Jenny Turknett

As the ‘Southerner,’ I was charged with giving the critic’s picks for the top five fried green tomatoes in Atlanta for the Best of the Big A. Upon hearing this assignment, the overachiever part of my brain kicked in. I decided that despite having tasted many fried green tomatoes over the years, I needed to compare the top contenders head-to-head. Road trip time.

I packed a little bag with napkins, plates, utensils — my mess kit — and a list of addresses. I drove from Buford to Kennesaw to Atlanta proper. When all was said and done, I’d eaten fried green tomatoes for lunch and/or dinner for five days at 14 different restaurants.

Now, to hit that many restaurants I couldn’t eat inside each one. But I also couldn’t just let them get soggy in their takeout boxes. So, the front seat of my car became Fried-Green-Tomato-Tasting-Central.

How did I decide? First, I checked to see that the breading was crispy, well seasoned, and not too thick to overwhelm the tomato. So many of the tomatoes I tried could have been exponentially improved with a little seasoning. Second, I was looking for a soft tomato (cooked through) that packed a tart tomato flavor. I tried to consider the tomato itself apart from the sauces and other accompaniments.

Here are my top 5 picks explained:

1) The Busy Bee Cafe, Atlanta:

The fried green tomatoes at Busy Bee are a clear winner in my opinion. The tomatoes are sliced very thinly so that they are completely cooked and soft. They have a bright burst of flavor, which is complemented by a very well-seasoned, thin and crispy cornmeal crust.

2) Rico’s World Kitchen, Buford

I went to Rico’s based on the reader nominations for best fried green tomatoes. Though it was a bit of a drive, I wasn’t disappointed. The tomatoes, again, have a thin and crispy cornmeal crust. They are topped with the powdery parmesan cheese, which typically isn’t my favorite ingredient, but in this case it lends a nice sharpness to the tomatoes.

3) Williamson Bros. Bar-B-Q, Marietta

Though I haven’t tried any of their other food, Williamson Bros. was on my way to another restaurant, so I decided I might as well try their tomatoes. I received them piping hot with a crisp flour breading that reminded me of the Varsity’s onion rings. That definitely worked in their favor. I wasn’t crazy about the remoulade served with the tomatoes, but I didn’t factor accompaniments into my decision.

4) South City Kitchen, Atlanta

While I tried to separate sauces and accompaniments from the actual fried-green tomatoes, it was impossible to do that at South City Kitchen. Their fried green tomatoes are cooked with goat cheese inside the breading. But, that’s also what I love about these tomatoes. The goat cheese adds a creaminess that sets off a tart tomato flavor. The bread crumb crust, though a touch greasy, is crisp and seasoned.

5) The Fickle Pickle Cafe, Roswell

The fried green tomatoes at Fickle Pickle are also difficult to separate from their accompaniments because they are served on a sandwich. I did, however, pull them off to taste them separately. Though sliced a little on the thick side, they have a crispy cornmeal breading that is well-seasoned. And while I like their tomatoes as a solitary unit, I love them paired with the sweet tomato jam, basil mayonnaise, and pepper jack cheese on the sandwich. But again, that didn’t factor into my decision. The Fickle Pickle has a solid fried-green tomato.

– Jenny Turknett writes about Southern and Neighborhood Fare for the AJC Dining Team. She also publishes her own blog, Going Low Carb.

49 comments Add your comment

Diane mease

November 11th, 2010
1:31 pm

The best, by far, are at Katie’s in Lagrange

www.Thefoodabides.com

November 11th, 2010
1:33 pm

Sun in My Belly’s are phenomenal.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ryan Stewart, John Kessler. John Kessler said: Searching for the best fried green tomatoes http://bit.ly/aZFr9E [...]

Magnolia

November 11th, 2010
3:32 pm

salivating here!

Ganners

November 11th, 2010
3:36 pm

Jenny, next time you are near the square in Marietta pop into Willie Rae’s. They have GREAT fried green ‘maters. They have goat cheese that will melt in your mouth. Get the lil side salad and ta-dah! You have the perfect lunch.

I envy your fried green road trip. I want shot gun next time—I’ll hold the mess kit.

Julie

November 11th, 2010
4:09 pm

HomeGrown in Reynoldstown – YUMMMM!

Bhorsoft

November 11th, 2010
4:10 pm

I’m sorry, but I’m a purist. Goat cheese in a Fried Green Tomato just isn’t traditional, but one of those weird “New South” kind of things. South City Kitchen wouldn’t even qualify in my book.

Fakey McFake

November 11th, 2010
4:16 pm

They’re all tied for dead last.

cook

November 11th, 2010
4:21 pm

MY kitchen, my moms, my aunts and most famous MY BIG MOMA HOUSE.

Edgewood Adam

November 11th, 2010
4:26 pm

Home Grown in Reynoldstown can not be beat.

Becky

November 11th, 2010
4:28 pm

Founder’s in Senoia has a great Fried Green Tomato BLT sandwich that is absolutely delicious!

Paris

November 11th, 2010
4:29 pm

South Kitchen is the best…love them

Iris

November 11th, 2010
4:30 pm

I love Busy Bee’s, but must admit that I do a good job myself at home. My grandmoms taught me how.

COOKIN FRIED GREEN TOMATOES.

Kev

November 11th, 2010
4:33 pm

I miss the fried green tomatoes they used to serve at Mick’s. They maybe weren’t the most traditional with the red pepper coulis and crumbled goat cheese on top but they were delicious.

GaPeachy

November 11th, 2010
4:47 pm

I totally agree that Busy Bee has the best, they are amazing. Made just like my Nana’s with the cornmeal crust!

KBG

November 11th, 2010
4:54 pm

Norcross Station

mary

November 11th, 2010
5:15 pm

The best ones are at the Blue Willow in Social Circle, GA.

Steven Josovitz

November 11th, 2010
5:23 pm

Greenwoods on Green’s is always on my top list because the tomato sauces that adorns the tomato’s is super delicious….

Daryl-Atlanta

November 11th, 2010
5:32 pm

The O.K. Cafe and The Horseradish Grille are both good.

KB

November 11th, 2010
5:45 pm

Relish in Roswell. Great fried green tomatoes.

sec

November 11th, 2010
5:55 pm

Canoe…..by far

Sophie's Choice

November 11th, 2010
6:16 pm

Busy Bee all the way, for sure!

Steve

November 11th, 2010
6:42 pm

Busy Bee is just down the road from my house and i’ve been meaning to eat there. I’ll be sure to order their fried green tomatoes when i go.

Larry Johnson

November 11th, 2010
6:44 pm

I’ll have to try HomeGrown, which a couple of people have mentioned here. I live just across I-20 in East Atlanta, and always look for good food in the neighborhood.

sally sue

November 11th, 2010
7:00 pm

Larry, where have you been Home Grown ga has been an instant hit. Go… it has great fgt’s.

Martin

November 11th, 2010
7:08 pm

Home Grown (on Memorial) has by far the best fried green tomatoes I have ever had. And their pancakes are maybe the best in the city also. They go well together. Lots of locally sourced foods, yet very cheap. The fried green tomatoes come with a great dipping sauce too, some kind of creamy horseradish I think.

Sweetpea

November 11th, 2010
7:16 pm

I noticed that those who like their fried green tomatoes at home didn’t offer a recipe. Very disappointing!

hojo

November 11th, 2010
7:19 pm

Big Mas in Uvalda ga

al

November 11th, 2010
7:53 pm

amanda

November 11th, 2010
8:12 pm

The best fried green tomatoes are at Cedar River Seafood Retaurant in Callahan Florida. Delicious!

Lou

November 11th, 2010
10:31 pm

Goat cheese on fried green tomatoes? Gross. A true Southern cook would be shocked by this. Goat cheese is gross on anything in my book and it definitely is too strong in taste for the delicate taste of fried green tomatoes. Also, they need no dip or sauce on them to mitigate the great taste of real, Southern-style fried green tomatoes.

PJ

November 11th, 2010
11:25 pm

This good Southern girl has to find something to do with all the green tomatoes left on my finally fading plants and I can’t wait to try them with goat cheese. Will also have to remember that thin slicing is the key. This round-up gave me some good ideas for my green tomato bounty as well as where I should go once I’m finally out of my own.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Chrissy, accessAtlanta. accessAtlanta said: AJC's Southern food critic Jenny Turknett names her fave places for fried green tomatoes. Do you agree? http://bit.ly/9O50dK #food [...]

RiverRat

November 12th, 2010
2:06 am

“Whistlestop Cafe” – Juliette, GA. (It’s where the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes” was filmed.)

Dawgfan

November 12th, 2010
2:38 am

Chop House in Madison – no doubt

Mine are best

November 12th, 2010
3:13 am

UMMMMMMMMM Katies in LaGrange was closed a while ago for tax evasion. So mine are the best!!

auntiealli

November 12th, 2010
5:39 am

South City Kitchen is my favorite next to homemade! I love a new twist on a southern favorite – keep the tradition going!

yep

November 12th, 2010
5:48 am

Cafe Sunflower. They are tremendously tasty.

Midtown Marty

November 12th, 2010
5:51 am

Why no mention of the Flying Biscuit? They don’t serve fried green tomatoes, but if they did they would be the best!

Bubba

November 12th, 2010
5:52 am

The All Steak in Cullman, Ala. Great food in a great Southern town.

John Kessler

November 12th, 2010
7:44 am

Not mentioning the Flying Biscuit does seem like an oversight, Jenny. Also, if I’m not mistaken, I didn’t see fried green tomatoes on the menu at the Melting Pot, either. Just FYI…

Lane Wells

November 12th, 2010
9:32 am

Journey’s End in Loganville is an ok, dependable restaurant for the tomatoes, It’s a buffet and the tomatoes are served with tomato chutney. Dunno that they’d win over the top one, but do know they’re consistently good, always available in the Southern fare of this popular restaurant.

James

November 12th, 2010
10:08 am

@John Kessler – perhaps her next top 5 should be “places I can imagine having good fried green tomatoes if they actually made them”. This would save Jenny a lot on gas money.

Jon Watson

November 12th, 2010
10:27 am

I love fried green tomatoes, and this may sound like sacrilege to some, but everyone should try fried RED tomatoes. They serve them as sliders at The Shed. The flavor is much richer than the green variety. I was totally converted…I’ll take a fried red over a fried green anyday, but there is room on my plate for both.

th

November 12th, 2010
4:27 pm

If ever in Asheville, NC, go to 12 Bones and get the MLT (smoked portabella mushroom, lettuce & fried green tomato) sandwich. It is awesome!!

th

November 12th, 2010
4:29 pm

Last time I ate at Flying Biscuit they had a fried green tomato sandwich that was good.

Jenny Turknett

November 12th, 2010
4:47 pm

My friend and I actually had a discussion about frying pickled green tomatoes. Could be good! Anyone tried one? Jon – I am definitely going to try the fried red tomato.

Jenny

November 15th, 2010
9:41 am

Dantanna’s has a salmon fgtblt sandwich that has a fried green tomato on it and it’s really good–both the sandwich and the fried green tomato. I was pleasantly surprised.

Jane Garvey

November 17th, 2010
3:17 pm

Blue Willow Inn does a great job on FGTs, but please check them out at the Oakwood Cafe at the State Famrers Market in Forest Park. I agree with the folks who find goat cheese, which I adore, out of place on FGTs. And not wild about balsamic vinegar on them either. It’s a study in acid on acid on acid. No relief in sight.