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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

New Emeril show visits Mary Mac’s, Busy Bee and Horseradish Grill

Emeril with Chef Alterman, Horseradish Grill, courtesy of The Cooking Channel

Emeril with Chef Alterman, Horseradish Grill, courtesy of The Cooking Channel

Remember when I said that Atlanta’s culinary talent has been increasingly recognized by network cooking shows? This week, Atlanta’s own Mary Mac’s Tea Room, Busy Bee Cafe and Horseradish Grill get their share of the spotlight.

Emeril Lagasse’s newest show, “The Originals with Emeril,” stops in Atlanta during this week’s episode (Thursday, June 2 at 10:30 p.m.). The show examines iconic restaurants in 13 cities across the country that have withstood the test of time.

Emeril explains that there are restaurants that have been “doing the same thing for 50-75-100 years and are still doing it right,” which often means they’re neglected in popular food culture where the focus tends to be on the trendy and new. The idea for show originated with a team of writers who thought it important to capture these authentic establishments. Emeril says, “I realized after getting into it that there was a lot of guts to this thing.”

How were restaurants chosen for each city? Emeril’s team and the Food Network team scouted locations and solicited foodie recommendations. The process was very selective. In fact, Emeril laughs that when the show stopped in New Orleans, “Emeril’s has been around for 20 years but it didn’t make the cut.”

In Atlanta, Mary Mac’s Tea Room did make the cut. Emeril receives his requisite back rub and samples the classic Southern food that has been bringing customers back for 70 years. Emeril admires that the kitchen hasn’t changed much and that some staff members have worked there for 20-30 years. He tells me that he had “great shrimp and grits” at Mary Mac’s.

Next, he makes his way to the iconic Busy Bee Cafe. He chuckles, “I can’t tell you what a day I had there.” Emeril marvels at the history of the cafe and appreciates the hospitality. He also notes that he has “some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever put in my mouth.”

And because the show didn’t want Atlanta to be represented only by classic Southern and soul food, he visits Horseradish Grill, “a place full of locals, full of spirit [and] completely different but truly original.” There, he visits the restaurant’s organic garden to harvest greens and tomatoes, which are used to prepare braised greens and fried green tomatoes that accompany chargrilled mountain trout.

Though he could only visit three restaurants during this episode, Emeril says that he would like to bring the show back to Atlanta at some point because “Atlanta has an original perspective.”

Check out three of our own on “The Originals with Emeril” this Thursday at 10:30 p.m. on The Cooking Channel.

Jenny Turknett, Southern and Neighborhood Fare

Jenny Turknett, Southern and Neighborhood Fare

–by Jenny Turknett, Food & More blog

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

38 comments Add your comment

Baltisraul

May 31st, 2011
7:30 am

Mary Mac’s…..well deserved!!!!!!!!!!!

KeepDreaming

May 31st, 2011
8:23 am

I love Mary Mac’s, and I forgot about the back-rubs. That lady has been doing it for years! Im going there for lunch to get some kinks outta my shoulders!!

Reds

May 31st, 2011
8:24 am

I really enjoy this new show he’s doing. It’s got a great concept.

BULLSEYE

May 31st, 2011
8:37 am

Mary Mac’s is my all time favorite in Atlanta. My Grand Ma used to take me in the 60’s and I still go now.

Mac

May 31st, 2011
8:38 am

Love Jo and her famous backrubs!

Rodney

May 31st, 2011
8:52 am

Happy to see Horseradish Grill in the mix – the other two are fine, if touristy, but Horseradish Grill is a local staple and is OFT forgotten. (I live near Chastain so it’s a regular in my rotation!)

Edward

May 31st, 2011
9:22 am

I still can’t understand the appeal of Mary Mac’s now. Many years ago, it served decent food. Not great, but decent, especially for the price. Now, though I’ve tried it on two separate occasions within the last 6 months, I simply cannot recommend it. The food is downright horrid. If people equate Mary Mac’s now with food their mom or grandma cooked, they must have grown up with some really crappy food.

Toni

May 31st, 2011
9:32 am

Busy Bee’s is the Best.

PhatNate

May 31st, 2011
9:42 am

Mary Mac’s is over rated. Might as well go to the Colonnade. Both have been around, both are OK. But neither is on the top 20 of my favoriate places in Atlanta.

downsouth

May 31st, 2011
9:45 am

Mary Mac’s & Busy Bee touristy?

nah… a southern soul food joint stuffed with all manner of locals isn’t really “touristy”, it’s exactly what the show is trying to showcase: authentic, from another time, and still holding true to it’s origins. These might not be the oldest, but they just keep on keepin’ on. Although I might have picked The Colonnade over MM’s.

Do y’all remember when the Horseradish Grill had the pic-a-ninnies singing the chalkboard menu ;)

Sammy

May 31st, 2011
9:52 am

Maybe they’ll include the Colonnade in the next run. It’s definitely an original and, in my humble opinion, offers better food, service, and atmosphere than Mary Mac’s. Regardless, I’m glad there are ample Atlanta restaurants for them to choose from!

1164mgc

May 31st, 2011
9:59 am

“Pic-a-ninnies??!!” Good Grief!

I’m looking forward to this show. Live out of town and haven’t been to Mary Mac’s in 20 years:-(

Sammy

May 31st, 2011
10:03 am

And if ever decides to do a greasy spoon tour, he should hit the Silver Skillet, the Majestic Diner, and whichever Waffle House is currently the oldest one standing.

comeone

May 31st, 2011
10:23 am

mary mac’s is crap I went on Monday came recommended i dont see why either there are alot of different taste buds out there but how can someone recommend this place the service was good but the food a whole nother story the macaroni looks like it had roccoti cheese on top with melted cheese on top of that disgusting. turkey and dressing was just ok and the greens was bitter was just terrible. Their (Mary Mac’s) famous cinnamon rolls is just a step up from hard candy not soft just candied. Busy Bee overrated as well and the cost is to much for the food should be $5 two vegetables, meat and drink no more than that. If someone even hints these places are good they go up on their prices well its not some come right back down.

Fred

May 31st, 2011
10:27 am

I lived around the corner from Mary Mac’s and ate there several times in the mid to late 50’s, then moved away. It must have been a good experience because over 55 years later I still remember how good it was..

Abraham

May 31st, 2011
10:34 am

To Phatnate…I don’t know how your taste buds can not consider Mary Mac’s and The Colonade two of the finest in Atlanta. They both should rank in the upper twenty.

Great sandwich!

May 31st, 2011
10:37 am

downsouth….Horseradish Grill never had anyone singing the menu. It is an upscale, new-Southern restaurant. You are thinking of Aunt Fanny’s Cabin, I think, where they had young black boys wearing a sandwich board menu, and an old plantation theme. I think that place has been closed since the 70s.

Kitty Conrad

May 31st, 2011
10:53 am

Ever have trouble with your sentences, comeone @ 10:23 a.m.?

don

May 31st, 2011
11:01 am

The Colonnade is better than Mary Mac’s but both have been in decline for awhile. Mary Mac’s started to slip when Mac died and then when Mary sold out, it “Went South” in a bad way.

Tina

May 31st, 2011
12:08 pm

Had the pleasure of hanging out with Emeril a few times. He is a super friendly guy. I surely miss his show Emeril Live.

South Georgia Farmer

May 31st, 2011
12:45 pm

Your sense of smell lessens with age, and smell contributes to taste; ergo, nothing tastes like “mama used to make” nor like it tasted twenty years ago.

amy

May 31st, 2011
12:51 pm

Mary Mac’s – bleh! how about some barbecue?

Denise

May 31st, 2011
1:13 pm

You people crack me up. I beg you to leave your boxes and explore the world. From the comments, sounds like most of you have never left Georgia. Really sad.

Jeff

May 31st, 2011
1:39 pm

Denise, you’ve just illustrated why the new show was conceived. Everyone abandoned their boxes long ago and have since been exploring… Emeril wants us to go back and visit our boxes.

Dirty South TV

May 31st, 2011
2:05 pm

Perhaps Emeril can make a stop by Fat Matt’s Rib Shack. They recently celebrated their 20 year anniversary, and there is a line out the front doors and down the parking lot from open to close 7 days and nights per week. Who else can say that in America?

Dirty South TV

Denise

May 31st, 2011
2:12 pm

@ Jeff…your box is your HOME dear heart. (Heavy Sigh…………..)

Foodie

May 31st, 2011
2:35 pm

I checked the Food Network schedule, and I searched the Comcast schedule for this week, and I found nothing about this show.

Are you sure about the date and time.

Becky

May 31st, 2011
2:51 pm

Have been to Mary Mac’s one time in my life and was not impressed..THe food is ok at it’s best..Of course someone mentioned Aunt Fanny’s Cabin..Their food was the same, just ok..

Angel

May 31st, 2011
3:15 pm

Mary Macs needs a makeover the carpet smells. Somehow I hear voices of freed slaves in that place. As for Busy Bee the waitress’s may have treated Martin like a King but they are meaner than a snake! In addition, the size of the place is crazy. I cant taste my food with someones backside in my face while I eat. Thank God for my mother!!!!!

Jenny Turknett

May 31st, 2011
3:17 pm

Foodie — it’s on The Cooking Channel (Food Network sister channel).

iron eagle

May 31st, 2011
3:23 pm

Mary Mac’s can be hit or miss sometimes which can be disappointing. i went once close to closing, it was was bad…. other times i have gone and it was spot on….. back rubs are great too…… my biggest problem these days is those dang parking meters… last time we went we were out there for 15 minutes trying to get them to work….not mary macs fault of course but dang aggravating nonetheless………….

iron eagle

http://www.queenbreakthru.com

SA

May 31st, 2011
3:50 pm

I really can’t wait for the word iconic to go out of style and question the talent of any writer who uses trendy buzzwords twice in one article.

Atlantan

May 31st, 2011
4:03 pm

@SA – agree it and the word Epic….

Mike

May 31st, 2011
4:16 pm

The Colonnade was on “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” about a year ago, which probably worked against them this time.

The four oldest restaurants in Atlanta are the Colonnade, Atkins Park, the Majestic, and the Varsity. (Alpha Soda is up there but it’s not in Atlanta.)

PTC DAWG

May 31st, 2011
5:56 pm

The Cooking Channel, it’s what the Food Channel used to be, now if Comcast would only add it in HD.

Kathy

June 1st, 2011
11:03 am

I’m keeping an open mind on Mary Mac’s until I go there myself one day. I have a new granddaughter named Mary McKinney, who we call Mary Mac, and I will take her there one day and make up my own mind. It’s amazing to me how we all see things so differently and TASTE things so differently as well. One thing that my common sense tells me is that people in Atlanta or elsewhere would not continue to pay hard-earned money at Mary Mac’s if the food is not good for the most part. Hopefully, it will still be there in a few years. If not, I’ll know the nay-sayers were right.

Carla Roqs

June 1st, 2011
2:38 pm

mary mac’s was my choice for mac & cheese and turnip greens when i was home in April from DC. the greens were not good anymore. the mac and cheese is always the bomb. i grew up going to busy bee and canopy castle. you cannot beat their food. but… you do have to know the names of the waitresses and have some history there. i get taken care of very well there. for my 25 year old son, busy bee and mary mac were his “fast food” growing up- he didnt do mickey d’s, ate ham sandwiches at the varsity. he was raised on home cooking, so fast food was food it took someone other than me 2 hrs to cook. busy bee’s prices are wayyyyyyyyy too high. i love her, but she does it because she can. i wanted ox tails and they were 16-17 dollars? i wasnt even paying for it and i couldnt do it. take the prices down a little and be a little nicer. yes, people will come anyway, but you will lose some along the way and the food there is really good. they have the best turnip greens, fried chicken, ribs and ox tails in the city. the blue willow has the best fried chicken in the state.

Edward

June 2nd, 2011
11:53 pm

Kathy, I have no doubt Mary Macs will be here for a good long while. Longevity has nothing to do with the quality of the food, however, as the Varsity is still slinging banal gruel that some people seem to love. In these cases I think tradition bests logic and reason (and taste).