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

What are your Atlanta Classics?

Yesterday was the first of a new series that I’ll be writing periodically that we are calling the Atlanta Classics. The focus will be feature stories on classic Atlanta restaurants, institutions that have been around for decades that the media may take for granted, but have a story that deserves to be revisited.

These pieces will not be starred reviews, but rather a spotlight on a story worth telling. That could be anything from the general history on a classic restaurant, a story about an employee that has worked there for a lifetime, or an in depth discussion about a single dish. To qualify, the restaurants should have been around for roughly at least twenty years or so, and have an interesting story to tell. They may not get all of the buzz of the newer, trendier spots around town, but they probably have a loyal following that has kept them in business this long.

So, I’d love to hear from the readers on some stories that you’d like to see get told. What is your Atlanta Classic, and why?

- By Jon Watson, Food & More blog

112 comments Add your comment

SBY

July 20th, 2012
6:55 am

Red Snapper and Petite Auberge (along with South of France back in the day). I have so many fond memories of these old school institutions – they were the go to places for my grandparents. And while I don’t get to either very often, I get nostalgic every time I drive by.

Ned Ludd

July 20th, 2012
8:31 am

Nino’s on Cheshire Bridge, George’s Burgers, Mary Macs,McKinnon’s,Hal’s on ….oops, good job, La Grotta, Bar-b-que at The Rusty Nail. Chili dog at Manuel’s, Greek specialties at The Landmark Diner.
Jon, Ready willing and able to join you at any of the above. (Purely in the name of reasearch only, of course)

Darin

July 20th, 2012
8:49 am

Great subject! Daddy D’z is my favorite Atlanta classic. We had a friend visiting from France last year and he wanted to try authentic southern food. Daddy D’z immediately came to mind because not only can you get down-to-earth southern food that’s hard to find intown (outside of being dandied up in an expensive farm-to-table restaurant), you also get the real BBQ-shack experience. No frills, but good food. The french visitor was impressed.

Sluggo

July 20th, 2012
8:58 am

Colonnade on Cheshire Bridge, just for the glorious yeast rolls and it’s textbook fried chicken.

FM Fats

July 20th, 2012
9:06 am

Carver’s Grocery, for sure.

Diego

July 20th, 2012
9:07 am

A few favorites that were:::Papa Pirozki’s…Coach & Six…The Midnight Sun…Fan & Bills…Dale’s Cellar…Crossroads…

Ganners

July 20th, 2012
9:23 am

Dante’s Down the Hatch is my Atlanta favorite. It is a gem of a place that gets little attention.

Deep Fried

July 20th, 2012
9:30 am

The airport to leave whenever possible to enjoy food that doesn’t have grease as the main ingredient.

Deanna

July 20th, 2012
9:35 am

Hudson Hickory House in Douglasville. They just celebrated their 40th birthday and have been a mainstay in the community. You never hear Hudson’s mentioned in the pantheon of great local barbecue and I just don’t know why. Have a chopped pork sandwich, an order of fries with some of their famous blue cheese dressing on the side for dipping and a big sweet tea and see for yourself!

stephieZ

July 20th, 2012
9:44 am

Little Red Barn out in Lawrenceville, Nick’s Food to Go, Manuels, Atkins Park

HotlantaHobo

July 20th, 2012
10:00 am

This is a great idea as newcomers would never know about the “classic” places as they generally get no press at all, since they aren’t serving contrived “farm to table” hipster dishes.

Finding a place open for 20+ years is a bit challenging. Many of the places mentioned are ancient history. Interesting that reference to their grandparents dining in some of them, a concept that is somewhat foreign here unlike our neighbor to the south, New Orleans where restaurants can exist for 75 or more years in the same family.

But it’s great that some of the classic bits of Atlanta dining history that remain will get a little notice.

[...] News here – Food and More with John Kessler ← Groups to give food to 800 Atlanta area families Cancel [...]

Kar

July 20th, 2012
10:03 am

Silver Grill for meat and three veg. Just whatever you do, don’t park in grandma’s spot! Also the nearby Woody’s for cheese steaks. Closest thing to a real philly that you’ll find down here.

Not sure if this is a classic but Hashigushi’s for Japanese food and the kind of sushi chefs who still yell the traditional greeting when you cross their threshold.

Zestos for the tater tots. Not as famous as the Varsity but definitely a uniquely Atlanta place.

Also unique to Atlanta, the cafeteria at the Dekalb Farmer’s market. Best in the city. Their fried chicken has a following but the variety of ethnic dishes never disappoint. Butternut lasagna next to a fried golden samosa, spiced lentils and tangy tofu/eggplant. Just wish that they’d serve the quinoa with cherries and cashews again.

StylinGirl

July 20th, 2012
10:09 am

Matthew Cafeteria in Tucker. Also I second the request on Rusty Nail- such a classic!

PTC DAWG

July 20th, 2012
10:21 am

Hapeville Dwarf House. Deans BBQ in Jonesboro. Bones. The Varsity. Nuevo Laredo. Alfredos. Colonnade. That’s a decent list.

Steve

July 20th, 2012
10:35 am

sorry to burst your bubble, but Zesto is all over the country.

Alfredos, Nino’s, Colonnade, Mary Macs, Bones, Manuels, Dwarf House

Jere

July 20th, 2012
10:46 am

Violette on Clairmonte — always good

stephieZ

July 20th, 2012
10:47 am

Semi-true Steve. There are less than 10 states that have Zesto restaurants and the only thing the same about them all is the ice cream. Every stores menu is different. The ones in Atlanta have been owned by the same family since the 50’s. That is a pretty impressive feat.

Bucky

July 20th, 2012
11:14 am

I know it is a chain, but Chick-fil-A was BORN in Atlanta.

On a side note, I normally go to Chick-fil-a every Friday for 2 Chick-fil-A Sandwiches.

However, this Friday, in light of CFA’s very public & controversial political statement this week, I will be ordering 3 Chick-fil-A sandwiches instead..

You Rock, Cathy Family!

Rodney

July 20th, 2012
11:18 am

Way to troll, Bucky.

I second Red Snapper, and would add Babette’s and Horseradish Grill to the list.

Bucky

July 20th, 2012
11:23 am

Outside The Perimeter, if you haven’t been to DAVE POE’S BBQ yet in Marietta, please stop depriving yourself.

The only improvement they could make there is to replace the Diet Coke in their soda fountain with Coke Zero. (hint, hint)

Bucky

July 20th, 2012
11:25 am

Thanks, Rodney “Red” Skull.

See you over at Chick-fil-A, RS!

Camian

July 20th, 2012
11:30 am

Red Snapper, Alfredos, the dynamitc duo of Cheshire Bridge.

Roger

July 20th, 2012
11:42 am

Flashers on Roswell road. Best local roast beef you will find.

KatieB

July 20th, 2012
12:45 pm

Babette’s, Euclid Avenue Yacht Club (yes, they have good food and a lot of character–and characters–to boot!), Alfredo’s, Murphy’s in Va Hi

ATL Original

July 20th, 2012
12:49 pm

Old Hickory House in Tucker – that sauce and those babybacks are truly unique!

ATL Original

July 20th, 2012
1:10 pm

Steamhouse Lounge – The oysters Rockefeller aren’t traditional, but they sure are good! The lobster bisque is the best ever, perfectly rich and creamy, just add a dash of Tabasco as a waitress there once suggested.

Let’s poor a little out for the long departeed Soto…

robert

July 20th, 2012
1:23 pm

Good call on Petite Auberge in the first comment. It used to be one of the “go-to” places for fine food in Atlanta years ago. I haven’t been there in at least 25 years so I imagine it’s been there for at least 35 years or so. I think it still draws a loyal crowd.

Becky

July 20th, 2012
1:47 pm

Carver’s..

@Deanna..Sorry, I have to disagree with you about Hudson’s..The food is yucky, the inside of the restaurant is filthy and the service sucks..I have lived in D’ville over 20 years and if I want good BBQ, I drive to Smyrna to eat at Old South..

jcburns

July 20th, 2012
2:15 pm

Dunk ‘n’ Dine, Eats ‘n’ Sweets, Capo’s Cafe, Dish, Tierra…oh, wait.

muffin

July 20th, 2012
2:30 pm

Definitely Colonnade. Every other place I thought of I believe is closed at this point. Alfredo’s on Cheshire Bridge would be a contender but Creative Loafing just did a review on that and Nino’s next door as well as, I believe, Rusty Nail. @jcburns Dunk n Dine is now a Landmark Diner.

muffin

July 20th, 2012
2:30 pm

Original Pancake House at Cheshire Bridge/LaVista maybe? I remember going there as a kid with my parents in the late 70’s/early 80’s. They used to live across the street before I was born so that place was already nostalgic for them at that point.

Kev

July 20th, 2012
2:44 pm

Both Silver Grill and Dunk N Dine are long gone. As in many years.

Beanie

July 20th, 2012
2:54 pm

Anyone remember Quinn’s Mill near Northlake? That and Petite Auberge were our special occasion restaurants growing up in the early 80’s.

Lauren

July 20th, 2012
2:56 pm

Colonade, Varsity, Manuel’s, George’s, Hal’s, Nino’s, Murphy’s…..

Suze

July 20th, 2012
3:01 pm

Pricci — it’s been around long enough to become an Atlanta institution of fine Italian food. And said food is still top-notch. Anis is also another great local choice that has remained consistently good. And their patio can’t be beat.

Suze

July 20th, 2012
3:07 pm

One more — Aria. Chef Jerry Klaskala still delivers the culinary goods.

Y3ll0wjacket

July 20th, 2012
3:09 pm

Fat Matt’s Rib Shack, Mad Italian, Nikolai’s Roof in addition to others listed here. As usual, it’s making me hungry.

Sluggo

July 20th, 2012
3:47 pm

The Sundial perched atop the Peachtree Plaza downtown.

Views and pricey food for tourist, prom dates and special occasion celebrations.

The contrarian

July 20th, 2012
3:59 pm

Pink Pony for me.

The contrarian

July 20th, 2012
4:01 pm

@ Bucky – funny, but Prick Fil-a’s very public homophobia is why it’s been added to my and my family’s banned list. Oh well, healthier food for us!

Akshay

July 20th, 2012
4:10 pm

Stay away from all so called Indian restaurants operated by Bangladeshis! The worst food ever. Even Mirch Masala in Decatur where they add heavy food coloring and all you see is oil floating on the dish. Even Bombay Cafe (North Druid Hills) is in the same league and probably the most EXPENSIVE Indian restaurant. Too bad that so many Indians have spouses that are horrible cooks so they end up eating at Indian restaurants. I guess there food taste better than there spouses cooking!

Baltisraul

July 20th, 2012
5:16 pm

Donta’s Down the Hatch & Chick-fil-A, a couple of real ATL classics. Wish I could add Pitty Pat’s Porch, but it is long gone. A real shame for those of you that remember

Diego

July 20th, 2012
5:17 pm

Sorry for the once were list, those restaurants were Atlanta Icons without the flash of today. Most that read these columns were not around in the 60’s and 70’s my guess. As you know most restaurants do not last long in Atlanta without an “upcoming chef” or the next cusine fad or celebrity sightings. Most Atlanta’s are not loyal restaurant goers, they can’t wait for the next flash to open and be one of the first to say they were there first, sorta like camping out to be first in line for the new Batman Movie or ipad2. I still maintain most people have no clue as to what constitutes good food and fine dining. There are very fine restaurants in metro Atlanta and they are not all downtown!

Judge Smails

July 20th, 2012
6:02 pm

As long as we are adding now-closed spots, no list would be complete without Aunt Fannie’s Cabin. That was the best place when I was a kid. Also, The Catfish Inn on Cheshire Bridge.

Brazen Unicorn

July 20th, 2012
6:12 pm

For my soul food classics, The Beautiful and Paschal’s. I’ll also second Colonnade and Mary Mac’s.

Ned Ludd

July 20th, 2012
6:49 pm

Agreed @Judge Smails…Catfish Inn (later King) on Cheshire Bridge was one of our favorite spots growing up. Also had fantastic fried chicken and a unique red salad dressing I can still taste but not duplicate. All you could eat!

PapaDoc

July 20th, 2012
7:41 pm

I loved Capo’s and would love to learn what happened to them. Chicken Diablo was killer. Fettucini Alfredo was righteous. Salad with curry dressing was wonderful. Miss it although the current tenant provides excellent Italian fare.

Louis Prima

July 20th, 2012
7:52 pm

Aunt Fannie’s was an amazing experience, that every relative and friend coming through GA to FLA just HAD to go to Aunt Fannie’s. Never will forget sitting at table and the ladies were singing rousing tunes for the diners in front of the fireplace…and along came a little mouse, and my Grandma hooted like a little school girl pointing at the mouse. One of the ladies singing, looked down and saw the intruder, and promptly swept him into the fire. Of course, my Grandma let out a yelp that the whole place had to hear. Ahh, the memories.The fried chicken and the gen-u-wine Smithfield ham were simply devine.

Kar

July 20th, 2012
10:41 pm

Paschal’s fried okra, don’t know what’s different about theirs but it’s like crack.