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Since 1993, Eats restaurant on Ponce de Leon Avenue in Atlanta has been a local favorite known for its hearty yet affordable meals, including its jerk chicken.
Since 1993, Eats on Ponce has been a local favorite known for its hearty yet affordable meals, including jerk chicken.
Eats

30 Classic Atlanta Restaurants That Have Stood the Test of Time

From Southern and soul food comfort spots and a marisqueria to congenial taverns and a longtime, local fast food joint

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Since 1993, Eats on Ponce has been a local favorite known for its hearty yet affordable meals, including jerk chicken.
| Eats

While Atlanta’s newer restaurants tend to capture most of the spotlight, people shouldn’t forget about those longtime dining institutions that continue to stand the test of time. From Southern comfort spots and a marisqueria to congenial taverns and a longtime fast food joint, these iconic Atlanta restaurants have remained beloved favorites for the last two decades, and way beyond.

Don’t see a favorite classic restaurant on this list? Send Eater the details for the next update to atlanta@eater.com.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Minas Grill & Emporium

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A cornerstone restaurant and market for Atlanta’s Brazilian community for over 20 years now, Minas Grill & Emporium keeps its shelves stocked with Brazilian pantry staples and snacks. Head over for the traditional Brazilian buffet at Mina’s as well as to grab street foods like coxinhas or pastéis stuffed with ground meats or cheese. There’s even churrasco cut to order here.

The Beautiful Restaurant

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Established in 1979, the Beautiful Restaurant on Cascade Road continues to be an Atlanta favorite delivering heaping plates of cafeteria-style Southern staples, including crispy fried chicken, beef tips, and fried catfish with sides of mac and cheese, cornbread dressing, and turnip greens.

Canoe in Vinings has been serving farm-to-table cuisine since before that term was even coined. The riverfront, fine dining restaurant includes on its menu everything from foie gras parfait and steak to Cornish game hen and whole-stuffed sea bass. Come here for brunch and order the pastry basket and cornmeal pancakes. Reservations highly encouraged.

Ray's on the River

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Steak and seafood restaurant Ray’s on the River opened in what is now known as the city of Sandy Springs on the Chattahoochee River in 1984. The restaurant continues to be a dining destination for Southern surf and turf.

Bagelicious

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For over 30 years, Bagelicious has been serving up solid deli classics on its menu. For many New York transplants, it’s like a taste of home. Head here for plenty of fresh bagels topped with lox or whitefish salad, knishes and matzah ball soup, and meaty pastrami and corned beef sandwiches. Cash only. Open 6 a.m. daily.

K & K Soul Food

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This soul food institution has been serving the Bankhead community for nearly 45 years now, and for good reason. Biscuits here can be filled with red sausage links, pork chops, chicken or beef sausage, country-fried steak, or fatback. However, this is where to come for meats like beef liver or chicken gizzards as well as stewed beef or fried whiting. The humble counter-serve restaurant, with its brick-tiled floors and 3-D mural, includes a few booths. Check out K&K’s vegetable plates, too.

Paschal's Restaurant

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The historic Paschal’s restaurant served as a meeting place for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his lieutenants during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. But long before MLK put Paschal’s on the map nationwide, the restaurant was already known in Atlanta for its delicious fried chicken. And, it still is today.

The Silver Skillet

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In business since 1956, The Silver Skillet serves a classic Southern breakfast with exactly zero frills. The restaurant serves as a frequent stop for nearby college students, Midtown office dwellers and hotel guests, and construction workers regardless of the day of the week.

R. Thomas Deluxe Grill

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After more than 35 years, R. Thomas is still bringing a healthy dose of breakfast and brunch paired with strong coffee and smoothies. Try an R. Thomas breakfast quesadilla in a sun-dried tomato tortilla filled with eggs, cream cheese, basil, cheddar, bacon, peppers, and onions or the breakfast stew with red potato corn chowder, quinoa, veggies, dulse, and nori. R. Thomas was one of the first establishments in the city to offer vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free dishes on its menu.

La Grotta Ristorante

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For more than 40 years now, La Grotta is still one of Atlanta’s most beloved fine dining restaurants. With tables clad in white linens, impeccable service, and an impressive wine list to pair with dishes of lobster pappardelle and black truffle risotto, La Grotta has grown into a regular spot for family and friends to gather. Reservations highly encouraged.

Hsu's Gourmet

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This family-owned and run Chinese restaurant has been a downtown Atlanta staple since 1989. Located in bustling Peachtree Center, Hsu’s serves everything from lo mein and pan-fried noodles to spicy basil chicken and salt and pepper shrimp. But, come here for the three-course Peking duck served with soup, Chinese crepe, and the star attraction, the crispy roast duck in a sweetly salted honey soy sauce. It feeds two.

The Municipal Market/Sweet Auburn Curb Market

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Founded in 1918 as an open-air market, the Municipal Market, known locally as Sweet Auburn Curb Market, features over 30 local food businesses under one roof. This includes a cooking school, butchers and fishmongers, stands selling produce and baked goods, and a dozen Atlanta restaurant stalls serving everything from soul food and fried fish to tacos, pizza, and Afro-Caribbean fare.

Mary Mac's Tea Room

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Mary Mac’s Tea Room, the beloved Southern restaurant on Ponce known for its fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, and yeast rolls, underwent a change of ownership in 2020. But very little has changed on the menu or with the decor and service here. Mary MacKenzie first opened Mary Mac’s Tea Room in 1945. At the time, it was one of 16 tearooms in Atlanta.

Nick's Food To Go

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Nick’s Food to Go is a family-owned-and-operated Greek restaurant on the corner of MLK and Hill Street that’s been serving traditional gyros and its famous “Greek lasagna” for over two decades now. Fans of the restaurant got quite a scare in 2017 when developers were eyeing the land for another mixed-used complex. Thankfully, they decided to build around Nick’s instead. Head here for gryos between $6 and $7 or a combo (gyro, fries, and a 16-ounce drink) for just $10.

The Busy Bee Cafe

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In business since 1947, this Vine City staple serves some of Atlanta’s best fried chicken alongside an assortment of other meat-and-three staples. It continues to be a popular spot on Atlanta’s westside, so be prepared to rub elbows with fellow diners. And, don’t be surprised to run into a famous face or two.

It’s hard to pass up this Atlanta landmark restaurant across from Ponce City Market and its trendy food hall. Since 1993, Eats has been a local favorite known for its hearty yet affordable meals. The most expensive option on the menu is a meat-and-three combo for around $10. Jerk chicken is the mainstay here, but there’s something for everyone on the menu. That also includes vegetarian options.

For over 75 years, Zesto has been doling out classic drive-in food served with a side of soft serve ice cream. The Atlanta institution’s first location opened in 1949 on Peachtree Street, across from Brookwood Station. That location is long gone, but the Piedmont Road shop opened in the 1950s and continues to offer up burgers, dogs, and fries alongside the shop’s real deal vanilla and chocolate soft serve. Other locations include East Atlanta (drive-thru), Forrest Park (drive-thru), and Tyrone.

Nakato Japanese Restaurant

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Testuko Nakato opened her eponymous Japanese restaurant 50 years ago in Atlanta, now located on Cheshire Bridge Road. Still owned and operated by the family, the iconic restaurant offers traditional Japanese fare served in tatami rooms with low platform tables as well as hibachi-style dining and sushi via its sushi bar.

The Colonnade Restaurant

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This Cheshire Bridge Road institution is nearly 95 years old. A monumental feat for any restaurant. The Colonnade has a loyal following among the over 60 crowd, but continually attracts new generations seeking down home, Southern comfort food (and strong martinis.) Come for classics like turkey and dressing, chicken fried steak, and fried chicken. However, regulars swear by its brunch and the bloody marys, too.

Nino's Italian Restaurant

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Located on Cheshire Bridge Road, Nino’s is a classic red sauce restaurant that’s been serving pasta dishes in Atlanta for over 50 years now. Keep it simple with spaghetti and meatballs or lasagna or order the fettuccine with shrimp and scallops tossed in Pernod and saffron cream sauce. There’s also the classic veal parmesan.

Highland Tap

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Sure, there’s fancier steakhouses in Atlanta, but this Virginia-Highland stalwart keeps its steaks and martinis low key and reasonably priced. Highland Tap — aka “steak basement” — is located beneath the street level on North Highland Avenue. The restaurant serves up old school cuts of steak and starchy sides, along with generously poured martinis with a sidecar, while bands like Night Ranger, Fleetwood Mac, and Run DMC play over the sound system. No need to dress up here. Make sure to check out brunch here on the weekends.

Majestic Diner

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The Majestic on Ponce de Leon has been soaking up Atlanta’s booze 24/7 since 1929. Some nights or weekend mornings simply call for comfort food. The restaurant serves up strong coffee with diner classics like steak and eggs, biscuits and gravy, grilled cheese and fries, and the Ponce dog piled high with chili, cheese, and onions. Currently open 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Continue to check the restaurant’s website for hours updates.

Manuel's Tavern

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The late Manuel Maloof opened Manuel’s Tavern along North Avenue in 1956. Over the decades, Manuel’s has become the gathering spot for neighborhood folks, political junkies, journalists, and local bigwigs swigging beer and talking about everything from sports to politics. The historic Poncey-Highland bar underwent an extensive renovation in 2016, but it still has the same charm and pretty solid food, too.

Atkins Park Restaurant & Bar

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Originally opened in 1922, Atkins Park in Virginia-Highland is one of Atlanta’s oldest and continuously licensed taverns. The landmark bar is a great place to watch sports on the weekends and for Sunday supper with the family.

Pan American Bakery

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For nearly 30 years, Pan American Bakery on Clairmont Road has been selling its fresh-baked Cuban breads and pastries in Atlanta. Stop by to order one of the bakery’s classic Cuban sandwiches toasted to crispy perfection and grab a guava pastry for dessert. Cash only.

Golden Buddha Restaurant

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For nearly 50 years now, this Clairmont Road Chinese restaurant has been a popular go-to for Atlantans seeking generous portions of sweet and sour chicken, mu shu pork, egg foo young, lo mein, and kung pao shrimp. But don’t skip out on dishes like Sichuan-style twice-cooked pork, crispy empress chicken wings, san shan soup, and spicy mee goreng (fried noodles typically tossed with seafood or chicken).

The Mad Italian

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After almost 50 years, the Mad Italian continues to be an Atlanta favorite for those seeking hearty sandwiches and homey pasta dishes. But the cheesesteak here is the move. It’s made with sliced steak topped with griddled onions and slathered in white American cheese, all stuffed inside a toasted hoagie roll shipped straight from a bakery in Long Island. Some have dubbed this sandwich the “best cheesesteak in town” and “south of Philly.”

Marisqueria El Veneno

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One of Atlanta’s oldest and most beloved marisquerias, El Veneno offers platters of mixed seafood to feed a family, soups filled with crab legs and shrimp, oysters, and plenty of micheladas to curb the kick from the hot sauce. Try the caldo de camaron or huachinango estilo Nayarit, a fried, whole red snapper topped with spicy salsa. Check out ATL’s other marisquerias, part of the thriving Mexican seafood scene here.

Old Hickory House

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The last remaining Old Hickory House in metro Atlanta is still going strong after more than 50 years. A barbecue institution, Old Hickory House serves its meats smoked over hickory wood for hours, including its popular baby back ribs, chopped pork, and half chickens. Make sure to order Brunswick stew and a side of the delicious squash casserole. The restaurant also doubles as a meat-and-three, serving classic Southern plates like country fried steak or fried catfish paired with cornbread and a choice of two vegetable sides.

Matthews Cafeteria

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Matthew’s Cafeteria in Tucker has been slinging Southern favorites since 1955: that’s how folks know it’s good. The restaurant’s ownership still remains in the family, and the fried chicken tastes like granny made it. Diners travel from around Atlanta to eat at this old school cafeteria. Matthews rarely disappoints with its array of Southern comfort foods.

Minas Grill & Emporium

A cornerstone restaurant and market for Atlanta’s Brazilian community for over 20 years now, Minas Grill & Emporium keeps its shelves stocked with Brazilian pantry staples and snacks. Head over for the traditional Brazilian buffet at Mina’s as well as to grab street foods like coxinhas or pastéis stuffed with ground meats or cheese. There’s even churrasco cut to order here.

The Beautiful Restaurant

Established in 1979, the Beautiful Restaurant on Cascade Road continues to be an Atlanta favorite delivering heaping plates of cafeteria-style Southern staples, including crispy fried chicken, beef tips, and fried catfish with sides of mac and cheese, cornbread dressing, and turnip greens.

Canoe

Canoe in Vinings has been serving farm-to-table cuisine since before that term was even coined. The riverfront, fine dining restaurant includes on its menu everything from foie gras parfait and steak to Cornish game hen and whole-stuffed sea bass. Come here for brunch and order the pastry basket and cornmeal pancakes. Reservations highly encouraged.

Ray's on the River

Steak and seafood restaurant Ray’s on the River opened in what is now known as the city of Sandy Springs on the Chattahoochee River in 1984. The restaurant continues to be a dining destination for Southern surf and turf.

Bagelicious

For over 30 years, Bagelicious has been serving up solid deli classics on its menu. For many New York transplants, it’s like a taste of home. Head here for plenty of fresh bagels topped with lox or whitefish salad, knishes and matzah ball soup, and meaty pastrami and corned beef sandwiches. Cash only. Open 6 a.m. daily.

K & K Soul Food

This soul food institution has been serving the Bankhead community for nearly 45 years now, and for good reason. Biscuits here can be filled with red sausage links, pork chops, chicken or beef sausage, country-fried steak, or fatback. However, this is where to come for meats like beef liver or chicken gizzards as well as stewed beef or fried whiting. The humble counter-serve restaurant, with its brick-tiled floors and 3-D mural, includes a few booths. Check out K&K’s vegetable plates, too.

Paschal's Restaurant

The historic Paschal’s restaurant served as a meeting place for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his lieutenants during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. But long before MLK put Paschal’s on the map nationwide, the restaurant was already known in Atlanta for its delicious fried chicken. And, it still is today.

The Silver Skillet

In business since 1956, The Silver Skillet serves a classic Southern breakfast with exactly zero frills. The restaurant serves as a frequent stop for nearby college students, Midtown office dwellers and hotel guests, and construction workers regardless of the day of the week.

R. Thomas Deluxe Grill

After more than 35 years, R. Thomas is still bringing a healthy dose of breakfast and brunch paired with strong coffee and smoothies. Try an R. Thomas breakfast quesadilla in a sun-dried tomato tortilla filled with eggs, cream cheese, basil, cheddar, bacon, peppers, and onions or the breakfast stew with red potato corn chowder, quinoa, veggies, dulse, and nori. R. Thomas was one of the first establishments in the city to offer vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free dishes on its menu.

La Grotta Ristorante

For more than 40 years now, La Grotta is still one of Atlanta’s most beloved fine dining restaurants. With tables clad in white linens, impeccable service, and an impressive wine list to pair with dishes of lobster pappardelle and black truffle risotto, La Grotta has grown into a regular spot for family and friends to gather. Reservations highly encouraged.

Hsu's Gourmet

This family-owned and run Chinese restaurant has been a downtown Atlanta staple since 1989. Located in bustling Peachtree Center, Hsu’s serves everything from lo mein and pan-fried noodles to spicy basil chicken and salt and pepper shrimp. But, come here for the three-course Peking duck served with soup, Chinese crepe, and the star attraction, the crispy roast duck in a sweetly salted honey soy sauce. It feeds two.

The Municipal Market/Sweet Auburn Curb Market

Founded in 1918 as an open-air market, the Municipal Market, known locally as Sweet Auburn Curb Market, features over 30 local food businesses under one roof. This includes a cooking school, butchers and fishmongers, stands selling produce and baked goods, and a dozen Atlanta restaurant stalls serving everything from soul food and fried fish to tacos, pizza, and Afro-Caribbean fare.

Mary Mac's Tea Room

Mary Mac’s Tea Room, the beloved Southern restaurant on Ponce known for its fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, and yeast rolls, underwent a change of ownership in 2020. But very little has changed on the menu or with the decor and service here. Mary MacKenzie first opened Mary Mac’s Tea Room in 1945. At the time, it was one of 16 tearooms in Atlanta.

Nick's Food To Go

Nick’s Food to Go is a family-owned-and-operated Greek restaurant on the corner of MLK and Hill Street that’s been serving traditional gyros and its famous “Greek lasagna” for over two decades now. Fans of the restaurant got quite a scare in 2017 when developers were eyeing the land for another mixed-used complex. Thankfully, they decided to build around Nick’s instead. Head here for gryos between $6 and $7 or a combo (gyro, fries, and a 16-ounce drink) for just $10.

The Busy Bee Cafe

In business since 1947, this Vine City staple serves some of Atlanta’s best fried chicken alongside an assortment of other meat-and-three staples. It continues to be a popular spot on Atlanta’s westside, so be prepared to rub elbows with fellow diners. And, don’t be surprised to run into a famous face or two.

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Eats

It’s hard to pass up this Atlanta landmark restaurant across from Ponce City Market and its trendy food hall. Since 1993, Eats has been a local favorite known for its hearty yet affordable meals. The most expensive option on the menu is a meat-and-three combo for around $10. Jerk chicken is the mainstay here, but there’s something for everyone on the menu. That also includes vegetarian options.

Zesto

For over 75 years, Zesto has been doling out classic drive-in food served with a side of soft serve ice cream. The Atlanta institution’s first location opened in 1949 on Peachtree Street, across from Brookwood Station. That location is long gone, but the Piedmont Road shop opened in the 1950s and continues to offer up burgers, dogs, and fries alongside the shop’s real deal vanilla and chocolate soft serve. Other locations include East Atlanta (drive-thru), Forrest Park (drive-thru), and Tyrone.

Nakato Japanese Restaurant

Testuko Nakato opened her eponymous Japanese restaurant 50 years ago in Atlanta, now located on Cheshire Bridge Road. Still owned and operated by the family, the iconic restaurant offers traditional Japanese fare served in tatami rooms with low platform tables as well as hibachi-style dining and sushi via its sushi bar.

The Colonnade Restaurant

This Cheshire Bridge Road institution is nearly 95 years old. A monumental feat for any restaurant. The Colonnade has a loyal following among the over 60 crowd, but continually attracts new generations seeking down home, Southern comfort food (and strong martinis.) Come for classics like turkey and dressing, chicken fried steak, and fried chicken. However, regulars swear by its brunch and the bloody marys, too.

Nino's Italian Restaurant

Located on Cheshire Bridge Road, Nino’s is a classic red sauce restaurant that’s been serving pasta dishes in Atlanta for over 50 years now. Keep it simple with spaghetti and meatballs or lasagna or order the fettuccine with shrimp and scallops tossed in Pernod and saffron cream sauce. There’s also the classic veal parmesan.

Highland Tap

Sure, there’s fancier steakhouses in Atlanta, but this Virginia-Highland stalwart keeps its steaks and martinis low key and reasonably priced. Highland Tap — aka “steak basement” — is located beneath the street level on North Highland Avenue. The restaurant serves up old school cuts of steak and starchy sides, along with generously poured martinis with a sidecar, while bands like Night Ranger, Fleetwood Mac, and Run DMC play over the sound system. No need to dress up here. Make sure to check out brunch here on the weekends.

Majestic Diner

The Majestic on Ponce de Leon has been soaking up Atlanta’s booze 24/7 since 1929. Some nights or weekend mornings simply call for comfort food. The restaurant serves up strong coffee with diner classics like steak and eggs, biscuits and gravy, grilled cheese and fries, and the Ponce dog piled high with chili, cheese, and onions. Currently open 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Continue to check the restaurant’s website for hours updates.

Manuel's Tavern

The late Manuel Maloof opened Manuel’s Tavern along North Avenue in 1956. Over the decades, Manuel’s has become the gathering spot for neighborhood folks, political junkies, journalists, and local bigwigs swigging beer and talking about everything from sports to politics. The historic Poncey-Highland bar underwent an extensive renovation in 2016, but it still has the same charm and pretty solid food, too.

Atkins Park Restaurant & Bar

Originally opened in 1922, Atkins Park in Virginia-Highland is one of Atlanta’s oldest and continuously licensed taverns. The landmark bar is a great place to watch sports on the weekends and for Sunday supper with the family.

Pan American Bakery

For nearly 30 years, Pan American Bakery on Clairmont Road has been selling its fresh-baked Cuban breads and pastries in Atlanta. Stop by to order one of the bakery’s classic Cuban sandwiches toasted to crispy perfection and grab a guava pastry for dessert. Cash only.

Golden Buddha Restaurant

For nearly 50 years now, this Clairmont Road Chinese restaurant has been a popular go-to for Atlantans seeking generous portions of sweet and sour chicken, mu shu pork, egg foo young, lo mein, and kung pao shrimp. But don’t skip out on dishes like Sichuan-style twice-cooked pork, crispy empress chicken wings, san shan soup, and spicy mee goreng (fried noodles typically tossed with seafood or chicken).

The Mad Italian

After almost 50 years, the Mad Italian continues to be an Atlanta favorite for those seeking hearty sandwiches and homey pasta dishes. But the cheesesteak here is the move. It’s made with sliced steak topped with griddled onions and slathered in white American cheese, all stuffed inside a toasted hoagie roll shipped straight from a bakery in Long Island. Some have dubbed this sandwich the “best cheesesteak in town” and “south of Philly.”

Marisqueria El Veneno

One of Atlanta’s oldest and most beloved marisquerias, El Veneno offers platters of mixed seafood to feed a family, soups filled with crab legs and shrimp, oysters, and plenty of micheladas to curb the kick from the hot sauce. Try the caldo de camaron or huachinango estilo Nayarit, a fried, whole red snapper topped with spicy salsa. Check out ATL’s other marisquerias, part of the thriving Mexican seafood scene here.

Old Hickory House

The last remaining Old Hickory House in metro Atlanta is still going strong after more than 50 years. A barbecue institution, Old Hickory House serves its meats smoked over hickory wood for hours, including its popular baby back ribs, chopped pork, and half chickens. Make sure to order Brunswick stew and a side of the delicious squash casserole. The restaurant also doubles as a meat-and-three, serving classic Southern plates like country fried steak or fried catfish paired with cornbread and a choice of two vegetable sides.

Matthews Cafeteria

Matthew’s Cafeteria in Tucker has been slinging Southern favorites since 1955: that’s how folks know it’s good. The restaurant’s ownership still remains in the family, and the fried chicken tastes like granny made it. Diners travel from around Atlanta to eat at this old school cafeteria. Matthews rarely disappoints with its array of Southern comfort foods.

Related Maps