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Magnolia Room Cafeteria

These Are the Southern ‘Meat and Three’ Restaurants to Try in Atlanta

Southern proteins like fried chicken or country fried steak and three starchy vegetables on one heaping plate

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Comfort food comes best in a formula: mix a protein with some sides, and make sure it’s served via a tray, styrofoam container, or a really big plate. Structure is key, and counter service or cafeteria-style is the best service. Such are the laws of the meat-and-three, one of the greatest dining treasures to emerge from the American South.

For those unaware, or who haven’t spent enough time in the South, the “meat and three” is a restaurant, buffet, or diner with a menu listing a choice of Southern proteins like fried chicken, country fried steak, meatloaf, or beef tips and two to three starchy vegetable sides, such as bacon-soaked collards, lima beans, or mac and cheese. Yes, in the South, mac and cheese is considered a vegetable. Atlanta has plenty of such establishments offering the ultimate Southern feast to check out, too.

Don’t see a favorite meat-and-three listed? Send Eater the details via the tipline.

Disclaimer: A mask mandate is currently in place for the city of Atlanta requiring all people, regardless of vaccination status, to wear masks indoors in public places, including private businesses and establishments. The latest CDC guidance for vaccinated diners during the COVID-19 outbreak is here; dining out still carries risks for unvaccinated diners and workers. Please be aware of changing local rules, and check individual restaurant websites for any additional restrictions such as mask requirements. Find a local vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. This Is It! BBQ & Seafood (Camp Creek full-service)

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3523 Camp Creek Pkwy
Atlanta, GA 30344
(404) 629-1114
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With multiple locations that reach as far out as Fayetteville and Lithonia, This Is It doesn’t sacrifice flavor in its offerings, which explains why there aren’t any salt and pepper shakers on the tables. The extra seasoning is simply unnecessary here.

2. The Beautiful Restaurant

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2260 Cascade Rd SW
Atlanta, GA 30311
(404) 752-5931
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Established in 1979, the Beautiful Restaurant on Cascade Road delivers exactly what’s promised: crispy fried chicken against a metal backdrop and vibrantly colored vegetables. Here, the portions are huge and all the recipes are classic. Oh, and it’s also really good.

3. Q's Restaurant

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1599 White Way
Atlanta, GA 30344
(404) 767-9894

Q’s Restaurant is absolutely worth the travel and traffic down to East Point. Favorites at this cafeteria include daily specials like rip tips, oxtails, fried pork chops, and cube steak with sides of mac and cheese and green beans washed down with a blend of tea and lemonade.

4. Q Time

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1120 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd
Atlanta, GA 30310
(404) 758-2881
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This Southern food cafeteria in West End serves up soul-soothing comfort dishes. Order the baked chicken and gravy with collard greens and mac and cheese or Salisbury steak with green beans and rice and peach cobbler for dessert. Q Time is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner

5. K & K Soul Food

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881 Donald Lee Hollowell Pkwy NW
Atlanta, GA 30318
(404) 685-1073
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Those in search of meats like neck bones, chicken gizzards, and pigs feet should definitely hit up Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway landmark K&K Soul Food. The turkey wings are a hit here, as are the pork chops, country-fried steak, and fried whiting paired with daily sides like black eyed peas, collards, and candied yams.

6. Busy Bee Cafe

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810 Martin Luther King Junior Drive Northwest
Atlanta, GA 30314
(404) 525-9212
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Busy Bee Cafe is small and usually super busy, but that shouldn’t deter anyone from grabbing food from this historic restaurant institution on the edge of Vine City. In business since the 1940s, Busy Bee serves some of Atlanta’s best fried chicken alongside an assortment of other meat-and-three staples. Save room for a slice of key lime pie.

7. Annie Laura's Kitchen

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6814 GA-85
Riverdale, GA 30274
(770) 907-1050

Order Southern meat-and-three fare via the drive-thru window at this Riverdale staple. Pair fried chicken, oxtails, fried catfish, roast turkey, and pigs feet with traditional sides like collards, limas, field peas, yams, and cornbread.

8. Peach Cobbler Café

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2221 Peachtree Rd NW Suite G
Atlanta, GA 30309
(404) 351-0450
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Open daily for Southern comfort food, Peach Cobbler Cafe features oxtail, turkey wing, fried chicken, and pork chop dinners paired with vegetable sides, including collards, black eyed peas, limas, and broccoli cheese casserole. The vegetable plate here allows for a choice of three options, too.

9. Kenley's Catering And Restaurant

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75 Piedmont Ave NE #152
Atlanta, GA 30303
(404) 217-2455
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Only open on weekdays, Kenley Waller’s eponymous restaurant is a local favorite for downtown residents and Georgia State students seeking meals filled with comfort foods. Lunch here offers plenty to choose from, including a variety of meat-and-three platters.

10. Mary Mac's Tea Room

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224 Ponce De Leon Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30308
(404) 876-1800
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Mary Mac’s Tea Room is known for its meat-and-three fare, including fried chicken, cube steak, and roast turkey paired with sides like fried green tomatoes, the popular yeast rolls, cornbread dressing, and fried okra. Mary MacKenzie first opened Mary Mac’s Tea Room in 1945. At the time, it was one of 16 tearooms in Atlanta.

11. Eats

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600 Ponce De Leon Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30308
(404) 888-9149
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Few places like Eats exist anymore on Ponce. And, for locals and regulars, it’s hard to pass up this Atlanta landmark restaurant which offers classic meat and three (or four) options on its menu starting at around $10 a plate. The jerk chicken here is the mainstay.

12. Sonya's Southern Cuisine

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759 Main St
Forest Park, GA 30297
(404) 863-0396
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Located on Main Street in Forest Park, owner Sonya Jewsome offers hearty meat-and-three options on the menu at her eponymous restaurant. Expect smothered pork chops, oxtails, fried chicken, and catfish paired with vegetables choices like rutabagas, collards, green beans, and mac and cheese. Meals come with a cornbread muffin, too.

13. The Colonnade

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1879 Cheshire Bridge Rd NE
Atlanta, GA 30324
(404) 874-5642
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This is an Atlanta classic, where the food is pure Southern comfort and the people-watching is some of the best in town. Opened in 1927, the Colonnade has a loyal following among the over-60 crowd but continually attracts a new generation of regulars seeking down home, Southern comfort food (and strong martinis.) Diners come for the turkey and dressing, chicken fried steak, and fried chicken and numerous vegetable side offerings, but restaurant regulars swear by its brunch and the bloody marys, too.

14. Matthews Cafeteria

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2299 Main St
Tucker, GA 30084
(770) 939-2357
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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 grandma made it. Diners travel from around Atlanta to eat at this old school cafeteria. Matthews never disappoints with its array of Southern comfort foods.

15. Magnolia Room Cafeteria

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4450 Hugh Howell Rd #10
Tucker, GA 30084
(770) 864-1845
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Tucker’s Magnolia Room has a good hold on Southern classics, but expands its reach with seasonal offerings like shrimp creole and sweet potato balls. They’ve got enough pies to fill a bakeshop — coconut custard, lemon meringue, sweet potato — so go ahead and grab a slice.  

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1. This Is It! BBQ & Seafood (Camp Creek full-service)

3523 Camp Creek Pkwy, Atlanta, GA 30344

With multiple locations that reach as far out as Fayetteville and Lithonia, This Is It doesn’t sacrifice flavor in its offerings, which explains why there aren’t any salt and pepper shakers on the tables. The extra seasoning is simply unnecessary here.

3523 Camp Creek Pkwy
Atlanta, GA 30344

2. The Beautiful Restaurant

2260 Cascade Rd SW, Atlanta, GA 30311

Established in 1979, the Beautiful Restaurant on Cascade Road delivers exactly what’s promised: crispy fried chicken against a metal backdrop and vibrantly colored vegetables. Here, the portions are huge and all the recipes are classic. Oh, and it’s also really good.

2260 Cascade Rd SW
Atlanta, GA 30311

3. Q's Restaurant

1599 White Way, Atlanta, GA 30344

Q’s Restaurant is absolutely worth the travel and traffic down to East Point. Favorites at this cafeteria include daily specials like rip tips, oxtails, fried pork chops, and cube steak with sides of mac and cheese and green beans washed down with a blend of tea and lemonade.

1599 White Way
Atlanta, GA 30344

4. Q Time

1120 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd, Atlanta, GA 30310

This Southern food cafeteria in West End serves up soul-soothing comfort dishes. Order the baked chicken and gravy with collard greens and mac and cheese or Salisbury steak with green beans and rice and peach cobbler for dessert. Q Time is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner

1120 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd
Atlanta, GA 30310

5. K & K Soul Food

881 Donald Lee Hollowell Pkwy NW, Atlanta, GA 30318

Those in search of meats like neck bones, chicken gizzards, and pigs feet should definitely hit up Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway landmark K&K Soul Food. The turkey wings are a hit here, as are the pork chops, country-fried steak, and fried whiting paired with daily sides like black eyed peas, collards, and candied yams.

881 Donald Lee Hollowell Pkwy NW
Atlanta, GA 30318

6. Busy Bee Cafe

810 Martin Luther King Junior Drive Northwest, Atlanta, GA 30314

Busy Bee Cafe is small and usually super busy, but that shouldn’t deter anyone from grabbing food from this historic restaurant institution on the edge of Vine City. In business since the 1940s, Busy Bee serves some of Atlanta’s best fried chicken alongside an assortment of other meat-and-three staples. Save room for a slice of key lime pie.

810 Martin Luther King Junior Drive Northwest
Atlanta, GA 30314

7. Annie Laura's Kitchen

6814 GA-85, Riverdale, GA 30274

Order Southern meat-and-three fare via the drive-thru window at this Riverdale staple. Pair fried chicken, oxtails, fried catfish, roast turkey, and pigs feet with traditional sides like collards, limas, field peas, yams, and cornbread.

6814 GA-85
Riverdale, GA 30274

8. Peach Cobbler Café

2221 Peachtree Rd NW Suite G, Atlanta, GA 30309

Open daily for Southern comfort food, Peach Cobbler Cafe features oxtail, turkey wing, fried chicken, and pork chop dinners paired with vegetable sides, including collards, black eyed peas, limas, and broccoli cheese casserole. The vegetable plate here allows for a choice of three options, too.

2221 Peachtree Rd NW Suite G
Atlanta, GA 30309

9. Kenley's Catering And Restaurant

75 Piedmont Ave NE #152, Atlanta, GA 30303

Only open on weekdays, Kenley Waller’s eponymous restaurant is a local favorite for downtown residents and Georgia State students seeking meals filled with comfort foods. Lunch here offers plenty to choose from, including a variety of meat-and-three platters.

75 Piedmont Ave NE #152
Atlanta, GA 30303

10. Mary Mac's Tea Room

224 Ponce De Leon Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30308

Mary Mac’s Tea Room is known for its meat-and-three fare, including fried chicken, cube steak, and roast turkey paired with sides like fried green tomatoes, the popular yeast rolls, cornbread dressing, and fried okra. Mary MacKenzie first opened Mary Mac’s Tea Room in 1945. At the time, it was one of 16 tearooms in Atlanta.

224 Ponce De Leon Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30308

11. Eats

600 Ponce De Leon Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30308

Few places like Eats exist anymore on Ponce. And, for locals and regulars, it’s hard to pass up this Atlanta landmark restaurant which offers classic meat and three (or four) options on its menu starting at around $10 a plate. The jerk chicken here is the mainstay.

600 Ponce De Leon Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30308

12. Sonya's Southern Cuisine

759 Main St, Forest Park, GA 30297

Located on Main Street in Forest Park, owner Sonya Jewsome offers hearty meat-and-three options on the menu at her eponymous restaurant. Expect smothered pork chops, oxtails, fried chicken, and catfish paired with vegetables choices like rutabagas, collards, green beans, and mac and cheese. Meals come with a cornbread muffin, too.

759 Main St
Forest Park, GA 30297

13. The Colonnade

1879 Cheshire Bridge Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30324

This is an Atlanta classic, where the food is pure Southern comfort and the people-watching is some of the best in town. Opened in 1927, the Colonnade has a loyal following among the over-60 crowd but continually attracts a new generation of regulars seeking down home, Southern comfort food (and strong martinis.) Diners come for the turkey and dressing, chicken fried steak, and fried chicken and numerous vegetable side offerings, but restaurant regulars swear by its brunch and the bloody marys, too.

1879 Cheshire Bridge Rd NE
Atlanta, GA 30324

14. Matthews Cafeteria

2299 Main St, Tucker, GA 30084

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 grandma made it. Diners travel from around Atlanta to eat at this old school cafeteria. Matthews never disappoints with its array of Southern comfort foods.

2299 Main St
Tucker, GA 30084

15. Magnolia Room Cafeteria

4450 Hugh Howell Rd #10, Tucker, GA 30084

Tucker’s Magnolia Room has a good hold on Southern classics, but expands its reach with seasonal offerings like shrimp creole and sweet potato balls. They’ve got enough pies to fill a bakeshop — coconut custard, lemon meringue, sweet potato — so go ahead and grab a slice.  

4450 Hugh Howell Rd #10
Tucker, GA 30084

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