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The Varsity

61 North Ave., Atlanta, GA - (404) 881-1706
Posted By Michael Stern on 11/15/2007 9:24:00 PM
Anyone who loves all-American food and has spent any time in Atlanta knows about the Varsity Drive-In … and most people have their own personal stories about wonderful meals and good times they’ve had there. These extravagant tales tend to relate to the fact that The Varsity is huge and it is fast, the thrills commencing when you step up to the counter and an order-taker accosts you with the command, “What’ll ya’ have?” A few facts from the restaurant press book: two miles of hot dogs, three hundred gallons of chili, and five thousand fried pies are served every day to approximately 10,000 customers, twice that number when Georgia Tech plays at home. Senator Phil Gramm recalled that when he was at college in Atlanta, the Journal-Constitution had a party for its paper boys. The organizer stepped up and ordered six thousand steaks, to go. Veteran counter man Erby Walker, without missing a beat, shot back, “Watcha drinkin’?”

Hot dogs are the house specialty – modest-size tube steaks served in steamy-soft buns, begging to be dolled up with condiments. The prime adornment is chili, a finely pulverized brew that perfectly complements either dog or burger. Chili dogs are customarily served with a line of mustard across their tops, and they are known among the staff as Yankee dogs, for their yellow streak. Dogs are customarily accompanied by cardboard boats full of crusty onion rings and/or excellent French fries.

To drink with this good grub, there's a full menu of reliable southern favorites: ice cold buttermilk, gigantic cups full of Coke, PCs, and FOs. PC is Varsity lingo for chocolate milk ("plain chocolate") as opposed to a chocolate milk shake (with ice cream). FO means frosted orange, which is the Varsity version of a California smoothie, reminiscent of a Creamsicle-in-a-cup. With or without chili dogs, frosted oranges are one heck of a way to keep cool.

There is a second, equally wonderful Varsity in Athens, Georgia at 1000 Broad St., phone number: 706-548-6325; and there is another "Varsity Jr." in Atlanta (open 35 years), plus two locations in Cobb and Gwinnett Counties (suburbs of Atlanta).

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Onion rings
Frosted Orange
Chili Dog
Peach Pie
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

A beautiful food pyramid, including pork (hot dog), beef (chili sauce), grain (bun), spice (mustard), vegetable (onion rings), and fruit (fried peach pie).
"A beautiful food pyramid, including pork (hot dog), beef (chili sauce), grain (bun), spice (mustard), vegetable (onion rings), and fruit (fried peach pie)."
Michael Stern





The Varsity's signature dish: a chili dog with a yellow streak.
"The Varsity's signature dish: a chili dog with a yellow streak."
Michael Stern


Once the peach pie is pulled apart, it gets pretty messy. Be sure to grab extra napkins when you carry your tray to a table.
"Once the peach pie is pulled apart, it gets pretty messy. Be sure to grab extra napkins when you carry your tray to a table."
Michael Stern


Thousands of peach pies are fried and served daily at the Varsity. Despite the mass production, they are Roadfood par excellence.
"Thousands of peach pies are fried and served daily at the Varsity. Despite the mass production, they are Roadfood par excellence. "
Michael Stern


The Varsity's crunchy onion rings are neatly arranged in the boat from big to small.
"The Varsity's crunchy onion rings are neatly arranged in the boat from big to small."
Cliff Strutz


Can you hear these rings crunch? No matter what else is on your tray at the Varsity, this tidy cluster needs to be there.
"Can you hear these rings crunch? No matter what else is on your tray at the Varsity, this tidy cluster needs to be there."
Michael Stern


Frosted Orange technically is a beverage, but it is thick enough to demand a spoon.
"Frosted Orange technically is a beverage, but it is thick enough to demand a spoon."
Michael Stern


Fried pies are popular throughout the South and the Varsity's peach version is especially good.
"Fried pies are popular throughout the South and the Varsity's peach version is especially good."
Cliff Strutz


The Varsity menu
"The Varsity menu"
Michael Stern


When we walked in to The Varsity, most of the ordering stations were open, so we approached the young lady who called out ''What'll you have, what'll you have'' the loudest.
"When we walked in to The Varsity, most of the ordering stations were open, so we approached the young lady who called out ''What'll you have, what'll you have'' the loudest."
Cliff Strutz


A rare sight:  the Varsity counter without a crowd.  This picture was taken in the morning, 30 seconds after opening.
"A rare sight: the Varsity counter without a crowd. This picture was taken in the morning, 30 seconds after opening."
Michael Stern


The drive-in area of the Varsity glows at night with neon and the giant red 'V' is easily visible from the nearby interstate.
"The drive-in area of the Varsity glows at night with neon and the giant red 'V' is easily visible from the nearby interstate."
Cliff Strutz


Exterior of Varsity, August 2007.
"Exterior of Varsity, August 2007."
Elaine Anderson


The world's largest drive-in.
"The world's largest drive-in."
Michael Stern



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