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Mary Mac's Tea Room

224 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE, Atlanta, GA - (404) 876-1800
Posted By Michael Stern on 6/27/2003 4:26:00 AM
We lifted a fried chicken breast off the plate and bit into it. As the crust crunched, juices spurted everywhere. It had been a while since we had dined at Mary Mac’s, and we had forgotten just how moist the chicken is. Full-flavored, inside and out, dark meat or white, this just might be the best fried chicken in the South.

Mary Mac’s Tea Room inspires superlatives. An old-fashioned urban lunch room in the heart of Atlanta, it offers a broad menu of dishes that exemplify Dixie cooking at its best. You can start your meal with a bowl of pot likker – that’s heaps of soft turnip greens wallowing in their flavorful cooking liquid – sided by a cornbread muffin. Entrees include such classics as baked chicken with cornbread dressing, pork barbecue with Brunswick stew, and country-fried steak with gravy.

The list of side dishes is a joy unto itself; many customers come to eat a four-vegetable plate with no meat at all. Stand-outs include a sweet potato souffle that is spiced Christmas-sweet, macaroni and cheese in which the noodles are suspended in an eggy cheese souffle, fried green tomatoes, hoppin’ John, and crisp-fried okra.

An airy place with soothing pastel yellow walls and tables covered with white oilcloth, Mary Mac’s offers old-style tea room service, which is great fun. When you sit down, you are given an order pad and menus. Once you’ve made your decisions, you write your own order and hand it to your waiter or waitress who, in the meanwhile, has brought you an immense tankard of what the menu lists as the table wine of the South – sweet ice tea.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Pot Likker
Cornbread Dressing with Gravy
Tomato Pie
Broccoli Souffle
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

This spuce-green brew, known as pot likker for its intoxicating flavor, is an intense study in southern-style greens.  We like to crumble the corn muffin onto the top of the bowl.
"This spuce-green brew, known as pot likker for its intoxicating flavor, is an intense study in southern-style greens. We like to crumble the corn muffin onto the top of the bowl."
Michael Stern





Tomato pie, Dixie tea room style: fruity, buttery, cheese-enriched, and breadcrumb-crowned luxury in a bowl.
"Tomato pie, Dixie tea room style: fruity, buttery, cheese-enriched, and breadcrumb-crowned luxury in a bowl."
Michael Stern


Clockwise, from left:  fried chicken, macaroni & cheese, broccoli casserole, fried green tomatoes
"Clockwise, from left: fried chicken, macaroni & cheese, broccoli casserole, fried green tomatoes"
Michael Stern


Here is one go-green program I easily can get with. This pot likker has a powerfully verdant flavor and fairly resonates with the presence of salty pork that basked in the liquid for so long as it cooked.
"Here is one go-green program I easily can get with. This pot likker has a powerfully verdant flavor and fairly resonates with the presence of salty pork that basked in the liquid for so long as it cooked."
Michael Stern


Here is a close view of the tomato pie. Those tomatoes are intense; the crumbs couldn't be richer.
"Here is a close view of the tomato pie. Those tomatoes are intense; the crumbs couldn't be richer."
Michael Stern


Broccoli casseroles can be cloddish. Not the broccoli souffle at Mary Mac's, which delivers an elegant crunch via those crumbs on top, while sacrificing none of the dish's inherent cheesy richness.
"Broccoli casseroles can be cloddish. Not the broccoli souffle at Mary Mac's, which delivers an elegant crunch via those crumbs on top, while sacrificing none of the dish's inherent cheesy richness."
Michael Stern


Dressing, stuffing, fillin': call it what you will, the transformation of bread into a supersavory dish is always welcome. Mary Mac's cornbread dressing is redolent of sweet onions and is surprisingly lightweight, even under its mantle of good gravy.
"Dressing, stuffing, fillin': call it what you will, the transformation of bread into a supersavory dish is always welcome. Mary Mac's cornbread dressing is redolent of sweet onions and is surprisingly lightweight, even under its mantle of good gravy."
Michael Stern


I love Mary Mac's do-it-yourself order system ... although by the time I gave my order to the waitress, I had erased, scratched out, and smudged nearly every line.
"I love Mary Mac's do-it-yourself order system ... although by the time I gave my order to the waitress, I had erased, scratched out, and smudged nearly every line."
Michael Stern


Mary Mac's has been a favorite lunch place in Atlanta since 1945.
"Mary Mac's has been a favorite lunch place in Atlanta since 1945."
Michael Stern


How many classic urban tea rooms can you name that still serve the dishes that made them famous?
"How many classic urban tea rooms can you name that still serve the dishes that made them famous?"
Michael Stern


Mary Mac's has been on the Roadfood honor roll since we first hit the road in the early 1970s.
"Mary Mac's has been on the Roadfood honor roll since we first hit the road in the early 1970s."
Michael Stern


All worthy meat-and-three restaurants offer macaroni & cheese.  This is one of the best, a virtual cheese custard full of tender noodle nuggets.
"All worthy meat-and-three restaurants offer macaroni & cheese. This is one of the best, a virtual cheese custard full of tender noodle nuggets."
Michael Stern



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