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Atlanta for one day--got lunch, what about dinner?

We will be spending Saturday, December 23 in Atlanta, overnighting on our roadtrip to Hilton Head Island from Dallas. We plan to dine at Mary Mac's for lunch, and I was originally planning on Fat Matt's Rib Shack for dinner (hubby's name is Matt, we LUV ribs--come from a BBQ restaurant family in Dallas), but I've heard icky stuff about the food, and the music won't be enough to lure us. Any other suggestions for a casual, must-do, Atlanta dinner? We are staying near the Cumberland/Galleria area, but have a car and don't mind driving for good food!

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  1. Smart to stay away from Fat Matt's. If you want a classical southern food experience in Atlanta, the food at the Colonnade is quite good. It's where the locals go, and the ambiance is anthropologically fascinating. Avoid the touristy Mary Mac's, which has been on a downhill slide for years.

    For suggestions on what to order, read comments by Ted and Steve Drucker in this recent thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/332243

    4 Replies
    1. re: pastramiking

      I'm going to have to register strong disagreement here with pastramiking, as I've been largely underwhelmed with The Colonnade over the years, and my most recent visit a couple of weeks was downright icky: everything too salty (and I like my food salty), chicken livers dessicated, and "corn pudding" simply wasn't, being just a starchier version of creamed corn rather than the egg custard-based item that it's supposed to be.

      Mary Mac's isn't perfect, but I'm almost always happy with my meal as a whole. And it's every bit as interesting as The Colonnade from an anthropological point of view (and still local rather than tourist-dominated).

      1. re: Therese

        Therese, I agree that the cast of characters at Mary Mac's is intriguing, but it doesn't compare to the bluehairs and queens at the Colonnade.

        Would I go to either place out of my own free will? Certainly not. I always end up at these places with out-of-town guests (the usual round of New York Jews and San Francisco Chinese) who were craving something Southern.

        In the past three months, We've had an indifferent lunch at Mary Mac's, and a pretty good dinner at the Colonnade.

        I'd be the first to admit that the Colonnade is far from perfection. Their cash-only policy is an inconvenience. And you've got to order strategically from their encyclopedic menu.

        Unlike Mary Mac's, their fried chicken was hot, crispy, juicy, and non-greasy. My wife loves their grilled trout. Their sides of mac-n-cheese and collards were superior to Mary Mac's, as were the bottomless baskets of yeast rolls and cornbread. Mighty fine pies, too.

        1. re: pastramiking

          Wow, thanks for all the responses. So, if you all were to pick two places to dine, lunch and dinner, while you were out shopping for Christmas gifts and wanted a nice (BUT CASUAL WITH RELATIVE LOCAL FLARE), where would you go?

          1. re: twobluecats

            Twobluecats, were I you I'd actually choose the following:

            Watershed for lunch and Pura Vida for dinner. Both are casual, both with "relative local flare" but for different reasons, and both have great food.

    2. I'll second the Fat Matt's shrug... It's ok and acceptable for a meal if you're in the area, but it's nothing to travel for. You're in a pretty busy area with lots of restaurants popping up all over the place. Unfortunately, most of them are chains. I'm not hugely familiar with the area as it's growing so fast, but there is a fairly new Schezuan restaurant up the road a bit - not far from where you're staying - called Tasty China. All you need to know is here in this previous CH post: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/33461...

      Google map the address and it'll give you accurate directions from your hotel.

      Tasty China
      585 Franklin Road SE, Marietta, GA 30067
      Tel: (770) 419-9849

      1 Reply
      1. re: HaagenDazs

        +1 re the Colonnade. If you go, suggest the fried chicken or prime rib, baked potato, turnip greens or collard greens, wedge of iceberg lettuce w/ bleu cheese dressing. These are winners. Much of the menu is in fact, not memorable. In-house baked pies are usually good. Yeast rolls always vg. Drinks are very substantial. Customers are a mix--many gays, seniors and young families. We often bring visitors of every stripe here--and its always a hit. CASH ONLY!

        Tasty China is a great suggestion. A very easy and short drive from your hotel either via local roads or after rush hour by hwy. Here's a link to a recent review to help you decide if it might be great for you.

        http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/gy...

      2. For lunch, I would suggest Horseradish Grill (Chastain Park). The food is "southern" theme and very good. It is a bit more dressy in the evening.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Markat

          I've been to Horseradish Grill once years ago. I really enjoyed it. The food was wonderful and the service was exceptional.

        2. Id recommend Agnes and Muriels, they have some of the best fried chicken i've had. Its at the corner of Monroe and Piedmont.

          1. I agree with Pastrami King and Steve Drucker. The Colannade and Tasty China are good choices.
            Photos of Tasty China: http://flickr.com/photos/blissfulglut...

            Photos of the fried bird at the Colonnade:http://flickr.com/photos/blissfulglut...

            1. Two of us northerners (from Boston) came down to Atlanta for an exam (long story), and had an evening to spend. We followed our noses from this thread and went to the Colonnade, after showing up at the High Museum at a half hour before closing time. Without art to see, we stumbled into the super chi-chi modernist wine bar in front of the restaurant across from the museum's entrance (1018); my fellow hound had some wine and I had a nice vodka tonic. We also had some lovely prosciutto because we were hungry, which was topped with some kind of unnecessary marmalade or fruit whatsit that marked it as more than a plate of prosciutto. Then we got a cab over to the Colonnade, where a fried chicken dinner with two sides cost just a smidgen less than the plate of three slices of prosciutto and basket of bread that we got at 1018.

              We arrived early to find that the Early Bird Special was clearly in full flower with old folks throughout the place chowing down on 10 dollar chicken tenders, chicken fried chicken, and other early bird options. We splurged and went to the regular menu to put that extra dollar down for the fried chicken. Crispy and light on the outside (with the requisite satisfying level of oil), very moist on the inside. Sweet potato fries were also standouts--basically a demonstration of the fact that sweet potatoes appear to be more porous to oil than regular potatoes. Collard greens were just fine.

              Their beer menu is actually kind of tony and includes Guinness and other non-Southern beers.

              All in all, a study in Atlanta contrasts, from a super-futuristic modern wine bar where we sat next to what looked like an architecture firm's after-work get together (total cost of the designer eyewear in the place probably approximated that of a new pickup truck), to a great meal of fried chicken in a restaurant next to a porn shop, where a child was leading his older female relatives in saying grace before their meal. Thanks for the tips on Colonnade, hounds!

              1. "...a super-futuristic modern wine bar where we sat next to what looked like an architecture firm's after-work get together (total cost of the designer eyewear in the place probably approximated that of a new pickup truck), to a great meal of fried chicken in a restaurant next to a porn shop, where a child was leading his older female relatives in saying grace before their meal."

                Congrats. You succeeded in seeing through the hype, and simultaneously experiencing, much of what is Atlanta. Yes, there's more, but you have to always believe that you'll come back.