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!
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
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).
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.
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.
585 Franklin Road SE, Marietta, GA 30067
Tel: (770) 419-9849
+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.
Id recommend Agnes and Muriels, they have some of the best fried chicken i've had. Its at the corner of Monroe and Piedmont.