Soulfood: Comfort Dining At It’s Best

Find Famous Soul Food All Across Atlanta

Looking for honest-to-goodness comforting foods that taste like they were made in the kitchen of a Southern grandma? Then these soul food restaurants are for you. First coined in the 1960s, soul food on its surface is filling and tasty — who doesn’t want a plate filled with fried chicken, macaroni and cheese and corn bread? But there’s a lot of history behind the plate; creating soothing dishes using simple ingredients that were more available to lower class Black Southerners after slavery was abolished. That’s why it’s no surprise that a Southern city rooted in history like Atlanta is keeping these culinary traditions alive for all to taste.

The Beautiful Restaurant

Open all day in Southwest Atlanta, this cafeteria-style restaurant has been serving up all the fixin’s long before its shout out on Goodie Mob’s debut album Soul Food. And the reason for the line outside is no doubt because the food here always looks and tastes like it was prepared for a Sunday morning feast. Waiting warmly behind the cafeteria’s counter, fill that plate with beef ribs, ham hocks, neck bones, and meatloaf or baked or fried fish options. And save room for sides like turnip greens and cornbread dressing and banana pudding for dessert. 

Busy Bee Cafe

Home to some of the best Southern cooking in the region, Busy Bee Cafe has enjoyed no shortage of awards and acclaim over it’s 70+ years in Atlanta. The minute the doors open for lunch, you can bet the dining room is filled with hungry patrons excited to get their hands on good old-fashioned soul food. Dig into your helping of fried chicken, baked macaroni and cheese, and corn bread before finishing off with a sweet potato pie while gazing at bronze-framed photos of Civil Rights icons, celebrities and world leaders who have eaten at Busy Bee over the years.

Mary Mac’s Tea Room

The only tea room left in Atlanta, Mary Mac’s Tea Room has been serving authentic made-from-scratch Southern fare served with a side of true Southern hospitality since 1945. In the WWII era enterprising women, some widowed by the war, were opening restaurants all over Atlanta, using the name “tea room” to sound more lady-like and differentiate from men-owned restaurants. In 2011, Mary Mac’s was honored at the Georgia State Capitol with a Special Resolution officially naming it “Atlanta’s Dining Room.” The same year, Mary Mac’s was featured in an episode of The Original’s on the Cooking Channel hosted by legendary chef Emeril Lagasse.

Paschal’s Restaurant

This iconic restaurant’s rich history is inseparable from the Civil Rights era in Atlanta thanks to its willingness to post bond for — and provide free meals to — jailed protestors. Just like back then, Paschal’s still welcomes diners of all colors to enjoy bowls of gumbo, battered catfish fingers, fried green tomato slices and of course Paschal’s fried chicken original recipe, with a caramel-drizzled bread pudding served up in a martini glass.

Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours

Putting her own modern spin on soul food classics, Chef Deborah VanTrece has been making quite a name for herself in the kitchen of her Westside restaurant. The menu is filled with elevated soul food dishes with twists — for instance, instead of chicken and waffles, you can order a vanilla bean waffle served with cayenne butter and roasted onion-and-garlic syrup topped with a deep-fried lobster tail. The menu here is vast and strikes that difficult balance between casual and fine dining with ease.

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