A Journey Through Atlanta’s Culinary Classics 

Atlanta, known for its vibrant food scene, boasts a variety of iconic restaurants that have become staples in the city. As an Atlanta native, my taste for good, authentic food will always be rooted in the restaurants that I have enjoyed growing up. There are so many hidden gems and restaurants that mean so much to the city starting from the early 1940’s til now. So, it’s no surprise that, when you visit Atlanta, you visit these classic Atlanta gems that many have often forgotten about. Let me take you on a culinary journey through the heart of Atlanta, where the flavors are as rich as the history. This city, my sweet peach, tells a story in every bite. So, grab your fork and let’s get into it. 

Breakfast at Barneys

Indulge in pancakes topped with gold flakes. (Photo Courtesy of Aubree Dumas)

The first stop is Breakfast at Barney’s, a black-owned breakfast and brunch restaurant that has been around for a short amount of time, and now has become an Atlanta staple and hot spot for visitors. You have to indulge in their signature thick and fluffy 24 Karat gold pancakes, which taste as good as they look. The line may be long, but trust me, it’s worth the wait. 


Southern comfort served on a plate. (Photo Courtesy of Paschal’s)

Next we have Paschal’s: Oh, Paschal’s is where the heart and history of Atlanta’s soul food scene beats. Since 1947, it’s been more than a restaurant; it’s been a meeting ground for minds that changed the world. Imagine Martin Luther King Jr. himself, plotting the course of history over collard greens and cornbread. Paschal’s is a place where every forkful is a taste of legacy and unity. 

JR Cricket’s

Wings that always satisfy. (Photo Courtesy of J.R. Crickets)

Next stop is JR Crickets: Now, let’s talk about the phoenix of Midtown, JR Crickets. In 1982, this place rose up as a haven for wing lovers. Those wings? Legendary. But it’s not just about the food, it’s about the community. It’s where civil rights leaders found comfort and courage over plates piled high with hope and wings.  

American Deli

Next is American Deli: Nestled in the beating heart of Atlanta, American Deli is a whisper of resilience. Those hot wings with lemon pepper sprinkles? With ranch and a peach drank? They’re not just food, they’re a movement. Next is Mary Mac’s Tea Room: Step into Mary Mac’s, and you’re stepping into a sepia-toned dream. Founded in 1945 by Lucy Jackson, it’s where Atlanta’s history is served up with a side of wisdom. The laughter of MLK still lingers here, mingling with the aromas of tomato pie and award-winning fried chicken. It’s not just a meal; it’s a sip of the South, a taste of Atlanta’s Heartbeat.

Busy Bee Café

Busy Bee makes fried chicken you can’t put down. (Photo Courtesy of Busy Bee Cafe)

Final stop is Busy Bee Café: Amidst the shadows of segregation, Busy Bee Café shined a beacon of hope. It’s where civil rights icons fueled their dreams with smothered fried pork chops and okra. Every plate carries the whispers of ancestors, making Busy Bee Café not just a restaurant, but a living archive of flavor and fortitude. The renowned Busy Bee Cafe in Atlanta has been honored with the prestigious Bib Gourmand in the 2023 MICHELIN Guide. This accolade is a testament to the cafe’s commitment to offering good quality, value cooking. 

And there you have it, this is a story woven with the threads of Atlanta’s culinary heritage and culture. Each of these places isn’t just a spot on the map; they’re chapters in the city’s saga, where every meal is a tribute to the past and a toast to the future.

Discover More

Get to know Atlanta, and discover the best things to do around the city.