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I think Laurel’s idea of having Food Fridays is awesome, because food is a huge part of travelling and discovering the local culture – in my humble opinion 😉 When I am on the road, I want to try local dishes and bring home ideas for new recipes that I can try out in my own kitchen. I always try to find local places that offer dishes I can’t find at home. Makes travelling that much more fun!

I just got back from a conference trip to Atlanta, and when I wasn’t busy staring at all the underwater life in the biggest aquarium in the world, I was plotting where to have my next meal. Obsessed? Maybe a little! But I did manage to have some really good food, so it was all worth it.

When I was getting ready to leave, I searched all the travel blogs I follow about Atlanta tips for sightseeing and restaurant recommendation. Thank you Globetrotter Girls for recommending Mary Mac’s Tea Room! It was so good! Ana recommended Buckhead Diner and I would have loved to try it, but it was a little further from downtown and without a car… Next time! Since I was in Atlanta for a conference, I ate a lot of hotel food as well. It was good though! One lunch they served a really great salad: apples, fennel, bell peppers, vinaigrette. I’ve never liked fennel, but in that combination it was great. A lady who was from the area told me that the more typical dish would be cucumber with bell pepper. Doesn’t sound bad either.

Southern Food vs. Soul Food

I also searched Google for general tips on what dishes Atlanta is famous for. The result? Southern and soul food. What’s the difference? I tried to find out online, but I am still not sure. Many people say that soul food is a category of Southern food: All soul food is Southern food, but not all Southern food is soul food. From what I can tell, it sounds like soul food has the reputation of being cheaper, spicier, greasier, and more home-cooked-style than Southern food. I also read that some people say the distinction is that soul food originated in the African-American community. I’m still not sure which is what because both soul food and Southern food in Atlanta seem to include the same dishes: black-eyed peas, collard and turnip greens, corn bread, fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, cheese grits, mac and cheese, peach cobbler, and ribs. The drink of choice is the same as well: (very, very) sweet tea. Based on some more research online I found that Mary Mac’s Tea Room (www.marymacs.com) is known for serving the best Southern food in Atlanta and Gladys and Rons Chicken & Waffles (www.gladysandron.net) is known for serving the best soul food in Atlanta. Of course I had to go to both 🙂

Mary Mac’s Tea Room – Southern Food in Atlanta

This is the place I had my very first fried green tomatoes ever. And I liked them! Even though to me they tasted more like pickles than tomatoes. 😉 Our waiter informed us that as first timers my friend and I would get a free pot likker with cracklin’ bread. I had a hard time understanding our waiter, so I didn’t get the description of what that was supposed to be. When the food arrived, I realized it was a broth with some greens and cornbread on the side. We were told we had to put the corn bread in there. I have a suspicion that we weren’t supposed to dunk the whole thing in like I did as you can see in the pic below. Tasted ok. I preferred the pork chops, fried green tomatoes, and apple sauce I ordered as a main dish. Yummy! The peach cobbler looked just as messy as all cobblers look, but tasted delicious. And, the sweet tea is called sweet for a reason – a little too sugary for me. One little oddity at Mary Mac’s? You get a little notepad and write down your order yourself.

Good Food in Atlanta: Mary Mac's Tea Room

Good Food in Atlanta: Mary Mac's Tea Room

Good Food in Atlanta: Mary Mac's Tea Room

Good Food in Atlanta: Mary Mac's Tea Room

Good Food in Atlanta: Mary Mac's Tea Room

Gladys and Rons Chicken and Waffles – Soul Food in Atlanta

More delicious fried green tomatoes! And chicken and waffles – what a combination. But it works! I ordered cheese grits along with a fried chicken breast and a fried chicken wing and of course a waffle. The breast was a little dry, but the wing was amazingly good. The waffle was kind of like a dessert (and tasted great), but I still couldn’t resist ordering an actual dessert: sweet potato cheesecake. OMG! That’s something I want to try to make at home. Sounds like a weird combination, but tastes so good!

Good Food in Atlanta: Gladys and Rons Chicken and Waffles

Good Food in Atlanta: Gladys and Rons Chicken and Waffles

Good Food in Atlanta: Gladys and Rons Chicken and Waffles

Good Food in Atlanta: Gladys and Rons Chicken and Waffles

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  • I’m in Savannah. There is some pretty good food down here. I love corn bread when done right and usually get it when we’re somewhere that serves it.
    amandapoverseas recently posted..Our Stuff in Boxes

    • Sabrina says:

      I liked the corn bread too. Maybe I should try to make that at home too one day. I haven’t had that much look with trying to bake bread though, so I’m intimidated by it. So, which foods is Savannah famous for? Similar to Atlanta?

  • There are a couple packaged ones that aren’t too bad to make at home, but they tend to be hit or miss. Usually they have you heat up the pan first and pour the mix into it and then bake. I think it’s pretty much the same kind but it depends on where you go. My favorite corn bread so far was at The Pirate House but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are southerners who would recommend somewhere else. Both times I was there I got a grilled chicken sandwich with caramelized onions and potato salad and had about three of their cornbread muffins.
    amandapoverseas recently posted..Our Stuff in Boxes

    • Sabrina says:

      Hmmm, I usually try to do tyings from scratch, but maybe I have to make an exception with bread. I just don’t have the touch!

  • You were on a food mission and your succeeded! Fun to learn more about southern food and soul food and see your great pics. I’m still a little skeptical about chicken and waffles, however.
    Cathy Sweeney recently posted..Four Artists Four Photos

    • Sabrina says:

      Glad you liked it 🙂 I was skeptical about the chicken and waffles too – our table was split 3:1 on the issue. We all thought it was weird, but three of us would eat it again. You should give it a try 😉

  • Leigh says:

    I’m getting hungry reading this blog & looking at the photos.
    I’ll be heading to Savannah in the spring and look forward to real Southern cooking – especially cornbread – one of my favs.
    Leigh recently posted..Discovering Calgary: Designer Doughnuts at Jelly

    • Sabrina says:

      I was getting hungry myself writing it 🙂 Just thinking about that sweet potato cheesecake makes my mouth water! I like cornbread, but I think my favorite on this trip (besides the cheesecake) was the whole chicken & waffles thing. Oh, and the fried green tomatoes 🙂

  • catherine says:

    i´m from atlanta so this really makes me miss all of our great southern food!
    catherine recently posted..Day 25: Multiple Exposure. (Valparaíso, Me, and San Diego)

    • Sabrina says:

      You’re from Atlanta? So, did I get it right with the soul vs Southern food? It would be great to get your insight! And also… did I miss any really good dishes or restaurants? There could always be a next time 😉 I understand why you miss the Southern food. They really know what they’re doing in the kitchen down here!

  • It looks to me like you found yourself a lot of soul food there! 🙂 It all looks so good and wholesome and comforting. We always hunt out as much local food as we can when we go to a new place.
    Turkey’s For Life recently posted..Istanbul: Return to Aya Sofya

    • Sabrina says:

      Hunting down local food is so much fun 🙂 If I’ll ever finally make it to Turkey, I’ll ask for a bunch if recommendations from you!

  • Laurel says:

    I’ve heard of fried green tomatoes before, but didn’t realize that you actually ate them! Haven’t heard of sweet potato cheesecake either…sounds interesting, but I’ll take your word for it that it was god 🙂
    Laurel recently posted..Food Friday: Where’s the Bread?

    • Sabrina says:

      Have you never seen the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes”? That’s where I first of them. and the sweet potato cheesecake… it sounds so weird, but it’s really delicious. I am kind of scared though that if I try it at home, it’ll be more weird than delicious.

  • Ana says:

    I don’t know the difference between soul and southern food either. All I know is that both include a huge amount of fried stuff! And extremely sweet iced tea (shudder). That sweet potato cake looks tempting 🙂
    Ana recently posted..5 fun facts about Texas

    • Sabrina says:

      I’m with you on the sweet tea – way too sweet for my taste. About the sweet potato cake… in retrospect I started thinking that I had heard about pumpkin cheese cakes before – guess sweet potato isn’t such a stretch. Still planning on making one 😉

  • So glad you made it to Mary Mac’s Tea Room! The Fried Green Tomatoes were one of our favorite Southern foods, along with fried pickles 🙂 We tried so many (fried) foods down in the South that we both gained about 5 Pounds in our short time there! But how can you resist peach cobbler… or a fried moon pie 😉
    Dani | Globetrottergirls recently posted..Why we didn’t like Niagara Falls (but still recommend you go!)

    • Sabrina says:

      Fried moon pie? Sounds deliciously unhealthy. How did I miss that? And what is it? 🙂 Between the peach cobbler and the sweet potato cheesecake, my vote goes to the sweet potato cheesecake. So delicious!

  • Andrew says:

    I love chicken and waffles. There is something great about the sweet waffle and the crispy greasy chicken. I have made waffles and chicken schnitzel here a couple of times. When I was still in NC; frozen waffles and chicken nuggets was a common dinner.

    Southern food is also quite regional. Things you find in Georgia may not be as typical in North Carolina. The hallmark though is this belief that everything is better fried.
    Andrew recently posted..Typically German, yet little known.

    • Sabrina says:

      True! Everything is supposedly fried 🙂 … and a lot of it actually is. I tried both the chicken breast and wings with the waffles and while I usually prefer the breast, with the waffles the wing was better – more of the fried crispy goodness 🙂

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