There’s nothing that says “Southern” like cornbread, greens, and fried chicken. So, when you’re in Atlanta, pop into this lesser-known historic gem for a true Southern treat. The restaurant resides in Atlanta’s historic district, where it’s been since 1945 when Mary MacKenzie first opened the restaurant.
As an enterprising woman looking for a way to make a living, MacKenzie hit the goldmine post World War II with her tea room. Interestingly, the name tea room was given to such establishments at the time to elevate the endeavor of ambitious women like MacKenzie. The restaurant is known for the cooking traditions started by MacKenzie and carried on by Margaret Lupo, who took over ownership in 1962. The eatery has helped set the standard for Southern cooking in the city and was officially named Atlanta’s Dining Room by the Georgia House of Representatives in 2011.
At Mary Mac's, you’ll find fresh green beans, seafood, cornbread, desserts, other fresh breads, fried chicken made with buttermilk, country-fried steak, chicken pan pie with giblet gravy, seasonal veggies, black-eyed peas, fried green tomatoes, mac and cheese, ribs, fried okra, whipped potatoes, yeast rolls and sweet potato souffle—all among the popular choices. In other words, if you add their peach cobbler and banana pudding into the mix, Mary Mac’s gives you the full Southern fare in a single menu.
Here's an interesting tidbit about this locally known restaurant: in an episode of the 90s TV sitcom Designing Women, a character once suggested a picture of the “Blue-haired ladies that play Bridge over at Mary Mac’s Tea Room.”
Cover image by emilee rader is licensed under (CC BY-SA 2.0).