MARY MAC’S TEA ROOM

I will talk more about what I saw in Georgia later, but I did want to talk about the place Brian and Carolyn took me to lunch yesterday!

Talk about real southern cooking!  The food was beyond delicious.

Right after World War II, many women who had lost their husbands in the war – needed to earn money to live. One of the things they knew how to do well was cook, so they opened restaurants, but called them tea rooms to make what they were doing more “acceptable.”

One of those women was Mary McKinsey who opened Mary Mac’s Tea Room in downtown Atlanta – right down the street from the Bank of America Tower (which is actually the 36th tallest building in the world). Mary Mac’s tea room was one of 16 tea rooms opened at the time – but the only one still open  65 years later.

Mary Mac’s IS the place to go for real southern cooking in Atlanta, and the food is still prepared the way it was back in the 40s. As they say themselves: “Every morning we shuck bushels of corn, handwash our carefully-selected greens and snap fresh green beans by hand.” Considering they often serve 1,000 guests a day, that’s a lot of shucking, handwashing and snapping.

Outside,  the restaurant is very unpretentious – but inside it is well-decorated – with hundreds of pictures on the walls of people who have eaten there.  Everyone from Dick Van Patten, Taylor Hicks, President Carter, Hilary Clinton, JoAnne Worley, Jesse Ventura, Lester Maddox … etc.  Paula Deen is a big fan.

Anyhow, we sat down and Cory, our friendly server came over and asked if this was our first time at the restaurant. Well, for me, of course, that was true, so the next thing you know, we all get a dish of pot likker with a cracklin corn muffin – given to first-time guests and the people who bring them. Pot likker is the juice leftover from cooking greens – such as collard and mustard greens. Cracklins are pieces of fried pork fat.  I know it might not sound that appetizing – but I loved it!  This would be such a great comfort food on a cold, snowy day.

For our entree – we ordered the special where you got a little of everything – or maybe I should say a lot of everything. (Warning – you cannot doggie-bag the leftovers when you order the meal for three – which seems like a waste of food, but so be it.)

We had:

Chicken and dumplings – good.

Fried chicken – good.

Meatloaf – I like meatloaf, but this wasn’t my favorite.

Mac and cheese – good – they claim it’s the world’s best.

Fried green tomatoes with horseradish sauce – loved those tomatoes!

Sweet potato souffle

This was my favorite and I don’t even like sweet potatoes!  Unbelievably tasty.

For dessert – peach cobbler – good.

Cory offered to take our picture, so we let him.

Then I asked if I could take his picture and put it on my blog and he said,

“Sure!”

So here he is – Cory, the friendly server in front of just one of the countless walls filled with pictures of famous people.

If you ever go to Atlanta, I would highly recommend Mary Mac’s for a true southern cooking experience.

I’m just wondering why they didn’t ask for OUR picture for wall 🙂

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