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Posted by Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle on Friday, May 24, 2013 1:18 AM

How have we gone this long in our decades of Roadfooding without a visit to Atlanta? We finally took our first ATL trip and made a beeline for The Varsity (see the review). Oddly, it was late dinnertime on a Thursday and the huge place was nearly empty. We had our choice of order-takers and went with the one with the most enthusiastic "What'll ya have?". We ordered a pair of slaw dogs, a chili dog, a heavy weight all the way (which came sideways), strings, ring one, and two F.O.s. And a fried peach pie. Translation on next page.

The dogs are like warm tubes of cheap bologna, and they cry out for toppings. With either slaw or chili and mustard, Bruce thought they were ambrosial; Sue was glad to have tried them but won't be back (unless dragged by her husband). The Southern taste for slaw on a dog makes sense with these blubbery franks; the combo works well. The salty, fine-grained chili is balanced and tempered by the dog and (top-loading!) bun.
In the heavy weight configuration, the dog gets an extra dose of chili, and all the way means with chopped raw onions, which they supplied on the side in a twisted paper packet (sideways). As with most chili dogs, we strongly recommend the raw onions.

Strings are fries, ring one means an order of onion rings, and you gotta hand it to them, they are both superior to from-the-freezer fast-food standards. F.O. is short for frosted orange, a slushy orange shake, the ideal beverage for the salty food.


Oh, my, I figured y'all MUST have been to the Varsity!! Good stuff, eh?
Posted by kevincad on Friday, May 24, 2013 9:24 AM

I went to the Varsity for the first time last summer - it was terrible. I has chilidogs which were cold on stale rolls and I also had dried out onion rings. Sadly, Sonic has better food, and I am not a big Sonic fan, I ws VERY disappointed with the Varsity after all I had heard about it.
Posted by Niagara on Friday, May 24, 2013 10:46 AM

Glad you got to The Varsity. Although the food isn't great, it is a place any serious Roadfooder needs to visit at least once. I have a trip coming up to Atlanta in the Fall, so hopefully you found some new places to review.
Posted by buffetbuster on Friday, May 24, 2013 10:53 AM

I liked the food a lot, but I also enjoy highway rest stop hot dogs so... We were only there a few days. Got a couple of reviews coming.
Posted by Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle on Friday, May 24, 2013 11:01 AM

Ordinary food, but again, I'm glad I went just at least once with Buffetbuster.
Posted by wanderingjew on Friday, May 24, 2013 5:27 PM

Have eaten at the Varsity (North Ave., Athens and the now-closed downtown Athens) probably 300 times throughout my life, have never had a meal that wasn't great. Pimento cheese chili dogs FTW!!!
Posted by wabbitslayer on Saturday, May 25, 2013 8:47 AM

I think as with so many such places, if you grew up loving it, you love it. It is more about tradition than quality of food. I grew up eating at The Varsity, and I love, and miss it. To me it's about post game meals with the football team, and childhood trips to Atlanta to see Santa and ride The Pink Pig at Rich's. It's about late night sobering after evenings with drinking buddies and remembering that my Great-GrandMother, as she was pushing her later 90s and had mostly stopped eating, could still find an apatite for Varsity fried peach pie. Give me chili steaks, rings and a large FO and I am happy
Posted by Rob McCullough on Sunday, May 26, 2013 1:26 PM

I was down in Atlanta on business and stopped here once. And will never return. I had better food in high school. If you're in Atlanta and want REAL GOOD FOOD, go to the Busy Bee Cafe and Mary Mac's Tea Room for real authentic soul food. It was phenomenal. Skip the Varsity. It's worth going just for the experience of being there, not for eating the food.
Posted by iacoucci on Sunday, Jun 2, 2013 10:01 PM

I think this phenomenon occur with nore than a few Roadfood restaurants: Beacon Drive-In in Spartanburg, SC, Joe Rogers Chili in Springfield, IL, Voss Bar B Q in Yorkville, NY, Louis Lunch in New Haven, CT and Philippe's the Original in Los Angeles, CA come to mind. All places that have been around for many years and have legions of fans and detractors. Like Rob McCullough said, If you grew up on it, you love it. I grew up on Voss and it's part of me and always will be but I think each one of these places is worth trying at least once in your life.
Posted by billyboy on Sunday, Jun 9, 2013 4:28 AM

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