We lifted a fried chicken breast off the plate and bit into it. As the crust crunched, juices spurted everywhere. It had been a while since we had dined at Mary Mac’s, and we had forgotten just how moist the chicken is. Full-flavored, inside and out, dark meat or white, this is one of the best fried chickens in the South.
Mary Mac’s Tea Room inspires superlatives. An old-fashioned urban lunch room in the heart of Atlanta, it offers a broad menu of dishes that exemplify Dixie cooking at its best. You can start your meal with a bowl of pot likker – that’s heaps of soft turnip greens wallowing in their flavorful cooking liquid – sided by a cornbread muffin. Entrees include such classics as baked chicken with cornbread dressing, pork barbecue with Brunswick stew, and country-fried steak with gravy.
The list of side dishes is a joy unto itself; many customers come to eat a four-vegetable plate with no meat at all. Stand-outs include a sweet potato souffle that is spiced Christmas-sweet, macaroni and cheese in which the noodles are suspended in an eggy cheese souffle, fried green tomatoes, hoppin’ John, and crisp-fried okra.
An airy place with soothing pastel yellow walls and tables covered with white oilcloth, Mary Mac’s offers old-style tea room service, which is great fun. When you sit down, you are given an order pad and menus. Once you’ve made your decisions, you write your own order and hand it to your waiter or waitress who, in the meanwhile, has brought you an immense tankard of what the menu lists as the table wine of the South – sweet ice tea.