Anyone who loves all-American food and has spent any time in Atlanta knows about the Varsity Drive-In … and most people have their own personal stories about good meals and good times they’ve had there. These extravagant tales tend to relate to the fact that The Varsity is huge and it is fast, the thrills commencing when you step up to the counter and an order-taker accosts you with the command, “What’ll ya’ have?” A few facts from the restaurant press book: two miles of hot dogs, three hundred gallons of chili, and five thousand fried pies are served every day to approximately 10,000 customers, twice that number when Georgia Tech plays at home. Senator Phil Gramm recalled that when he was at college in Atlanta, the Journal-Constitution had a party for its paper boys. The organizer stepped up and ordered six thousand steaks, to go. Veteran counter man Erby Walker, without missing a beat, shot back, “Watcha drinkin’?”
Hot dogs are the house specialty – modest-size tube steaks served in steamy-soft buns, begging to be dolled up with condiments. The prime adornment is chili, a finely pulverized brew that perfectly complements either dog or burger. Chili dogs are customarily served with a line of mustard across their tops, and they are known among the staff as Yankee dogs, for their yellow streak. Dogs are customarily accompanied by cardboard boats full of crusty onion rings and/or excellent French fries.
To drink with this good grub, there’s a full menu of reliable southern favorites: ice cold buttermilk, gigantic cups full of Coke, PCs, and FOs. PC is Varsity lingo for chocolate milk (“plain chocolate”) as opposed to a chocolate milk shake (with ice cream). FO means frosted orange, which is the Varsity version of a California smoothie, reminiscent of Creamsicle-in-a-cup. With or without chili dogs, frosted oranges are one heck of a way to keep cool.
There is a second, equally wonderful Varsity in Athens, Georgia at 1000 Broad St., phone number: 706-548-6325; and there is another “Varsity Jr.” in Atlanta, plus two locations in Cobb and Gwinnett Counties (suburbs of Atlanta).