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Put Some South in Your Mouth!

Mary Mac's Tea Room: 65 Years of Recipes from Atlanta's Favorite Dining Room

John Ferrell

People in this part of the country know where to look for different types of food:

For seafood, you go (or went, anyway) to New Orleans. (Also for a general range of incredibly good and spicy dishes.)

For barbecue, you go to Birmingham (The Golden Rule and/or Dreamland), Memphis or Chapel Hill.

For just flat out full-tilt-boogie Southern cooking done right, there's only been one place for years - Mary Mac's Tea Room in Atlanta.

I must confess, i haven't eaten there in ten years or so, but if it had seriously changed for the worse, i'd have heard. Everyone in Atlanta would have heard.

Mary Margaret Lupo founded the place in 1945, and at the time there were sixteen tea rooms of the same type in Atlanta - today there's only one. You walk in, sit down, read the menu that's printed fresh every day as what's available changes, and you write your own order on a little order ticket and hand it to your server.

The standard meal has always been a fixed-price meat and two or three sides plate - three or four meats to choose from and several different sides. You can order a la carte, but it's not recommended if the rest of your group goes for the package deal, because it takes longer.

And, if you've never been there before - some advice - arrive early.

You will find letters and testimonials from all over the world on the walls - including one from the Dalai Lama. Jimmy Carter and James Brown are other habitues you might have heard of.

Back in 1983, they published a cookbook with several of their most popular recipes.

Now, the current owner (he's owned the place since 1994) has published a new cookbook.

You need it.

Buy it.