Tasting Atlanta’s Soul

In my 20-plus years of living in Atlanta, I have lamented the
passing of several of its finest Southern meat-and-three institutions: 
Deacon Burton’s, Son’s Place, Carver’s Kitchen…Somehow, though, I kept overlooking the Busy Bee Cafe, which has been
dishing up classic soul food in the historic West End district since 1947.  So I was very happy when my friend Jim proposed that we meet there for lunch.  We both loved it!

fried chicken (above, left) was crispy and juicy (served with carrot souffle and fried okra); the fried green tomatoes, black eyed peas, collard greens, and the southern “veggie” mac & cheese were fresh and well
seasoned (above) — with smoked turkey rather than the more artery-clogging

The desserts (homemade nanner puddin and red velvet cake above) were appropriately decadent, and the iced
tea (above) was brewed just right. Tasted just like a church picnic potluck in the South!

But mainly we liked the old-school Atlanta vibe: The walls lined with
photos of visiting celebrities (from the sports, entertainment, and political worlds), the counter with the swivel stools, the
friendly waitresses, the fun chatter around us while business buzzes nonstop during lunchtime.

Two nice ladies at
the table next to us struck up a conversation with us about Memphis when
they overheard me discussing my recent experience riding the Megabus to
and from there while I was teaching at Ole Miss. As it turned out, one
of them happened to have a daughter who lived there and had ridden
Megabus herself. We compared our travel experiences and also rattled off
our favorite dining haunts both there and in Atlanta.
…How often does that happen in a McDonald’s?

I left overstuffed but feeling happy to be in Atlanta and wanting to
come back to explore the West End of town further…allowing
ample time for lunch, of course!
Next time, maybe I’ll get more
adventurous and order the neck bones, the oxtails, or one
of the other slow-cooked old-time offerings that are rapidly becoming
relics at any table. (They have chitlins, too, but that is where I draw
the line.)

Until next time…

Eat, drink, and enjoy the journey,


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