This past weekend saw me in Atlanta for my annual Dragon*Con experience – although this may have been my last year for a while, as sales were seriously down for me in the dealer’s room and I’m tempted to go work LoneStarCon in San Antonio next Labor Day instead. We visited a few of our old regular favorite restaurants, including TAP, Max Lager’s and Truva, but one night some fellow dealers invited us along to one of their favorite places: Mary Mac’s Tea Room. Boy, are we glad we took them up on the invitation! Mary Mac’s was simply wonderful, providing us a great sampling of traditional (and delicious) Southern comfort food.
Mary Mac’s has been around since 1945 and is a large, spacious restaurant filled with celebrity photos of all the notables who have dined there through the years. Our party of 7 was quickly seated but were not rushed through our meal at all, even though we had arrived at 8:45, just fifteen minutes before their supposed closing time (have you ever tried to herd a group of convention dealers off the floor and into 2 taxi cabs? Not an easy accomplishment.) We debated around the table ordering Mary Mac’s Family Style “Southern Special”: a choice of three entrees, three sides, and one dessert for $20.95, all you can eat. However, no one could entirely decide on what we wanted to eat so it seemed better to order individually and then just pass around tastes and samples to anyone who’d like. Mary Mac’s menu certainly had far more dishes I wanted to try than I could possibly have room for: everything from Deep Fried “Mudbugs” to Fried Okra; Pork Barbecue with Brunswick Stew to Shrimp and Cheese Grits; Grilled Liver and Onions to Chicken and Dumplings…it was almost overwhelming. We did all get a tasty Pot Licker with Corn Bread to start, two orders of Fried Green Tomatoes to pass around (delicious!) and enough sweet rolls, yeast rolls and corn muffins that we all had breakfast the next day as well. I decided to order the Sauteed Chicken Livers, along with the Sweet Potato Souffle and Black Eyed Peas for my main meal. Words just can’t even begin to describe how good everything tasted. I’ve developed a real “thing” for chicken livers lately, although I usually enjoy them in a pasta sauce or as a bruschetta topping. But these were just melt-in-your-mouth tender, well seasoned and not greasy or oily. I loved the sweet potatoes and peas as well. My sweetie ordered the Chicken and Dumplings, which I tasted along with his excellent side of Squash Souffle and a piece of someone else’s fried catfish.
It was impossible to clean our plates with so much good food to be enjoyed around the table. The food was also very reasonably priced, with most entrees in the $10-13 range. The total for the two of us with a few drinks was only about $53. With the friendly service, relaxing atmosphere and wonderful food, I know Mary Mac’s Tea Room is now going to be yet another one of our “must visit” restaurants whenever we return to Atlanta. I’m already pining to enjoy those chicken livers again!