Food & Drink

The 9 places that define Atlanta fried chicken

Published On 02/12/2014 Published On 02/12/2014
chicken at chop chop
Sebastian Davis

If there is one dish that Atlanta should always dominate, it's the one at Turner Field... at least until the Braves move OTP in 2017. After that, we'll just have to settle for the glorious king of Southern comfort food: fried chicken. Whether it's cooked up in massive double-­fryers, seasoned skillets, or thanks to that weirdo in Piedmont Park, a Fry­Daddy in the back of a van, this fried chicken proves that the ATL's got breaded poultry on lock...

Sebastian Davis

The Colonnade Restaurant
This eats institution's 87yrs-old, and is on Cheshire Bridge, so yeah, there're gonna be some blue hairs there, but there's also a bar with heavy pours, over two-dozen regular sides (rice & giblet gravy!), and enough kinds of fried bird to keep you busy for a month.

The Busy Bee Cafe

Busy Bee Cafe
West End
The specialty is a 12­hr-­marinated masterpiece that draws fans from Macon to Marietta. The only way to top it is... um, with their pan gravy, which is so good, it'll make you swear out loud. But watch your mouth, or Miss Sheila behind the counter will watch it for you.

Sebastian Davis

Chop Chop Restaurant
Locals on Memorial have tried to keep this grocery/ lottery/ meat­-and­-three (where the cashier may or may not speak English) a secret for years, but too bad: deep fried poultry is a universal language that we all understand.

Pittypat's Porch Restaurant

Pittypat’s Porch
Somehow, their fried fowl is even better when “Big Mama” is working the floor, and when you wash it down with a glass (or three) of “Pittypat’s Punch”, a moonshine and fruit juice cocktail that'll get you in the mood to grab a rocking chair and “set a spell”.


Go ahead and scoff at the idea of a hotel restaurant slinging next-level fried chicken. That just means there'll be more of the giant skillet full of meat w/crispy rosemary they're serving at Sway, in the Downtown Hyatt, for us.

Sebastian Davis

Mary Mac’s Tea Room
Old Fourth Ward
A restaurant so old, it was a go­-to pre­game spot for Atlanta Crackers fans, and is still home to fried bird so famous, people have tried to steal/replicate the recipe countless times, but like Atlanta's other famous birds, the Falcons, wining the Super Bowl... it just can’t be done.

South City Kitchen

South City Kitchen
When it comes to frying anything -- a stack of fried green tomatoes, their buttermilk­-drenched fried chicken -- SCK is... sorry'boutthis!... s­i­c­k, and gladly pours enough sweet cocktails (the gin-/ lemon-heavy “I­75”, etc.) to make sure you are, too.

Watershed on Peachtree

The Watershed on Peachtree
Brookwood Hills
Brined in a way that would make Chick-fil-A support gay marriage! jealous, what started as a Wednesday night­-only offering has exploded into a can't-miss dish that's available at... lunchtime on Wednesday too!


Castleberry Hill
Forget the stupid Midtown club that Bieber stopped in last week, Paschal’s has entertained Dizzy Gillespie, Aretha Franklin, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., mostly because of their incredibly juicy 1940’s fried chicken recipe, which they're practically daring you to dip in their cheese grits before taking a bite. Do it. DO IT!

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1. Chop Chop Restaurant 809 Memorial Dr SE, Atlanta, GA 30316 (Reynoldstown)

Don’t let the metal grating covering every inch of the front doors fool you, this is a serious fried chicken emporium. Locals on Memorial have tried to keep this grocery/lottery/meat­-and­-three secret for years, but now its treasure has been opened to you.

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2. Busy Bee Cafe 810 Martin Luther King Jr Dr SW, Atlanta, GA 30314 (West End)

Busy Bee Cafe serves traditional Southern eats. Their specialty is a 12 ­hour ­marinated masterpiece that draws fans from Macon to Marietta, and the only way to eat it is “smothered” in pan gravy. In the past year, Bernie Sanders and Killer Mike broke bread and fried chicken bones in political fellowship. Some would say BBC is “hot” again, but it’s had hot sauce ready for hungry guests and neighbors since icons of the Civil Rights Movement dined there for strategy sessions.

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3. Pittypat's Porch 25 Andrew Young International Blvd, Atlanta, GA 30303 (Downtown)

Serving up soul food with traditional Southern offerings, you can wash your meal down with a glass (or three) of “Pittypat’s Punch,” which is a a delicious mix of moonshine and fruit juice cocktail. It’s named after a character from Gone with the Wind, and PP's plates of Southern fried chicken seem to mimic the movie title soon after they reach your seat at the dinner table.

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4. Sway 265 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA 30303 (Downtown)

Sway, in the Downtown Hyatt, completely schools any pretenders in the fried chicken game. Topped with a crispy sprig of rosemary, their giant iron skillet full of meat is a challenge for most to finish. Fortunately, you’re up to that challenge.

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5. Mary Mac's Tea Room 224 Ponce de Leon Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30308 (Midtown)

At Mary Mac's Tea Room, patrons can enjoy a taste of authentic Southern cooking and hospitality. This means heaping plates of staples like fried chicken, braised ox tails, and grilled liver and onions, as well as a number of specialty drinks like the Mint Julep and Georgia Peach. The place is over 70 years old and was officially named “Atlanta’s Dining Room” by the City of Atlanta. Read any online traveler’s guides and you’ll be convinced that there’s no way to visit Atlanta without eating here. There are pencils and paper sheets on your table for you to write your own order, a tradition of MM’s that dates wayyy back (pre-Bieber).

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6. Paschal's Restaurant 180 Northside Dr NW, Atlanta, GA 30314 (Castleberry Hill)

In addition to serving some of Georgia's most legendary fried chicken, Paschal's was a key meeting place for civil rights activists throughout the 60s and 70s -- suffice to say, Dr. Martin Luther King jr. was a noted regular. With a lifetime achievement award under their belt, the restaurant's founders are something like local celebrities, admired for their historic civic hospitality, and equally lauded for their inarguably delicious food. The joint's famous chicken, still battered up and fried with the Paschal brothers' famous 1947 recipe, is certainly deserving of its impressive acclaim, and the remainder of the hearty Southern eats on the menu -- po' boys, shrimp and grits, andouille sausage-heavy gumbo -- are equally worth of praise.

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7. The Colonnade Restaurant 1879 Cheshire Bridge Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30324 (Morningside)

Being such an Atlanta institution, they pack a full bar with heavy pours. And with over two-dozen regular sides, including “rice & giblet gravy,” you can have a different version of their delicious fried chicken for a month. It’s a place you can get reliable local dishes like North Georgia trout, as well as unique nightly specials, which are known to include unexpected grub like BBQ kangaroo.

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8. South City Kitchen Midtown 1144 Crescent Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30309 (Midtown)

Open for lunch, dinner & brunch, this award-winning Midtown restaurant puts a contemporary twist on classic Southern cooking.

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9. Watershed on Peachtree 1820 Peachtree St NW, Atlanta, GA 30309 (Atlantic Station)

A James Beard award-winner, Watershed's a comfortable, soulful spot that's serving up locally sourced, down home, Southern grub.



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