Mary Mac’s Tea Room
224 Ponce de Leon Avenue at Myrtle Street
Atlanta, GA 30308
Mary Mac’s Tea Room is one of Atlanta’s oldest restaurants. I wondered if it is the oldest, but it appears that the oldest is Horseradish Grill. Hmm, very interesting. Anyway, Mary Mac’s was up and running in 1945, making it one of Atlanta’s senior citizens. Therefore, I found it fitting to take Yankee Lisa to, for some old southern food.
At a little after 7 PM on a Sunday evening, we were seated promptly after being warmly greeted and guided through a maze of rooms. Each room is named. I don’t know which one we were in, but we were at a table next to the Ferrell Room which I recalled because of Will Ferrell.
No one approached our table for a while which was actually okay because the two of us were pondering the menu. This place is very interesting in that you write down your order on a slip of paper; pencils are provided on the table. Our nice server came over, and he took our drink orders while we continued to refine our selections. It took a little while to get the H2Os but what can you do.
Lisa and I both ordered under the heading of “Traditional Southern Specialties.” Each of these entrees is served with your choice of two sides and a selection of breads. Eventually I settled upon the Smothered Chicken ($11.95) while Lisa opted for a four piece fried chicken plate.
The list of sides was 36 items long, wow. Needless to say, it took me several minutes to decide which ones to select to go with my smothered chicken. My sides were 1) fried okra and 2) okra and tomatoes. Can’t resist okra. Lisa went with fried green tomatoes, fried okra, and pot likker. I wasn’t sure what the latter was, but it sounded quite intriguing. Like so tasty, you wanna lick the pot clean?
The bread basket consisted of cornbread, cinnamon rolls, and yeast rolls. The cinnamon rolls and cornbread were pleasing. At this point, I realized I was filling up on bread so I hit the brakes and didn’t consume the yeast roll.
[Excuse the fork and fried chicken piece in the photo below.] That ended up being a smart plan since the food portions were quite generous. Lisa’s pot likker resembled an Asian soup, as it was a clear broth with bits of collard leaves floating about. She kindly let me have a sample. Wikipedia informed me that pot likker goes by other names such as pot liquor but it is just the leftover liquid following boiling greens. My chicken drumsticks came out on a bed of rice. They were pretty good though kind of slimy to handle with the fingers. I also sampled one of Lisa’s fried chicken drumsticks and found it not bad. I liked the fried okra because the shell was crunchy and not too bready. The okra and tomatoes had a very subtle hotness to them which I could handle. Yum. Great value! I finished my plate but was too full for dessert.
There was a large table of girls diagonally away from us. I saw their server bring out tiny teacups full of pot likkers to each girl. The cups were much smaller than the side of pot likker than Lisa had ordered. Almost like amuse bouches. Then I was scrolling through some Yelp reviews and learned that complimentary samples of pot likkers are offered to new diners. I felt cheated since I was a new diner and wasn’t offered pot likker even though I had a spoonful of Lisa’s. Oh well. Maybe next time!