Mary Mac’s Tea Room is Southern food, just right

If you want a quintessential Atlanta evening, it’s supper at Mary Mac’s Tea Room and a show at the Fox Theatre.

In fact, if I knew someone was visiting from another region, or even another country, and they wanted authentic Southern food, I would send them straight to Mary Mac’s.

Mary Mac’s is a short ten minute walk from the Fox, and with everything from Shrimp and Grits to Collards to curious sides like Pot Likker and Hoppin’ John, its menu will give you an idea of what life was like at your Grandma’s supper table.

When you are seated, the waiter gives you a little form to fill out for your order.

We always appreciate it when a restaurant puts food on the table right away. Mary Mac’s goes over the top in this category, offering a choice between cornbread, yeast rolls or “all.” Especially if it’s your first visit, I suggest checking “all.” We did, when we visited last Friday night, and our waiter brought three kinds: Yeast rolls, cornbread muffins and cinnamon rolls. They give you cinnamon rolls, y’all. And good ones, too.

The cornbread is just right- not too sweet, not too dry. We set those little sweet cinnamon rolls aside for dessert. And I may have stuffed one in my purse.

We didn’t know if we should order salad. The waiter said all the food at Mary Mac’s is very filling. He was so right. Heath ordered one, and we shared. That was plenty. Here’s what the House Salad looks like. It was just right.

I ordered the Salmon Croquettes. It sounds fancy, but it’s just because of the name. This is what my Mama always made. They’re salmon patties, y’all. But they are GOOD salmon patties.

I love that you can get Cheese Grits as a side! Mary Mac’s cheese grits are creamy but not too thick, with just enough cheesiness. I also got Fried Green Tomatoes. They come with horseradish sauce! They were good, but next time I think I’ll try the Tomato Pie.

Heath got Chopped Ground Sirloin and Hoppin’ John, which is white rice topped with Black Eyed Peas.

Mary Mac’s Tea Room began in 1945, and they say the food that graces patron’s plates now is very similar to what was served there in the beginning.

The food is so authentic and the hospitality is so superb, The Georgia House of Representatives even made it official, declaring Mary Mac’s “Atlanta’s Dining Room.” Seriously. Look up Resolution 477.

I think it will be hard to pick another restaurant the next time we go to Atlanta! The menu is so extensive at Mary Mac’s, I think it would take quite a few years of Atlanta visits to try it all.

If you are from Georgia, you should visit Mary Mac’s, because it is a living homage to the recipes passed down for generations.

If you’re from out of state or out of the country, you should visit Mary Mac’s because you can’t go to another place that serves better Southern food.

Here’s what you need to know before you go: 

Where: Mary Mac’s Tea Room, 224 Ponce de Leon Avenue, Atlanta; At the corner of Ponce de Leon Avenue and Myrtle Street.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; holiday hours vary.

Contact: 404-876-1800 or

Note: Mary Mac’s does not take reservations for groups smaller than eight; Reservations are available Monday-Thursday for groups of 8-25. Parties of 20 or more can request a private room. They don’t accept reservations on holidays, and don’t quote wait times over the phone. If you have a show to get to, I suggest dining early in case there is a rush, or you have to wait for a table. You can order online for pick-up orders if you plan to use a credit card, or call to order if you want to pay cash.

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