The classic American diner is one of our favourite institutions. Bastions of comfort food, squishy booths, massive portions, bottomless coffee and waitresses calling you “hon”, they tend to be good value, full of good honest food and even better conversation. And as if that’s not enough, diners in Atlanta have another trump card up their sleeves: Southern style cooking. If you’re seeking platefuls of biscuits and gravy, chicken fried steaks and a slice of Georgia pecan pie, you’re in the right place. Here’s five of our favourite places to hole up and chow down.
There are six in total, but the Thumbs Up diner in the historic Old Fourth Ward district is the flagship. Located on Edgewood Avenue – which has witnessed an explosion of bars and restaurants in recent years – this is a breakfast institution in downtown Atlanta, so grab a comfy red booth or a stool at the curving counter and tuck in. House speciality has to be the Skillet Heap – a mountain of sliced grilled potatoes, onions and peppers topped with cheddar jack cheese and two eggs any style. Open 7am-3pm Mon-Fri, 8am-4pm weekends.
Thumbs Up Diner, 573 Edgewood Avenue SE, Atlanta, GA 30312 and five other locations in the Metro Atlanta area.
‘Food that pleases’ goes the strapline, and for 24 hours a day, since 1929, that’s exactly what this Poncey Highlands icon has been serving. With a classic, no-frills interior – think long red counter, vinyl booths and Formica tabletops – the Majestic welcomes a steady stream of locals, tourists, business travellers, party-goers and night owls through its doors. For an all-American experience opt for a short stack of pancakes with bacon, ham or sausage, topped with blueberries and smothered in maple syrup.
Majestic Diner, Briarcliff Plaza Shopping Center, 1031 Ponce De Leon Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30306
Serving 3,000 people a day in the heart of one of metro Atlanta’s largest suburbs, the Marietta is a super-sized, destination diner open 24/7, 365 days a year. Known for its 500-item menu, enormous portions and spectacular cheesecakes, cream pies and sundaes, you’ll need to make sure you visit on a very empty stomach. The diner was featured on US Food Network’s TV show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, as seen in the short video clip below.
Marietta Diner, 306 Cobb Parkway S, Marietta, GA 30060
Also featured in multiple TV shows, movies, advertising campaigns and music videos is the Silver Skillet, whose vintage interior is a magnet for those seeking an authentic retro vibe alongside their corned beef hash. This breakfast only spot in Midtown (open 6.30am-2.30pm Mon-Fri, 8am-2pm weekends) is best known for its Southern-style fare, so make like a local and order the classic Southern Breakfast: two centre-cut battered and fried or grilled chops, two eggs, grits, white gravy and toast or biscuits.
Silver Skillet, 200 14th Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30318
Another brunch and lunch spot (8am-3pm daily) is the much-loved Ria’s Bluebird, just north of Grant Park and Atlanta Zoo. Described as both ‘hip’ and ‘hippie’ the wood-panelled interior is adorned with artworks, knick-knacks, fairy lights and a large bluebird mosaic, with a more intimate atmosphere than the other venues on our list. Ready for a blowout? Go for the Brisket Breakfast: 14-hour slow roasted Angus beef shredded in a spicy tomato broth, topped with two poached eggs and served with a toasted baguette.
Ria’s Bluebird, 421 Memorial Dr SE, Atlanta, GA 30312
Do you have a favourite diner in Atlanta not mentioned here? Tell us what we’re missing in the comments below.