Mary Mac's Tea Room
If you have only one meal out in Atlanta, make sure it's in the yellow-painted, country-kitchen-style dining room of this 60-year-old Atlanta institution. The chicken and dumplings and the country-fried steak and gravy (dusted in seasoned flour and sautéed before being dolloped with savory sauce) enjoy a multigenerational and well-deserved cult following; sides and appetizers—fried okra with Parmesan cheese-horseradish dipping sauce, fried green tomatoes, hand-cut collard greens simmered in chicken stock—are as authentic as they come. Though you can't go wrong with any of the desserts, missing the peanut-butter pie would be a tragedy of Southern Gothic proportions.
Tip: Come hungry—portions are big here—and come early. Since reservations are accepted only for groups of eight or more, there's always a wait later on. And be sure to take home a pan of Mary Mac's famous cinnamon rolls for tomorrow's breakfast.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.