One of the newest casual dining establishments in the International City is centrally located along bustling Watson Boulevard.
Fatz Cafe, which also has five other Georgia locations, officially opened its doors Oct. 22. If you're thinking of heading over for lunch, you might want to wait until after 1:30 p.m. during the week. The large lot of parking spaces is filled to capacity at lunch time, and it's a good thing there's a hotel behind the restaurant, since the place needs all the parking it can get.
Which leads me to my next question: The parking lot is always full, so it has to be good, right? No matter where you eat, no matter where you are in the world, take that little grain of wisdom with you. If there's a deep line of folks waiting to get in, that's a good sign.
Fatz Cafe is definitely where the locals go.
I once made the mistake of venturing in about noon. If you do get caught in the wait, you can probably expect to sit or stand around for about 20 minutes. While you're biding your time, take in the large leather seating in the waiting room.
The Calabash chicken, the cafe's signature dish, is one you can't miss. Fatz prides itself on offering an overflowing amount of food on your plate, and this chicken dish fit the bill.
The juicy, hand-breaded and marinated chicken pieces are served with a tasty honey mustard and your choice of one side dish, with choices including French fries, an overstuffed baked potato, grilled veggie skewers, cheese grits, steamed broccoli with cheese sauce, sauted mushrooms, coleslaw, red-skinned mashed potatoes, rice and cinnamon apples.
Fatz opened its first location in Spartanburg, S.C., and has about 40 other restaurants across the state, as well as in North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia. A few items are reminiscent of low country cuisine.
You'll also definitely want to try the fried green tomatoes on the appetizer line. You can expect four sliced tomatoes, fried hot inside a crispy, heavily-breaded covering. It was quite tasty, sitting on a bed of creamy, stone-ground cheese grits, but I could barely make out the tomatoes with all the breading. And there's a bit of a kick to it, as it is accompanied by a spicy remoulade sauce.
Since I was in the mood for some comfort food, the menu's colorful picture of the Edisto shrimp and grits was leaving a slight dribble on my chin. The dish came filled with those same delicious, creamy grits, Cajun-rubbed popcorn shrimp and about a half dozen jumbo shrimp, which I thought was on the undercooked side. It also was, at $10.99, one of the menu's pricier dishes.
I've heard others say the shrimp and grits aren't spicy, but I have to disagree. If while you're eating you feel your lips are slightly on fire and you have a torched aftertaste at the back of your palate, I don't think it's because it's mild. But I did love the chopped bacon and tangy, burgundy mushroom gravy. It helped put out the flames in my mouth.
Ever the popcorn shrimp man, my husband ordered the Calabash popcorn shrimp, again hand-breaded and fried to a very light brown. This too came overflowing on a clean, white plate.
And please don't forget to try their awesome poppy seed rolls. They arrive after you order your drinks. They're so cute and little, but pop a big bite when smothered with the homemade cinnamon butter.
There's so much to choose from on the Fatz menu, including chicken, ribs, beef, pasta, seafood, daily soups, salads, dessert, burgers and sandwiches.
Although items on the menu may sound like what you get at similar-style restaurants, one thing you won't find at Fatz is an ordinary meal.
2715 Watson Boulevard, Warner Robins
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday
Price range: $5.99 and up
Payment: Cash, credit cards
Noise level: Moderate to loud
Kids menu: Yes
Wheelchair accessible: Yes
Health rating: 98