Food Story

7 soul food restaurants in Georgia that serve more than chicken and mac & cheese

What’s in a name? Soul food vs. Southern food

Mercer University Professor David Davis talks about the difference between soul food and southern food.
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Mercer University Professor David Davis talks about the difference between soul food and southern food.

Finding good soul food can be a tough task. There are plenty of places that serve your standard fried chicken and mac and cheese. While good, those don’t appeal to everyone. Here is a list of seven soul food restaurants in Georgia that will leave you wanting more.

1. H&H (Macon)

This restaurant is a Macon staple serving up Southern comfort food. While the restaurant has changed hands in recent years, the new owners have kept some of the same recipes. Specialties include fried chicken and meatloaf. If you have a sweet tooth then they also have dessert options like bread pudding and peach cobbler.

2. Mama’s Boy (Athens)

A fair warning: if you want to eat here, then you will need to arrive early. The place tends to fill up fast, and the lines are typically out the door. If you are willing to wait or get up early enough to be one of the first in, then you will not be disappointed. Mama’s Boy puts its own twist on a classic with a salmon cakes Benedict. The traditional English muffin is replaced by two salmon croquettes, which add a different level of flavor to the dish. The new takes on traditional breakfast food is what keep customers coming back. The restaurant also serves lunch.

3. Whistle Stop Cafe (Juliette)

Named after the book by Fannie Flagg and the 1991 movie “Fried Green Tomatoes,” this place serves up some of the best comfort food in the state. Some of the favorites from here are the fried green tomatoes and the country fried steak. After you fill up on food, you can explore the town’s shops as they feature homemade items from around the area.

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People wander the street at the Whistle Stop Cafe at the 2016 Green Tomato Festival in Juliette Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. Woody Marshall Telegraph file photo

4. Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room (Savannah)

While you may not have to get up quite as early, it is still recommended that you get there before the 11 a.m. open time or plan to wait in line. While Mrs. Wilkes’ only offers four meat choices, the restaurant more than makes up for it in its wide array of vegetables. One thing that stands out about this location is that it also has rooms where you can spend the night — which you may need to do after a large lunch of fried chicken and mashed potatoes.

5. Mary Mac’s Tea Room (Atlanta)

This place is so good that it is the official dining room of Atlanta and has a resolution from the Georgia House of Representatives to prove it. It has some traditional soul food plates, or you can opt for the all-you-can eat family-style meal where you can select meats and vegetables for the whole table. Mary Mac’s also has a selection of vegan foods as well.

6. The Bear’s Den (Macon)

This meat-and-three is one of the best around. Located near the campus of Mercer University, The Bear’s Den is a favorite of locals and students alike. It serves up what many believe is the best fried chicken in Macon. While other restaurants may be in the discussion, it is hard to deny this is one of the best. Many of the menu items change daily, so be sure to check before you head over to see what The Bear’s Den is serving. If possible, save room for dessert as it has excellent banana pudding.

Fried chicken, cabbage, macaroni and cheese and a roll are among the menu items at the Bear’s Den. Woody Marshall Telegraph file photo

7. Minnie’s Uptown Restaurant (Columbus)

Minnie’s serves up some country cooking just like mama used to make. Each day Minnie’s posts its menu on its Facebook page. Cooks whip up everything from fried pork chops to fried catfish. Minnie’s also has a big selection of sweets to choose from, such as pecan pie cheesecake. One thing that you must try is the cinnamon and sugar biscuits.

For more on Southern food, join The Telegraph and its partners, the Center for Collaborative Journalism, Georgia Public Broadcasting Macon and 13WMAZ, at 6 p.m. Friday at “A Taste of Southern Food History” featuring author Michael Twitty at William S. Hutchings College & Career Academy.

Twitty will explain the origin of Southern food favorites, how food defines us and what our food choices say about who we are, how we got here and where we’re going. The event is free, but seats are limited. Admission is on a first come, first serve basis. Canned good donations will be accepted at the door but are not required.

Peach Festival cobbler chef constantly tinkers with the recipe for the world's biggest peach cobbler but not the 75 gallons of peaches, 90 lbs. of butter, or 150 lbs. of sugar. Rich Bennett says this year the heat source is different.