I got back from Atlanta yesterday, where I saw many wonderful things, like whale sharks at the Aquarium, and what you could literally call a shotgun wedding (in that the morning of the nuptials, guests were invited to shoot clay pigeons.) But the things I am most excited about are the junk food I ate there.
I am one of those idiots who looks on in wonderment when I get to another part of the country and see fast food joints that we don't have in the Midwest--Jack in the Box, In-And-Out and so on. Some places just recently came to my part of the country, like El Pollo Loco and Krispy Kreme.
One of the fast food restaurants on my list that I hadn't tried was Chick-fil-A, which we most certainly don't have in the Midwest. The concept of a Christian fast food restaurant not open on Sundays is a charming notion, although I was also pulled in by their silly advertising and the promise that a friend of mine made many years ago that it's awesome.
Well, I wouldn't go so far as to call it "awesome." I mean, it was fine--I had a breaded piece of chicken on a plain bun that was served in a paper bag and came with some waffle-cut fries. And a Diet Coke. It pained me a little bit to know that I was SOL in Atlanta when it came to getting my beloved Diet Pepsi in restaurants. Chick-fil-A was decent, but it does not belong in my pantheon of fast food, which includes Culver's (for their butterburgers, creepily well-scrubbed staff and frozen custard), Superdawg and the sausage McMuffin at MacDonald's.
My other southern fast food stop was at a Waffle House, which are located about every 20 feet in Atlanta. I'd been to one once before but that particular day I was really in need of some greasy breakfast and so I figured it was worth revisiting. I get the impression that Waffle House is most famous for its hash browns and the various ways it can be served, but I was more excited by the exquisitely greasy fried egg, cheese and bacon sandwich, which was just what the proverbial doctor ordered (after some V8 and Gatorade). What I most appreciated though was the service: my particular Waffle House was staffed by a bunch of middle-aged women with Southern accents who bustled around in a way that at first made me feel like I was in their way and needed to be hustled out of there, but quite the contrary. I think I got called no less than three separate nicknames of affection, and I still feel a little warm in my heart thinking of the "Here you go, baby" I received with my breakfast. I did need some babying, and I got it. My meal was $10 and I tipped $5 (because I'm a high roller.) So the Waffle House was slightly better in terms of the food at Chick-Fil-A, not quite as nice in decor, but a more memorable, pleasurable experience.
I did eat at some other noteworthy places, by the way, that were not fast-food, including the Indigo Girls'-owned Watershed, the Cabbagetown Market and the unforgettably-named Swallow at the Hollow, but I think talking about fast food is way more interesting. If any of you are passionate about any regional fast food chains for whatever reason, please let me know.