Pros: Delicious, authentic Southern food
Cons: Long waits with no reservations, cash only, seedy surroundings
The Colonnade is an Atlanta institution. Opened in 1927, this Southern meat and vegetable restaurant is still going strong. Even on weeknights, there is a crowd and you will have to wait to be seated.
Location and Parking
The building is located off Cheshire Bridge Road, a very seedy area with a mix of light industrial zoning, cheap strip clubs, and other relic restaurants that were established when it was a nicer area. One does pause when considering parking ones vehicle out front, but probably due to the constant traffic in the area, the free lot stays relatively safe despite the surroundings.
The Wait Begins
Check in with the host or hostess and you will be assigned an approximate wait time. I have never received a wait time estimate less than forty minutes; fortunately, sometimes you can be seated earlier. There is a small area with banquets where you can wait, or you can go to the bar and have a strong cocktail while waiting. Also note there is an ATM conveniently located right inside, as this restaurant only takes cash.
The general decor of the restaurant is Western Sizzlin, circa 1976. You are not going for the ambiance, but for the great food.
Think traditional meat and three vegetable plates, fried seafood, and big portions. Munch on white and wheat yeast rolls, cornbread, and butter while you look over the menu.
Side salads with beets (normally not my favorite but tasty here), wedge salad, carrot and raisin salad, cottage cheese, congealed salad, and sliced peaches are some of the Southern type cold salads offered.
There is an extensive vegetable menu to order as an assorted vegetable plate or as side dishes. Creamed corn, fried okra, stewed okra and tomatoes, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy, butter beans, green beans, black-eyed peas, sweet potato souffle, etc. are some example of the veggies on offer.
You can go with a fried or broiled seafood combination, steaks, or dishes such as chicken and dumplings, meatloaf, salmon croquettes, corned beef and cabbage, pot roast, short ribs, baked chicken, fried pork chops, and heavenly fried chicken.
The meat portions are huge! My fried chicken dish can with four hefty pieces of meat and 2 side dishes. My husbands short ribs looked like the ribs that tipped the car over on the introduction to the Flintstones cartoon. While ample, the food also is seasoned great and the meat tender. Hubby pronounced the short ribs likely the best he has ever eaten.
You wont have room for dessert, but if you put half your meal in a takeout box like me, you can sample some homey sweet treats. Banana pudding, peppermint ice cream, assorted cakes and pies including lemon meringue and the best coconut cream pie Ive ever tasted, are available.
Delicious sweet tea, sodas, and liquor-based cocktails help you wash down your vittles.
The service is great! My server was warm and friendly, and attentive. The dishes were brought out and cleared at appropriate intervals, and he refilled our drinks without us having to chase him down.
While enjoying my coconut cream pie, an elderly man on an oxygen tank was being escorted out by his middle-aged daughter. Suddenly, the man lost consciousness. Luckily, an extra chair at my table was at the right position to catch him before he hit the floor. The staff immediately rushed to their aide, though he regained consciousness and an ambulance wasnt called.
After that excitement, the server told us a few months ago an elderly man had just enjoyed a meal at bar, then had a heart attack sitting in his Cadillac outside. At least he died happy!
As to the title, The Colonnade is known in Atlanta for its primary clientele: the local gay male population that lives in the area and the old-timers eating traditional Southern food. Note that maybe a quarter of the crowd is normal families with children, so everyone is welcome and comfortable there.
The Colonnade is the place to go for great tasting Southern food and good service. Just be prepared for a wait and bring cash.
Other Local Atlanta Restaurants:
The Vortex, Sun Dial, Nilolais Roof, Ecco, Piebar, Geisha House, Strip, Thai Palate, Joey Ds Oakroom
Chains with Atlanta Roots or Locations:
Teds Montana Grill, Firehouse Subs, Gordon Biersch Brewing Company, Houstons, Einstein Brothers Bagels, Ippolitos, Fogo de Chao, RuSans, Wolfgang Puck Express, Famous Fish Company
Thanks for reading!