eating a little atlanta history

I’ve had ties to Atlanta for most of my life now.  It’s eye opening to realize that my dad moved to Atlanta almost 27 years ago!  That’s almost 2/3 of my life, and it’s 1/4 of his!  Dad has lived in different areas of the city, from Roswell to Big Canoe (north of town a ways) to Lithonia, and now Dacula.  When he first moved down there, Dacula would never have been considered any part of Atlanta; it’s about midway between Atlanta and Athens.  But the traffic is pretty constant the whole trip anymore.

I lived in Atlanta for a short time myself, too, in 1999.  I spent about six months in the Vinings/Marietta area.  I liked a lot about it, but hated the traffic!

I’ve got other family in the area, too.  My sister, Heather, moved back to Atlanta just over a year ago after several years in Manhattan.  The downside to that is that I don’t have a place to stay in NYC; the upside is that I have even more reason to get down to Atlanta.  She’s got a great loft in an upcoming area just south of downtown.

heather balcony

loft 2

My family includes my ex-stepmother, Pat, and her husband Philip.  When talking about family, it’s hard to explain titles sometimes, and ex-stepmother sucks.  The fact is that Pat has been a part of my life since I was about 9 (or even younger).  She watched me while i was sick in 3rd grade and caught whatever I had when she got to the beach in Florida.  She’s also the mother of my brother and sister, and has no choice but to be a part of my family.  Philip may not have realized what he was marrying into, but he’s a great addition to the family, and he knows the best bbq joints around town, too!

My older sister, Kim, recently moved to Atlanta, too.  I didn’t get a chance to see her, as she’s extremely busy with her new job, but there’s yet another reason to stay in touch with Atlanta.

My first trip to Atlanta, as a senior in high school, included time at Georgia Tech.  My dad wanted me to consider Tech for school, and he got me connected to a freshman that worked in the athletic department and got me into my first college football game.  He also took me to the bit of history that this post is really about…

The Varsity!

The Varsity is not only a landmark in Atlanta, it’s also the world’s largest drive in restaurant.  For 75 years, Atlanta has enjoyed chili dogs and frosted orange drinks in one of the best run fast food restaurants I’ve seen.

The Varsity now takes credit cards, which is somewhat a pity.  It used to be that if you didn’t have your cash in hand, they wouldn’t even take your order, to ensure the line moved as fast as it could.  Even with the addition of flat screens with Varsity images and credit card cash registers, the look of the place is still pretty much the same.

Another change that’s been made at the Varsity is to have combo meals.  I don’t really like this, as it just changes something about the place.  It used to be they had a whole spiel that started and ended with “What’ll ya have, what’ll ya have?”.  With the combos, that kind of goes away.  With that said, though, the number 1 combo is what I’d order anyway…  2 chili dogs, rings and an FO.  It’s like downtown Atlanta on a paper plate… with a Varsity hat, of course!

What’s an FO, you may ask?  It’s short for “frosted orange”, and it basically an orange milkshake.  To me, it’s just good!  My dad is hooked on their chocolate milkshakes, which I’ll try one of these days, but I can’t yet understand why you’d get anything other than an FO!

There’s a lot of great food in Atlanta, up to top end dining.  But nothing tastes like Atlanta the way the Varsity does.  And with family there, I have an excuse to get there now and then, which is better than using a trip to the Varsity as an excuse to see family, right?

About Curt McAdams

I guess I'm a bit of a foodie, learning to cook from my mom, then getting obsessed with outdoor cooking, competition barbecue, bread baking and just about all things food. Lately, I've been trying to upgrade my photography skills a bit, though I still have a long way to go.

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  1. I was scrolling through and came across this great post. I love when I come across Atlanta things. And Dacula? To see lil’ Dacula mentioned is great! (used to teach there) Can’t wait to come back to visit…;)

  2. Chris,

    I don’t know much about Dacula, as I’ve only been there a few times. When I was in the area, almost 10 years ago, it wasn’t even close to being considered near Atlanta, but everything is moving north and east, it seems.

    next time I’m in Atlanta, I need to get back to the Blue Ridge Grill, which was my favorite place when I lived there.

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