Armed with just a single, generations-old cookie recipe, Great American Cookies opened its first store in 1977, and the rest is history. Today, the franchise boasts locations in malls across the country and nabbed a coveted spot on Entrepreneur magazine?s 2012 Top 500 Franchises in the baked-goods category. As the shop?s reputation grew, so did its menu as chefs churned out a mouthwatering roster of gourmet-cookie recipes, each created and carefully tested in Atlanta. The tempting options now include snickerdoodle, peanut butter with M&Ms, and chewy pecan supreme, as well as freshly baked fudge and cheesecake brownies, and cookie sandwiches stuffed with frosting. The real show-stoppers, however, are the giant chocolate-chip cookie cakes, which can be customized with sweet, celebratory messages or shopping lists penned in colorful icing.
Mamma Nem’s has dedicated 159 years to satiating diners with an elegant southern-inspired menu, a soul-stirring cornucopia of cuisine drawn from Creole, South Carolina, and deep-south cooking traditions. Sink incisors into robust sandwiches such as slow-simmered pork festooned with jalapeno cole slaw and O’Neal’s signature barbecue sauce ($8) or a fried-green-tomato BLT ($7) that, for once, isn’t just a VHS copy of Fried Green Tomatoes smothered in lettuce and mayonnaise. Smoked barbecue chicken ($11) gives formidable bibs a run for their money, and Mareo’s jerk chicken ($10) casts off its aggressive reputation to play nice with sensitive taste buds. Dinner dishes are escorted by Mamma’s homemade cornbread and any two savory sides, such as fried okra, black-eyed peas, and collard greens, whereas equally hearty breakfast and brunch platters include Big Momma’s pork chops and grits ($10).
Gail’s Down the Street Cafe triggers palate nostalgia six days a week with an ever-changing line up of four distinct, piping-hot lunch specials served with a multitude of Southern-style sides. Meaty entrees include such down-home staples as a juicy fried pork chop and a succulent hamburger steak smothered in a small lake of gravy and onions. Diners can pair their choice of entree with three fresh and filling vegetable sides ($8). A rotating smorgasbord of vegetables includes homemade coleslaw, cream-style corn, squash casserole, and thickly sliced tomatoes—all of which can be matched up in a plated quadrangle ($7). Seafaring mouths can set hook the grilled salmon or fried catfish fillet and reel in the navy beans before heading out to a scheduled debate with a wall-mounted bass. Bathe in the battered glory of specialty fried green tomatoes, or indulge sweet teeth with strawberry shortcake, banana pudding, and other decadent desserts ($2.50 each).
Located in the historic Cloverdale Village, Roux recently opened its modern, art-filled space to serve traditional Southern comfort dishes and New Orleans–inspired seafood for lunch, dinner, and brunch. Prince Edward Island mussels ($19.50) crowned with Pernod sauce rub crustacean elbows with roasted new potatoes and braised leeks with saffron and fresh thyme. The Gulf shrimp po boy ($10) smuggles cornmeal-crusted gulf shrimp between french bread pieces under the cover of homemade coleslaw and a rémoulade sauce, and the Prime Roux burger ($12) combines grilled Meyer ranch beef with smoked onion jam, house-cured bacon, and a choice of cheeses without the use of nuclear fusion. Sunday brunch pleases with eggs benedict ($10.50) dressed up in an avocado purée and hollandaise sauce accompanied by smoked bacon. Cap a feast with a bite of bananas foster ($5.50) or sweet-potato-pecan pie ($5.50).
Deli fare, comfort food, and fresh seafood dishes coexist harmoniously inside Ruddles Pub and Grill's four-walled menu. Pub mainstays such as buffalo wings ($8.95), burgers ($9), and fried shrimp po’ boys ($9.50) tingle flavor receptors, while an eclectic mix of house specialties, including shrimp and grits ($18) and pecan chicken slathered with a creamy mushroom and artichoke sauce ($16) put shame in the game of Southern-fried knockoffs. Meanwhile, maritime munchers can wrap fins around a variety of fresh gulf seafood dishes, such as sautéed tilapia ($17) and crab cakes with a remolade sauce ($15). Groupon-holders can also take advantage of daily drink specials such as $2 Miller Lite drafts and $2 martinis on Wednesdays, wetting throats during heated arguments over where babies come from.