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The James Beard Foundation awarded Atlanta's historic Busy Bee Cafe with a 2022 America's Classics Award. The award is given to "locally owned restaurants that have timeless appeal and are beloved regionally for quality food that reflects the character of its community."
Really, I don’t mind waiting for a table. It’s part of the experience, and one can learn a lot about a place by just showing up. Plus, where to go to feast on smothered chicken, pork neck bones, turkey wings, and oxtail buried in gravy.
The intoxicating aroma of this soul food institution’s signature dish hits you before you’re even halfway to the front door. With a featherlight crust that flakes onto the table and into your lap, and flesh as juicy as potlikker, this chicken is as hallowed as the restaurant itself, which opened in 1947.
How do you describe Southern food? Pursuing that answer is as much the daydreamer's indulgence as the academic's conundrum. It’s a workman’s meal of sugarless, butter-smeared cornbread, swiped through a bowl of potlikker and crumbled into the mouth. It’s an antebellum fever dream: she-crab soup, shad stuffed with roe, and the sherry-soaked dessert called tipsy squire consumed using weighty silverware on snowy linens. And it is, of course, an unconquerable buffet of fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, baked ham, candied yams, black-eyed peas, and small plastic bowls filled with peach cobbler sweet enough to give you the sugar jitters.