Food: Institutionalized in Atlanta
Plenty of restaurants become popular, but very few become institutions - eateries so prominent that they're ensconced into the collective consciousness of an area. I recently ate at two such institutions in Atlanta, Georgia:
The Vortex Bar & Grill
You wouldn't think that people would frequent a restaurant with all the idiosyncrasies that the Vortex has: no one under 18 is allowed inside (in order to avoid Atlanta's anti-smoking laws), there's all sorts of junk on the walls, and the place is near the Bohemian neighborhood of Little Five Points, home of head shops and hearses. Despite all this, the place can get absolutely packed, so we came on a weekday for lunch in order to avoid the rush.
Boiled down to the essentials, the Vortex is a short-order cafe that specializes in burgers. Their most famous concoction is the Triple Coronary Bypass burger, a trademarked menu item that is described thusly:
Made with two half-pound Vortex sirloin patties stacked inside three grilled cheese sandwiches, topped with two fried eggs, eight slices of American cheese, ten slices of bacon and plenty of mayo on the side. With this burger we choose your side for you, and it’s a big bowl of fries and tots covered in our cheesy-cheese goo. This super-stack is a heart attack waiting to happen. Enjoy! (No lettuce, tomato or onion) 26.95
I opted for a plain old hamburger...topped with fried banana, cheddar cheese, and bacon. It was greasy, expensive, and unhealthy....but it was good, too.
Fox Brothers BBQ
Fox Bros. serves Texas-style BBQ, with dry-rub ribs and beef brisket being the main attractions. It's a family-type place, started by two brothers, Jonathan and Justin, who put on elaborate barbecue parties for their friends. After awhile, the Fox brothers started doing BBQ full time, and now it's one of the most popular joints in Atlanta.
Pulling up to Fox Bros. is sort of puzzling; the place is right next to a neighborhood, and completely isolated from any other restaurant or shopping center. There's rarely enough parking for all the customers the place draws, so we parked in the nearby neighborhood and walked over.
I still prefer Fat Matt's, but Fox Brothers served up fairly competent Texas BBQ. The only really poor dish was the pulled pork; the ribs, brisket, and sides were all good or very good. Worth a try if you're in the area.