In my opinion, there are few more entertaining ways to spend an afternoon than whittling away the hours in a classic tea room, gabbing with friends and noshing on favorite comfort foods. And there are few better places to do so—well, okay, outside of England—than the Deep South, where most people tend to think we Southern "ladies who lunch" are already spending our days doing just that while decked out in opera gloves, pearls, and oversized hats (which might or might not be true). An Atlanta institution, Mary Mac's Tea Room has been keeping the public fed and caffeinated since 1945, having entertained dignitaries like Jimmy Carter back in the day; it's now the only tea room left in a city that used to have many. But don't be fooled: Mary Mac's is first and foremost a restaurant, more like a boarding house than any other eatery I've experienced—the tea is secondary.

When guests are seated, they're given a menu and a pencil and asked to check off the items they want to order. Then out come the calories, by the heaping plateful: cheese grits, collard greens, butter peas, fried chicken, apple sauce, fried okra, barbequed ribs, mac 'n' cheese, pan-fried steak, mashed potatoes, yeast seems to go on and on. Pecan pie, peach pie, peanut butter pie, strawberry shortcake, cobbler, banana pudding—all the staple Southern desserts are on the menu, too. Parties of two or more might want to consider the Southern Special, where for $21.95 per adult (and $12.50 per child), it's all-you-can-eat of three entrées, three sides, and a dessert, served family style. For this, the whole table must participate. Sweet tea is the drink of choice; be sure and tell your server if you were wanting something different. There's a full bar and it's worth noting that the tea room also has vegan and gluten-free menus. Mary Mac's only accepts reservations for groups of 10 or more. If you're a first-timer, you're entitled to a complimentary pot likker. Don't know what that is? Just you wait and see.