For my birthday, I received the super-cool Atlanta Vintage Travel poster of the Majestic Grill. It's probably one of the most familiar buildings to anyone who's lived in Atlanta -- neon and art deco, a city institution. It's one of the few places along Ponce de Leon that remains from the time of George Mitchell's book -- and much earlier, I guess, as the sign says it's been going since 1929.
I live a block away, so I've found myself there many a time. The weekend partiers migrate there as the bars close -- used to be a big punk and junkie late-night hangout, but it's been ages since I was there at 4 a.m. and dunno if it still is, with a smoking ban now in effect.
It's a great little haven. We used to end up there after the all-night poker games. The food is basic and, uh, hearty -- the hash browns with cheese and onions are a personal favorite. It's the only place I've ever had corned beef hash (a big mistake). People complain about the food, but if you're going to the Majestic for fine dining, you're an idiot anyway -- it's comfort food, coffee and grease.
As such a long-standing site, it's also a touchstone for "I was there in '82"-style snobbiness -- I know Creative Loafing's had columnists writing about how much better the Majestic used to be, how it was a real neighborhood joint, etc etc. It still seems to have that vibe -- the guys at the bar this morning obviously are regulars -- and I don't know how much of those complaints are just the usual desire to tell people how much better it was before all these new jacks came along. (Or maybe it's just a normal reaction to seeing a place and neighborhood gradually change. The first time I noticed the Majestic accepting credit cards, I was surprised and a bit disappointed. And I note with a pompous sniff that when I started going to the Majestic, all the cooks were Bosnians -- now, they're all 22-year-olds with trucker caps and bad facial hair.)
I don't go to the Majestic a lot -- it's reserved for cold mornings, insomniac episodes, what have you. But when I leave Atlanta, it'll be one of the places that I will miss.
(And it's a great place to fight a hangover.)