When you take the Atlanta Food Walks tour, you learn a lot about the history of Atlanta’s neighborhoods. From Morehouse to Sweet Auburn, there are a lot of stories to tell about the food. Plus, you get coupons for the places you visit, which is what brings us back to Paschal’s. This is probably the most famous soul food restaurant in the country, and it’s right near the Morehouse campus. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ate here and many of the civil rights marches of the 1960’s were planned here.
Actually, they were planned in the old Paschal’s building, which is about a mile away from their new palace, which opened around 2002. Sadly, the old digs are in shambles, but the new Paschal’s is a gorgeous building that holds a lot of people.
If you like brick, then you are going to like the decor. The atrium-like dining room is quiet and full of historical photos.
There is a bar to the left as you walk in. They don’t dispense very good beer, but you probably want sweet tea with your Southern cuisine instead of alcohol. Rebels that we are, we order a couple of Sam Adams.
The beers come in Miller glasses. We won’t tell the Sam Adams folks in Boston. We are hungry, and are happy to see the basket of bread delivered to the table.
Don’t miss the little cornbread rolls. They are hot and moist and the butter melts right into them. Order more if you can.
Surprisingly, the menu has a Cajun influence. There’s lots of crab and shrimp, something you would find in Louisiana. We start off with the shrimp skewers.
You can get them grilled or fried. Knowing what I am going to get for dinner, we opt for the grilled. Who says you can’t eat healthy in a soul food restaurant? The shrimp are plump and tender and this is a good start to our meal.
Eve isn’t that hungry, and orders a bowl of gumbo.
If you like spicy, then you will like this dish. Every bite is fiery. In this case, perhaps, too fiery. Someone has a heavy hand on the red pepper. It’s got a couple of shrimp, rice and cajun sausage. I was expecting okra, but there’s none in the dish. Eve doesn’t love spicy foods, but she eats the entire bowl. She also helps me with my entree.
Here is the star (highlighted in red no less) of the Paschal’s menu, the “Famous 1947 Fried Chicken”. This is the same recipe that the Paschal brothers first fried up in (wait for it) 1947 and have been serving ever since. If you are going to blow the calories on fried chicken, you should eat good fried chicken and this fits the bill. It’s hot, fresh, and just came out of the fryer. The skin is crunchy and I find myself eating the crumbs off the plate. As for the sides, you can go for the soul food like collards, yams, or fried okra. I get mac and cheese and broccoli. The mac and cheese is good, but we have had better. Broccoli is broccoli–you either like it or you don’t. Unlike the fried okra that I really want, this is steamed and very healthy.
The bottom line on Paschal’s: If you have people in town and want to show off Atlanta’s role in the civil rights movement, this might be the place for you. When we asked our server who is the most famous person she has seen in Paschal’s, she casually replied, “Andrew Young was in here the other day with a bunch of people from Nigeria.” That’s a pretty solid endorsement.