ATLReview

photo credit: Amy Sinclair

The Busy Bee Cafe image
9.0

The Busy Bee Cafe

Soul Food

West End

$$$$Perfect For:Classic EstablishmentLunchSerious Take-Out OperationVegetariansCasual Weeknight Dinner

Included In

Before Bankhead became Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway, before OutKast turned Atlantans into ATLiens, before Trae Young shimmied at State Farm Arena, and even years before Dr. King delivered his "I Have A Dream Speech," there was The Busy Bee Cafe in the West End.

And almost 80 years later, it stands as not just a cultural landmark but as a consistent go-to for phenomenal soul food in Atlanta. Aside from higher prices and the car models maneuvering in and out of the tiny box parking lot on MLK Drive, not much has changed at the iconic meat-and-two cafe.

Waitstaff at Busy Bee

photo credit: Courtesy of Busy Bee

Drop by on any given day and you’ll see a hodgepodge of folks waiting for orders in the small dining space (which is currently closed): neighborhood regulars who remember what Atlanta was like before the ‘96 Olympics, excited tourists, newbie transplants looking to score “old Atlanta” cool points, pandering politicians jonesing for photo opps, and people looking for a hearty, reliable food option. 

The Busy Bee Cafe image

photo credit: Amy Sinclair

The Busy Bee Cafe image

photo credit: Courtesy of Busy Bee

fried okra

photo credit: Amy Sinclair

The Busy Bee Cafe image
The Busy Bee Cafe image
fried okra

There's a good chance there'll be a line in front of the nondescript brick building with nostalgic yellow signage. Use that time to scan the old-school menu, which features rotating straight-forward specials like candied yams with just the right amount of sweet and crispy fried okra that isn’t too chewy. The catfish and pork chops are standouts in the city's soul food scene, but their award-winning fried chicken is legendary—a golden fried gold standard. While you wait inside for your takeout, check out the photos of celebrities and icons like Andrew Young and Kobe Bryant who have dined here.

In a city that is constantly changing, this is one ATL classic that's stayed true to its roots. It's a must-visit, even if you never make it to the photo wall.

Food Rundown

Fried chicken

photo credit: Amy Sinclair

Fried Chicken

Fried chicken is always best served piping hot. Right now, that’s not an option since the dining room is closed, but the takeout is still great. Busy Bee’s chicken is fried in a very light batter that’s more seasoning than bread, which ramps the taste of the juicy meat, making it an overwhelming Atlanta favorite.

Mashed Potatoes

With a menu that’s full of memorable side dishes, you wouldn’t necessarily expect mashed potatoes to be a big standout, but they are. Creamy and buttery, they make a great standalone or serve as a perfect bed for your other sides.
Peach cobbler in a plastic container.

photo credit: Amy Sinclair

Peach Cobbler

In a city with what seems like 724.3 streets named Peachtree, finding peach cobbler isn’t exactly a quest. But this version is sweet but not too heavy on the cinnamon, and has a soft crust that almost melts into the filling.

Chicken & Waffles

Skip the floppy waffles and stick to the chicken.
Collard greens on black plate.

photo credit: Amy Sinclair

Collard Greens

We can trace long-standing family feuds back to a pot of overcooked greens. These smoky, savory greens are firm but not undercooked and soft without falling into mushy territory.

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FOOD RUNDOWN

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