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Me Like EAtlanta: The Varsity

March 20, 2013

Our first effort at dining in Atlanta went really well: Fat Matt’s Rib Shack was sensational. The Varsity was recommended to us by a very reliable source, so we set out to try it. I gather it is something of an Atlanta institution, or landmark. I had been told they make THE BEST burgers.

Though it seemed empty from our streetside approach, the place was absolutely packed once inside. I guess most folks drive up and park.
As you can see there is a very long counter and quite a lot of people ordering up food. It reminded me, at first glance, of the Nathan’s on Surf Avenue at Coney Island. I quickly adjusted my expectations from a big fat burger to more of an In ‘N Out experience.
The woman at the counter was enormously helpful, and gently tried to nudge us toward the hot dogs, but hearing that they had such good burgers I was determined to try one. We ordered a #2 Varsity special: A chili dog and a chili burger, onion rings and an orange drink for a total of $8.18.

Another word about the place. It is a sprawling affair. There are several different rooms with mounted TVs pointed at dedicated channels. There’s a Golf Channel room, a CNN room, a Fox News room, and so on.

The TVs have their volume up, and a note asking folks not to change the channel. So if you want to watch tv while you eat, they’ve got you covered. Speaking of, how’s the food?

Incredibly disappointing. This is their famous burger? This wilted, tepid, greasy, cafeteria reject? I must be in the wrong place. There’s nothing good about the burger except that it was warm. They managed to forget the chili portion it was meant to come with. The place was sinking fast.

The chili dog was much better, as at least the chili had a decent flavor, but I think the dogs themselves are boiled. There was no snap to it. It was just a warm meat tube. How come this place was so packed?

The onion rings were crispy and commendable. Crunchy, heftily battered, and so on. They were the best of the three.

Even though we chose not to sit in one of the TV rooms, there were enough kids around – and folks coming and going – to render the dining area into a cacophony. Between the TVs, pell-mell atmosphere, and greasy, underwhelming food, the place has all the charm of eating at an airport.
At the end of the day, I don’t get The Varsity. The server behind the counter was nice, the food was meritricious, yet the place was absolutely packed. On our way back from the restaurant I got that sugar crashed, greasy feeling I associate with lousy fast food.
I love In ‘N Out. I love Papaya dogs. Nathan’s is wonderful. I am not opposed one bit to fast food. But I do not get Varsity. The only thing I can think of is that it is very inexpensive and the food is not the worst. But I don’t know why so many people seem to seek it out.
The Varsity
Multiple locations, including
61 North Avenue
Atlanta GA 30308

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Steve Z. permalink
    March 20, 2013 11:13 am

    Yeah, stick with the ribs, my friend. I have to tell you, the landscape down there really leaves a lot to be desired. I guess we can still blame W.T. Sherman for that?

  2. Hugh permalink
    March 20, 2013 1:51 pm

    That photo of the burger is depressing. Who put you onto this place?

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