On my recent trip to Atlanta, I was looking to dine out at an authentic southern restaurant. I asked a local for a recommendation, and he advised me to check out Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint. My first thought was what the heck is a Juke Joint? Thanks to Google and my smartphone, I quickly discovered that juke joints were like our bars of today and they began popping up after emancipation. Juke Joints primarily catered to African-American sharecroppers and plantation workers in the southeast and provided them with a place to socialize with friends while enjoying a meal or having a couple of drinks. They were also known for their music, especially the blues.
When I told my friend from San Francisco about Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint, she was just as excited to try a restaurant authentic to the south. Originally a southerner before moving to NYC, I too couldn’t wait to take a look at the menu and was also excited because we were also going to be able to see, or should I say hear one of Atlanta’s best blues bands.
As soon as we stepped in the restaurant, the jiving sound of the Breeze King’s Harmonica, historical photographs of juke joints in a collage on the wall and chatter and laughter from the full tables greeted us with delight. The ambiance in one word was cool.
Would you like to try some moonshine?
Our energetic and genuinely friendly waiter also shared something else that was pretty cool – a selection of Midnight Moon Moonshines. Of course, we had to sample a little because how many place offer moonshine? After toasting our shot glasses and throwing it down, I screamed “wow, that burned” and quickly realized how the juke joints of the past became so rowdy. We both decided to ensure that we made our meeting the next morning we most probably should lay off the moonshine and switch to beer.
Did you say Fried Green Tomatoes?
At first glance at the menu, I was disappointed. Just kidding! I was only disappointed that I couldn’t try practically everything on the menu! I debated back and forth over the southern starter and the seafood gumbo to start and between the fried chicken, pork rib rack, the shrimp and crawfish etouffee and the shrimp and grits for my entrée. Ultimately we went with the Southern starter because it included fried green tomatoes which I hadn’t enjoyed in most probably twenty years. For the entrée, Nicole decided on the Fried Chicken which is one of the most popular dishes according to our waiter. I ended up going with the shrimp and grits. Our meal was delicious.
The Breeze Kings
Hopefully, if you find yourself in Atlanta and plan on going to Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint, it will be on a night that there is live music. Consider yourself lucky if you are there on a night when the Breeze Kings hit the stage. They have been voted Best Blues Band in Atlanta nine separate years. Their pumping, smooth style, and rhythm tied together the whole juke joint experience. These guys were truly talented, and I loved the harmonica player. Can I use the words authentic and cool again?