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The Varsity has been the heart of the Atlanta food scene since it’s opening in 1928; locals regularly stop for a chili dog, while tourists come from far and wide to get a taste of the world’s largest drive-thru restaurant.
What makes The Varsity so much better than the rest of the fast food joints? Quality. Several trucks stop in everyday to bring fresh, premium ingredients. Methods haven’t change over the years, and that consistency keeps people coming, because they know they will get those same delicious flavors they remember from their childhood.
The Varsity’s menu is simple, but there are certainly things that they are famous for. Let’s start with the savory. Chili Dogs seem to be the most buzzed about; a soft bun, juicy 100% beef hotdog, dry chili and yellow mustard create the perfect storm in fast food greatness. A little hint; order a “heavy weight” for extra of the “dry” chili, which is bean free, and has a crumbly consistency, while being seasoned with lots of spices. Chili just makes it, don’t skip out on the chili!
Chili Cheese Burgers, also known as Chili Cheese Steaks to some locals, are basically a hamburger with chili and American cheese. It can be difficult to decide between a Chili Dog or Chili Cheese Burger, so go with a combo and get one of each!
Here is where the heart truly gets torn; fresh cut fries or crispy battered onion rings. Both rank at the best of the best when it comes to “strings” and “rings”; the onion ring batter isn’t anything like what you’ll see on the frozen isle in the grocery store; it’s angelically flakey. If you’re dining with someone, you can always get one of each and split.
Where to start with dessert? As a child, a Frosted Orange, also known as an FO, was something I dreamed about. Signature orange drink is blended into a creamy milk shake, making for a one of a kind treat. And if that’s a little too crazy for you, the chocolate milkshakes are so chocolaty it’s unreal; you’ve likely never had such a rich chocolate shake. Go even simpler with a traditional P.C.; creamy chocolate milk with with thin ice chips. Order a N.I.P.C if you’d rather scratch the ice, but that’s not recommended.
Handmade fried pies are irresistible, and come in flavors apple and peach. Being that peach is the iconic fruit of Georgia, we will deem it the best. Generous portions of tangy pie filling are encased in a flakey, unsweetened crust for a fantastic balance that showcases the fruit flavors.
Ordering can be a bit chaotic, but it’s a part of the experience. Numerous registers line across an enormous counter; crowds often flood the large room, especially if the Braves or Falcons are playing that day. Lines do move quick as bustling workers efficiently take orders and have it piled on your red tray in a snap.
Instead of quietly saying “next please,” attendants yell out “What’ll ya have!” The phrase is a tradition.
Next time you go through Atlanta, stop in for a car hop experience or sit in the top deck room for a picturesque view of the city.