SMITH COLUMN: OK Cafe in Atlanta

Published 10:30 am Saturday, February 12, 2022

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ATLANTA – An unending treat for me when I am in our capital city is to organize breakfast at the “OK Café,” which is located at the corner of West Paces Ferry Road and Northside Parkway, hard by I-75 North.

This popular restaurant, where you may see a lawyer in a pin stripe suit and a construction worker in blue jeans and dusty boots, has a lot of redeeming features worthy of the highest of high fives. The one thing that sets OK Café apart is that you order breakfast there, you get it hot.

The best breakfast on earth is not worth a tinker’s damn if it is cold — even lukewarm breakfasts leaves one cold emotionally.   I am big on breakfast, my favorite meal of the day. There are several places I frequent at my home base, Athens, but the one where you can always count on hot servings is the Mayflower on Broad Street. In addition to breakfast being cooked just right, if Lisa waits your table, you get a warm and friendly smile that will make your day.

Most Waffle Houses are committed to serving your breakfast hot. I miss the Waffle House at Five Points where the coffee was always the best and breakfasts always gave off steam when set before you.

There is a little flummox with my OK Café routine. To beat the traffic to Atlanta, there is the necessity to leave home by 5 a.m.

That is not a problem in that, with a farm background and more than a fistful of birthdays, early rising comes easy.  It is worth noting that 5:00 a.m. is a magic number. Even starting15 minutes later can monkey wrench your game plan. Traffic can back up quickly on Georgia 316 and I-85.

Honoring the departure dictum usually gets you to your destination in about an hour and a half — even if the weather is messy — which means that you have an hour to kill before the OK Café opens to make your day.

That is easily solved in that all you have to do is take along a book or some reading matter to pass the time.

This, too, can be a time to make or return a few phone calls. There are many who are at work by 6 a.m., believe it or not.

There is one more thing in managing the time issue, and that is remembering to take along the morning newspaper. Regrettably, today’s newspapers, though still surviving, have declined considerably and leave us aficionados of daily print with contrition. In our world today, if you want to go to bed with nothing on your mind, you read the daily newspaper.

When the doors open for business at OK Café, hungry diners seem to appear from everywhere. By 8 a.m. there is a wait list, but you never have to standby very long for a table. You can also expect a short wait at lunch.  Not sure about dinner.

You can’t find a breakfast (or lunch) menu more varied.

You can order power shakes for breakfast, or bananas and cream, buttermilk biscuits, sourdough French toast to go with your omelets. The OK Café will say okay for most anything you might want to order including scrambled tofu/onions, green peppers, broccoli and chestnuts —  everything reasonably priced for $12.99 or less.

There are hamburgers and sandwiches galore at OK Café.

You have a choice of 17 different vegetables at lunch including pot liker. You can’t get more southern than that. There are a dozen choices of homemade desserts. Blue Plate specials are filling and fulfilling. A vegetable plate (4) costs only $16.56.

For dinner, your options include dry-rub bone-in pork chop and broiled salmon. Chitlins are not on the menu, but if you want to play “stump the chef,” my guess is that you can’t unless you order wildebeest liver.

On many trips to Atlanta, I often find my way to OK Café for breakfast and lunch. Nothing like a hot breakfast to start your day and a vegetable plate with four choices at lunch will easily sustain you until suppertime.

Good food, cooked down home style is what the OK Café is all about.  And, the price is always right. 

I have firsthand evidence with regard to that.  On a recent trip to Las Vegas, breakfast — including tip which equaled the cost of breakfast at the OK Café — was north of $50 dollars.

There are two ways to lose your shirt in Las Vegas. One is at the gambling tables and the other is ordering no-frills breakfasts.