Tender, fall-apart pork neck bones are served only on Tuesdays at Busy Bee Café. CONTRIBUTED BY WYATT WILLIAMS
Of course, you don’t have to order the fried chicken at Busy Bee. There are other things on the menu. I’ve even had a few of them. The pork neck bones served on Tuesdays are fall-apart tender. The thin pork chops aren’t bad. The gravy-smothered chicken is as rich as it sounds. But I can’t even think the words Busy Bee without salivating for the crisp crunch that accompanies its fried chicken.
As far as I’m concerned, the best way to switch up your order at Busy Bee is not to order something other than fried chicken, but to order a lot of things with your fried chicken. The list of sides, though it changes some depending on the day of the week, ranges from tasty to coma-inducing.
The best way to order at Busy Bee Café is to fill your tables up with sides, including cornbread dressing, mac and cheese, and lima beans. CONTRIBUTED BY WYATT WILLIAMS
I always want the collards, which must be cooked for an awfully long time before arriving at your plate, as tender as they are. Only sometimes can I sign up for the cornbread dressing, which arrives like a giant scoop of ice cream in a small bowl: soft and moist, dripping with decadent gravy, and spiked with a spoonful of ultra-sweet cranberry sauce. I can’t have a bite without falling into the sort of satisfied slumber that usually follows Thanksgiving dinner.
The lima beans are cooked to a tender bite. The broccoli cheddar casserole is a lovely way to eat cheese and pretend to be ordering a vegetable. The green beans are falling apart and deeply savory, just asking to be spiked with hot pepper vinegar on the table.
The most recent meal I had at Busy Bee was a lot like the meals I’ve had there before. After about a 30-minute wait on a Tuesday for lunch, we got a table and plates of fried chicken and neck bones. Because the two sides that came with each plate just weren’t enough, we ordered an extra veggie plate packed with sides: mac and cheese, rice and gravy, cornbread dressing, lima beans.
I ate with a friend who works in the music industry here, and he talked excitedly about his plans for the night: going to a special dinner for Grammy Award nominees. Big Boi would be there, he said, probably Ludacris, too.
It was going to be at a nice hotel in Midtown, a place that wasn’t here only a few years ago, and they were going to serve a big spread of fancy, white-tablecloth Southern food. When I heard from him the next day, he said it was as cool as he hoped it might be, rubbing shoulders with the musicians who make Atlanta known the world over, the city that keeps growing and changing.
But that gussied-up spread of Southern food? He said it just couldn’t compete with lunch at Busy Bee.
BUSY BEE CAFÉ
11 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; noon-7 p.m. Sundays; closed Saturdays. 810 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Atlanta. 404-525-9212, thebusybeecafe.com.
Recommended dishes: Fried chicken, collard greens, cornbread dressing, mac and cheese.