Who’s heard of “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”? We promise we’re not intentionally following Guy Fieri on his road trips, but we seem to be hitting on some of his faves; including the one this week! He liked it so much that he featured it; TWICE, as a matter of fact! We’re not the only people who would recommend eating there. In the past few months, several friends suggested restaurants for us to visit. With each suggestion, we gently explain that we are using a pre-set list. One restaurant name kept popping up. Matthews Cafeteria in Tucker, Georgia, recommended by our friend Joyce and a few others, is coincidentally, the sixth stop on the Hidden Gem Restaurant Challenge.
Opened in 1955, Matthews Cafeteria has been serving home-style cooking to generations of families in Tucker and surrounding areas for 62 years. That’s a very long time by any measure, but for a restaurant to survive that long means they must be doing something right. Michael Matthews Greene is a third-generation owner and still works with his Dad every day. Michael started working there as a dishwasher when he was 11 years old. Located near the railroad tracks in downtown Tucker, the restaurant is easy to find. You can’t miss the large sign on the side of the building which reads “Matthews Cafeteria” and the distinctive black and white striped awnings on the front windows, which provide shade for the rocking chairs, are a dead giveaway for the warmth and charm that you’re about to experience.
Lines? Yes, they usually do have a line but don’t let that scare you away! It’s a testament to their popularity and it’s a cafeteria, there’s supposed to be a line, right? The line moves quickly and there’s always a local who can share their story of the many years they’ve been visiting and enjoying the home cooking. Matthews’ menu changes daily so you will want to visit their website or Facebook page so you’ll have an idea of what you want. Even though we read that day’s menu online, it was still tough to decide what to get. Everything looks so delicious! But keep in mind as you ponder your choices, the hungry bears in line behind you may not want you to dilly dally! We went for Sunday lunch and the line was as long as it could be without wrapping outside and it only took 10-15 minutes. Pay at the end, grab a seat, and dig in!
The decor isn’t fancy but it’s clean and comfortable. How can anyone object to red and white checkered tablecloths? We’ve eaten at some luxuriously-decorated restaurants that didn’t taste nearly as good as the food we had at Matthews Cafeteria. We’ll take the delicious food over pretentious decor any day. It’s the kind of place that makes Peach 2 declare, once again, “That’s the best sweet tea I’ve ever had!”
Here are some selections we highly recommend:
Fried Chicken is crispy, juicy, tasty and tender. In other words, it’s made to be delicious.
It’s such a crowd pleaser, that it’s on the dinner menu every night of the week.
Their version of Chicken Pot Pie is the consummate comfort food. Made with tender chicken, green peas, green beans and corn, it’s so satisfying. The flaky crust is literally it’s crowning glory. Real mashed potatoes are the perfect side dish.
If you like Stuffed Bell Pepper, you’ll love this one. It’s a savory, old-fashioned combination of rice, tomatoes, ground beef and onions. It was incredibly tender and flavorful, just like the ones from our childhood. They tasted like they’d cooked on low for hours.
The Side Dishes are spoonfuls of fond memories. When was the last time you had red or green Jell-o with pieces of pears congealed in it? Or how about green peas with a potato cooked in them? Or deviled eggs? The turnip greens were cooked and seasoned just like Grandma’s. They even offer all the fixin’s you’d get at Grandma’s, including fresh chopped onions for your pinto beans.
The melt-in-your-mouth Yeast Rolls are the best we’ve had in a very long time.
Save room for dessert. It would be a shame to miss out on a taste of these homemade delights. Of course we have a soft spot for Peach Cobbler and this one is the perfect mix of peaches, flour, butter, sugar and vanilla. Mmm. Mmm. If you’re not a fan of cobbler, try the fresh Strawberry Shortcake. Made with fresh strawberries, pound cake and whipped topping, it is the ideal ending to a truly satisfying meal.
If you’re trying to make healthy food choices, don’t be discouraged. You can get a vegetable plate and not feel like you’re depriving yourself because the veggies are so good. Order unsweetened tea with just a splash of sweet tea. Then, if you just can’t resist dessert, share one with a friend.
Even though we went for lunch, we’d be remiss if we neglected to mention that a law enforcement officer, who eats at Matthews Cafeteria on a regular basis, said, “Breakfast is a whole different level. Get the pancakes, they’re made to order or the biscuits with sawmill gravy.” He also indicated that the line tends to go out the door during breakfast hours. What does that tell you?
Matthews Cafeteria, 2299 Main St., Tucker, Ga. 30084.
Hours: Monday-Friday, breakfast 5 a.m.-10 a.m.; lunch 10:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m.; dinner 3:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.; Sunday 10:30-3:00; SATURDAY CLOSED. Free Wi-Fi.
Be sure to join us next week when we feature an interview with a person who’s a real “peach.”
Until next time, Love and Peaches!