Located in the historic downtown Macy’s building, owner Terry Harps (Global Concessions) created a happening spot giving downtown the vibe it has long been seeking in Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint. Juke joints popped up in rural areas of the South after emancipation and fulfilled a need where African-American’s could go to socialize and relax after a hard days work while enjoying music, food, and of course liquor. Reviving this piece of Americana, this modern day version is no different – it has funk, character, and soul – it’s a place to kick back with friends or soon to be friends while listening to the sounds of live music, and enjoying classic southern oriented fare and outlandish drinks.
Leaving the bustle of Peachtree Street behind, one is greeted by the sounds of laughter by those sitting around its ultra-chic crescent shaped bar with its star-lit ceiling which creates a most fashionable setting. The mastermind of the bar is Kenneth Scanlon who maintains the cocktails list that captures the vibrant nature of the South. Moonshine based drinks take center stage and the refreshing Miss Ceely’s Fruit Punch made with Junior Johnson’s lemon flavored moonshine and pineapple juice is way to easy to sip on, so be careful. An alternative to these expressive libations is the New Zealand’s highly rated Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc with it’s citrus and tropical fruit flavors that matches well with the foods.
The main dining room houses a stage where live music adds an upbeat sensation to the foods coming from Chef Hank Reid’s kitchen. Order the “Southern Starter” for the table, an offering of munchies that are classic bites of southern delicacies. The sweet Vidalia onions, green tomatoes, and okra that are battered, fried, and served with a delightful roasted pimento aioli sauce – yummy. Who doesn’t enjoy chicken wings? These plump wings are marinated in a savory sauce then grilled to absolute perfection. These finger-licking treats are served with a sassy house-made peach BBQ sauce and a lip smacking hot sauce. The pan seared rock shrimp and lump crabmeat mixture with its jalapeño tartar sauce is a mound of pure delight. But what makes this citrusy cake shine is the house signature crisp cabbage slaw made with a sweet apple relish – if nothing else order the slaw it’s absolutely delicious!!!
If things couldn’t get any better, they do. The one food that most identify with southern cuisine is fried chicken and Juke Joint does it proud. Biting into the crispy crunch covering the bird, a sense of contentment sets in when the juicy poultry flavors cover the palate. The half bird is served with a honey-balsamic sauce and for those watching the waistline it is also available grilled. The other dish that’s considered a classic of the South especially in the low country is shrimp and grits. This rendition is different than most as it is not BBQ sauce driven but instead made with a creamy southern gravy over parmesan cheese stone ground grits with grilled white shrimp - the flavors are rich but oh so satisfying.
What makes these dishes really happen are the sides. The Sunday’s Greens are slow simmered with smoked turkey necks, which adds a richness to the earthiness of the collards. Can’t forget the mac ’n’ cheese- baked with cheddar cheese, egg, and béchamel sauce- this creamy concoction is delectable. The sensational sweet potato fries are seasoned with a dash of cinnamon and are fun nibblers. But my favorite is the house-made baked beans, made with Vidalia onions, a smoky applewood bacon, and sweet molasses. These plus others are served with the Meat plus Two offerings. Have fun picking your favorite!
And when it’s time to take those taste buds on that good night stroll, order the spiced apple bread pudding- this otherworldly dessert is without doubt the best bread pudding I’ve had in a long time. Made to order, the warm egg bread has a lush creamy custard texture that’s amped up with rum spiced apples and Praline sauce. It is recommended to enjoy this heavenly dessert with a shot of Cat Daddy Moonshine. If nothing else, it gives a nice warm kick to the already blissful state of mind. The concept at Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint is not only on the food, but instead like the days of old, it’s about enjoying the pleasures of life - so why wait to get your swagger on and have some good time fun?
LGTG FRIENDLY *****
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