By Megan Volpert
Editor’s Note: After nearly two years of reviews, Art Huckabee has put down his fork. Decatur writer, resident and foodie Megan Volpert will pick up where Art left off, visiting a mix of established and newly-opened eateries around the metro. Megan is serious about her victuals and has planned vacations around restaurants. For her first assignment, she revisits an Atlanta institution. Forks up!
As everyone knows, Miss Ann Price, owner and proprietor of the beloved Ann’s Snack Bar, passed away in April. When word got around that she had gone, citizens of Atlanta were saddened for many reasons, at least one of which – selfishly – was concern over whether the Snack Bar would fold. Would the legendary Ghetto Burger fade away? Would it hang on as a mere shadow of its former glory? And how good could the visit be without Miss Ann to police your manners when you finally got to sit down?
It was a muggy Thursday and I’d just spent half the morning waiting through the seven circles of the DMV. Having accustomed myself to long lines for the day already, it seemed like a trip down to 1615 Memorial Drive to the Snack Bar was a good reward.
It was my first time there since Miss Ann’s passing and I was delighted to arrive in an empty parking lot. Just 30 minutes before opening and I was first in line! So I sat on the curb watching other cars pull in and eyeball my number one slot with envy. We filed in at eleven o’clock on the dot, hurrying past the patio tables on the screened-in porch to claim one of the eight seats at the counter.
If you like quiet, sit at one of the three seats on the left. Nothing going on over there but a stack of burger buns a mile high. If you really want to see what’s what, sit on the right side of the counter – right in front of the giant sign with Miss Ann’s rules and with a good view of the grill. The best thing about the five seats on the right, however, is that you get front row for the antics of Miss Henrietta. What a pistol! It’s a wonder she survived behind the counter, given Miss Ann’s rule against cursing. I asked Miss Henrietta how she and the family are getting along at the Snack Bar since April and she reports that they’re “maintaining.”
Indeed, nothing about the rules or the food has changed. A tardy newcomer stepped to the counter to place her order, and was instantly waved off with a curt, “who was first?” It was all I could do not to shout, “bingo!” As much as I love the Ghetto Burger, let’s bear in mind it’s really an emergency food – not a dreary Thursday afternoon food unless you had one wicked Wednesday night. I ordered the double-cheeseburger combo with homemade sweet tea, ready for me in about ten minutes.
I managed to eat two-thirds of my enormous burger and made a small dent in the fries. The remainder was wrapped up in tinfoil to take home for dinner. Yes, the burger is still huge and still cooked to perfection and still topped with the usual suspects and still totally delicious. Yes, the fries are still average because the fact that you even bothered to order and eat any fries alongside a burger so spectacularly gluttonous is kind of crazy. Yes, the sweet tea still gets stored on the counter in giant old plastic barrels and it still tastes precisely like the South poured into a Styrofoam cup.
Ann’s Snack Bar has been holding steady since Nixon’s first term. After more than four decades as the tightest burger ship in town, what on earth made you think the ship would falter? Miss Ann must be resting in peace, for the Snack Bar is still what it always was.
Megan Volpert lives in Decatur, teaches in Roswell and writes books about popular culture. Send feedback to TastingIntown@AtlantaINtownPaper.com.