ATLANTA — A couple miles east of downtown Atlanta on the fringe of a historic blue-collar neighborhood, Home grown serves up satisfying Southern fare in an eclectic atmosphere.
Atlanta's crowded dining scene has no shortage of restaurants specializing in farm-to-table sourcing and new twists on Southern favorites. But many are expensive and require reservations.
Home grown offers locally sourced Southern dishes for breakfast and lunch in a quirky, no-frills setting that feels comfortable no matter who you are. The generous portions, low prices and dependably good food attract a delightful cross-section of Atlanta: older folks who lived in the Reynoldstown neighborhood before gentrification set in, tattooed young adults with big glasses and messy hair, young families and police officers.
On a recent Sunday morning, a hook-and-ladder truck was parked on the street outside as its crew of firefighters grabbed breakfast. A young boy eating with his dad in the main dining room climbed out of their booth to give a young woman his best wishes after her friends completed a spirited, almost gospel-like rendition of "Happy Birthday."
The breakfast menu is straightforward and satisfying, offering staples like biscuits, grits, eggs and breakfast meats, along with pancakes or french toast for those who have a sweet tooth in the morning. If you're hungrier, the fried pork chop and comfy chicken biscuit are both substantial and come smothered in a rich sausage gravy.
Lunch options change more frequently, and while they're more likely to have a quirky twist than the very standard breakfast options, they remain pretty traditional: meatloaf, pimento cheese, trout, and shrimp and grits, to name a few.
The front room is warm and inviting, with a handful of tables and a bar with stools where you can sit and read the paper or chat with other diners as you eat. On the wall is a framed menu signed by Clint Eastwood (his movie "Trouble with the Curve" shot scenes in the restaurant).
In the wood-paneled main dining room, four somewhat disturbing paintings along one wall immediately grab the eye. They feature four cartoon animals — a chicken, a pig, a cow and a fish — each of which drips blood after having cut part of its own body off and has a thought bubble featuring the body part prepared to eat. The pig, for example, holds a saw in one hand, his severed leg in the other and is thinking of a ham.
The other artwork in the room changes frequently but is generally some sort of funky take on folk art that you can buy off the walls.
The back room is also home to a small thrift store that welcomes diners to browse the T-shirts, postcards, dishes and assorted knick-knacks.
Home grown, which opened several years ago, will take you off the tourist route in Atlanta to a neighborhood that's transitioning from small factories and warehouses to lofts and creative workspaces. It's only open for breakfast and lunch, which leaves dinner open for one of the many other terrific restaurants the city has to offer.